From enthusiast to business owner, Alisha Thorpe turned her passion for cooking into a career. Alisha is the founder of Sneeky Snacks, a cannabis infused dessert company based in Washington, D.C. She launched the business in August 2015 with her partner Keegan. In the beginning, Sneeky Snacks was just a hobby. In May of 2016 though, everything changed. Alisha discovered she was pregnant. Meanwhile, she was unemployed. Her savings started dwindling right before her eyes. Despite these challenges, Alisha and Keegan saw an opportunity. They decided they were going to make Sneeky Snacks their number one priority. Hard work and passion paid off. Today Alisha and Keegan work full-time providing cannabis cakes, brownies, cupcakes, and more in the greater D.C. area.
What inspired you to enter the cannabis industry?
I’ve always been fascinated with cannabis since I was a teenager. If a professor gave me an option to pick a topic to write about, it was always cannabis. The more research and knowledge I gained about this magnificent plant, the more intrigued I was.
In 2015, I stumbled across a documentary on CNN called “High Profits”. It was about two young entrepreneurs, in their early 20’s, who owned a medical dispensary in Colorado and they were going through the changes to become a recreational dispensary. Long story short, they succeeded and was bringing in loads of cash.
I just remember thinking to myself that this what I wanted to do. Yes, because they were bringing in cash but I admired the fact that they were young entrepreneurs who were passionate about cannabis, just like myself. Also, I came across Jeff the 420 Chef from a High Times magazine, started following him on Instagram & became a huge fan. He is an inspiration to me as well.
Tell us more about launching your business
Sneeky Snacks was launched August 2015 by myself and my partner Keegan.
At the time, I was living in Atlanta & I use to fly back and forth from ATL & Washington, D.C. to make/experiment with different infused desserts. Sneeky Snacks was just a hobby for me and I can admit that I did not take our business seriously until I discovered I was pregnant in May of 2016.
I moved to Washington, D.C. for support/help from my family. I was unemployed and pregnant; my bills were piling up and the money I saved prior to me moving was slowly diminishing. So, we decided to kick it into high gears and make Sneeky Snacks our number one obligation and priority.
Since then, Sneeky Snacks has been nothing but good to us.
How has cannabis influenced your life?
Cannabis has influenced my life on so many different levels, I don't know where to start.
First, cannabis has taught me how to bake. Crazy, right? Prior to Sneeky Snacks you could barely catch me in the kitchen, let alone baking. Secondly, cannabis has opened a window of opportunity for me to become a ganjapreneur.
What have been your biggest hurdles operating in the cannabis industry so far?
The laws here in Washington, D.C. are complicated. We are nothing like Seattle, Colorado or California where you can simply show your i.d., walk into a dispensary and purchase cannabis products. We are initiative 71 compliant, meaning recreational use of cannabis is legal but we are not allowed to sell any products, we must simply give it away as a “gift”.
How have you been able to overcome these challenges?
We offer Sneeky Snacks merchandise to our customers in exchange for our products.
So, say for instance a client wants to buy an expensive Sneeky Snacks t-shirt. We would let them purchase that item and then gift them with a cannabis product(s) as an extra thank you if you must. Here in D.C., we refer to this method as a “donation”.
When you donate, you can receive the gift of cannabis.
Name the top 3 skills every cannabis entrepreneur needs?
1. You should be a good multitasker. I feel like this essential especially if you have kids, another job or whatever the case may be.
2. Being able to adapt. Cannabis is a growing changing market and you must be able to keep up if you want to make it in this business.
3. Consistency-this is the biggest obstacle I have had to battle. I use to go weeks without posting anything on Sneeky Snacks social media or not reply to emails/direct messages. If you want to remain relevant, stay consistent with your business and believe in your brand.
What is the best advice you've received recently?
Write everything down.
I keep a black journal where I like to write any new ideas or business ventures that come to mind. I’ve noticed that when I put ideas in my journal they seem to manifest, almost as if I'm speaking things into existence.
Any tips for maintaining a work/life balance?
I’ve noticed that you must take time out for yourself. In my spare time, I like to read and meditate. Being that I'm a new mom and a ganjaprenuer, mediation helps me to just be still and live in the moment & it also gets my creative juices flowing. I would also recommend to not be hard on yourself but keep the fire.
What are your favorite resources/tools for your business and why?
My iPhone is my favorite tool because I rely on a phone for everything. I'm taking pictures, editing, replying to emails, running social media, etc., all through this one small device. Pinterest is my favorite resource because I like to look for new inspiration and recipes.
If you could offer an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
The cannabis industry is not easy. There will be haters, naysayers, doubters, etc. but the best thing you can do is keep your faith and always put God first. Ignore the negativity. Even when you feel down & out, if you believe in the power of YOU, everything else will align.