Each week we highlight entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry so our viewers can learn who is behind the team of the upcoming and leading businesses, organizations, and non-profits in the industry.
This week we would like to introduce April Pride. April is the Founder of Van der Pop in addition to being the Chief Creative Officer at both Van der Pop and Tokyo Smoke.
In our interview we asked April a variety of questions sharing her experiences, she had some insightful information and advice to share with each of you.
We are honored to have you as this week’s Entrepreneur of the week! Can you please tell our viewers a little more about your background?
April Pride: My education, career, and pursuits have always focused on design. Requisite bio: University of Virginia Architecture School; stint at top San Francisco interiors firm; and graduate school at Parsons where my obsession with textiles became an academic pursuit. The historical motifs I studied at Parsons influenced my first product line kaarskoker, which I sold the company in 2013.
And that same year I introduced my eponymous fashion label and its signature piece THE DRESS. A client approached me to develop a “luxury cannabis lifestyle” brand. As a confident ambassador of all cannabis can bring to one’s life, I happily took the high road. As Van der Pop’s Founder, I sold the company a year after launch to the parent company of Tokyo Smoke. Now Chief Creative Officer overseeing both brands I find myself working hard to remind everyone that it’s okay to have a lot of fun.
Congratulations! With that being said, what is Van Der Pop?
April Pride: Van der Pop is the cannabis industry’s premier female-focused lifestyle brand. Designing stunning wares, offering poignant and playful advice plus schooling with girl-to-girl pro-tips, the brand acts as if this were all normal. Through SESSION, Seattle-based Van der Pop offers a discreet, immersive shopping experience where guests sample and shop the best accessories to store, smoke and share cannabis.
Who is your role model, and why?
April Pride: This is a tough question. There are so many people in my own family who continue to amaze me. The older I get and truly understand the complexity of their lives and the world at a specific place in time, the more I marvel and strive to be a similar role model for my own sons, niece, and nephews. Outside of the family and at this moment in my own life, Gloria Steinem has become a surprising influence as I move forward as a female leader in the cannabis space.
Being an outspoken person about the positive ways in which the plant can improve one’s quality of life through simply allowing one to slow down, find time to laugh and connect seems simple enough. But going back to life’s complexities, founding Van der Pop and owning the message the brand shares and attitude it stands for has proven to be the bravest thing I’ve done. Of course, made much easier by others before me – like Ms. Steinem – who were braver when considering the historical context surrounding the gradual acts that now have proven to be their life’s work. Without more than basic knowledge of her work, I saw her speak when Van der Pop was in progress but not yet launched.
It was at this moment that I realized the power an early brand in the cannabis space could have. The gut check and mantra that I constantly offer my sons is to question if you or others you admire are using their powers for good. It was clear this was my opportunity to make good on this.
How do you stay balanced?
April Pride: Daily meditation and frequent short trips with my family. And, of course, access to really great weed.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
April Pride: Over the course of a decade, I’ve worked on my own and launched 4 businesses. No. 2 and No. 4 (Van der Pop) had successful exits. My decision to transition from No. 1 and No. 3 to these better financial and more creatively fulfilling opportunities has with hindsight proved successful. At the time, I assure you the basis for my decisions wasn’t totally clear to others. If my peers jumped to another company for a better opportunity, the decision was much easier to understand. As an entrepreneur, my guess is these pivots seemed less strategic. Van der Pop has reaped huge benefits from each and, in the end, so do our consumers.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a company in the cannabis industry?
April Pride: Use your powers for good.
What’s the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
April Pride: Prioritizing sleep.
Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
April Pride: Living in Seattle, I realized that I’m in a bubble. I was bracing myself for conflict but people throughout my life and all around the world have been so encouraging about being in this space.
Being a founder, we are bound to make a mistake or two, what is one mistake you made that turned up being one of your biggest learning lessons? *
April Pride: Business No. 2 (mentioned previously) was exited through acquisition a year later than it should’ve been. My ego was determined to hit certain milestones and I failed to acknowledge certain realities. Having launched in September of 2008, the economy devastated the consumer products industry. The lesson is to make decisions that are best for your business without entangling personal goals.
What book are you currently reading and for pleasure or business? or what book would recommend to a fellow entrepreneur, as a must read?
April Pride: I’m more of an avid podcast listener. Avid. My favorite as an entrepreneur is How I Built This on NPR. Each 20-30 minute episode featuring a founder who with brutal honesty charts significant moments that led to their company’s ultimate success. Hint: It’s not easy and mistakes (BIG ONES) are made.
How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
April Pride: Women who elect to consume cannabis face the greatest stigma and, in my opinion, have the most to gain. They rely on trusted girlfriends or other women who know more about a particular subject than they. Cannabis is no different. When there are simply fewer girlfriends to consult on this, Van der Pop aims to prove it can be trusted to bring correct information that is presented in a way specific to their lives: as women, we suffer from monthly hormonal swings; as partners, we wish for stronger intimate and emotional connections in our relationships; and as mothers, we have difficulty slowing down to enjoy our ever-growing children.
When Van der Pop launched in January 2016, it became immediately clear that offering stunning products to store, smoke and share cannabis was not going to simply be enough. Gradually, we’ve provided more and more opportunities to educate consumers more on the plant and the products we design and merchandise. Dear Vandy is our advice column. Flower Powers is our guide of practical strain reviews that, again, speak to specific ways specific strains can improve areas in a woman’s life. In the fall of 2016, Van der Pop created SESSION, an experience that reflects modern cannabis culture. An experience that offers discretion, education, and style. This is an era of Post-Prohibition. Imagine if liquor companies were more responsible when their products were introduced to the market.
How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
April Pride: The increase in consumer education creates less resistance for new market opportunities that serve an increasingly more diverse demographic. These relative micro trends collectively influence the industry’s democratization and, thus, normalization. Cannabis has the potential to create a paradigm shift in how we connect with others and our natural world. My hope is that as more people responsibly incorporate this into their lives, more acceptance, more appreciation, and more awe will weave through our communities.
To learn more about Van der Pop, you can learn more at www.vanderpop.com
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