Chef Anna — who is neither a chef nor named Anna — is not your typical cannabis entrepreneur. Based out of Michigan, Chef Anna is an autoflowering cannabis seed breeder who is well-known for viral videos of him giving the gift of cannabis to complete strangers.
In this Q&A interview, we discuss breeding autoflowering cannabis seeds, the powerful role social media plays in connecting with audiences and displaying true cannabis culture, the joys of gifting cannabis (and seeing the resulting surprise and happiness light up someone’s face), and more!
Read the full Q&A below:
Ganjapreneur: Where does the brand name Chef Anna come from?
Chef Anna: Chef Anna is a character I created for social media. When I started building my presence online, I wanted my character to catch your attention and then leave you with questions once you see me. When you see the name Chef Anna, you expect to see a young lady maybe baking edibles. Then you see me and you’re left with questions. Who is this guy? Where’s Anna? Is that man Chef Anna? Is he even a chef? Why does he use a girl’s name?
Those initial questions and confusion are what creates the mystery and brings you back for answers. You want to figure it out, and once you spend time on my page trying to figure me out you’re getting hooked on the content.
The experience that you’re describing was my thought process when I became a follower a few years ago. Before starting the brand, did you have a background in marketing, branding, or a similar industry?
Yes, I’ve been working in marketing and advertising for some of the largest agencies in the world for the last 12 years. I carried that experience over into cannabis and building my own brand.
What challenges do you face posting cannabis content on social media platforms? How do you overcome these challenges?
Most platforms have established “community guidelines” to prevent the sharing of content that promotes the sale or use of cannabis, some more lenient than others. I have had my share of social media pages removed for violating those guidelines. The key is creating content that can exist within those boundaries and consistently sharing it.
Have you made a Chef Anna profile on all social platforms? Did you face the same issues with every platform?
If you search Chef Anna you’ll find me on just about every major social platform. While some platforms, like TikTok, have strict cannabis guidelines others allow cannabis content freely as long as I don’t promote the sale of a cannabis product.
What inspired you to start filming interactions as you give away jars of bud at stores like Walmart?
Reaction videos were becoming popular on platforms like YouTube. I follow several content creators outside of the cannabis space and drew my inspiration from their videos. I took some of their ideas and added my own cannabis spin and personality to them. The very first time I filmed myself gifting an ounce of weed to random shoppers I was surprised at how excited and happy they were. Not only that, I was surprised at how awesome it felt to be able to give. Aside from these candid interactions being my most engaged content, it became addicting for me to see how people from all walks of life respond when presented with weed at random. I get to be the guy the D.A.R.E. program warned you about but in a wholesome way.
How did you learn to create autoflowering seeds?
Mother Nature was ready to do all the heavy lifting for me. The rest came from the trial and error of taking my cultivation experience into a new category.
I breed for the characteristics that I like in not only growing, but smoking the plant. I ‘m always looking for rare genetics to add to our library. We grow our strains in house and in collaboration with our official tester group of growers from across the country. This gives us an opportunity to see how well each strain grows in different setups, environments and at different skill levels. We use that data to decide which strains will be carried on in our White Label collection.
Traditional cannabis seeds produce plants that require a change in lighting schedule to trigger their flowering cycle. Autoflowering cannabis seeds grow plants that go into their flowering cycle without requiring a change in lighting schedule. They come in regular and feminized versions. I grow my autos under 24 hours of light with no dark cycle. This eliminates the need to separate plants that are in veg and bloom, they can all be grown in the same space.
I am a licensed caregiver, however, I grow for personal use and breeding new autoflowering strains.
What settings are you putting in place in the new custom grow space? Will this expansion allow for any new product offerings from Chef Anna White Label?
I think of my new space as the medium between a home grow and a commercial grow facility. The new spectrum tuned lights, environmental control and additional space will allow me to push my breeding projects to the next level for Chef Anna White Label.
How many strains does Chef Anna offer? Do they release in limited editions or are all seeds consistently available?
We carry a variety of Chef Anna bred strains as well as strains from some of our favorite breeders in the industry. Most strains are limited edition with our flagship and fan favorite strains returning into rotation periodically. Members of our website gain occasional access to strains that aren’t publicly released.
Our members also get access to giveaways and discounts not available to the general public.
How long have you been hosting live streams on Twitch? What kind of community have you built there?
I began streaming on Twitch in 2018 to celebrate our first Autoflower Day holiday. Since then, we have grown into a community of likeminded cannabis growers and enthusiasts. I stream gaming content as well which has allowed the Chef Anna brand to crossover to a new audience.
Does the community of cultivators that you’ve built help each other with questions that come up with their home grows?
Yes. Not only that, they challenge one another to become better cultivators via contests and grow-offs. It’s an amazing group of likeminded growers and enthusiasts.