2 Minutes With … Rachel Bell, Director of Content and Social at NYC's Gotham Dispensary

On the versatility of cannabis

Based in Queens, Rachel is currently the director of content and social at Gotham, a recreational cannabis dispensary. Before venturing into marketing, she wrote four books of fiction and poetry and toured internationally, reading her work at over 100 different venues.

We spent two minutes with Rachel to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Rachel, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Indianapolis. I now live in Queens, NYC.

How you first got interested in cannabis.

There was nothing to do in suburban Indiana but get high. I was a rebellious preacher's daughter going to punk shows. It was exciting and against the rules. And when I was a teen, "exciting" and "against the rules" were synonymous.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

When I first accepted a job that required me to use Photoshop, I was really bad at it. So I started designing a T-shirt every day. I figured I could teach myself by doing it. Funny enough, it's become a pretty valuable side-hustle for me now. Plus, it's creatively rewarding. I no longer do it daily, though.

A recent project you're proud of.

My driving range episode of "Hi, I'm High" at Chelsea Piers, because I was truly stoned. I was so afraid to hit that golf ball—I cried a little bit. I'm proud I made it through unscathed.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today, and how to approach it.

Shockingly, there's still a stigma, which makes it hard to create partnerships with the larger brands. We have to link arms with like-minded people in the space to get things done and bring cool collabs to our shoppers. Part of the reason I started "Hi, I'm High" was to break down barriers and show people that cannabis is super versatile and not just about getting high. Like my episode with HOKA running ambassador Kate Glavan.

One thing about how the cannabis industry is evolving that you're excited about.

I joined Gotham because of the opportunity to do it differently. Our founder Joanne Wilson wanted Gotham to be about a lifestyle, a retail experience, a creative community—and for everyone, not just diehard potheads. I was inspired by that.

Someone else's work, in cannabis or beyond, that you admired lately.

My friend Amy is a product designer who just started her own brand, Sport Mode Studio. She's a Lakota Sioux and graduated from the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine this year. She creates organic herbal electrolyte drinks. It's an awesome business and her work background makes the branding so next level. Can't recommend it enough.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

I'm currently reading Studs Terkel's Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. I'm also loving Dolly Parton's America podcast.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

I just read Keaton Bell's amazing article in Vogue: "Thank You for the Music: An Oral History of Mamma Mia!" I was floored by how involved ABBA was in the making of the film. How intentional they were with everything. You see Mamma Mia! and you don't realize that two of them were behind the scenes on everything. I take Swedish pop music much more seriously now!

Your favorite fictional character.

I've been falling asleep to anime lately. I've never been able to fall asleep to TV or music because I'm too engaged in the content. But, if it's in a language I don't understand, I can drift off. Plus, anime series have thousands of episodes. This one I'm watching has over 1,000 and has been going since 1999.

Someone worth following on social media.

Roy Malloy. He's the saxophonist for the band Alex Cameron. He started a channel devoted entirely to cranes—the construction equipment. His fans will see a crane and tag him @Marvelouscrane. I love that level of commitment. He's made the enjoyment of construction equipment part of his everyday life. He's also an incredible saxophonist and a really nice person.

Your main strength as a marketer/creative.

You have less than a full second to capture a person's attention. And if in that second they feel like they are being advertised to, you've lost them. So making content that feels user-generated, weird and worth watching is my goal.  

Your biggest weakness.


What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

My favorite thing about being in marketing is that every industry needs it. This is my first cannabis industry job and I'm really enjoying it. After spending years marketing on apps, being able to work for a place that you can stand inside, that sells things you can hold in your hand, is so much more fulfilling.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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