Unconventional: A Memoir of Entrepreneurism, Politics, and Pot
by Jamie Andrea Garzot
Girl Friday Books

"I saw the potential to create a store that was different, that did not have the ‘stoner’ customer at its center but instead embraced all customers."

Scores of inspirational, entrepreneurial memoirs are appealing, but few are quite so riveting as this title. With humor and the same point-by-point fastidiousness displayed in developing her pioneering cannabis dispensaries, Garzot outlines her entry and ascendency into an industry in which she originally had no interest. Never a consumer of cannabis, Garzot's life took an unexpected turn when she sought relief for insomnia and discovered that a single cannabis edible brought her a full night's rest. From there, she became a pioneer in the virtually unregulated California market that, even after many years of regulation, still has many peculiarities. Dispensaries still engage in cash-only transactions because most banks don't allow accounts for dispensaries, a situation created by the federal status of "pot."

Garzot felt uncomfortable with the "head shop" atmosphere of dispensaries when she left a secure position in community relations at energy giant PG&E to enter California's fledgling legal cannabis industry in 2009. Though she continued to be a cannabis consumption greenhorn, her vision embraced a more sophisticated, upscale operation infused with her community outreach skills to help create an inclusive experience for all customer types. Set against the dramatic political and economic backdrop of cannabis regulation that continues to this day, Garzot shares her deeply personal struggles and successes in bringing a frequently misunderstood substance into grudging and then wider acceptance with her 530 Collective dispensary (and later, her Synergy dispensaries) in the conservative northern California communities of Shasta Lake and Redding. Armed with virtually no business experience and with only a four-figure investment, Garzot methodically manifested her multi-million-dollar businesses through meticulous consideration of location, product, community support, and sheer creative risk. This memoir is rooted deeply in state history and a personal determination to succeed.

Winner of the 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Award E-Book Nonfiction Category

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Next Focus Review
Previous Focus Review

Return to USR Home