Salwa Ibrahim: Oakland’s cannabis queen helps healing bloom
What inspired you to start your business?
I was working for the nation’s first Cannabis University—it taught people how to apply for various different types of permits and become entrepreneurs in the emerging cannabis industry. Then the opportunity came up to apply for a cannabis dispensary permit in my hometown. I was 25 years old and didn’t have the confidence to go for it until my mentor sat me down and showed me not only that was I qualified, but also that I had nothing to lose. He was right! That was the start of Blüm.
Where do you want it to go?
It is hard to predict exactly where this industry will go, but my goal is to make “Blüm” synonymous with quality cannabis, holistic health, and wellness. We have already grown so much in the past three years; I would love to continue to expand nation-wide without compromising our homegrown feel.
How can we help your business?
We are always looking to expand and team up with local partners who share a likeminded vision and passion for cannabis businesses and reform. So if you know people, send them my way!
What did you eat for breakfast today?
I went to the local fresh juice joint and got a green juice and a veggie frittata.
What’s your workout?
I am inconsistent. Usually I go one month on, one month off. But when I am on, I like to do cardio for about 30 minutes, followed by weights.
What’s on your phone home screen? Snag a pic and show us!
I rotate through various cannabis plant shots on my home screen. It reminds me that although our work is often challenging, at the end of the day we are providing tens of thousands of patients a beautiful, natural product that helps them feel and live better.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
I love that you are only limited by your own imagination. Everything is possible when you get to decide the fate of your company. You can be as creative as you want to be, and I get so much fulfillment from that.
Why do you do, and why does it matter to you?
I thrive off of the challenge. In our industry, and particularly in California, the laws were not always clear. Navigating the gray area while lobbying for reform on a local and state level and simultaneously building your business is a rush. New laws come into play, you have to adapt, and that is ok. The best part—I wholeheartedly believe in what I am doing. I believe in the medical benefits of cannabis and have witnessed the relief it provides our patients.
What’s your “entrepreneurial superpower?”
I never take no for an answer. There is always a way and I will always find it. Plus I love to compete, which is necessary in this space.
Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now?
I admire a man named Phil Tagami. He is a local entrepreneur who has helped revitalize downtown Oakland. Plus, he is a proud feminist!
He taught me to never give up, and that the best part of success is giving back to your community.
What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur while also being female?
The best is helping other female entrepreneurs realize their potential. If I can do it, so can they, and I am here to help them. The worst is dealing with the assumptions people make about your business or your ability to compete simply because you are a woman.
Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs?
I think all people bring their own perspective to their companies. I don’t think that is necessarily gender-driven but more experience-driven.
What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?
Never give up—my mom.