Co-Founding Mary’s List: How Taylor Aldredge Became CMO
Hi, my name is Taylor Aldredge, and I’m the Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer at Mary’s List. It’s wonderful to see you here, and I’m very excited to introduce myself as well as our company.
So…how did I get here? Why did we build Mary’s List. What’s all this about?? Let me tell you, the last few years have been full ups, downs, zigs, zags and all the other crazy-straw twists I can think of. But, I would do all of them over again because they led me here–to my partner, Denise, and to building this website for the cannabis industry.
Around the beginning of 2017, I was laid off from my last full time job in Boston. The sales & marketing strategy changed for the company, and I was no longer a fit for that strategy. I had landed at the company after leaving my public relations gig as the Ambassador of Buzz at Grasshopper, which I was very proud of because we had pushed Grasshopper to an acquisition. With all that momentum, I wanted to dip my toes into the startup world a bit more, but that startup world chewed me up and spit me out in under a year. So much for that life.
When sudden events like getting laid off happen, you take it either positively or negatively. Trust me, I fought off the negativity A LOT, but it’s always there. It messes with your head. The negativity lurks in the background waiting for the opportunity to take your entire day, week, month even, into the ground. However, I held onto the positivity as hard as I could. I decided to make some changes to my life considering I was no longer tied to Boston for my career as a marketing professional. I sold my house, moved out of New England and moved to New York City with my partner, Denise Biderman.
Denise had reconstructive knee surgery early in 2017. I watched as she used only cannabis topicals and other products to manage the pain while rehabbing. It was incredible! Cannabis had always been a part of my life for a long time. That said, it wasn’t part of my life medicinally. It was always something I used in secret while scared that I might get caught with it. This was the first time, in front of my own eyes, that I watched someone use cannabis for a positive benefit outside of just getting a little high.
Things were starting to come together for me. Here I was watching someone benefit from medicinal access to cannabis, and we were fresh off the 2016 presidential election where California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada all legalized the recreational sale of cannabis. Denise and I quickly realized we needed to see a mature cannabis market in action if we wanted the experience necessary to survive in the industry. What were the in’s and out’s? How did the businesses operate? Could we even work in the industry? So, we set out west to Colorado in September of 2017 to answer our questions. Colorado had been in operation since 2012. It would be as good an opportunity as any to get started in the industry.
We moved to Colorado with some suitcases and a goal to understand every part of the cannabis industry. We got hustling. I started working and consulting out of a coworking space in Denver called Cultivated Synergy. It’s a coworking space for the cannabis community, and it was beautiful. I met amazing people doing all sorts of work in the industry. I met marketers, photographers, CPAs, Insurance people, lawyers – you name a professional, I probably met one.
Meanwhile, my partner Denise was in and out of the emergency room a number of times. She was having a difficult time adjusting to the altitude. We knew something was up when the doctor mentioned her blood oxygen levels were significantly lower than what would be considered normal. Well, if you have an already weak immune system, then less oxygen levels in the blood makes it even harder not to feel sick all the time. We realized that Denver wasn’t for us, but we learned a lot about how things were working for the cannabis industry and where the deficiencies were. Denise gained a ton of experience as well with her work as a technical writer at a cannabis licensing and consulting group in Colorado. So, we headed further west to California with an arsenal of observations about what worked and didn’t work in a mature cannabis market.
The cannabis industry was, and still is, suffering from a lack of support systems for businesses. There was, and is, so much money pouring into every market in every state, but you would be hard-pressed to find many resources for businesses and individuals. Meanwhile, Denise tried to freelance as a technical writer and consultant in California, but found it difficult to find opportunities on the traditional sites because of the cannabis industry designation. Nobody wanted to touch it. Companies from all parts of the tech industry have regularly blocked searches for cannabis or accounts for cannabis-related entrepreneurs and companies. Just a couple weeks ago, it was reported that Facebook was blocking cannabis related searches on its platform.
It dawned on us that we could create a resource for freelancers and business professionals to find work in the cannabis industry. We kept meeting amazing entrepreneurs who needed help from lawyers and CPAs, while we met lawyers and CPAs who were dying to work with cannabis clients. Meanwhile Denise was struggling to get hired as a freelance technical writer for cannabis companies. Everyone was doing things word-of-mouth. All of this came together one day while sitting in our car. Denise turned to me and said, “You know, if there’s an Angie’s List and there’s a Craig’s List, why isn’t there a Mary’s List?” Thus, Mary’s List was born.
Our mission: empower entrepreneurs and freelancers in the cannabis industry while giving them a community to flourish. We’ve worked in the industry and know the uphill battle that comes with starting a cannabis business. It’s incredibly difficult. It feels like the odds are always stacked against you and that it’s just too expensive to get started or find the right help.
That’s why we created Mary’s List: bring down barriers, get new people involved in the industry and connect as many people as we can.
The more we bring in new help from outside the cannabis industry, the more new ideas we bring in to solve the current problems we all face. By building a network of incredible resources, we keep access to medical cannabis alive and thriving. It doesn’t matter how large or small your company is — whether you’re a freelancer, an entrepreneur, a consultant, a small business, a medium-sized business or an enterprise-level company — Mary’s List is here to serve you, to connect you to the right people.
We’d love to hear about your story now. What are you doing in the industry? Are you a service provider helping cannabis companies or a cannabis company creating something none of us have seen before? How can we help you out? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below!