Women to Watch: Kassie Ferrero
Kassie Ferrero has been working in the cannabis industry for roughly three years, first in Maryland and now in Missouri.
prior to entering the cannabis industry, Ferrero had been maintaining her career as a professional musician. She’s been playing an instrument since she was 5 years old – starting with piano then moving to cello at age 9, as well as bass and continuing with it since age 10.
Kassie regularly performs with ensembles in the region including the Kansas City Symphony, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Missouri Symphony, and Music Theater Heritage. Outside of cannabis, she teaches private bass lessons for students of all ages and experience levels and contributes monthly product reviews for Evolution magazine, further extending her love and knowledge of cannabis on a public platform.
Currently, Kassie serves as the Purchasing Manager of Kansas City Cannabis Company, a position mainly consisting of product acquisition by working with vendors throughout Missouri to find high-quality medicine at an affordable cost. She also creates and approves all sales and promotions Kansas City Cannbis offers. In addition, Ferrero is responsible for educating staff on all new products that are received, managing the events calendar for all dispensary locations, and representing KCC in the community and at industry events.
“I can’t recall ever working with a company that supports its people like KCC does. They believe in empowering their people and giving them the tools needed to succeed both inside and outside of KCC. And, that’s why I love working with KCC! As a woman in the industry, with a thriving career in music, KCC has continuously supported my professional growth, both in music and in cannabis.”
Share what it’s been like since marijuana has been legalized in Missouri.
It has certainly been a wild ride! We are learning as we go, to be honest. From an analytics perspective, tracking sales, what types of products have been favored, and how far people are traveling to visit us has been fascinating and a key element in making sure I provide the right medicine for all. From a purchasing perspective, it has challenged me to rise to the occasion. We are all trying to work together to make things beneficial for both vendors and retail establishments. Finding that balance has taught me how to be a better listener, better advocator, and how to make more with less. At the end of the day, we are all here to provide the means for a better, healthier life and the recent production logistics are a mere bump in the road.
How did you get into cannabis?
My emergence in the cannabis industry was pretty unexpected. After finishing my graduate program, I was having trouble making ends meet and needed to supplement my income. A music colleague of mine was working at a dispensary in Baltimore and helped connect me with a part time job as a budtender. Not only did I have the chance to engage with patients and talk extensively about cannabis, I also was able to learn about inventory control and dispensary operations as a whole. I had such a great experience and knew from there that if I were to ever have a job outside of music, it would be in cannabis. In 2019, shortly after the medical bill passed in Missouri, I relocated to Kansas City for professional growth in my music career. Once I was settled, I researched cannabis companies in Kansas City and oddly enough, KC Cannabis was the first search result! After two interviews, I was offered a budtending position in March 2021 at the Blue Springs location, our flagship store, and eventually worked my way up to my current position.
Cannabis is a pillar in my life. In 2014, I incurred a performance injury, affecting my back, shoulders, and neck. Playing the bass is a physical endeavor, involving the whole body in the process, so having trouble with these key components made my recovery and moving forward quite difficult. I was in the middle of a degree program and knew I would never stop performing so I had to accept the notion of living with chronic pain. I started with physical therapy but unfortunately my health insurance only covered a small handful of sessions a month so I racked up hefty medical bills. Being a student, those bills were unfeasible to manage so I had to find alternative ways to help myself, which led me to massage therapy and cannabis. It was during that time when I started to truly understand the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Additionally, I have a bit of social anxiety and constantly defer to cannabis to help me move past any mental blocks I might face. I know firsthand the transformative effects of cannabis. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. My life is so much more rewarding now that I am in a position to educate and provide this medicine to the people that need it the most. And, as a rapidly developing industry, there are so many untapped opportunities for women in this industry. I believe it is our responsibility to continue to foster this growth and to continue to educate and bring more women into this field.
What is it like being a woman in your field?
To be honest, I have found many similarities between my careers in music and cannabis. As a female bassist, I have often been in the minority, striving for success and mutual respect alongside my male peers. Currently, I am one of only two women in my office, though I do not feel as though I am in competition with anyone there. While there have been instances where I have had to demonstrate my abilities more so than my male colleagues, I am fortunate to have not experienced this as frequently since joining KCC. My colleagues are incredibly supportive and have actively promoted me within the community while keeping my best interests at heart. This has allowed me to thrive in my role and continue to grow professionally.
What if any challenges have you faced that you feel men in the industry don’t generally deal with?
Even with my successes, I still have to prove myself more so than most men in the industry. I’ve had some uncomfortable conversations with folks in the industry who have doubted my aptitude or intellect because I am not a man. I find it interesting when women are entrusted with essential parts of a business yet are still seen as inferior or less than because they don’t hold a certain title or position. We may not be as visible as other people but that doesn’t deter from our value as people and employees.
What advice or encouragement would you give to other women in the cannabis industry?
Manifestation and resilience are essential components for achieving success. By visualizing your goals, believing in your abilities, and working diligently, you can overcome any obstacle. In my experience in the cannabis industry, I have learned that even the most daunting challenges eventually give way to progress. It is important to remain focused on your aspirations, even when the path forward is uncertain. If you surround yourself with supportive individuals and continue to persist in your efforts, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
My greatest professional accomplishment has been creating a life where I can have it all. By day, you can find me at KCC or at home furiously typing away and procuring products. By night, you can find me in a concert hall rehearsing with some of the finest musicians around. Finding that professional balance in my life has been incredibly rewarding, thus proving to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.