Courtesy of Common Citizen
After leading the marketing for one of Michigan's biggest craft beer brewers, Allison Hornev has made the jump to the new cannabis industry.
Hornev left Kalamazoo-based Bell's Brewery after five years as a senior marketing manager, heading to a new role at vertically integrated cannabis company Common Citizen, where she'll serve as chief marketing officer, the company announced earlier this month.
"I was real happy at Bell's," Hornev tells Metro Times
. "It's an amazing company and an amazing market position. But once I got to start talking to the founders here and hearing more of the story, and what they're wanting to do, and where they're taking the company and the ability to be a part of that, then I was interested."
While there are a lot of similarities between Michigan's craft brewing scene and its new marijuana market, one major difference stuck out to Hornev.
"One thing that cannabis does have to offer that is different than craft beer is the whole medical side, and being able to truly help people," she says. "When I looked across the cannabis industry, there was just something different about Common Citizen. It's their people-centered approach, that human-centric piece of it that I think makes it stand out and makes it a little different."
Common Citizen emphasizes the health and wellness aspects of cannabis use, using a system of four "Common States" to help make its products approachable to customers: "Daily Dose," "Sweet Relief," "Unplug," and "Time to Shine." And its retail employees aren't "budtenders" — they're "Citizen Advisors."
"Their approach to how they design products and brand products is different than most [with] these four needs states," she says. "We're going to try and find which one best fit your needs, and we're going to help you with that. We're going to educate on the industry, and educate on the benefits of these products. And that, to me, was different. That to me was pretty cool."
An Indiana native and Western Michigan University alumni, Hornev has worked in marketing and brand management for nearly 20 years, launching her career at Kellogg Co. Under Hornev, Bell's Brewery was ranked one of Michigan's top breweries.
Beyond that, Hornev says she wants to bring Bell's ethos for sustainability to Common Citizen.
"Bell's always has stood for more than just the beer they put in the bottle," she says. "You look at the clean water initiatives
that Larry [Bell] leads, and sustainability, and all those things. I think there's just a lot of parallels to what the team here is trying to do. Bell's just has 35 years of a head start on them."
In the meantime, Hornev says her main goal is to learn as much about her new role as possible.
"but I'd be remiss not to say that I look forward to us being No. 1, someday," she says. "And not just No. 1 in, volume and sales, but No. 1 in safety and advocacy, too," adding, "I think Michigan a chance to be a leader in the cannabis space."
Common Citizen has a metro Detroit location at 877 E. Eight Mile Rd., Hazel Park; commoncitizen.com
. It's open to any adult age 21 or older for recreational sales and medical marijuana cardholders for medical sales.
It's a new era for marijuana in Michigan. Sign up for our weekly weed newsletter, delivered every Tuesday at 4:20 p.m.