Limone Creative's Founders on Bridging the Gap Between Cannabis and Everything Else
Bianca Monica and Geoff Rynex are the co-founders of national cannabis creative agency and consultancy Limone Creative. Since 2017, Limone has been creating brands, spaces and conversations for the top minds and operators in cannabis throughout the U.S. and Canada. They've produced large-scale community activations in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Chicago, and hosted attendees from around the globe.
Today, Limone edifies operations across the lifestyle, cannabis, hospitality, fashion, wellness and psychedelics spaces, with a special focus on bringing these fields together when appropriate.
We spoke with Bianca and Geoff for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.
Bianca and Geoff, tell us ...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
- Bianca: I'm a Jersey girl, born and raised.
- Geoff: I mostly grew up in suburban Chicago, and now we split time between Southern California and NYC.
Your current role in the cannabis industry.
- Bianca and Geoff: As co-founders of Limone, we've been defining what a cannabis brand is and can be since 2017. We build brands, content and experiences and consult folks on how to do all of those things. We split most of our time between Southern California and New York, but you'll find us anywhere there's a good cannabis conversation happening.
A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.
- Geoff: As a D.A.R.E. Generation kid, I'd been uptight through high school, indoctrinated by the anti-drug propaganda of my youth. I was frightened of anything labeled "drugs," and I largely avoided people who used them. It limited my existence. But in college, peer pressure worked in my favor. I took a hit from a bong called Shiva the Destroyer, and I was cracked open. It was nothing to do with the new sensations or thought patterns (though those were great). It was the outrage I felt about having been misled about weed for so long. It animated me. It made me look at all of my fears more skeptically, and from then on it became my instinct to question everything and to explore. Since then, among other things, cannabis has helped forge friendships, illuminated a career path, and given me an avenue to advocate for social justice issues I care about both in and out of cannabis.
- Bianca: Cannabis has connected me to so many incredible people throughout my time in the industry. The first person I met in cannabis was Angela Mou of Elevate Jane. She pulled out a joint and asked me if I wanted to smoke, and that became the new norm for business meetings and the start of creative collaborations with likeminded people, especially women. After that, I was inspired to launch a Women in Cannabis conference in DTLA at the Ace Hotel, which we scaled and brought to New York in 2019 with media company Coveteur. Aside from the incredible relationships it's helped forge, it has also helped my anxiety and stomach issues I've suffered from for most of my life. Much like Geoff, I was a D.A.R.E. generation kid. In high school and college I didn't drink, I didn't consume cannabis, I was fully against it all because of how I was raised and taught about drugs in general. I found cannabis after college, and when I realized how much it was changing my mind and body for the better, I became incredibly passionate about changing other people's minds about it, too.
A favorite flower, edible, product, or brand.
- Bianca: Curated Cannabis is one of my favorite flower brands out there. It's cryo-cured, so essentially the bud you're getting in the jar maintains the same size, appearance, and qualities it had when it was still attached to the plant.
- Geoff: I normally prefer sun-grown flower—give me something from Emerald Triangle terroir—but I had some Lil' Lime infused pre-rolls recently that led me down some very interesting conversational paths. Standby brands include Henry's Original, Pure Beauty, CBX and Rose Los Angeles.
The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.
- Bianca and Geoff: Continued federal prohibition of the plant. Trying to create a consistent brand experience across a patchwork of separate, inconsistently regulated state markets is challenge enough for cash-strapped businesses. But Meta, Google, TikTok and every other relevant platform being unwilling to work with cannabis companies—either on a paid basis or via official organic content guidelines—for fear of legal exposure makes the job of educating people about this still-very-young and complex industry extra difficult. You constantly have to be looking for new, outside-the-box ways for your brand to reach its audience, because the normal paths are either unavailable or substantially impeded.
One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.
- Bianca: I'm most excited about cannabis brands partnering outside the industry and making their foray into the mainstream with lifestyle, hospitality, fashion and wellness companies. It's been our goal since entering into the space to bridge the gap between cannabis and other industries, because the way we're going to normalize and destigmatize the plant is to showcase it with brands and activities people see every day. We've barely begun to scratch the surface of what cannabis could be and how it can be a part of people's lives. Partnerships with brands outside of the space is key to the growth and normalization of cannabis, and it's what Limone loves to do most.
- Geoff: Aside from more cannabis brands partnering with brands outside the space, I'm excited to see markets in earlier-legalizing states begin to mature, become more discerning and to demand more useful product information. Let's leave the sativa-indica-hybrid model behind. Let's quit universally driving everyone to the highest THC levels. Let's acknowledge the limitations of thinking about cannabis the same way we think of alcohol and tobacco.
A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.
- Bianca and Geoff: Root & Rebound is a grassroots organization operating in California and South Carolina that provides legal advocacy and public education to people in communities most harmed by mass incarceration. While it's not specifically a cannabis-centric organization, we're all well aware of how much cannabis charges factor into the mass incarceration figures. Last year, Root & Rebound partnered with Viola on A New Leaf, a legal and educational initiative to help people with cannabis convictions achieve successful post-incarceration reentry. We have a lot of love and respect for organizations that focus on practical help and resources for people navigating the complex social and institutional barriers of injustice. Getting people out of prisons and jails is just the first necessary step in a long journey.
A recent project you're proud of.
- Bianca and Geoff: The recent launch of our research and insights reports was a big moment for us. It was an incredible feeling to have years of our experience and observations about the cannabis industry validated by deep analyses of the data on the space. But we're also just finishing up a full brand identity for an upcoming New York edibles brand, and we're so excited for it to drop. We've been working directly with its very passionate founder for the better part of a year. It's been the most thorough and truly collaborative project we've ever worked on. The work has been beautiful, thoughtful, organically personal and we think it's going to inspire people to imagine what a post-stigma cannabis industry might look and feel like.
Someone else's project you admired recently.
- Bianca and Geoff: Speaking of our love and respect for people providing practical help, we're big fans of On the Revel's event series. They're doing community activations to help real New Yorkers and legacy operators build their state's cannabis industry. They bring speakers and educators from legal markets that have been up and running for a while—people who already have legal-landscape experience and understand the challenges of operating in the space on and in the ground.
Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.
- Bianca and Geoff: What attorney Cristina Buccola is doing on the legal side in New York is an inspiration to us. Cristina has dedicated untold hours to helping social equity applicants navigate the complex and costly CAURD licensing process. If New York's big promises on social equity are ever realized, it will be because of her and people like her sharing their knowledge and time, and doing this vital work.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.
- Bianca: I've always had a dream and side pursuit in the music industry and have been slowly putting together an album. But I can't see myself ever leaving cannabis. It's really just beginning.
- Geoff: I see my previous careers as steps along my path to legal cannabis and psychedelics. I've vaguely wanted to work in this industry since it was unclear whether it would ever be legal. Now that it is, I'm not going anywhere.