Women to Watch: Christy Essex
Christy Essex has been an integral part of workforce solutions in Missouri since 2014, now she serves as the founder and CEO of Se7en Staffing & Employment Solutions.
A business owner and operator since 2002, Essex’s interest in and passion for cannabis go beyond the industry. Essex is a firm believer in cannabis as medicine, “My family and I have a personal story of my ‘why’ I entered the cannabis field. I have seen countless individuals benefit from cannabis, THC, and CBD, as well as having had a family member who, if they would have had the ability to access medicinal cannabis could have had a different turnout with a severe health issue. It is a match made from heaven. What I do is a tribute to my children and the loss they might not have had to sustain so early in life if medicinal cannabis had been available years prior in our state,” she explained. “I also watched my father and sister needlessly suffer and pass away from cancer and wished they would have had the opportunity to have been educated and have access to this life-changing plant.”
Essex’s interest and initiatives in the cannabis market began in 2013, initially with watching and studying the legislative reforms process, then signature collecting for medical marijuana legalization, to self-education in the cannabis space.
“My workforce experience combined with a passion for the plant contributes to my daily drive to serve the cannabis industry,” Essex said.
Essex’s background in human resources, sales experience, and operational leadership, along with her knowledge of project management, manufacturing, and workforce development, have helped to propel Se7en Staffing to the front of Missouri’s growing industry. Now, Se7en Staffing has evolved to serve cannabis companies and candidates nationally.
As the Founder and CEO of Se7en, Essex had this to say about the company and what it’s all about, “As Missouri’s first premier cannabis staffing and employment solutions company, Se7en was established to focus specifically on the temporary, trial to hire, and professional direct hire business needs associated with the cannabis industry.
“Se7en provides the vital link between cannabis businesses and the many qualified candidates looking to start a career in the cannabis industry. We provide cost-effective staffing solutions to our clients while offering solid career opportunities to our candidates. We believe integrity, commitment, and communication are the key ingredients in our pursuit of building partnerships.
“Our Experience Counts: Our team has followed and educated ourselves in the industry for over nine years. Our President/CEO is affiliated with some of the top medical professionals, lobbyists, and CEOs in the industry. Our VP has 30+ years in staffing and recruiting top-notch personnel. Our staffing advisors and recruiters have a combination of over 25 years in the business. Because of our knowledge, experience and personal connections, our clients look to us to provide the right candidates for their growing businesses.
“We are fully dedicated to promoting diversity in the workplace, and we strongly encourage women, people of color, LGBTQ candidates, veterans, and candidates with disabilities to submit their resumes.”
Essex has become an industry leader in cannabis; an activist for women, minorities, and veterans, she pushes for inclusion and opportunity in the cannabis sector. In 2020, COMO Magazine named Essex to its Women of Excellence list. In 2021, Essex was recognized by Missouri’s cannabis industry leaders and was nominated as both Woman of the Year and Executive of the Year by Greenway Magazine readers. Essex is a former spokesperson for The American Staffing Association and now serves as a member of We Are Jaine and the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, she has also assisted with the startup of two workforce sustainability projects, all while continuing to partner and collaborate with various cannabis programs.
How did you get into cannabis? I saw how many jobs cannabis was going to bring to the Missouri job market and I knew in 2019 I needed to move on this dream of mine. I knew this field was going to be extremely specific as far as workforce initiatives and I was excited to take on the challenge.
How does your job differ when working with cannabis clients as opposed to traditional staffing environments? The cannabis sector is a small world with its own unique needs to successfully staff the industry. Se7en understands the client challenges in depth and serves as a true partner to adequately staff and recruit for our clients while maintaining compliance with regulations, high level of standards, and continually educating ourselves to effectively and successfully serve the industry. Se7en takes the extra time to coach candidates on what it takes to work in the field and directs candidates to various training/certification programs to increase their likelihood of being hired into the industry. We also assist the candidates step by step with the agent ID badging process so they are successful and timely in obtaining their clearance to work in the industry. This speeds up the hiring process for our clients. There is a great deal more work involved on our part understanding the industry and maintaining compliance right along with the clients we serve.
What makes staffing and employee development unique in the cannabis industry? State-specific training and compliance requirements in an ever-evolving industry.
What is it like being a woman in your field? I have always been an advocate for women in executive-level roles or those women who are seeking to scale to executive leadership roles. With the cannabis field still being primarily a male-dominated sector, I love collaborating with other women in the space and using the challenges I face as motivation to stay in the game and help other women enter the cannabis field.
What if any challenges have you faced that you feel men in the industry don’t generally deal with? You are expected to represent all women. When you are a woman, there’s enormous pressure to perform very very well because everything you do reflects on your gender. I have used this as an empowerment tool not only for myself but to help other women who may face these challenges.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about helping individuals enter the cannabis workforce who have tried over and over themselves without success. I am also passionate about making a difference in the lives of others while I am on my own journey in the cannabis world.
Where do you find inspiration? What motivates you? First and foremost I find my inspiration from my husband and children. My family is the central motivating aim of my life. I also find inspiration knowing I am a part of the greatest movement in our nation that changes lives! My purpose is my faith, family, and making a positive impact in the lives of others along the way.
What advice or encouragement would you like to give other women in the cannabis industry? Find a purpose that drives your soul and operate with the highest level of integrity and success will follow. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. This is where growth happens and do not be the smartest one at the table. Seek other women in the industry and learn from them. Women in cannabis are by far the most incredible set of women I have ever met!
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment? Scaling Se7en to offer our services nationally for our MSO customers as well as the ability to service other companies nationwide. I am also excited to announce we are rolling out a national cannabis workforce forum to educate and benefit cannabis businesses.