We had the good fortune of connecting with Jonathan Parker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonathan, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My father worked for 32 years for a major beverage company that afforded us a very blessed lifestyle. However, even after all that time he spent working for that company, he never owned it or had any capacity to pass any of that company’s equity to his children or other descendants. He was paid a great salary, but something about it just didn’t make sense to me. You see, I went to college with several people that by the time they could work or wanted to work, there was 6-figure or more position lined up for them in their family’s business to which, they’d been gromed for their entire life, wittingly or unwittingly. College or even grad school was just there to teach them new technologies, laws or updates to their specific industry. They’d gradutate (or not) and go make their family’s business sharper. My life was different. My Dad had a great corporate, job and, in time, I was expected to have that as well. But to get that, I had to jump through several hurdles (i.e. college, grad school, entry level positions, etc.) to get what some of my peers seemed to have had already laid out for them.
What was the difference? Where was I going wrong?
Most of the people I mentioned earlier that had their careers or jobs lined up for them had someone in their family (immediate or even a great, great grandparent) that decided one day, for whatever reason, to dive all the way into their passions and say,”I’m betting all on me and I’m doing this myself.” And through that relentless passion comes a prosperous plan. And from that prosperous plan comes productive progress and so on and so on. But it all fueled by pushing yourself with positivity everyday.
I guess the the thought for me starting my own business was to have something to build wealth for my family legacy in the long run. I don’t want my kids to think that their only option is to work for someone else and be miserable. I wanit to build a legacy of embracing your passions and building your brand around that. Because once you’re good at something and passionate about it, the sky is the limit. Especially with the internet. Money will come but what will be more important is the peace of mind you’ll have knowing you do what you love everyday and make a living doing it.
I chose cannabis because it’s a plant I’m very passionate about and having a history in cultivation, advertising/marketing, retail, music/entertainment and streetwear; it’s a plant I can work with several different ways with our brand “I.LOVE.THIS.PLANT”. We’ll have our own products in all of the above categories.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Truthfully, I’m not that much different than anybody else. I want what’s best for my family, myself and, God willing, I think I deserve the right to pursue that happiness or freedom with respect to all the universal laws of humanity.
I’m at where I”m at today because of my passion for a plant that was discovered through experimenting as kid. That experiementation led to a consistent relationship that I later realized was a form of self-medication. Although, I had been taught my entire life that this plant was dangerous, malicious and immoral; my first interactions with it helped me cope with life more than anything. It was truly medicinal for me. I had extreme anxiety as a kid and cannabis helped me get over through that and still does today.
Cannabis was not cool or accepted by the majority at this point. It wasn’t easy or accepted even being around the plant at that point, but that didn’t deter me at all. I made it a point to learn every truth I could about it and dispel any lies. This was around 1998-99. Cannabis was medically legal in CA but that was it. TX was not anywhere close to that and it years before any state would be recreational. However, I had developed a deep understanding and respect for the plant that I was certain was helping more people that it was claimed to hurt. I doubled down on educating myself and didn’t look back.
I graduated undergrad in 2003. The cannabis industry was not a thing. There was no future in it at that point. So, from 2003 to 2011 I pursued my other passions that were tangental to my main focus. Music, Advertising and Entertainment. I had a job working for an ad agency in Austin, TX called Sanders\Wingo that really opened me up to real successful people that smoked weed. Don’t get me wrong, there were folks there that didn’t, but I didn’t want to be like them. For the first time, I saw the corporate world was not all suits and ties. I had more connection with the creatives and clients. That’s who I hung out with after work. Musicians, DJs, artists, graphic designers and chefs were the folks I hung out with after work. These were the folks I wanted to be like. Ironically, they were all entrepreneurs in their own right. Looking back, that’s probably what made me successful was my ability to relate to them. My school teachers and professors all would tell me that I was “visionary” or “dreamer” but never told me that was a valuable quality or how to use that in business. But I later learned that everything starts with a dream or a vision. Everything.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is never quit. Learn to rest, but don’t quit.
Second most important lesson, always be real with yourself. Know yourself. Know what you will and will not do. Respect your limits, but know limits can be broken with dedication, perseverence and faith. Ultimately, reaching our true potential is what we all desire and we must always strive to reach it.
Third most important lesson is paraphrased by one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, “’til you own your own, you can’t be free.” He’s right and that sentiment along with my relationship with cannabis are what drove me to start my own brand, “I Love This Plant” (@i.love.this.plant). We’re a cannabis brand that promotes regenerative and sustainable farming practices indoor and outdoor. We want everyone consuming the best organic cannabis possible and believe that cannabis can be the gateway for everyone to get into organic, regenerative farming for themselves. It’s not just better for the planet, it’s better for them too.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
HA! I’d take them to Austin, TX immediately because that’s the city I miss most.
I’m not a big clubber or drinker, so I’m usually riding around the town checking out clothing stores, restaurants and I may go hear one of my DJ friends spin if they’re working that night. Other than that, I’m working or with my family.
One of my first stops which is also a family favorite. . .Ramen-Tatsu-Ya on East 5th. THE best ramen spot in the country, probably the world. Started by my homie, Tats. He also owns a japanese/Texas BBq infusion spot called Kemuri-Tatsu-Ya. Equally amazing, but more meat and dinner plates than the ramen spot. He also has a bar that has a more island-vibe called Tiki-Tatsu-Ya.
We usually only have time for this place with the kids and family wanting to see us.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow, there’s so many folks to name. First and foremost, God. The Creator of all things. Also, my parents for the foundation they gave me and all they’ve done for me. My loving wife, who always believes in me and reminds me everday that dreams do come true. My kids who allow me to continue to dream and learn.
In this particular story, S/O Devin “Dollaz” Donahue for being my first real friend in the industry and for pointing me in the right direction from the start. It was Devin who told me to go to the Indo/Expo where I began my job search. I eventually, got hooked up with Ean Seeb and Kayvan Khalatbari. S/O to them for believing in my passion and giving my first job in the cannabis industry working in their dispesnary, Denver Relief. Lightshade Labs for making me a dispensary manager. Pam and Scott Reach for showing me how they did it and for telling me I could do it too. The good folks at Hemp Temps for showing me the entire industry and allowing me to get paid while doing it. Big S/O to Doug Pelkey, Steve Sutter and Josh Haupt for bringing onto the Artsy Cannabis team. Huge S/O to Chaz Emmons for believing in me to run his medical grow to this day.
Oh and I have to thank Instagram too. The incredible network of friends, family and like-minded individuals that I’ve connected with on IG has without a doubt played a major role in where I’m at in my career.