Odessa Paloma Parker is a serious force in Canadian media and fashion. She first made a name for herself as a freelance stylist in Toronto, working on shows like Entertainment Tonight Canada and co-founding the fashion magazine Plaid, which published from 2010-2012. In 2014, Paloma Parker was hired as fashion editor for The Globe & Mail.
So it came as a surprise to many when the cannabis brand Tokyo Smoke announced they’d brought in Paloma Parker to head up their content team. It’s a smart business move, forwarding Tokyo Smoke’s mission of moving beyond just cannabis to become a full-fledged lifestyle brand.
Odessa Paloma Parker
In late 2017, Leafly had the opportunity to see Paloma Parker at Van der Pop’s ‘Women & Weed’ conference in Toronto, where she appeared on the “Weed in Fashion, Beauty & Design” panel to discuss how her prior experiences in fashion intersect with her current role in cannabis. This week, we phoned her to discuss it further.
LEAFLY: How did you come to work with Tokyo Smoke and what was it like to leave your editorial position with The Globe and Mail?
ODESSA PALOMA PARKER: I live around the corner from the Bellwoods Tokyo Smoke shop and went in after a friend’s recommendation. I loved what was going on in the shop. Alan [Gertner] happened to be there when I stopped in, and we got to chatting about the brand. I eventually wrote a story for the Globe about Tokyo Smoke and the changing landscape of the pot industry.
We stayed in touch because I was super-interested in what was happening in the cannabis industry, and when the opportunity to do content for the brand came up, it was really exciting for me. I’m still freelancing for the Globe because I love fashion, but it’s very invigorating to be working in an industry that has so much ahead of it—there’s so much optimism and growth potential.
How do you feel like your experience in fashion might inform your work in the cannabis space?
From the Tokyo Smoke perspective in particular, the ‘innovations in design’ aspect is a definite crossover. I’ve also always taken diversity and inclusion very seriously in my stories, whether written or a fashion shoot, so I’m glad to be working with a team that also shares this vision. I think we are creating a very unique and distinctive voice with that in mind.
“I didn’t have any experience in the cannabis industry. My experience was entirely from a user’s perspective.”
Did you have any prior experience in the cannabis industry?
I didn’t have any experience in the industry. My experience was entirely from a user’s perspective, and as someone extremely curious about the industry’s current and evolving landscape. What consistently strikes me as a very important thing is getting people to feel more comfortable talking about cannabis, and asking questions because they want to know more about it. The questions I often get asked really reveal how much more of an effort needs to be made to educate adults who are interested in using cannabis, or who already do but don’t know the scope of their options.
What are some of the biggest challenges that women in the cannabis industry face?
I’m not sure I see there being any challenge that doesn’t exist in another industry, really. Women consistently have to overly assert themselves to get a seat at the table. What’s at least encouraging is that, in many ways, that table is still just being set.
Do you think cannabis is a feminist issue?
I do. There are many ways in which cannabis use can address women’s health issues, from menstruation to menopause, and there needs to be more research and reporting done on it. Making women feel comfortable and at ease about accessing this information is crucial, and it’s what we’re trying to do at Van der Pop, Tokyo Smoke’s sister company.
What changes do you foresee happening when legalization comes into play next year?
For the public? Better access to quality bud and the ability to make choices about their health and well-being. In the industry? More competition, which will hopefully motivate us all to do a better and better job at what we do.
What are some cannabis products that you can’t live without?
I really love my Pax! I’ve recommended them to a few people this season. I also love the iridescent Grinder Card from Tokyo Smoke—it’s very swish in my opinion and makes a great gift. The Eves of Eden crowns are also really great. As for strains, Charlotte’s Web mixed with Afghan Kush is a new favourite combo for me.