"Hey Ya'll Hey!!!"
Ayanna here and before I spill the tea on what it was like to win the Canna Tank contest this past 4/20, allow me to re introduce myself...My name is Ayanna (did you read it like Hov said it? lol it doesnt have quite the same ring but I tried) and I own Front Row Travels, a cannabis travel agency located in Baltimore MD.
I cultivate private and group travel experiences for cannabis and CBD users to marijuana friendly locations so that they may learn about and consume cannabis freely, safely and without judgment. I started Front Row Travels with black women in mind, we suffer from anxiety, depression and stress at alarming rates yet are least likely to seek help. Although cannabis use has been proven to help reduce stress, anxiety and depression it is still a stigma around its use especially in my community. AND THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE. I intend to break this stigma through travel and education.
Oh yeah.. back to the contest!
For those who aren't familiar, the Canna Tank competition is an annual event held at the National Cannabis Festival where aspiring cannabis business owners pitch their canna-biz in front of industry leaders and investors. Judges select ONE winner to win:
$1000.00 in start-up assistance
One-on-One business consultation with Denver Relief Consulting
One-on-One brand consultation with National Cannabis Festival's PR agency, High Street PR
VIP Pass for the NCF on 4/20
AND I WON! But before I get to winning I have to tell you a little more about my journey to the contest.
If you know me then you know I hate speaking in front of crowds. I ABSOLUTELY HATE IT.
But one of my goals in 2019 is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And what better way to do that than enter a contest that will potentially have me speak in front of a crowd of strangers. To hold me accountable I shared the contest with a group of colleagues and shared with them my hesitation and doubts.
What if I sound silly? What if I forget everything I practiced? Will I even be interesting?
My colleagues quickly helped me quell any doubts and at least submit an application, after all my over zealous imagination already had me being a bumbling fool on stage in front of strangers and I hadn't even applied. They quickly became some of my biggest cheerleaders, offering to help me however they can(shout out to Cheron, Shanterria, Joni,and so many more for being in my corner).
So I did it, I did the bare minimum and submitted my application in February with time to spare. Then the waiting began, finalist were not due to be notified until April 10th.
Can you believe it just 10 whole days to research and practice?
That sounds like plenty of time but when you have no idea what questions the judges will ask it feels like 10 minutes. I mean I knew what I was going to say regarding my pitch but I didn't know what the judges would say or ask?
And to me the only thing worst than talking in front of a crowd is having no idea what to say while you're in front of a crowd.
So I waited to hear if I made it to the finals or not. The first few weeks were a breeze because I knew I wouldn't find out until April 10th. But the closer April 10th came the more nervous I got and began to rethink everything.
Did I follow the submission rules? I checked three times before submitting but that didn't matter.
Was my essay concise? Too wordy?
Was my business even unique enough?
In the end...it didn't matter. Because I finally received the news I had been waiting for!!
Me!!! They picked me to be a finalist. NOW IT WAS GO TIME.
Getting ready for this competition was like getting ready for my wedding.
Weeks and hours spent preparing and making sure everything was perfect for an event that was going to fly by in what feels like a blink of the eye.
But I prepped and practiced and practiced until even I was sick of hearing my own voice.
Then the big day arrived... 4/20! My husband, one of my best friends and I piled into the car and headed to D.C. from Baltimore. On the way down I practiced some more.
We arrived at the festival with about 45 minutes to spare
The competition started at 2:00 p.m., the judges took their seats and the emcee took the mic.
There were five of us who made it to the finals.(We had no clue who and how many had actually made it to the finals with us).
I was set to pitch smack dab in the middle of the pack.Whew! Thankfully I wasn't the first. But that didn't stop me from being more nervous than a pregnant nun.
My name was called.
I stood up.
Gave the emcee a smile and "thank you".
Took a deep breath.
And let it flow.
I stuttered a bit and forgot some of the points I wanted to make BUT I made eye contact, spoke clearly and remembered to have stage presence. And see that was my biggest goal...to get more comfortable with speaking in front of an audience.
I killed it! So much so that I was announced...
WINNER OF THE 4TH ANNUAL NATIONAL CANNABIS FESTIVAL'S CANNA TANK CONTEST!!! <Insert happy dance>
I had to pinch myself, I actually WON.
I am excited to begin working with Denver Relief Consulting and High Street PR.
I would like to shout out everyone from friends, family and strangers who cheered me on and helped push me out of my comfort zone.
I want to give a big THANK YOU to the judges and fellow finalist (you guys are awesome and I can't wait to see your canna biz flourish).
From Jamaica to Las Vegas find out what's in store for Front Row Travels this year.