Liz Santana and Sasha Perelman on Their Cannabis Pop-Up in NYC
Liz Santana and Sasha Perelman are co-founders of The Stone Age Experience, an immersive cannabis experience in New York City.
Sasha has 20 years of experience specializing in concept creation, event strategy, multi-sensory consumer journey design, and innovative engagements for clients and brands across multiple industries. She believes bringing people together is powerful, uplifting, and leads to change.
Liz launched LeapStarr Productions in 2011 at the age of 25, an event design and fabrication agency with a client roster that included Disney, Facebook, Verizon, P&G, Canon and more. After years of advocating for women and minorities to take their rightful place as leaders in business management, Liz is excited to combine this passion with her new love for plant medicine.
We spoke with Sasha and Liz for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.
Sasha and Liz, tell us ...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
- Sasha: I grew up in Brooklyn and now I live in Los Angeles (bicoastal between L.A. and New York).
- Liz: I grew up in Philly! Now live in the suburbs of New Jersey.
Your current role in the cannabis industry.
- Sasha: I'm an experienced creator and serial connector of people and things. My latest endeavor has led me to co-found The Stone Age Experience. I am also the CEO of Revolver Productions, a bi-coastal experiential events production company.
- Liz: My background in creating monumental, one-of-a-kind consumer experiences has paved the way for me to co-found The Stone Age! We launched our business with an event due to our core belief that humans have a more authentic reaction and connection to a brand through emotion and physical experiences.
A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.
- Sasha: Cannabis has brought purpose to me as an individual. Not only has it helped me cope with crippling anxiety and stress, I have been able to turn it into a tool. Working on The Stone Age has allowed me to share that narrative and spread awareness of plant benefits and how it can aid in enhancing the quality of their lives.
- Liz: Cannabis has literally changed my family's dynamic and health. Due to chronic back pain, my husband was almost immobile. When we found cannabis as a health tool, it changed the course of our lives. He can now keep up with our 5-year-old (Sophie) and 3-year-old (Max) and it's only getting better from here!
A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.
- Sasha: Kiva Petra Mints. Hands down they are the best product on the market for micro-dosing.
- Liz: For pain relief, all things Papa + Barkley. Their THC muscle rub is legit a game changer! For a fun time, def WYLD gummies.
The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.
- Sasha: Regulations, compliance, perception, messaging, budgets ... There is a plethora of red tape to bring an idea into surrounding cannabis to fruition. For us, it spanned everything from getting approved from our lease to insurance to payment processing—and we're not even plant touching!
- Liz: To echo Sasha's sentiment, the red tape is suffocating. However, that drives our passion and fuels us to change and progress because mass consumers deserve access to this magical plant!
One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.
- Sasha: I'm excited to see New York come online and the bevy of brands, experiences and tastemakers that come to support. We're going to see some incredible innovation and branding!
- Liz: Being a part of the movement! I love educating consumers about cannabis far beyond getting high (though we are open to that, too). But for the average consumer to learn how cannabis can enhance their sex life, help with pain, amplify mental and physical abilities and so much more is eye-opening.
A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.
- Sasha: Last Prisoner Project is an organization I've admired for a while for their work in criminal justice reform. The plethora of information, call-to-action programming and awareness they bring to the system-impacted individuals and their families is remarkable. We are proud to partner with them for The Stone Age and the opportunity to get our attendees involved in real-time progress and support.
- Liz: Last Prisoner Project holds a special place in our hearts due to our mission to help bring awareness and progress in criminal justice reform. However, for me, Women Grow is an organization that I have deep admiration and respect for. As a female business owner for the past 15 years, I know how critical it is to have women in decision making roles, especially in an industry that requires strength, determination and compassion in order to take its rightful place in the business world. I look forward to becoming a part of this group and doing whatever I can to amplify their efforts.
A recent project you're proud of.
- Sasha: The Stone Age has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life. It's incredible to witness the culmination of an amazing dream team manifest the seed (idea) from my wild imagination blossom into a magnificent 10,000-square-foot experiential pop-up.
- Liz: For me, the most challenging part of creating The Stone Age was the awareness activation and potion of the space—our area dedicated to system impacted individuals. We wanted to curate this space in a way that was hard hitting, but also evoked empathy, awareness and included a strong call to action. At the root of everything, we wanted to make sure we did justice to the lives and experiences of the system that impacted the people we are representing. The final result far exceeded our expectations.
Someone else's project you admired recently.
Liz: Banksy's "Genius or Vandal?" exhibit. Their grassroots marketing campaign was dope and effective. Plus they gameified art through digital integration.
Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.
- Sasha: Dasheeda Dawson, the rock star and change agent, is making waves in cannabis policy, education and business. I love seeing the application of her corporate experience into this industry and using it to empower and encourage others. Her book How to Succeed in the Cannabis Industry is the perfect tool to decipher a lot of challenges and misinformation that exist.
- Liz: Is it cheesy to say my business partner and canna-maven Sasha Perelman? She followed her passion and dream and has taken risks to evolve and progress the marketing efforts necessary to grow and strengthen the cannabis industry. I'm lucky she picked me to stand by her side to do it all!
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.
- Sasha: I'd be a full-time author and perpetual nomad eating my way around the world.
- Liz: Commercial and residential interior design. And maybe finding time to sleep!?