Savina Monet: Feminizing the Cannabis Industry
Savina Monet is adding her feminine touch to the male-dominated Cannabis industry.
And it’s no wonder why her designs stand out. They add color, surrealism, and an artistic flare to an otherwise bland-faced trade.
It’s not every day you get to mark “Freelance Cannabis Design” down on a piece of paper as your profession, not only because it’s just an uncommon trade, but also because it most certainly wasn’t something you could openly do before Cannabis began undergoing the process of legalization across the United States. Yet, today, Savina Monet can not only proudly say she is a graphic designer specializing in compiling beautifully collaged designs specifically for the marijuana industry, but she can make her mark by feminizing the testosterone-driven space — she is called Mary Jane after all.
We live in a time of many interesting movements, and while several of those movements have proven to be toxic and regressive, the marijuana industry is in position to be the opposite. If done right, it promises to open the minds of people across the nation and the world over to the once-taboo plant and all its benefits and medicinal purposes. It is people like Savina, who are bold enough to lead the charge and stand at the forefront of this progressive movement — who aim to break down the barriers and tackle the stigmas surrounding it — that will eventually be the ones to bridge the divides between the believers and non-believers to create a unity and shared awareness that can lead to the healing of us all.
Did you know that before a man by the name of Harry Anslinger outlawed cannabis when he was appointed Commissioner of the Treasury Department’s new Bureau of Narcotics, it was considered a medicine by doctors and the public alike for most of U.S. history? Savina does, and now you do too. While this one man is largely responsible for the fact that marijuana has held a negative connotation for decades, Savina’s charge is to repaint that picture of our beloved green herb.
I had the sincere pleasure of speaking with Savina about her work, the booming industry, and her thoughts on it all. So grab your pen, chew your edible, light your joint, or not — and read on my friends.
Q - “Freelance Cannabis Design” -- that is such an extraordinarily specific (and amazing) niche skillset. So tell us, who is Savina Monet and how did you get into this line of work?
A - It is really specific, isn’t it? I first started as a self-taught graphic designer and front-end coder for a local agriculture software company. There were three people employed there and I was one of them. The other two guys were hardcore developers that had absolutely no direction when it came to design. I would handle all of the creative work for our company and our 20 clients, including website graphics, marketing material, and occasional branding. During these two years I really got to hone in on my “eye”, but it was getting an edgier and edgier feel that didn’t fit with the traditional (read: conservative) aesthetic of the farmers we worked with. After enough push back I was fired and with a lot of encouragement from my husband, decided to pursue a freelance career instead of returning to the 9-to-5. Boom, October 31st, 2018 Savina Monet is born.
Q - Are you a user of Cannabis and an advocate for its benefits and medicinal purposes? If so, can you tell us why?
A - Oh yes. Marijuana has been in my life since I was a kid thinking my mom was burning inscence.
I didn’t learn about the medicinal benefits until I was probably 20 or so, and with that I learned about the history of Anslinger, the harm done during the War on Drugs, and how cannabis is more of a human rights issue than it is an over-taxed luxury.
Q - How do you get inspired for your designs? What is your process when creating?
A - I take inspiration from dreams, weird things I say when I’m high, and current events. My process always varies but it almost always includes Mary Jane. Sometimes I flip through magazines and wait for something to strike, sometimes the idea comes so suddenly I have to write it down or I put it together digitally so I don’t have to feel constrained by the material I have on hand.
Q - We noticed that you feature primarily women in your work (and we love it), can you tell us why?
A - This is a good question. I have so many different reasons why I feature women, but if I had to summarize it I would say it is because of three things: women are fierce. Women are stoners. And women are breaking the stigma.
Q - What’s the best part about doing this line of work?
A - The people! Hands down, the people that I’ve met working in this industry are the most approachable and passionate group of people. Maybe it’s because we all know we smoke weed, so you can just be your true-self instead of tip-toeing around corporate suits.
Q - Have you ever received any negative commentary on what you do, and felt that you’ve had to defend your creations and your career?
A - I’m happy to say that I haven’t received any harsh commentary so far, the one thing I have encountered are lack of benefits because I openly brand myself as a cannabis designer. Even if I explain that I never come into contact with cannabis plants for my work, because I cater to the cannabis industry I’ve had bank accounts close, certifications denied, and city services revoked.
Q - Do you feel you are working to break down barriers and tackle the stigma surrounding cannabis by approaching it from a new, beautiful, creative perspective? If so, can you elaborate?
A - Yes, I feel I am normalizing the image of the cannabis plant so folks don’t have to feel like it’s something taboo or shrouded in mystery when they talk about it.
It’s just a plant. Once people get that basic understanding, then you can start introducing the bigger ideas.
Q - Do you still feel as though that stigma still exists heavily today? Do you have any stories or anecdotes from your work experiences that might convey that?
A - I definitely know there is a stigma that still exists. I personally struggle with the stigma associated with the fact that I smoke everyday and have to remind myself that it doesn’t make me lazy or careless. When I was first transitioning from the tech world to freelance design, I lost a couple of clients and a business partner because they didn’t want to be associated with cannabis, especially after the rescindence of the 2013 Cole Memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in early 2018.
Q - Have you found that your client-base is rapidly growing with the legalization of weed in so many states?
A - I find it amazing that my work travels across the nation in both legal and non-legalized markets. I have had connections in Massachussets, New York, Florida, Arizona, California, Washington, Indiana, and most recently connections in Toronto and Quebec. Haaaay! Let’s try and shoot for all 50 states, you know where to find me haha.
Q - What’s next for Savina Monet?
A - Well, I had the pleasure of working on the layout for Mercatus Magazine, a publication celebrating Portland’s entrepreneurs of color which is slated to come out on June 1st. I’m also working on getting a line of greeting cards with joint-holders distributed to various dispensaries, keep your eyes peeled next time you pick up!
Q - Who are the 5 people (dead or alive) that you’d invite to your dinner party?
A - Maya Angelou, Jim Carrey, Bob Marley, Selena Quintanilla, and Tina Fey. That would be the most enlightened group of pot-smokers.