Seven Questions With Helene Blanchette
M7’s ‘Seven’ Questions with MyJane’s New President, Helene Blanchette
It’s an exciting time at ManifestSeven as Helene Blanchette has officially taken the helm as the new president of MyJane, our retail subsidiary created by women, for women. Helene joins MyJane following a noteworthy tenure as the global vice president of marketing for Xerox Corp.’s production business. We sat down with Helene to learn more about her diverse background, her unique perspective on aligning MyJane with the fight to end human trafficking and her vision for how the company will support this cause in 2020 and beyond.
Q: Why did you make the decision to leave Xerox and join MyJane?
I saw the position as a tremendous opportunity to be part of a community of women helping women. MyJane is normalizing the cannabis experience for women by offering the first premium, curated cannabis experience in a box that is tailored to meet women’s individual needs and address their most-cited wellness concerns. The idea of contributing my knowledge and expertise in marketing, sales and operations to advance a cannabis wellness community that is empowering women to feel better was very appealing to me.
Q: We’re increasingly seeing executives from outside the industry leave secure positions to join cannabis companies. In your opinion, how is this trend changing the cannabis industry?
I think it’s giving the industry the balance it needs. Just as the right balance of people with varying expertise is what gives a company its strength and edge, the industry as a whole needs that diversified balance too. The scientists, growers and doctors are all players with extremely important roles in the growth of this industry, but equally important are the business veterans who have the corporate knowledge and years of experience building and running the various divisions that make up a successful company. The right balance of people is what the cannabis industry needs in order to continue growing and break the stigma of transition that needs to happen.
Q. We know that January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Tell us why you’ve chosen to align MyJane’s business with anti-trafficking?
The fight to end human-trafficking is a cause that is personally significant to me. Before moving to California in 2016, I spent nine years living in Asia. Those who have seen the outwardly visible evidence of this horrific injustice that exists in parts of Asia know that it is something that moves you inside and stays with you. Years ago I made a personal commitment to myself to help do something about this and to get involved with organizations fighting to end this barbaric practice. I carry that commitment with me everywhere I go, so I’ve brought it to MyJane as well. For a wellness business created by women, for women, I can think of no other social cause more worthy of our support than one that makes a difference in our own backyard here in Orange County, and that aligns with our authentic commitment to empowering women.
Q: Since joining MyJane last month, you’ve already launched a partnership to support girls and women who are victims of human trafficking. Can you tell us more about that?
MyJane has joined forces with International Sanctuary, an organization that provides a range of holistic care services for young women escaping human trafficking including professional training, employment, and a chance to heal, grow and thrive. At International Sanctuary locations in Orange County, survivors learn the art of jewelry making while earning a fair wage. Thus far, we’ve purchased more than 1,000 pieces of handcrafted jewelry from International Sanctuary to incorporate into our new collection of curated boxes – helping the Sanctuary move inventory and drum up awareness for their jewelry brand. We are also donating a percentage of the sales of every box back to the organization, which will directly impact survivors in Orange County and throughout Southern California.
Q. Why do you think the cannabis industry is well positioned to play a role in the fight to stop human trafficking practices across the globe?
There is a lot of attention on the cannabis industry right now, and with that attention comes great responsibility and great opportunity for cannabis companies to elevate the public conversation around the issues and causes they care about. Cannabis companies that have a socially conscious culture, like MyJane, will bring the causes they support upwards with them as they grow. The cannabis industry alone cannot eradicate human trafficking, but cannabis companies should take advantage of the spotlight that’s currently on our industry to contribute to the narrative around this hidden crime and be a voice for silenced victims.
Q. What’s next for MyJane and International Sanctuary in 2020?
We’re excited about what’s ahead for MyJane and its partnership with International Sanctuary in 2020. We will release a number of new box collections this year that contain International Sanctuary’s handmade PURPOSE jewelry, including all of our new curated CBD boxes. Customers will see a full assortment of pieces from their jewelry line in our boxes – everything from small bracelets to 14-carrat plated necklaces. We’re committed to supporting the great work that International Sanctuary is doing to empower women who are victims of human trafficking in our community, and we look forward to expanding our support for this cause through other new and interesting strategic partnerships and collaborations in the years ahead.
Q: What advice do you have for other women who are considering changing career course to join a cannabis company?
Do it! Read everything you can about the industry, the players, the types of products, and the studies that are out there, and then jump in with two feet. While the cannabis industry has historically been dominated by men in the top roles, the industry is rapidly evolving and there’s never been a better time for women to get in on the action. ManifestSeven is a great example of a cannabis company that is actively leveraging the corporate knowledge and unique expertise of women leaders to grow the business, and empowering women in executive roles through mentorships and coaching. There is a community of incredibly smart, innovative women from diverse background within this industry who are supporting and lifting other women as they climb.