2 Minutes With … Suzan 'Semii' Gebreyonas, Brand Manager of Monogram & Roc Nation
Semii has worked across the cannabis, music, entertainment, marketing and advertising industries for eight years. As brand manager of Monogram and Roc Nation Partnership, she develops business strategy, brand plans and activations. Semii is also the founder of the boutique agency Face2Face Entertainment, which connects community and lifestyle through media.
We spent two minutes with Semii to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.
Semii, tell us …
Where you grew up and where do you live now?
I grew up in Elizabeth, N.J., and I live in Los Angeles now.
How you first got interested in cannabis.
I've been around cannabis since high school, if not earlier, and I know a lot of people who use cannabis to help expand their creativity with music. As far as working in the industry, I started working with a dispensary where I merged entertainment and cultural strategies in order to build an omnichannel marketing team.
Your earliest musical memory?
Music has been a part of my life since the second grade. My earliest musical memories consist of being in school choirs, ensembles, plays, musicals and band.
One of your favorite projects you’ve ever worked on.
My favorite project would have to be RNB3 with PnB. It was one of the first all-in projects I worked on as an A&R rep with Orlando Whartonberg. From office meetings during the day to sessions at night, putting each song together and rolling it out, a lot of greatness came from those rooms.
A recent project you're proud of.
I came across a nonprofit called Ethiopia Skates, which is a community of kids in Ethiopia who have a passion for skateboarding. They spent years skating through the streets since they didn't have access to the parks or the best boards. Over the years, they established three skate parks that came through donations, however they were still in need of better equipment. So, I reached out to my friend, Stevie Williams, and he loved what they were doing. He got the entire DGK team to send them boxes of new gear and apparel. A lot of these kids grew up watching and learning from Stevie and the pro-skaters on DGK videos, so it was a full-circle moment for them. I'm proud because I know it can help inspire these kids to keep going and to never underestimate what's possible. You never know who's watching you—the sky's the limit.
The biggest challenge marketers face today, and how to approach it.
Learning how to mute the noise and focus on creating. There is such an over-consumption of content, and even just in life, we all have a lot going on. So as a marketer, it's important to figure out how to remain focused and continue to produce your own art while not getting lost in the consumption of others.
One thing about how the cannabis industry is evolving that you're excited about.
For cannabis, I would say the federal legalization and global exchange. It's still crazy to think how the same legal action in one state can get you arrested in another. It'll be interesting to watch as we get closer to federal legalization, and to see what global distribution looks like. FREE THEM.
Someone else's work that you admired lately.
I would have to say the Puma's "Humble Soles" sneaker/mixtape release. From the double entendres through product deviation to distribution of content, this was something that I found interesting and simply refreshing to see. From the title, "Humble Souls" (SOLES), to the shoelaces looking like the aux cord, the art is in the details.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
Your favorite fictional character.
Someone/thing worth following in social media.
Your main strength as a marketer/creative.
As a marketer, my main strength would be threading things and people together in order to push the needle. A lot of times people have amazing marketing ideas but lack the ability to be able to put the pieces together and bring the bigger picture to life. I feel I am able to really identify what the brand is and what that feels and looks like. It's about finding the right people and assets. I have a very omnichannel way of thinking, so I look at ways to identify people's greatness and find ways to channel it.
Your biggest weakness.
I find it hard to be still.
Something people would find surprising about you.
My mom came to the States two weeks before I was born, so English is my second language.
One thing that always makes you happy.
I love to see ideas and conversations come to life. Being able to look back on what I was able to accomplish makes me incredibly happy.
One thing that always makes you sad.
There are certain people that I wish were still here ... but we will always celebrate their life and legacy.
What you'd be doing if you weren't working in the music and cannabis industries.
I'd still be in the entertainment industry, likely film and TV. However, if I excluded entertainment, I'd probably work somewhere in the venture capital world where I'm in a position to invest in any and all dope ideas I find.