Tra’Mese Missy Byrd, the CEO and Founder of blazn, was serving in the U.S. military when she developed a brain tumor. She tried cannabis to manage the pain and found it soothed her better than medications could.
"The stigma against cannabis is so great," she said. "I was in a place of so much pain that I was willing to take a leap of faith in a way. I love sharing my story because I hope that it helps to spark others to try. I have not taken any type of medication or pills or even had alcohol in over year because cannabis helps manage my pain."
Byrd's company, blazn, came to her during a year of travel following her service.
"My chronic pain led me to researching medical cannabis and its healing effects... I remember asking myself, what if we all had a platform where we could pair cannabis strains to our experiences in the same way that one would pair wine with a lovely salmon? While serving, I went through a hard time, and cannabis really improved my quality of life. I decided to build a platform, blazn, where cannabis users can share their experiences and relate over products and education surrounding cannabis."
We spoke to the Seattle, Washington-based entrepreneur about how being a veteran specially suited her to being a CEO and how she'd advise other women to find jobs they're passionate about.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I began my company about six months ago. Before building blazn, I was working in logistics in the military. I spent five years in the military, from age 18 till I was 24 years old. As soon as I completed my service commitment I began to travel and started living my “Oprah Year.”
What factors were most important to you in transitioning from a military to civilian job? Are there any challenges associated with that transition that people may not be aware of?
The biggest transition out of the military for me was just learning how to relax. I developed a brain tumor while serving and the last few years of my military service was just a series of unfortunate events. Once I completed my service, I told myself to do whatever I want for a year and see what happens. I have been to 14 states and four countries and it has been the most freeing experience of my life. On my travels, the idea for blazn sparked. The biggest challenge that I am finding is that the stigma against cannabis is so great that it is keeping the general population from even wanting to try it. I was in a place of so much pain that I was willing to take a leap of faith in a way. I love sharing my story because I hope that it helps to spark others to try. I have not taken any type of medication or pills or even had alcohol in over year because cannabis helps manage my pain.
What did your company do to help ease the transition, and how have you felt supported working here?
Wow, my company came about very organically. My chronic pain led me to researching medical cannabis and its healing effects. After trying it for the first time, blazn became a reality. I remember asking myself, what if we all had a platform where we could pair cannabis strains to our experiences in the same way that one would pair wine with a lovely salmon? While serving, I went through a hard time, and cannabis really improved my quality of life. I decided to build a platform, blazn, where cannabis users can share their experiences and relate over products and education surrounding cannabis. I love being surrounded by like-minded people every day; the support has meant the world to me.
Do you believe your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid your career today?
Serving in the military taught me time management and self-control, and it increased my pain tolerance. I learned to work with and understand many different types of people and that has aided me in the civilian world. I am more mature than the 18-year-old kid I was when I first started. The military is such a difficult environment and it challenges you mentally and physically. I am thankful for the experience because at any point there is a problem with blazn I am confident in my abilities and skillsets to solve it. The military taught me that.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do is take some CBD and smoke some of my favorite strain. I’d have to say that’s the last thing I do as well — got to start and end the day right .
What about outside of work — how do you most enjoy spending your time?
Work and play are the same thing for me. My job is to try new products and give them a 5/ 5 buds rating — 0 buds if it was bad, and 5 buds if it was amazing. I am doing that constantly with any cannabis products I try which means I am always having a good time, and always working.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
Wow, I am the proudest of packing a bag, telling myself to be free, and setting out on my “Oprah Year.” I truly found myself on my travels and it was that freedom that gave me the confidence and the will to build my own company at 24 years old.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now?
Follow your dreams, whatever you are passionate about.. chase that with reckless abandon. And just because we are women does not mean that we cant be blunt! With a blunt in hand! Stand up for yourself and speak your truth, because no one else will do it for you.
Connect with Byrd on Instagram @tramesebyrd