2 Minutes With .... Jake Wall, Chief Innovation Officer at Maison Bloom
Jake Wall is a veteran brand builder and growth marketing leader with deep experience across consumer brands, luxury fashion, digital and e-commerce, consumer packaged goods and food + beverage/hospitality industries. He has played an integral role in shepherding a number of brands through their high growth and adoption phases including eHOW, LIVESTRONG, JAKE Clothing, Haute Couture French Bubbles, Ayesha Curry’s International Smoke and Chef Michael Mina's empire of restaurants.
We spent two minutes with Jake to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.
Jake, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
A native California son, I grew up splitting time between San Luis Obispo, CA in the heart of the Central Coast and San Francisco, CA. Now as a man squarely in my middle ages … I split time between San Francisco, CA and Los Angeles, CA.
How you first got interested in cannabis.
I am old enough that I pre-date the legal cannabis market in California and, well, I have always been a Californian and that means "weed" has always been in part of my life. I first ventured into cannabis during my younger years as part of social rituals with friends and as an adult, I found myself falling into the world of legal cannabis for the same reason—to fuel social rituals and connection with friends in lieu of alcohol as I continue to live a "Cali-sober" style of living.
One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.
Being a part of the teams to brought Livestrong.com and eHow.com to life back in the day still holds a special place in my heart. It's been more years than I care to admit, and Demand Media may no longer exist, but these two great offerings not only live on but still maintain their positions as top 20 websites in their categories after all these years. It’s absolutely insane to think just how many lives this content touches. They continue to remind me that things we do in the present which can seem small can reach farther into the future than we might ever imagine. And so just like we used to say back at Demand, I use these sites as a reminder that I only ever want to do epic sh*t.
A recent project you're proud of.
Carving out our space as the leaders in the "fun for you" category of ingestibles (a better term than "edibles" in my humble opinion for a category that contains more than just what you eat) that is Craft Cannabis Beverages reached new levels of pride for me when we debuted our All-Natural Hemp-Based THC family of bevvies on 4/20. As part of The Chill State Collective, these luscious ladies are helping us on our mission to mainstream allowing for us to explore key partnerships drawing from my rich past in the restaurant and hospitality spaces including our work with our dear friend and fellow LGBTQIA+ trailblazer Chef Crista Luedtke.
The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today, and how to approach it.
The ability to create meaningful connections with their actual end consumers with an eye on creating a real connection to the brand and the products that can transform the average consumer into evangelist.
One thing about how the cannabis industry is evolving that you're excited about.
I know I am biased, but I am really excited to see a real appreciation taking hold for the distinctive offerings from independent farms and small batch farmers and cultivators that is fueling the craft cannabis movement. While big industrial farms and MSOs will always be a part of our world; we're talking about sungrown goodness from the smaller players in the game. These artisanal cultivators are fueling "farm to table" vibes in terms of the cannabis experience and with it ushering in a different way world of retailers who are also leaning in and looking to set themselves apart. For those who are leaning in, they are seeing how people are straying away from the traditional dispensary aisles and seeking out intimate, boutique-style experiences. They want to chat with the passionate growers, learn about the strains and savor the story behind each bud. It's like going on a cannabis tasting adventure, where every hit is a journey into terpene-filled bliss.
But it doesn't stop there. Craft cannabis enthusiasts are taking their love affair online too. They're scouting out the best websites, joining exclusive memberships, and eagerly awaiting limited drops like die-hard sneakerheads. It's a virtual treasure hunt, and they're on a mission to find that perfectly cured, hand-trimmed nug that will transport them to cloud nine.
And let's not forget the enjoyment factor. Craft cannabis is all about quality over quantity. It's about savoring each puff and appreciating the nuanced flavors and effects that only a lovingly nurtured plant can provide. It's like sipping a fine wine or indulging in a gourmet meal; it's a sensorial experience that elevates the senses and brings people closer to the plant.
I believe that we are going to continue to see an increasing dedication to either craft styled or cookie-cutter styled—the farmer's market versus the convenience store. And I am so absolutely here or it.
Someone else’s work, in cannabis or beyond, that you admired lately.
Best piece of advice I can give is the answer to this question: WWTFD? What would Tom Ford Do?
Tom Ford burst onto the scene like a supernova, injecting a much-needed dose of ooh la la into the world of fashion. With his sleek designs and provocative aesthetics, he turned heads faster than a double take at a pool party. He's like the naughty little devil sitting on your shoulder, whispering fashion secrets that make your pulse race and your wallet tremble.
Tom's impact on fashion and culture? It's hotter than a summer fling in Ibiza, my friend. He took Gucci from mild to wild, transforming it into the epitome of sexy sophistication. Suddenly, everyone wanted a piece of that Ford magic, whether it was slipping into his slinky dresses or dousing themselves in his intoxicating fragrances. He redefined what it meant to be cool, chic and unapologetically fabulous.
But let's not forget his saucy stint at Yves Saint Laurent. He revived the iconic brand, injecting it with his signature blend of elegance and sensuality. It was like a match made in fashion heaven, with Tom playing cupid and shooting arrows of style straight into our hearts. He turned the catwalk into a seductive dance floor, and we couldn't help but surrender to his fashion prowess.
A master of style who pushes boundaries and leaves us all craving more, presented his last collection in April of this year. A bit of a "surprise" to the world, this final collection is based on his greatest hits—an approach that seems more like the world of music than fashion. A love letter to those who have been part of his story, Ford brought back a number of key models who have been key figures in his runway shows of the past, serving to make this last collection a celebration of both the work and the people who were part of his journey. It’s personal. It’s sexy. It’s perfection. A true swan song as he steps away from this eponymous company, it also serves as a reminder that Tom Ford is consistently Tom Ford and as such will always be a true maestro of fashion and sultan of seduction.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
Hmmm. This is a tough one. I would have to say: Jonathan Hickman's "East of West" is one hell of a wild ride that gallops right into the heart of the divisive themes tearing our world apart. With a delicious blend of science fiction and spaghetti western goodness, it's like Clint Eastwood riding a hovercraft through a post-apocalyptic rodeo. Hickman—always the creative genius—takes the last decade of political theater and culture wars, throws 'em in a blender, and serves up a concoction that'll leave your brain spinning faster than a cowboy at a square dance.
Picture this: a fractured United States where the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse roam free, political factions wage war, and the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. It's like "Blazing Saddles" meets "Blade Runner" on peyote. You got futuristic gunslingers, badass assassins, and power-hungry politicians locked in a showdown for world domination. It's a bullet-riddled allegory for the mess we've made of our own world, with enough twists and turns to make your head spin faster than a lasso.
But it isn’t just about shootouts and showdowns. Hickman isn’t afraid to tackle the big questions that keep us up at night. He dives deep into themes of destiny, power, and the nature of humanity itself. It's like Nietzsche riding shotgun with John Wayne, pondering the meaning of it all while chewing on a cigar. Hickman's storytelling is as sharp as a cowboy's spurs, delivering a gut punch that'll leave you breathless.
"East of West" ain't your grandma's comic — it's a bucking bronco of imagination and social commentary that'll make you laugh, ponder, and question everything. It took him almost ten years to tell the complete story from beginning to end and all I can say is this wild ride through an apocalyptic alternative world to our own ends in a way that reminded me that there is nothing more powerful than love when couple with the human spirit. No matter how bleak, there will always be good in humanity and it is that good that insures that if better exists, we will always go with better.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
Five little words: Stuart Semple versus Anish Kapoor. This epic clash between Stuart Semple and Anish Kapoor is a juicy drama that leaves no artistic stone unturned. Semple, the fearless provocateur, takes aim at Kapoor's exclusive use of Vantablack, dubbing it the "blackest black." But wait, it doesn't end there. Semple masterfully trolls Kapoor by creating "Pinkest Pink," a vibrant shade of pink that he shares with the world, deliberately excluding Kapoor from its purchase. Oh, the sweet taste of revenge! Not stopping at just one jab, Semple goes on to develop "Culture Hustle," a workshop where artists unite, mocking Kapoor's notion of art as individual ownership. It's a middle finger to the establishment, a battle cry for creativity without barriers, proving that Semple's artistic antics are as entertaining as they are thought-provoking. So, grab your popcorn and watch as this edgy feud unfolds, reminding us all that the art world can be as cutthroat as it is electrifying. Semple’s continued artistic trolling of Kapoor is a feud ready for Ryan Murphy to turn into FX "must see TV."
Your favorite fictional character.
X-Men’s Emma Frost, the White Queen. In the hands of the right creative team, she's just a delight of biting humor, edgy wit and absolute brilliance in a manner that no other character quite manages to balance.
Someone worth following in social media.
In honor of Pride or June and my own intention of a solid "summer of love" with all we are doing with Maison Bloom, I can’t help but shine a spotlight on Eric Cervini. This NYT bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist is doing some really cool things in his own writing but also just in the world making it his mission to fight historical erasure and share great queer works including the creation of the Rainbow Book Bus. If you feel like stepping up to the plate and helping Eric and the team, you can learn more about the Rainbow Book Bus and show your own support here.
Your main strength as a marketer/creative.
Innovation through the lens of human-centered design. I use human-centered design to inform all that I do and it is very much at the heart of creating the exceptional products that I set out to make real in any project I lean into. By empathizing with consumers, understanding and interpreting their needs, and involving them throughout the design process, I am always able to ensure that what I set out to create truly addresses their pain points and delivers something meaningful to them. In the world of fashion, we used to say that if we were designing clothes that we love but our customers don’t want to buy, we are just making coffin liners. In the world of fine dining, that translated to making food that no one wants to eat means we are just making a funeral buffet. Whatever the case, I am not in the death services business and so my secret superpower is my approach and expertise in human-centered design helping to ensure I am always giving consumers what they never knew they always wanted.
Your biggest weakness.
Cake. I love cake. And even when I know I won’t particularly like it. Let's say a grocery store chocolate cake. I don’t prefer chocolate. And grocery store cakes are always overly sugary. There is no scenario in which this is going to be good. Yet, I still have to test it to prove my hypothesis. Cake. It is my kryptonite.
Something people would find surprising about you.
I once dated someone younger than me. I was trying on that whole "age is just a number" mindset. We were watching something that made a reference to the infamous OJ Simpson white Bronco highway slow speed chase and the subsequent murder trial and my date laughed … oddly. I asked my date about the joke—what they thought was so funny, specifically I asked if they knew what they meant by “OJ.” My date explained that it was obvious—they were talking about the juice … orange juice that is. That's when I realized that while age is just a number, generationally there is an age limit to "experiences" and while that date was our last date, I also drew a line in the sand that I could only date people who were old enough to know where they were during the infamous OJ Simpson case because its one of those insane pop culture moments along with so many others that I simply can't explain in the same manner as those of us who lived it. After all, I am looking for a partner … not a student. So just like rollercoasters have height limits to ride the ride, I have an age minimum to jump aboard this thrill ride.
One thing that always makes you happy.
Fat babies and baby laughter. Fat babies are the best—I am talking that beautiful Michelin Man chubbiness that cherubic little ones can pull off. Marry that with their giggles and gurgles and the combo just captures the heart. It's an adorable combination and it never fails to melt my cold dark heart and turn me into a big ole softy.
One thing that always makes you sad.
I could list a lot of things here, but a simple one that ripples through everything is: people who have stopped learning and growing. There are more people in this world than I care to count that just stop learning and growing once they feel like they have reached adulthood. Rather than leaning into self-evolution, they steer clear of it and cement themselves in comfort zones that all too often serve to put up walls and create barriers that inadvertently serve to keep others—others who may not think, feel, or do things exactly the same way—out or separate. It makes me sad that others keep their minds and their hearts potentially more closed than open. It a dangerous way or us to life when we are that closed off and it breaks my heart more often than not.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.
I would go to work for my old mentor and boss from the Demand Media days, Jennifer Prince as part of her team at the LA Rams building unique activations and partnerships that take things beyond the field and enrich the day to day lives of existing fans and beyond.