Svn (7) Questions with Jed Wexler from the Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference
We are excited to be spearheading the Hemp panel discussion and Hemp experiential space at the Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference in NYC next month. We sat down with LMCC's Director, Jed Wexler, to learn more about what is in store for this year's event that is aimed at connecting crossover retailers, global media, and investors to leading luxury brands + visionaries in the CBD, Hemp, and Cannabis space.
1. What inspired you to create the Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference in 2018?
I’ve always been fascinated by movements or cultural shifts that start with a small group of passionate visionaries — like skate culture, street style, hip-hop — that have this tipping point quality to them and that explode into the mainstream. Cannabis, CBD, and Hemp feels like that but on a whole other level — it’s multi-generational and touches everyone and almost everything. But this time we have the chance to get it right and embed social impact along with commerce into it right now before it gets away from us.
It was also very apparent that there was this entire upscale, design-driven market that was right on the edge of exploding into a major retail category. It just needed the right venue bringing together the right people with the right resources at the right time. Hence, LMCC. Our vision, in a nutshell, is: “Building prestige crossover brands.” Overall, there is no doubt that this is the greatest business and societal opportunity of our generation.
On a personal level, my privilege has always allowed me to navigate (and partake) in this space with impunity — hopefully we can use LMCC and the concept of luxury (and what that means today) to continue to push forth the idea that this is no longer “exotic” and no longer, and should never have been, criminal. Our creative director Billy Gray said it best when he said, “LMCC partners with brands that live at the junction of purpose and a sophisticated approach to design.”
Also, my father has Parkinson’s and CBD and Cannabis has helped pave the way toward him thinking more holistically (and less pharmaceutically) about his health. Honestly, it was a mind-blowing article on Svn Space actually on the topic that pushed us both further into it. It might be one of the best things I’ve ever read.
2. You are gearing up for the 2nd iteration of LMCC on October 22nd in NYC. Can you tell us how this year’s event will be different from last years?
Last year we tested the concept and had Andrew Goetz (MALIN+GOETZ), Cindy Capobianco (Lord Jones), Anja Charbonneau (Broccoli Magazine), and Megan Villa (Svn Space) in an early evening program. It was just before the Farm Bill passed and a lot of people, retailers, investors, etc were still on the fence. After that, the floodgates opened.
So we turned LMCC 2019 into a full-day program with 30+ speakers covering a range of topics (including more viewpoints), as well as 10+, curated exhibiting brands for our business audience of crossover retailers, investors, and media to really engage with, in a more relaxed, more 1-1 way. It’s a combination of flagship panels and more relaxed “fireside” chats that happen concurrently — all designed for all of these amazing, influential people to connect directly with each other.
3. Who are some of the speakers that you are most excited to see at this year’s LMCC event and why?
Ha! That’s like trying to choose my favorite daughter (I have 2 little ones). I’m leaving so many out, but I’ll say Dorian Morris from Undefined Beauty who combined luxury CBD and social impact, Svn Space’s “Hemp Opportunity: Feed You, Clothe You, House You, Heal You” panel. And the fact that I get to personally sit down with both Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz to discuss their amazing 15-year journey. Casey Georgeson of Saint Jane Beauty, Noah Rosenblatt from Space NK.
I’m also super excited about our exhibiting brands like natureofthings, Fog&Tree, and Good Patch. Our lead sponsor this year is private equity firm Merida Captial (about 30+ brands in their portfolio) — their managing partner Mitch Baruchowitz is literally an encyclopedia of knowledge around how to navigate legislation, luxury brands and how to create a comfort level around investing in the space.
Another one we can’t wait for is Karim Webb, the CEO 4thMVMT, a visionary organization and social equity program out of Los Angeles established to increase diversity and equitable ownership in the cannabis industry.
4. We are excited to be part of the Hemp dedicated track and experiential space at LMCC this year. Where do you see the most potential in the Hemp space?
Well, first of all almost everything I know about Hemp I’ve learned from you guys. But it's the way it literally touches every part of our lives in a sustainable way (when sourced as it should be). It has a massive impact on everything from architecture, fashion, and food, to beauty, skincare, and wellness — from cities to rural areas.
Of course, I love the right CBD but what really excites me is the potential around Hempcrete, architecture, interior design - that’s so huge. I really intrigued by how Anthony Neron of Du Chanvre combines elevated design with Hemp. Our fireside chats will also take place inside The Svn Space “Hemp Experience” we’ll have on-site, which will really open people’s minds about the benign ubiquity and benefits of Hemp.
5. We have seen tremendous growth in the luxury cannabis space over the past year. What are three of the most exciting things/trends that you have seen in this space in that time?
First, I would say brands are more focused than ever on sustainability and traceability all the way from product to packaging— really closing the loop and not taking short cuts as an essential baseline.
Another is just the overall recognition of how important design is each step of the way as well. Scott Campbell from Beboe told me the other day, “If your design and presentation are carefully considered it can build that first layer of trust with discerning consumers, which can pave the way for them to experience our products first hand.” I love that. Andrew Goetz also said the same thing at LMCC 2018, that basically great design generates trust and can actually destigmatize.
Lastly, it’s the continued expansion into more product lines typically associated with “traditional” beauty, skincare, and wellness consumer brands like, facecare, masks, bath soaks, teas, oral sprays, beard conditioners, candle collections, and the whole culinary/confectionary movement around it.
6. What are you hoping this year’s attendees will walk away with?
Best-in-class, real-time information from the people actually pioneering the industry from within AND without, a really clear picture of “what’s next”, “crossover” retailers creating partnerships with our exhibiting brands, our attendees walking away having created concrete business opportunities with great people, and long term relationships that they can carry with them throughout the year. It’s the mutual ongoing support that is so important.
Lastly, our attendees walking away with a comfort level to invest in and work with exciting brands, founders, and funds (I mean the Safe Banking Act is right around the corner right?)
7. What does LMCC 2020 look like?
That’s such a great question. This market literally changes week by week in such huge ways. Just adapting to that, reflecting those real-time changes and always making sure we always have the right mix of incredible people coming together. This also means taking LMCC on the road to a few more cities in the U.S. and abroad.