At Blue Forest Farms, we believe in spreading the love. Each member of this amazing community has a story to tell and we think these stories deserve to be heard. This week, we’re sharing Jae Graham’s story.
Jae Graham is the co-owner and co-founder of MaryJae Modern Cannabis Experience, a boutique and lifestyle shop in Austin, Texas. The shop, inspired by Graham’s father, was founded to help others and offer a judgment-free experience for the canna-curious.
Before opening the shop, Graham was a buyer for a local adult retail store, growing their smoke section from one case to thirty cases and eventually buying for sixteen locations. After more than six years there, Graham and her partner, Francisca, decided to travel the states for a year, to learn more about cannabis businesses, before opening MaryJae in 2017.
Now, three years later, the shop is ranked number one on Yelp and was voted Austin’s Best CBD Purveyor. As her business grows, Graham continues to advocate for the legalization of cannabis and hopes MaryJae will serve as a base for those looking to learn more.
Tell us the story of how you got started in the industry?
It all started when I was taking my ill father to his doctor’s appointment. We both saw a now hiring sign in front of a nearby shop; we giggled about it, and well, I was looking for employment, so I made my way inside. I was hired and became a Manager/ Buyer where my duties were to purchase for specific departments. One of them being the “Smoke Shop” department, where there was only one case. My supervisor sent me to my first trade show, where he said,” Let’s see what you do with it.” I filled that one case, and everything sold pretty quickly. That one case turned into a dozen, and that dozen turned into purchasing for 16 stores. I had found my calling! I loved to shop for others, and people gravitated to what I picked out.
While I was working full time, I was also my father’s full-time caregiver. He was in his 70’s and dealing with cirrhosis of the liver and prostate cancer. I would see him in pain most of the time, which caused him not to have an appetite and not sleep well. That’s when I decided to share my knowledge of cannabis with him. It was something that helped me daily, so why not share that with him and see if that could help him. I remember my brother and I sitting with him, rolling his first joint, and just talking. He started to feel a little light-headed, so I laid him down to rest. About 20 minutes later, I checked on him to see if he was ok and he raised his head from the pillow and said,” Honey, can I get Kerbey Lane, a chili cheese dog with extra onions and a drink from Sonic?” As I laughed, I told him, “You can have anything you want.”
To see a man so skinny and frail who could not eat or keep anything down to eating anything and everything. Wow, what a special moment for our family. Cannabis truly gave him a quality of life! Before his passing on October 27, 2015, he told me, “Please share cannabis with everyone, especially older people like me.”
Fast forward to 2016, I was depressed, and my life was at a standstill. I had lost my best friend, and I didn’t know how to cope. That’s when my partner Francisca, who had also helped me take care of my father, said to me,” Let’s sell everything and help people like your father understand cannabis better.” We opened MaryJae in 2017.
How has your life changed since getting involved in the industry?
It’s changed tremendously! I have found my voice and purpose in life. I was starting to get a little worried that I was not going to find “the perfect job/profession” by the time I turned 40. When I entered the industry, I felt alive and had so much to share with the world; I know this is where I am supposed to be.
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
Oh, challenges, we have been banned on all social media platforms for advertising to having our credit card processor companies drop us (multiple times). We always find ways around the “normal” because we have always had to. To us outside the box is where we live, so we get creative, reach out and research, then we double down and take action right away.
What are your favorite podcasts, books, and apps?
Honestly, I just started getting into podcasts and reading books. I felt like I never took the time to do either, and now I realize that it’s SO important, especially for an entrepreneur. I have always had a fear of reading a book front to back since I have a learning disability and mix my letters around while reading. I am currently facing this challenge, so I’ll get back to you!
Current Podcast: GaryVee / Leaders Create Leaders with my mentor Gerard Adams
What do you see as the future of the Cannabis industry?
I see cannabis being accessible to everyone in every state. Unfortunately, that also comes with cannabis being capitalized by big pharma, which breaks my heart. This is why it’s so important to support your local small businesses as we can control and weed out the bad medicine for our people!
If you were to give advice to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps what would it be?
- Stay true to yourself and continue to be a student of your craft.
- Take your skills and see how you can transfer that into the industry.
- Network Network Network!
- Be the positive change.
We are so grateful for Jae and the work she’s doing to make cannabis accessible to all consumers. Because of people like her, we are paving the way for a happier, healthier future.
Choose Hemp. Grow Love.
Check out MaryJae’s socials: