Angela Marks has spent her whole life showing men anything they can do she can do better.
The 23-year-old grew up in Mission, British Columbia gardening with her parents and driving dump trucks and operating heavy machinery at her dad’s gold mine.
“At a young age my dad taught me to do all of that stuff, he never limited me because of my gender. Just because a guy drives a dump truck doesn’t mean a girl can’t,” Marks said in a phone interview.
Marks learned to work hard and not take any sass from men, two attributes which helped the entrepreneur break into the cannabis industry.
Marks is the founder of B.C. Trimmers, a company that helps connect skilled trimming crews with licensed producers (LPs) to help harvest cannabis crops. The trimmer helps with the trimming, pruning and plucking of cannabis plants and the harvesting, packaging and labelling of crops too—though they’re known best for their high quality and speedy trimming, said Marks.
As the cannabis trade is still agricultural work there isn’t steady year-round work for a full-time trim crew at a single LP, but with B.C. Trimmers the LPs can access skilled labour whenever they need it and Marks’ team gets full-time work by contracting out to different locations and companies.
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Angela Marks: the only nominee shortlisted in both top Canadian Cannabis Award categories
When Lift & Co. Corp. (TSXV: LIFT) (OTCQB: LFCOF) released a sneak peak of the Canadian Cannabis Awards shortlist last week, Marks was nominated in two categories, as “Entrepreneur of the Year,” and “Womxn in Weeds—Trailblazer.” She is the only nominee to be named in both top categories and the only female nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my amazing friends, family and employees because they work so hard—I mean, I work hard but they work just as hard—and I wouldn’t be here without them,” said Marks.
Marks had been working in the cannabis industry for six years when she met Scott Mayer, senior vice president of operations at Experion Biotechnologies Inc. (TSXV:EXP) (OTCQB:EXPFF), who encouraged her to start her own company and move entirely into the legal market to work exclusively with LPs and micro growers.
She took the advice and founded B.C. Growers one year ago with a team of five hard working employees. Her company has contracts with B.C. companies Experion Biotechnologies, Miracle Valley, and Lotus Cannabis Co. (CSE:J)(FRA:LV9)(OTC:LTTSF) and will soon be expanding to Alberta too, said Marks.
“I thought I’d just be in my own city working for one or two people, but over the past couple months it has just blown up and I can’t keep up and have to hire more people. Sometimes I have to say no to work because we’re so busy which is cool,” she said.
So far the company does not have an official website because Marks can successfully market the business through Instagram.
B.C. Trimmers proves the ability to work hard has nothing to do with gender
Over the last year Marks has grown the team to 11 employees and has worked hard to earn the company the reputation of skilled workers who don’t go home until the job is done.
She gets a lot of flack from guys she’s worked around and is used to fielding questions about if she can work the same hours as men, lift the same things as men or work as hard as men. She employs women who can lift as much as men, she said with a laugh, and gender had nothing to do with how hard you can work.
“Doing business around men—not all men but a lot of them—they think they can push you around or think you’re a pushover. They don’t respect my value of work,” said Marks. “But I am the woman I am now because of how my father raised me. He taught me to put my neck out there and not take any shit.”
The B.C. Trimmers team actually employs all women, with one male on-call employee, said Marks. Her employees are also her friends and family who have been working with her since the beginning, she added, and it’s because of their hard work and dedication that her company is where it is today.
“I know my value and I know my employees are hard workers—that’s all that should matter at the end of the day, gender shouldn’t have to,” she said.
Cannabis legalization has decreased stigma around the drug, allowed for more medical access
One of the highlights of cannabis legalization, for Marks, has been watching the stigma around the drug she loves fade away. Working with cannabis for seven years now she has seen all of the benefits the plant can offer, from people using CBD oil to help battle anxiety and depression, to high-THC strains helping ease the side effects of patients going through chemo therapy.
The decrease in stigma has also allowed Marks to connect with other successful entrepreneurs in the industry and talk openly about her work, and to travel around the province and see new strains she hasn’t worked with before.
B.C. Trimmers will soon be expanding to Alberta and that means the trim crew needs to expand too, said Marks. Her goal is to eventually have a trim crew in each of the towns her company has contracts in rather than bringing the crew to each location, which can take several hours by car.
Training new crews takes time, however, added Marks, who said a new recruit can take six months to one year of full-time trimming to be able to learn the proper speed and technique.
Within the next five years Marks also said she wants to take her company public and be able to offer her employees benefits—but she won’t stop there.
“What I’m trying to do here is be the biggest business woman in B.C. — especially in the cannabis industry. It would be good to have more women in the industry, especially boss women, so I’m also striving for supporting more women and giving them a chance,” said Marks.
The winners of the Canadian Cannabis Awards will be announced at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto on November 8, just after Marks’ 24th birthday.