Lauren Yoshiko, Freelance Cannabis Journalist
💭 Thoughts on knowing your value, Sundae School, and Portland’s lost Japantown.
Thought Enthusiast is an AdHoc Project where we chat with fascinating thought leaders across various facets of music, tech, and culture whose work we admire, simply asking “what’s on your mind?” and “why do you care?” 💭
Lauren Yoshiko is a freelance journalist and has reported on the evolution of cannabis business and culture since 2014. Her work has appeared in national outlets, international mags, and many a weed zine in between. She writes a weekly cannabis business newsletter called Sticky Bits, has a book coming out in 2024, and is still on the fence about vaping.
This past year was consumed with writing and then editing and then gathering hundreds of images for my book, Green Scenes: A Guide To Legal Cannabis Destinations Across the US, and I cannot wait for it to publish in March. I'm in this strange period where the work is done, but the book doesn't exist yet. I'm so proud to share this work, and for these places and people doing fascinating things all over to get much deserved visibility. New York and LA take up a large part of the cannabis culture conversation, but there’s a lot of really cool things happening in places like Phoenix, Boston, and Detroit.
🇯🇵 Portland's lost Japantown
The older I get, the more I want to know about how things were. I turn on my phone recorder whenever my grandma talks about her youth and what she recalls about her mother's youth in 1930s Portland, OR. I enjoy wrapping my head around what my neighborhood looked like 50–100 years ago. I've been researching Portland's lost Japantown, which existed in a stretch of downtown from about 1910 to 1941, when essentially everyone of Japanese descent was sent to incarceration camps for the duration of WWII. I'm mixed race, raised in a very white American environment, and learning about this utterly Japanese American place that once existed has given me an unexpected sense of belonging.
I'm really into the music artist collective Joomanji right now. I first heard the song "Where Are You" via Portland's most excellent jazz radio station, KMHD. A little hip hop, a lil jazzy—good for background music or main character moments.
💰 Knowing your value
I really look up to Anja Charbonneau, the founder of Broccoli Magazine, and not just because she was a big part of legitimizing me as a cannabis journalist. She created the thing so many of us (women who loved weed as well as art, music, fashion, and interesting facets of culture) were waiting for, and I have so much respect for the way she did it. She trusted her gut as she built out the project and her team, holding people to really high, really creative standards. She paid for a copy editor and sought out a really skilled general editor that touches everything Broccoli puts out — for a “weed mag,” that was unheard of. I respect that editorial integrity immensely. When it came to partnerships and ads, she wasn't afraid to raise eyebrows if they didn't "get" what she was doing (or the price she was asking for). She knew her value, and she didn’t settle for less, even when the audience and clicks were all still small in its early phase. I will bring those lessons with me wherever I go.
📺 Classic TV & Films
I love to read, but there's nothing like getting transported with great TV/film. With the Hollywood strikes over the past year and the dearth of new content of quality hitting streaming platforms, I sought out recommended classics I'd never seen before. Some aged better than others, but whether the critics' reviews were right or not, it was always a fascinating time capsule of that era—the fashion, the lighting, the language, etc. I find it an inspiring break from the present. A couple I watched for the first time this year that I got a kick out of: Being There (1979), The Player (1992), Manhunter (1986).
I am forever inspired by Sundae School, a "smokewear brand" that puts out an impressive number of limited apparel drops rooted in Korean heritage, stoner-dom, and streetwear sensibilities. They also sell licensed edibles in the California market (and NY soon, I believe). It's extremely challenging to market cannabis brands online—the whole federally illegal thing means no Meta ads, no Google ads in most cases, etc.—and social media is a minefield that almost always results in getting posts deleted/accounts suspended, but Sundae School's team has done an incredible job of making really funny, fresh content and keeping up with the TikTok of it all. Founder Dae Lim has clearly developed a cozy culture on his team that empowers staff to have fun and experiment, no matter how high the ideas get. In a time when it's still really hard to make cool cannabis-centric things happen in person and online, it's inspiring to see what they pull off, and how much fun they have doing so.
Also: Contact Sports, that sexual wellness retailer. Their IG is so good.
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