‘Step Forward Boldly’: Q&A with Trulieve's Valda Coryat

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Trulieve Chief Marketing Officer Valda Coryat on why building credibility and connections in cannabis is critical.

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Photo courtesy of Trulieve

Understanding the nuances of customer preferences in the cannabis space has become increasingly pivotal for companies trying to gain a bigger share of a burgeoning market through brand recognition, exclusive partnerships, and product offerings.

But understanding what drives potential customers is one thing. Launching a marketing strategy to acquire those customers is another.

That’s top of mind for Valda Coryat, chief marketing officer at Florida-based Trulieve—one of the fastest-growing multistate operators in the U.S., with an 11-state footprint and more than 160 dispensaries.

Coryat, who joined Trulieve in December 2019, details the company’s latest initiatives, what it means to be a woman in a leadership role in cannabis, and more.

Tony Lange: What are some of Trulieve’s planned undertakings that you’re most looking forward to in 2022? Why?

Valda Coryat: I’m excited about our latest brand-building initiatives via integrated marketing campaigns that drive awareness, engagement, and sales. A recent example was Trulieve announcing its partnership with Ethan Zohn (who won “Survivor: Africa”) to become the spokesperson for [Trulieve brand] Momenta, which supports not only the wellness-focused brand but also our growing reach in new markets like Massachusetts and West Virginia. Trulieve’s exclusive partnerships with respected brands such as (rapper, singer and songwriter) Wiz Khalifa’s Khalifa Kush are an extension of those efforts.

TL: How does Trulieve’s nationwide Supplier Diversity Initiative reflect your company’s vision for the cannabis industry?

VC: We believe that cannabis is truly for all. Trulieve’s Supplier Diversity Initiative … creates accessible pathways for more entrepreneurs to participate in this growing industry—even if they’re not directly touching the plant. There’s an opportunity for nearly every business function, from marketing and software services to cleaning supplies, training, construction, and other ancillary services, to be a part of this community. Ultimately, we believe that our business partners should be as diverse as the communities we operate in.

TL: What obstacles (if any) have you had to overcome that were there simply because of your gender?

VC: While I consider being a mother to three great humans my greatest achievement, I have to admit that it impacted my career. After going on maternity leave three times, I’ve had to prove that I was the same capable and ambitious person I was before. Additionally, it can be tough to see colleagues who were once peers advance beyond where I am today because they did not have to take a “break” from their careers.

TL: Where do you find confidence in your professional life?

VC: My confidence in my professional life stems from what my family instilled in me from a very early age. Being encouraged, challenged and celebrated by family is such an integral part of who I am that I just step forward boldly. I carry that experience with me in everything that I do.

TL: Working among a strong executive leadership team at Trulieve, what’s your best piece of advice for those seeking respect among their work peers?

VC: Building credibility is essential regardless of your title. This comes down to delivering on what you promise consistently and ahead of schedule, if possible.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Read the full interview here.

Tony Lange is associate editor for Cannabis Business Times.