Today we’d like to introduce you to Rhonda Jane.
Rhonda, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am originally from the East Coast – Buffalo, NY born and raised to be exact.
In college, from 2005-2009, I studied Sociology with a concentration in Legal Studies, all while completing a certification course in Journalism by contributing as a Staff Writer and Photographer on the Arts Desk of the student publication, The Spectrum, at The University at Buffalo (SUNY).
November 2009, while still in college, I officially launched my first blog, FlagrantCity.com, more than likely it was the very first hip hop blog in Buffalo. This platform was dedicated to music and the arts, and the need to fill a void of wanting to see more talented people who not only looked like me but many people I knew personally, being highlighted or featured more in print and media publications in my city.
The irony of me deciding to leave my studies at school in December 2009, one month after launching my blog, was a bit overwhelming and I felt like I disappointed my parents, more than I felt confident that I made this decision for myself, my passion for writing, my happiness and my future. I didn’t feel fulfilled at college and I wanted to do press, promote and strategize marketing digital content my way, utilizing the skills I received in school that were most beneficial.
I covered album reviews, events and concert reviews, fine art gallery opening exhibits, I interviewed bands and musicians and so much more on the Arts desk of The Spectrum. I was able to do the same thing with talented people from my city and beyond, showcasing amazing people I knew personally, overlooked artists, talents, businesses or brands by way of Flagrant City.
Growing tired of the cold winters and desolate creative opportunities for a budding young writer with big dreams to blog, I headed West for California back in November 2011 for warmer weather and greener pastures. On top of that, being an avid cannabis activist since age 18, it seemed only right to be in a place where the plant that I loved so much was much was much more decriminalized than New York State.
BuffaLowe PR, LLC was founded in January of 2013 as a result of the work I was doing via the FlagrantCity.com blog. This allowed for me to provide customized marketing and promotional services to businesses, artists and brands that were featured on the site. I have also done brand consulting, served as a road manager and merchandiser on an independently booked bicoastal US tour, while moving from NorCal down to Los Angeles.
I dabbled in radio a bit moving to Los Angeles in 2013. I also enjoyed playing small roles as a background actress and music video extra my first few years in LA between 2013 and 2015. Towards the end of 2015, I randomly started an online clothing boutique poshly called Rhonda Jane, a personal ode to the OG Mary Jane in me (my middle name is Janell) and opened up an office in the Fashion District downtown. I started working at a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills part-time while working for a cannabis vape pen company in 2016, same year I launched Rhonda Jane, the 420 Chic Boutique! You could find a variety of dope items like clothing and apparel down to home goods, candles, ashtrays, cute little stash jars and pouches at my online shop. This was a very fulfilling time in my life getting Rhonda Jane off the ground. Everything was new, I was and still am the buyer, the marketing team, promotional director, photographer, graphic artist. While working for the cannabis vape company, I got to learn about the plant I loved so much in a deeper and more enriching way. I drowned myself in knowledge, learning about microdosing, edibles, distillate, lotions, soaps, salves, pre-prohibition laws and uses for cannabis, prohibition and what it did to the Black community, legalization both medicinal in the 90s, then recreational in 2018, etc. I served as an administrative assistant, inside sales associate, brand ambassador and consultant with patients both medicinal and recreational.
You can imagine my passion for cannabis turned into something completely different once I learned I was expecting my first child in January 2019. I got pregnant on my birthday in April 2018 and as I mentioned before I’ve incorporated cannabis in my life since 18. My immediate concerns were what am I going to do now? The same concerns that people who frown upon cannabis have, I now had becoming a new mom, but why?
Oh, I don’t know – Rhetoric, miseducation, propaganda, Federal regulation? I started seeking answers to the many questions I had: will my years of cannabis use harm my unborn baby? Can I still use cannabis during my pregnancy responsibly? Or thereafter?
I announced my pregnancy at the three-month mark, in a very cryptic yet blunt way on my personal IG page @buffalowe716 with a series of three striking photos: each one I’m wearing some cannabis-related apparel: the first photo captioned Dope, the second Mom, the third image Loading, Dope Mom Loading.
I began documenting my pregnancy journey on a brand new Instagram page, @dopemomcollective, as not to bother my current audience with my new obsession with becoming a Dope Momma. I then launched an accompanying blog to provide more insight into my new life journey. From that moment, the Dope Mom Lifestyle Collective was officially born.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has definitely been bumpy but the journey has been so very rewarding.
Being pregnant as a Black woman you learn so much about yourself, healthcare, risks and concerns a lot of other women don’t have to worry about. Add cannabis talk to the mix and it’s like trying to convince people you’re not irresponsible or negligent in your decisions.
I love using personal experiences and research to re-educate people and advocate for destigmatization along with decriminalization of this plant.
It is also a bit hard trying to continuously create content for two main blogs and one even newer blog about his and hers craft beer adventures with my man, (@Sour And IPA) run an online shop, print and ship orders, work full time, with a newly one-year-old baby attached to my hip. I simply sit back and remind myself why I’m working so hard right now and that everything will pay off in due time.
Please tell us about Dope Mom Lifestyle Collective.
The Dope Mom Lifestyle Collective is different than any other mom group or mom blog out there. I’m very transparent, open and honest. I showed how I got back in shape after having my son with cleaner eating and weekly hikes at the Culver City Stairs Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook with some good friends. I recently hiked Runyon Canyon this past weekend with a small group of other Dope Mommas working on feeling better about themselves. I discuss postpartum depression in vivid detail and offer tips to combat this time in your life as a new Dope Mom. I make Dope merchandise for Moms to wear and be proud out loud about their cannabis views. I participate in and often host giveaways to get new moms and parents-to-be some essentials they may need for their new addition. I decided that cannabis was a part of my life pre-baby and it will remain a part of my life post-baby, and I’m happy to be vocal about my experience because other women of color, especially Black women, need to see themselves represented. I’m a Dope Mom for life.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, my Mother considered me a peculiar child. I was very advanced, independent, inquisitive, analytical, gifted. “A pleasure to have in class,” read my report card notes, it could also say “easily distracted or disrupts class”, if I’m bored finished with my work and idle for too long. I attended a grammar school for gifted and talented students. We learned about Bloom’s Taxonomy and critical thinking from an early age. I’ve always thought outside of the box, even in and outside of school – I was just wired so much different than most kids my age. I took advanced classes in both grammar school and high school. Photography was a favorite past time of mines, I’d go to my Dad’s store and develop film with him after school in high school, in addition to writing, journaling and reading. I’ve always loved being outside, on the go, and just free to be and exist, I centered myself around creative hobbies that allowed me to connect more with myself in that way.
Writing, photography and then music has always been most influential in my life and then my curiosity and my affinity for cannabis became present in my teens. I was offered a joint on my 13th birthday – even though I declined, in the back of my mind, I said, “in due time”, which happened organically at a much more maturer point in my life.
For now I’m working on growing all of my respective brands, venturing out into podcasting by officially launching the Somebody’s Dope Podcast in the Spring and new avenues in possibly both print and broadcasting media. I’m excited for the future, Rhonda Jane to the world!
- Rhonda Jane Apparel starts at $20.00
- Flagrant City Blog Feature starts at $50.00
- Dope Mom Life Coach Consulting starts at $20.00
- BuffaLowe PR Marketing Services starts at $50.00
- Website: FlagrantCity.com | TheDopeMomLifestyle.wordpress.com | ShopRhondaJane.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: Instagram.com/dopemomcollective | Instagram.com/shoprhondajane
Instagram.com/flagrantcity | Instagram.com/buffalowe716 | Instagram.com/sourandipa