Name: Monica Lo
Current City: San Francisco, California
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Occupation: Creative Director & Photographer
Bay-Area based content creator, photographer and creative director Monica Lo began in the advertising industry in New York City before heading west, where she switched gears and dove into the food and cannabis space.
Over the last few years, she has shot and styled Sous Vide At Home, an award-winning cookbook, built a name for herself as a cannabis chef and launched Sousweed, and subsequently been featured in a handful of publications for her achievements around the country.
You’ve got quite an impressive resume, with 12 years of experience as a creative director and designer. What attracted you to this field of work, and more specifically, working with cannabis brands?
Thank you! I knew I wanted to be in a creative field so I went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn before working as an art director in all the big ad shops where I gained a lot of experience working on photo and commercial shoots.
Sous Weed, my passion project, kicked off my career as a freelance creative. While people were becoming more canna-curious, brands needed to amplify their social media efforts by connecting with influencers to create authentic, engaging content.
Advertising regulations are especially strict for the cannabis industry which is why influencer marketing is so important for brand awareness. With my combined advertising experience and love for food and cannabis, I had the opportunity to build various brands in the cannabis space.
What’s the origin of the Sous Weed?
Sous Weed was born from a need for discreet edibles when I had herniated a disc and I didn’t want to be on all the pills the doctor prescribed. I lived in a strict apartment building where smoke and cannabis smells were prohibited.
Since I was already working in a sous vide startup, this was a natural evolution. I thought, “well, maybe I can sous vide my weed”—and it worked!
It was super easy. All I needed to do was set the temperature for my water bath, put my cannabis and oil in a bag, and drop it underwater to infuse. There was no smell whatsoever and I didn’t get evicted.
I started to document my creations on my blog, as I was healing, and that’s how Sous Weed came to life.
What are some of the stigmas surrounding cannabis that you'd like change?
Public perception of cannabis has totally changed for the better these past few years but it wasn’t like this when I started in 2015. As an Asian American, the hardest part was coming out of the cannabis closet to my parents. There’s a lot of strange stigmas, old wives’ tales, and perception around the plant especially with Asians, so they were pretty concerned when I told them. I thought my first challenge would be to educate them, and if I succeed, that would be a good step in the right direction.
So, we spent a lot of time learning and having discussions about the health benefits of this plant. Now, they’re much more open-minded these days. Mom and dad even went on a trip to Amsterdam without me!
When you're not working, how do you spend your free time?
I catch up on quality time with my partner, pup, and friends whenever I can. You can probably find me at the local flea market, farmers market, or craft fair over the weekends.
What motivates you in the morning? Do you have a morning routine?
I’m up and at ‘em the moment the sun rises but I like it that way. I do my morning stretches for my back and then it’s copious amounts coffee or matcha to power through the day.
Discuss the importance of paying it forward.
I feel it’s important to pay it forward with mentorship. There’s no way I can take full credit for all the successes in my career. I’ve had solid mentors in various points throughout the years who have sculpted me into the person I am today. I will always make time for young creatives when they reach out for advice.
Who are some of your greatest influences, and why?
I’ve surrounded myself with my greatest influences.
I have a group of strong female entrepreneurs I look up to. We help each other grow and push each other creatively.
My partner is also an incredibly talented designer who I lean on for the occasional gut check and an extra set of eyes.
What/who are you grateful for?
I’m forever grateful to my parents who instilled in me a strong work ethic from an early age but gave me the freedom to be creative and express my individuality as I wanted.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote that inspires you?
Trust your gut.