Welcome to Outside-In with DCN where we interview upcoming startups and businesses in the cannabis industry. Each interview you will get to meet the founders taking a leap into building a business they believe. Gain knowledge of their services, their mission and what makes each of the unique. On this Outside-In, with DCN we spoke with both co-founders of High Dining, Barbie Sommars, and Lindsey Jones.
Meet High Dining:
Founded in November 2016, High Dining set out to take fine dining to new heights, working with various chefs and various venues, including private parties. They create an environment that goes beyond cannabis education that has enabled their creativity to take over by creating upscale cannabis-friendly social experiences, where they act as the liaison to the cannabis world to great chefs.
Barbie Sommars is the COO of Mary Jane University. Barbie has been a cannabis consultant who brings over twenty years of corporate operations experience to Mary Jane University with a background in high net-worth asset management. After a medical diagnosis in 2008, she sought alternative ways of healing and pain management and found cannabis. From patient to activist to educator, she now resides in the beautiful Mojave desert near Joshua Tree, CA and commits herself to a life of healing, activism, and education to restore this ancient healing herb to its rightful place. As the Chief Experience Creator of High Dining, she takes fine dining to new heights with upscale events infused with education. Barbie is also the President of Faerie Jane, a cannabis lifestyle brand that celebrates activism through the art of adornment. She’s also the Founding Co-Chair of Women Grow Orange County. Award: Excellence in Experiences for the Moonlit Moveable Feast by Green State.
Lindsey Jones is the CMO of Mary Jane University. Lindsey brings over ten years experience in marketing, graphics and web design. After becoming a mother in 2009, her love for all things green became more prominent, shifting to a more healthy lifestyle for her family. The cannabis industry allows her to blend her passions for health, education, and design. As the Experience Creator of High Dining, she gets to incorporate her passion for health, education, and design into each High Dining Experience.
DCN: Barbie and Lindsey, we are so excited to have you both on our editorial series, Outside-In with DCN. Let’s get straight to it if I wanted to work with High Dining, what services does High Dining offer?
We offer UPscale, LOW-dose cannabis-infused dining experiences and foodie workshops such as the Sushi + Doobie Rolling Workshop. Each event we produce our own events as well as private events for our clients.
DCN: It is exciting to see that the industry is starting to create processes for events in the cannabis industry. However, we have heard about a lot of pain points these new regulations have brought for event organizers, if you could speak to those who are making the rules for cannabis industry events, what would you like them to know about these overall changes?
The new regulations with regards to cannabis events came with the message, “Go big or go home”. High Dining events are intentionally intimate. Therefore, we’re going home, and by that, we mean on private property. Personally, we feel the regulations are counter-intuitive with the growing normalization of cannabis.
We felt it was time to come out of the cannabis closet, but we’re not quite there apparently. We believe that as more research is made public (and accepted as truth by the public and have cannabis lobbyists in Congress), there will be an understanding that this is no more harmful than alcohol. In fact, it’s much safer!
DCN: What challenges has your team had to work through and what advice can you share with others who are looking to host events in the cannabis industry?
We have had to face many challenges, such as banking, like many cannabis entrepreneurs face. We highly suggest consulting your attorney. We actually have three; Bird Law Group, Law Office of Stefan Borst-Censullo and Wolfgang Kovach. Also, keep your ear to the ground on the latest navigation options in banking (a moving target). Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about ticketing issues anymore now that we use EventHi!
DCN: Events truly connect people together offline, why do you believe that events are critical as the cannabis industry begins its transition into becoming an industry?
Educational events are vital during this stage of growth. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation and the hangover of Reefer Madness brainwashing. It still blows us away!
High Dining is a division of Mary Jane University, and it is our mission is to bridge the gap between medication and education. With little scientific research (because even that was illegal), many look to years of anecdotal evidence to determine which direction to go in. Until the healthcare industry embraces cannabis as medicine, DIY healers, scientists, great budtenders and those who have worked with the plant for years are our guides.
Mary Jane University serves the community in this effort, and High Dining makes learning digestible for those who enjoy their fun infused with education. We want to prove that one can be social and functional with cannabis. Through our events and in-home education, our goal is to be at the forefront of changing the stigma.
DCN: With the upcoming event, Moonlit Moveable feast, what would be the experience you are creating? What can guests look forward to when attending this event?
Summation of the Moonit Moveable Feast: A feast for ALL the senses…
Moonlit – There are but a few times/year where the elements are perfect for MMF. Full moon, weather, Saturday. If you’ve never been in Joshua Tree under the full moon, it’s unforgettable. The events are highly curated, and no two are alike. MMF is a multisensory experience created specifically to harmonize with a low-dose cannabis experience. No more than 10mg of ingestible THC. We also celebrate raw cannabis, hemp use.
Moveable – Courses take place in different areas of an epic artist compound (address disclosed to ticketholders only) – 1st and 4th course are roaming with optional seating, 2nd and 3rd are seated. 2 seatings (6&7pm). The experience is limited to 44 diners.
Feast – A feast for the sense of SIGHT (live glassblowing, art, beautiful floral arrangements by The Flower Daddy, gorgeous desert landscapes, painted skies, celestial bodies, telescope, colorful cuisine, happy smiles)
A feast for the sense of SOUND (Matt Adams of The Bank Tapes (psychedelic one-of-a-kind performance), Divasonic (sound bath), Artist Kyle Simon’s “The Sirens,” essentially a sound telescope that allows us to listen to the moon.
A feast for your sense of TOUCH – Cannabis sommelier, Philip Wolf guides ours through a tactile demonstration on pairing flower with food. Visit the Mary Jane University education station and get your hands on the latest and greatest ancillary products like the Hydrology 9
A feast for your sense of SMELL -: the smell of “The Wonderlust” strain by Sunboldt Grown Farms (more details in the menu below)
A feast for the SPIRIT with Angel Card Oracle Readings and Chakra Cleansing by Lady NeJanna who will also do a special Closing Ceremony where guests participate in a Beltane Bonfire Rite
Last but never least, a Feast for your sense of TASTE (menu below)
There is much to say about the Moonlit Moveable Feast, which is so close to our hearts. It truly is a work of art, and the curation is done with the utmost intention (in other words, it’s not a cannabis event put together by a marketing firm who slapped something together with a bunch of brands that paid them to be a part of it). We work with brands we love and who also feel the spirit of the plant.
We consider all participants involved as our co-creators and we even like to say that we curate on vibration. We like to share cannabis culture in intimate settings that display cannabis in the light we see it. It truly is a feast for all the senses as well as your soul. In this world of event after event, one of our goals is to create a lasting impression, and we feel our event has the soul to do that. Some guests have said that the Moonlit Moveable Feast has changed their life! We couldn’t ask for a better reward.
DCN: What kind of partners/exhibitors do you bring in to create this environment?
The Moonlit Moveable Feast is a culmination of wonderful cuisine by Chef Sabrina Phelps, all of the artists and the choose your own adventure atmosphere that allows one to learn to the degree they feel comfortable in. We create a casual setting and actually plant Roaming Educators (experts on various topics) as dinner guests. We also plant interesting artists of Joshua Tree to provide local flavor and give you a true Joshua Tree experience. Roaming Educators of this edition of the Moonlit Moveable Feast are:
Learn at your pleasure from any of our invited guests who are highly educated in their fields.
Keiko Beatie of Greenwave Relations on the topic of anything Cannabis. Keiko is also our Co-Hostess for the evening.
Royce Robertson of Joshua Tree Coffee Company on all things coffee. Seriously fascinating!
Ashley Manta: CannaSexual will share with you what it means to be a Cannasexual. Trust us, you want to know.
Sunshine Johnston of Sunboldt Grown Farms just may have a seed of knowledge for you!
DCN: Why did you feel creating an event like this was important?
There’s a passion for educating that burns in us and we feel like seducing the cannabis curious guest into learning is one of the most artful ways to educate. We honestly think we’re crazy sometimes for going out on such limbs. This is an extension of our activism after all, and activism is all passion. We can’t say these events have been easy. We can’t say they’ve been profitable. But we can say they’ve been successes in many other ways. It’s really our guest’s feedback that fuels us to continue. We strive to do more private parties to help sustain our more elaborate, expensive productions.
DCN: As this event has evolved, what would you say has been one of your proudest achievements with this event?
Thanks to the exposure given to us by Elise McDonough in her article in the Green State, we received much recognition, and one example we’re most proud of is the Award for Excellence in Experiences by Green State! This is a prestigious award as not many were given and Green State knows their cannabis.
DCN: Barbie and Lindsey, thank you for sharing with us more about High Dining and your journey. Before we let you go, anything you would like to share with the DCN audience?
We LOVE DCN! And those who are interested in joining us for any of our upcoming events, join the High Dining club today! Click here.
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