The women behind Ladies of Paradise

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Wearable fashion couldn’t hold Jade Daniels’ interest like the latest trends in cannabis.

And her website Ladies of Paradise seemed like the perfect platform for cultivating a cannabis brand where she used to sell exotic jewelry, handbags and other accessories. Adapting the business name that formerly described indigenous women of Guatemala, Daniels reasoned that places where cannabis is legal are their own kind of “paradise.”

“Our company is just all about cannabis culture and community,” says Daniels, 32, of Jacksonville, adding that she wanted to highlight “women doing cool stuff.”

Beginning with a cannabis-themed blog that featured women contributing to the cannabis industry, Daniels and her four partners built Ladies of Paradise over several years into a creative consulting company that specializes in photography, social media and search engine optimization. From branding and marketing, Daniels branched out into product development with last year’s launch of her own pre-roll line, dubbed Lady Jays.

“Everyone just loves our packaging.”

Striking the right “feminine aesthetic” with color schemes, graphics and text is key to selling cannabis products to women, says Daniels. Lady Jays, she adds, plays up “girl power” with its “clean, legible, eye-catching” design that’s still “fun and funky.”

“Our look I would say is very colorful.”

Poor branding was pervasive in the legal cannabis industry until just a few years ago, says Daniels, recalling products’ dark-hued labels, overly stylized fonts and “stickers slapped on it.” And when it came to women’s participation in cannabis, some media verged on offensive, says Daniels, explaining that some widely read publications commonly depicted bikini-clad, tattooed women posing with bongs.
“This is tacky,” she says. “We can do better than this.”

Other women, which constitute more than 45 percent of cannabis users, are likely to agree. Women are far more inclined than men to try cannabis in sprays, capsules and topical formulas and increasingly look to CBD and CBG for relief from menstrual cramps and as skin-care alternatives.

THC’s appeal also is strong among women who, experts agree, are the cannabis industry’s fastest growing demographic, according to a December article in Cannabis Industry Journal. And Ladies of Paradise, says Daniels, receives plenty of feedback from women who want to support women-owned businesses. In exchange, Lady Jays donates 3 cents from every box to nonprofit groups that support women.

“It’s been really cool to see more products pop up for women,” says Harlee Case, co-founder and creative director for Ladies of Paradise.

A sharp sales jump boosted Lady Jays during this past spring’s strict statewide measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, says Case. Shopping online, customers snapped up CBD and CBG products that include 5-gram packs containing 10 pre-rolls, 1-gram single pre-rolls and 3.5- and 7-gram jars of trimmed flower. Lady Jays THC pre-rolls are available at more than 60 retail outlets around the state, including Rogue Valley Cannabis, owned by Daniels’ domestic partner.

Frequently sold out, Lady Jays’ demand outpaced the supply of suitable flower, say Daniels and Case. A recent partnership with Million Elephants in Southern Oregon should consistently keep Lady Jays online and on shelves. Lady Jays also has sourced flower from Southern Oregon’s TKO, which has its own pre-roll line, and TreeTop Gardens in Cave Junction.

“Flower cost affects us,” says Daniels. “We started when flower was at its lowest.”

Market fluctuations are just one reason to extend the company’s reach beyond cannabis, says Daniels. Although gaining nationwide name recognition for Lady Jays CBD and CBG lines is Daniels’ goal, Portland-based Ladies of Paradise actively courts clients outside the cannabis industry who need creative and marketing services.

Jade Daniels strikes a fashionable pose amidst the harvest.
Photo by Ryan McKinnon

“We want to branch out,” says Daniels. “We don’t want to be pigeonholed.”

An ice cream company in New York and an entrepreneur offering permanent makeup are among the most recent Ladies of Paradise clients, says Daniels. They’ve also planned photo shoots with a host of companies known for sustainability, she adds. The Ladies of Paradise portfolio features a variety of images related to fashion and body care. Case, a 28-year-old Central Point native, is the primary photographer for Ladies of Paradise.

“I never went to college,” says Case. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur.”

Case and Daniels agree that cannabis-related businesses, more readily than other sectors, encourage women to hold higher positions in their organizations. A 2015 survey of 630 marijuana professionals found women had leadership roles in 36 percent of those businesses, compared with 22 percent of U.S. companies generally, according to the trade publication Marijuana Business Daily.

“This is an industry where (women) feel like they can be,” says Daniels.

A mentorship program is in the works for Ladies of Paradise, but was slowed by the coronavirus outbreak. Similarly, the company’s elaborately orchestrated events have been put on hold, including a rooftop party booked for July in Portland. In the meantime, the company will keep inspiring women to “fly high,” says Case, beyond traditional notions of fashion and femininity.

See ladiesofparadise.com and shopladyjays.com.

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