Tell us your canna-story. What led you to this industry? What was your first endeavor and what piqued your interest about cannabis?
I grew up in a loving but strict Puerto Rican household. My dad worked in the deli department at ShopRite for over 30 years, and my mom put herself through school to become a real estate agent. My childhood was happily spent in our middle-class neighborhood in New Jersey.
I graduated from the University of Scranton with a degree in political science. Then I earned my master’s degree from William Paterson University in public policy and international affairs.
Before I became an entrepreneur, I had a great career at the Michael J. Fox Foundation. I was a fundraising officer, contributed to event planning for the foundation, and co-chaired their Young Professionals group.
When I was five, my mom had the audacity to completely change her life by going to medical school. Growing up with someone as daring as my mom is a huge part of why I became an entrepreneur. When I started using cannabis for health reasons, I had trouble finding consumption devices that fit into my life as a fashionable woman and a mother of twins. House of Puff was born of my own necessity and inspired by my immersion in visual art.
As a second-generation American, risk-taking is in my DNA. I honed my networking, content creation, and PR skills while I was building my first business. Working in visual art also heightened my taste level and built my network of contemporary artists. While my first venture was profitable, it was also in a very small niche market. I’m now ready to build on my skills in a mass market enterprise.
What do you think is the next BIG THING in Cannabis?
Cannabis connoisseur culture that’s akin to wine culture.
What is a little known fact about yourself? What are some of your interests and hobbies?
I am a neophyte astronomer! I am fascinated by celestial phenomenons. My Celestron telescope is under lock and key.
Who is someone that inspires your work?
My mother, Dr. Debbie Salas-Lopez is truly the love of my life. She graduated medical school when I was 8 after selling real estate for 10 years. She’s now the SVP of Community Health and Engagement at Northwell Health. During the pandemic, she spearheaded the efforts to outfit convention centers, recreation centers, high school gymnasia and other non-medical buildings into emergency rooms for the onslaught of coronavirus patients that seized New York City. She recently published her memoir “The Girl from the Bronx,” which traces in her own voice, the trials of growing up in a Puerto Rican immigrant family, facing financial and personal hardship, and confronting systemic prejudice against minority identities.
She’s my hero in every sense of the word.