It’s an exciting time for journalism and an even more exciting time for cannabis. Jennifer Skog, founder and chief creative of MJ Lifestyle magazine, is blazing her own trail in both industries with a mission to help “lift the stigma of cannabis by educating, empowering and advocating for all womankind” through her very own cannabis-focused media platform.
“Women have often felt judged by society for consuming cannabis….” Skog shares. “For MJ Lifestyle, it’s important to us to spark the conversation, highlight powerful women and create a community for females to flourish together. Women play a very different role in cannabis, a more conscious and intentional part. Whether she’s growing, making, or consuming—it’s sacred medicine.”
Photographer by trade and storyteller by nature, the San Francisco-born creator has dabbled in almost every industry, always favoring female-empowered subjects. Now, almost four years after launching her very own women-inspired magazine, Skog couldn’t imagine dedicating her life to a more uplifting cause.
“I want to empower the women in the cannabis industry to continue to rise. This is a platform made for them to share their voice and purpose; to raise awareness, to free prisoners from cannabis offenses and to not quit until the world has safe access to cannabis,” Skog says.
While the aspiring photographer wasn’t always sure where her passion for feminism and her love of cannabis would take her, she knew she had to give a voice to the voiceless and spread her inspiring message for women in the cannabis industry and beyond.
We had a chance to chat with the magazine mogul to hear about her journey to creating MJ Lifestyle and how she managed to navigate the many obstacles as a woman in the world of cannabis.
When did you first find yourself in the editorial world?
I’m a photographer by trade, so essentially, I’m a visual storyteller. For the past two decades, my work as a photographer brought me to thousands of love stories, family connections, fashion collections, entrepreneurial projects and, possibly most importantly, allowed me to empower women in their bodies with my boudoir work. Throughout my years as a professional photographer, I often wrote of my extraordinary experiences on my photography blog.
What inspired you to create your own cannabis magazine?
I was living in Kansas City at the time at an impasse in my career, searching for what’s next, when a close friend of mine suggested shooting cannabis. I was extremely reluctant because, as a long-time daily consumer, I was well aware of the negative stigma around the plant, and I had worked too hard to tarnish my reputation by working with cannabis. I shot for a couple of women who were into the cannabis and boudoir idea all under the anonymous Instagram handle @MJLifestyle. I have always loved the term ‘MJ.’ I wanted to name my daughter Mary Jane and call her MJ, but my husband wasn’t quite onboard. We had searched for potential Instagram handles that would work with MJ and eventually landed on MJ Lifestyle. Once I had enough images, I created a portfolio for my friend to take to festivals and retreats. The collection I created looked like a magazine.
At the same time, I had another photographer reach out to me to start a female empowered boudoir magazine. It was then that my calling hit me: This is exactly what I needed to be doing. I couldn’t envision it for boudoir, but for women and cannabis, I saw the need. Women were not being represented in the cannabis space in a positive light anywhere, and that needed to change. Women like myself, self-made, hard-working, reliable—we were not being represented.
It says on the MJ Lifestyle website that the magazine is a “community-powered lifestyle brand dedicated to lifting the stigma of cannabis by educating, empowering, and advocating for all womankind.” What is this cannabis “stigma” and how does it affect women differently?
There are many negative stigmas cannabis has long tried to overcome; Being labeled a “stoner,” “easy,” a “menace,” or a “criminal,” women have often felt judged by society for consuming cannabis. Parents have lost their children, people have gone to prison and underserved communities have been targeted all because of “reefer madness” and the lack of science and education. For MJ Lifestyle, it’s important to us to spark the conversation, highlight powerful women and create a community for females to flourish together. Women play a very different role in cannabis, a more conscious and intentional part. Whether she’s growing, making, or consuming—it’s sacred medicine.
Were you personally affected by this seemingly harsh industry stigma?
I was undoubtedly a cannabis consumer in my early years. I often felt judged, and typically, it was me and a bunch of guy friends consuming cannabis together. Most girls didn’t agree with my choices and chose to drink—I was often the designated driver. I was fearful entering the cannabis industry and was worried I would lose clients, which I did, but the feeling I had once I “came out of the green closet” was a massive weight off my shoulders.
What has your experience taught you about yourself and the industry as a whole?
Since joining the industry and being in a legal state, most are very intrigued by what I do. I actually coach both kids soccer and little league teams, and all the parents completely accept me and often ask questions! The community, aside from some bad players, has been incredible. Most everyone I meet is exceptionally passionate about what they do; we all have a purpose and the power to be even greater together.
What is something you wish you knew about the cannabis industry before entering?
I wish I knew how much I would have to fight for, how hard it was going to be to continually try to keep my head above water. Creating something out of nothing, with no money and every hurdle you can imagine, from merchant services to advertising to trademarking to Instagram. This industry has so many challenges, and often it feels like you’re always fighting a losing battle.
How do you feel the editorial sector of the cannabis industry differs from others? (i.e. sales, marketing, dispensaries, farms, etc.)
We have our challenges similar to the others. Still, one big advantage editorial has is not having to spend crazy amounts of money on permit fees or inflated rent prices to cultivate, manufacture or sell product. But we suffer when the industry suffers.
Do you have any advice for fellow women looking to enter the cannabis industry or who are currently involved?
Get yourself familiar with the leading brands in your area and find the ones you feel called to. MJ Lifestyle‘s directory of our most trusted brands is a great place to start. Figure out what it is that you want to do—with cannabis, the possibilities are infinite. You could take just about any profession and bring it to cannabis—there is a need for just about everything. Be authentic, be transparent and only surround yourself with people you trust and want to be associated with. Get ready to be challenged and work your ass off!
What message do you hope readers get from MJ Lifestyle?
I got a handwritten letter from a woman who had recently attended one of our events. She said she was a long-time sufferer from chronic illness and cannabis is the only thing that helps her feel better, but she beat herself up for smoking because of the stigma and fear of judgment. Her anxiety had become so damaging that she had found herself in a suicide recovery program.
After spending the day with inspiring women, expanding her cannabis knowledge and diving deeper into self-acceptance and meditation, her heart was full. It was as if she had experienced a complete metamorphosis. She noted, “Marijuana has always helped my lupus, but for obvious although sad reasons, it’s not something I share. That stops now, thanks to you. I have found my purpose in supporting moms, those who battle illness and mental demons and those who just need to live their best authentic self.”
I hope readers begin to understand the value of plant medicine and put more thought into what they put into their bodies. I hope they can turn the conversation from “pothead” to “conscious consumer” when in conversation. I want to inspire people to live with a more open mind, introduce them to different cultures and perspectives.
I also saw that MJ and Just Be Yoga recently hosted a women’s wellness retreat, Visualize & Thrive. What inspired this retreat?
This was our first day retreat designed for women that we got to host in the SF Bay Area. The owner of Just Be Yoga, Jenny Wendell, has created the most sacred space in the hills of Pleasanton, California, [called] The Luminary Farm. About 40 women gathered to enjoy a day of self-care. The day was magical and really opened my eyes to how many women genuinely need community and events like this in their lives—often!
You are also currently working on an MJ Lifestyle podcast. What topics does the show focus on?
The MJ Lifestyle podcast will be similar to the conversations we have with our women in print—plant-empowered, fierce, inspiring women and casual conversations.
You mentioned that you are also a fan of Bloom Farms and our products—we love to hear that! When did you first discover Bloom Farms?
I believe I had a phone call with Sally when I very first entered the space. I love the 1-for-1 program, our missions align and I’m a Bay Area native, so I felt an immediate sense of security. Knowing that I am consuming a safely produced and manufactured product is of utmost importance to me, plus I’m drawn to brands that prioritize transparency and social responsibility.
Any other news, releases, products or projects coming out that you’d like to share?
Yes! MJ Lifestyle has gone beyond print with our new annual MJ VIP Membership. Our goal has always been to be a stronger force than just a beautifully crafted print magazine. We want to give our community of women a greater opportunity to connect with plant medicine and ultimately each other. We also want to give our favorite brands a better way to get their products in our members’ hands. In addition to continuing our two print issues per year and digital educational platform, we’re curating exclusive events for women and seasonal wellness boxes delivered every three months. We have curated each Wellness Box with some of MJ Lifestyle‘s favorite brands and products: plant-based and hemp CBD. THC products included are unmedicated. Our Spring box is now shipping!
The fourth issue of MJ Lifestyle comes out this summer with the theme “Motherhood.” Digital and print subscriptions are available, and past issues can be found in digital format on mjlifestyle.com or Kindle.
Follow Jennifer Skog and MJ Lifestyle for nothing but the beat female-empowered cannabis news, support and more.
Instagram – instagram.com/jenniferskog/
Website – https://www.jenniferskog.com/
Instagram – instagram.com/MJLifestyle/
Website – mjlifestyle.com/