Learned Through my Exit and Return to the Cannabis Industry
Personal branding has increased in importance in the realm of online presence. And thanks to the pandemic, which none of us can shut up about, reinvention has been essential for all of our survival. Whether it’s restructuring your business, your home life, or yourself- who you communicate yourself to be to the world shapes how you move through existence. It becomes a barometer for your quality of contentment as well.
In my case, my personal brand has shifted A LOT, especially since entering the cannabis industry in August 2018. I had a strong start then, but due to life circumstances, my burgeoning career as a cannabis copywriter and content strategist spiraled into complete chaos in Spring 2019 and remained a pervasive problem until the tail-end of 2020. A reinvention was necessary. Especially with so many people unfamiliar with who I am, and what I already offered the Cannabis industry. I learned the hard, pride-shattering lesson in starting from zero.
So, here’s my “formal” re-introduction into the cannabis industry: a lovely lesson for you to learn how to vibe with chaos of reinventing your personal brand .
Who I Was
My name is Alaina Dorsey, and I’m the owner and Brand Lore Craftswoman of my brand-building social content company FADED. Prior to debilitating mental and physical health issues giving me a seemingly endless beatdown for 18 months, I was an emerging freelance cannabis copywriter. I wrote for major publications and cannabis/hemp companies seeking quality blog posts.
Given how strong my stride was coming into the industry, my pride was shattered when I couldn’t sustain the success I came upon. I’m published on Leafly, I attended the Cannabis Science Conference where I got to meet and interview Montel Williams, I had ongoing work with CashColorCannabis, and a steadily growing list of clients.
During all this, personal branding was an ongoing experiment as I sought a name that aligned with the mission I was trying to form in the industry. I started with my full government name, then I tried CannaLaina, then Bud Biz Llama, followed by Bud Biz Lady, and then I settled upon Bud Biz Creativ in late 2019. This was until my rebrand in November 2020 to FADED/FADEDLain.
You see, my introduction into the Cannabis industry in August 2018 was also my official introduction to regular consumption of Cannabis. It was my way of addressing my struggles with anxiety and depression, so, all the Cannabis culture and history (and drama) were new to me.
Defining my personal brand became a journey of experimentation and observation. But that was all external: the actual answers were within me. So deep within that when shit hit the fan, I was consumed with more than I thought I could bear. Alas, the only way was through my turmoil.
Who I Am
Now I’m not going to say that you need to suffer through your own personal hell to shape your personal brand . But without it, I wouldn’t be able to present who I am to you.
Reinvention, to some degree, isn’t always about making a newer you.
From my experiences these past 18 or so months, I found that my personal brand required stripping away a lot of bull shit. Bull shit I learned from childhood, society, my peers, and even pervasive topics going on and on in the cannabis industry.You have to know your core, and that can require a vast amount of shadow work, because what you’re seeking is within.
We come pre-set with the tools: we just have to learn how to use them. And namely, finding who I am is shaped by my Definite Chief Aim, a concept from Napoleon Hill (author of “Think and Grow Rich”) and Bruce Lee. Cannabis is not the end-all, be-all of my life.
Cannabis was the catalyst to me facing and embracing my creative genius as a storyteller, visual artist, dancer, guitarist, fighter, strategist, entrepreneur, and inspiration made flesh. Cannabis (and psychedelics) have allowed me to choose and trust my grand vision for my lifetime. (I share my world-class mission with very few: it’s in its very early stages and needs nourishing from naysayers.)
Anyway, your Definite Chief Aim is your personal brand mission AKA vision. You choose it to carry you through the long haul of building whatever empire you’ve set out to change the world with. Reinvention starts with you making choices, and committing to them.
5 Tips in Personal Branding Reinvention
Photo Credit: Cuso Magazine
This Harvard Business article on reinventing your personal brand is a solid business approach to defining your place in the cannabis industry. And since business is merely an extension of humanity, these steps are applicable to your overall life.
There are 5 key steps. I’ll share my parallel lessons.
1. Define your destination: choose your Definite Chief Aim
Throughout my life, I encountered resistance to my multiple interests. I was ridiculed for it and my mind was always questioned rather than celebrated for it. Left to my freedoms as an adult in the cannabis industry, I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of opportunity. Especially as other people tried to sweep me into their dreams, while the losers I used to keep in my personal life projected their narrow perspectives onto me.
It was up to me to choose my destiny. So, I leaned into my genius, nodding to figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin. My role in cannabis supports my unnamed lifelong ambitions.
2. Leverage your points of difference: embrace what others misunderstand about you
I learned to fear myself from others. And quite frankly, that is bull shit. A ton of bull shit I’ve pushed myself to unlearn. Even working in the cannabis industry, people have screwed up my business name, my job title, and my actual name. It’s annoying, but a lesson in how strange I truly am to others.
So again, a lesson in leaning in and remaining steadfast in teaching the industry and the world who I am, and how to come correct when they interact with me. My honesty shakes people- good! That is my major differentiator: I don’t stand for nonsense. Lean into what’s polarizing.
3. Develop a narrative: use your personal story to provide value
You know those friends who “overshare” on Facebook with Pulitzer Prize-winning essay statuses? Yeah, I’m one of those. But thanks to my love for marketing and branding, I’ve started applying business lessons to sharing my story so that it inspires others to keep going after their vision.
I can’t say that there’s more people looking to tear you down than lift you. But I know that I tell stories about my path that I wish I’d known during my formative years and in my 20s. Make your reinvention memorable. Be to others what your inexperienced self-needed.
4. Reintroduce yourself: present the self you want the world to know
What do you want to be known for when you die? I know, that’s heavy, but it helps define the impression you want to make when meeting others and producing your best work. I think very highly of myself. Other than my stunning good looks and perfectly sculpted body, I have a brilliant, clever mind, and a glistening, charismatic spirit. My energy radiates from me—positive and negative.
As I’ve come to understand my effect on people, I knew I had to get aligned with my idea of my best self to make the most impact.
5. Prove your worth: make shit prolifically
The only person you need to prove your worth to is yourself. Define what that means to you and then show it to the world with your creations. Make a commitment to keep showing up for yourself as consistently as you can. Be abundant with what you create: your personal brand will unveil itself over time.
But you have to do the work.
Outro: Our Personal Brand is in the Mirror
And that is a wrap! It is a pleasure to meet you and share my cannabis and hemp industry experience with you. When it comes to reinventing your personal brand, it’s okay to start from zero.
Again. And again…And again.
Keep working to align with your truth. What the world sees is merely a reflection of who we choose to be. Reach out to me if you desire help honoring your truest self–doesn’t matter if it’s business or personal.
Written by: Alaina Dorsey
Alaina Dorsey is a professional draftswoman, freelance Creative Strategist and owner of Creative Ether, LLC, an artmaking and social media marketing company. Bud Biz Creativ is the cannabis, hemp and ecommerce side: she crafts brand lore-driven social content campaigns that are daring, distinct and experiential. It’s a brilliant amalgam of branding, strategy, social media and content marketing.
Edited by: Veronica Castillo
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