Artists curate and choreograph experiences. Artists create stories. In business terminology, they create brands. Branding your company is a necessity for business success. Brands have the ability to divert focus, pause time, evoke emotion, transform thought and start conversation. It is the artists behind the brand that make it come to life. Building your business means building your brand, and building your brand means: you’ll need an artist, therefore, artists create industries! Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the hard work and brilliance of Laurel Gregory, one of our local professional artists who is on the ground floor, turning cannabis into an industry.
Laurel Gregory has been an artist since a young age, when she first discovered drawing and music. In addition to her position as the Creative Director of the Santa Rosa based Cannabis Design Agency, The Hybrid Creative, she is also the Creative Director and Production Manager at a North Bay design & development agency, ZDCA Design & Development. “I art-direct and manage thirty to forty projects at any given time, including, but not limited to, identity and branding development, graphic, web and print design, creative direction, product development and client/vendor communications. I am responsible for keeping the business running smoothly, creating engaging and compelling art, maintaining client happiness and producing the quality of work we have become known for.”
Before Laurel’s current job, she was running her own design business, and among other contracted jobs, worked as the external (sub-contracted) art department for a local Fortune 500 company. She has also worked as a Project Manager and Executive Assistant, and has years of experience as an artist and effective business manager.
Can you walk us through your work day and what you do at The Hybrid Creative?
"As the Creative Director my workday starts off with reviewing client communications in the morning, and then connecting with my creative team throughout the day to make sure that everybody has what they need. I frequently meet with clients to have creative kick-off meetings or help facilitate project discovery sessions, where we uncover the potential scope for new projects. These meetings are fantastic as they offer an opportunity to see what’s moving and shaking in the industry. I have the opportunity to meet a lot of unique and driven people in the line of work I do. I wouldn't change it for the world."
How do you find inspiration and creativity when working with a client?
"There are several methods I use to find a creative path forward for each of our clients. Our initial creative kick off conversations dive deep into the client vision. There are specific questions we ask to attempt to uncover any attachments to specific symbology or an overall 'look & feel" before we dive in. If a client has chosen our 'Brand Strategy' deliverable they work with myself and Zack Darling, our CEO, to fully establish the brand's Value Propositions and overall motivations, before the visual/creative process begins. After this, it's really a matter of sitting with the brand's heart and thinking about what would serve both the target demographic and the brand's product/service(s) best. My creative briefs usually outline several different concepts so that we can try out a few different directions before we hone into the centralized theme for the brand."
Why is it important for a cannabis business to work with a Creative Agency like The Hybrid Creative? And what makes The Hybrid Creative unique?
"Not only do we fully understand graphic design, marketing and web development, but we also understand business- Especially the business of cannabis, hydroponics, medical marijuana. Our agency is an educated service provider. What makes The Hybrid Creative unique? We are a value-driven business with a parent company focused on sustainability. There are a lot of talented free-lance designers these new 'budding' cannabis brands can work with - ones that can design beautiful artwork or websites. That said, what sets the Hybrid apart is our ability to not only design a brand's look from top to bottom, but we can also provide guidance and deep knowledge / consulting, to help these new businesses thrive in the 'wild west' of the green rush. We have been part of the birth and growth of some of the key players in NorCal. Our first Hydroponic Client was back in 2003, when Zack and I first worked together. That is over 13 years designing and branding in this specialized cannabis space alone... Our industry experience is invaluable to our new and returning clients."
Have you found any differences working in the cannabis industry as a female vs. other industries? Do you have any recommendations for other women wanting to enter the cannabis industry as a Creative?
"I feel like the cannabis industry is more receptive to female entrepreneurs and female leaders than other industries I have worked in in the past. My initial theory on this is that women have been involved for so long in the cannabis industry that we are part of the foundation and base evolution. A lot of women are nurturers and caregivers and we've been using cannabis as medicine for a long time. I can remember making my first topical and tincture with cannabis and other herbs. I don't think I could drive a car yet."
Looking back at your personal and career experiences, what are 1 or 2 stand-out moments or people that made an impact on where you are today?
"In 2003 I started working as an office manager for a small design agency in downtown Santa Rosa. It just so happened that one of the owners was Zack Darling. His incredible design talent inspired me to start along the path I'm on now. As far as another personal experience goes? Some of my earliest memories are of playing Barbies at the foot of a 'forest' made of powerful and pungent plants. That helps me feel grounded and secure in my position here. I am totally at home working with the cannabis community."