Flowhub's Anne Fleshman on Creative Partnerships and Better Education in Cannabis

Plus, the return of in-person events, Flowhub's Social Equity Program, and more

Anne Fleshman is VP of marketing at Flowhub, maker of cannabis point-of-sale, inventory and compliance software, and is responsible for leading all go to market strategy, brand development and demand generation programs.

With a background in early-stage B2B SaaS startups, Anne excels at executing scalable, repeatable and compounding marketing systems to achieve exponential organic growth. Prior to Flowhub, Anne joined Autopilot in pre-beta to launch the company from zero to over 3,000 customers, fueling an experiential product-led acquisition model as Director of Marketing.

Anne received her BA in peace and conflict studies from UC Berkeley. We spoke with her for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.

Anne, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in a military family so I spent my childhood living on Air Force bases in many different places. Now I live in a small town in northern California called Nevada City. It's nestled on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range surrounded by forest and is considered to be California's best preserved Gold Rush town!

Your current role in the cannabis industry.

I am the VP of marketing at Flowhub, the cannabis point of sale platform helping dispensaries run smooth and compliant operations. I joined Flowhub in mid-2018 as an advocate for legalization and ending the war on drugs. I was impressed by Flowhub's genuine mission to make cannabis accessible to everyone, and knew I wanted to dedicate my professional career towards a bigger social cause. In this role, I am responsible for leading our overall marketing vision and strategy, developing the brand, driving demand generation programs, and building a high-performance marketing team.

Your earliest cannabis memory.

I was a late bloomer. DARE programs of my youth told me to "say no" to drugs and that cannabis was the gateway to harder substances. It wasn't until I moved to California for college when I was exposed to cannabis and tried it. Turns out, it's non-addictive and has magical benefits.

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

Cannabis is part of my daily wellness routine for a healthier, happier life. It helps me stay grounded, check in with myself, recognize mental patterns and think creatively. On the professional front, cannabis has opened opportunities to meet the most open-minded, passionate and resilient network of people. It's been rewarding to support small business owners whose dreams of running their own dispensary are now a reality.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

The product innovation in cannabis is hard to keep up with, so I like to switch it up! I recently tried Space Gems' Sour Spacedrops. They are vegan, woman-owned, and made with premium quality solventless ice water hash. Another new-to-me brand is Jade Nectar. They make minimally processed cannabis-infused olive oil tinctures with interesting genetics. The indica formula is made from pure Landrace Indica strains, which produce relaxing and mystical effects. 

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

Due to federal illegality, cannabis marketers are limited by restrictive policies of the largest advertising networks in the world like Google, Facebook and Instagram. While challenging, these extra hurdles have been the driving force behind creative marketing in the cannabis industry. Cannabis marketers ahead of the game are leaning into first-party, consented data, influencer network effects, brand relationships and owned community engagement channels. 

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

With loosening Covid restrictions, it's exciting to see the return of in-person cannabis events. We are going to see an explosion of creative partnerships between companies offering new, experiential spaces for educating, selling, consuming and celebrating cannabis. 

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

I support any organization working to release non-violent prisoners for cannabis-related offenses, expunge records, educate communities and advance an accessible, sustainable and inclusive industry. Supernova Women is a nonprofit organization empowering people of color to become self-sufficient shareholders in the cannabis economy. Founded in 2015 by Black and Brown women, Supernova Women is lowering barriers of entry and building sustainability in cannabis through advocacy, education and network building.   

A recent project you're proud of.

I'm proud to have spearheaded Flowhub's Social Equity Program. Since launching in June 2021, Flowhub has awarded over $3.5 million in free software products through this initiative. The mission of the program is to promote equal opportunity cannabis entrepreneurship by providing resourcing that removes hurdles to entry for underrepresented groups and those who have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

I'm a big fan of all the mainstream universities beginning to embrace cannabis education. It's great to see institutions such as the University of Nevada, Reno, partnering with cannabis companies to launch courses, scholarships and research programs in order to groom students for careers in the growing cannabis industry.

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

Emily Paxhia is a cannabis industry trailblazer and early investor of Flowhub who has been a huge role model for me.

A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.

When I get the munchies, I go for homemade baked goods or single-origin, high cacao percentage chocolate.

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

I have always wanted to be a firefighter! With dangerous wildfire conditions in California and recent destructive fires, I have increasingly grown my respect and appreciation for the noble efforts of these frontline crews. 

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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