Stephanie O’Donnell’s story unfolds like a modern-day fairy tale, a blend of love, passion, and professional growth. A high-flyer in her career, O’Donnell took a leap of faith, leaving the corporate world to dive headfirst into love. That decision not only led to a deeper connection to her soulmate but also to an unexpected journey into the world of cannabis.
“I left the corporate world to marry my husband, no joke, and one really cool story. Personally, my husband is legit, my best friend. I would rather be with him than any other human in the world,” she told Greenway.
Her personal life is a heartwarming tapestry of close-knit relationships and simple pleasures. The pair share their home with a unique Maine Coon cat, an adorable creature with a dog’s soul, who loves to be outside and follow them around like a loyal puppy. She counts her favorite place in the world as their family lake house in Bonne Terre, a sanctuary of love and memories, especially significant as their wedding venue.
“We recognize that we are blessed beyond measure and believe that part of that comes from counting our gratitudes. What you focus on grows and we choose to focus on the parts of life we are grateful for, and in the hard times, we find gratitude there as well, as nothing great comes easy. Sounds stupidly perfect, doesn’t it? It’s not. We have hurdles to overcome like the rest of the world but when you are doing life with your best friend and surround yourself with terrific people it makes the hard that much easier to bear. Man, that all sounds so sappy, but it’s all so true.”
Professionally, O’Donnell is a dynamic force at AMAZE Cannabis, where her roles are as diverse as the company itself. From managing sales and organizing events to coordinating marketing campaigns, her days are filled with challenges and learning opportunities. AMAZE stands out in the cannabis industry for its commitment to natural growing practices and its focus on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. The company’s ethos of love, life, harmony, gratitude, and joy resonates deeply with Stephanie’s personal beliefs, making her role there more than a career, but a calling.
“AMAZE is well, as the name says, AMAZE-ing. We are family-owned and operated, and when you read the story of our CEO, Jay Patel, and why he started in cannabis, you understand that we are not just another cannabis company, but about the medicine and the patients that benefit from our plants. We are committed to mindful growing practices and letting nature be natural.”
Her journey into cannabis was serendipitous. What started as a part-time job to supplement her income evolved into a career and environment she is passionate about. It’s a field where she continuously learns and grows, fueled by her curiosity and willingness to ask questions, no matter how simple they may seem. As a woman in the cannabis industry, she navigates her path with awareness, embracing the joy and challenges with equal zeal.
Tell me about your role at AMAZE.
In cannabis, I don’t think any of us only wear one hat. The fun part is that every day is different. Sales, because that is my main responsibility; consists of looking at spreadsheets and databases, creating orders, connecting with fulfillment, and building really great relationships with our partner dispensaries.
Then there is leading the brand team and setting up events to hang out with all the cool people in Missouri. Those take a ton of planning to execute correctly. Working them, being with our consumers and THE BEST BRAND TEAM ever, I love every second of our events. Even the events out in the pouring rain and cold, because the consumers still come out and show all the love for AMAZE.
A part of my day is coordinating our fresh frozen for manufacturers to create into AMAZE-ing product we all love. In other parts of my day I am answering all the emails that come in from our website or Instagram.
Some days I am lucky and work with marketing, helping to create the campaigns we are running on any given month. I get to work with almost every single department at AMAZE and with our partnering manufacturers, it’s the coolest job. Every day there is something new to learn or a new relationship to develop.
Ask me my favorite part of my role and I would have to say anytime Steve-O and I road trip together, we bonded on road trips. Sometimes we hot spot it and work like crazy and sometimes we jam out to some music he introduced me to and talk, either way, a road trip with Steve-O is always a happy time!
What makes AMAZE special?
Where do I even begin with this question? At the beginning of my journey with AMAZE I knew I was at the right place when I first toured our cultivation and saw the words on the grow room walls; love, life, harmony, gratitude, and joy. Those words align with my personal belief system and I felt right at home. Then I learned how rare it is for a commercial cultivation facility to grow in living soil, using no pesticides, and what that means for the quality of our product. I was even more AMAZEd. Then you meet all the people, behind the scenes, who grow and trim our flower and package it and get it on a truck to a dispensary, those people are super special! Then we started hunting genetics, that was special. I guess what I am saying is AMAZE is special because of the plants and the people. I am incredibly grateful to know both!
Can you talk about the last year for AMAZE as a company?
What a ride! I would say our year was filled with growth. Full of joy and its own unique challenges as we expanded with the rec market.
We launched THE HUNT this year and that was an incredible undertaking. From growing different phenotypes to actually getting them to the consumers hands was a labor of love that we do not take lightly. My favorite?? Papa Burger. She’s soooo good.
Canna Cribs came to visit and film and we were humbled and excited to get to work with that phenomenal team!
Missouri Cannabis Cup, now there’s a story. Total downpour in KC and Steve-O and I, with our brand team, out there getting soaked putting up the tent that loves to collect water on top and splash you just when you least expect it, waiting on the weather to break and the 50 mile per hour winds to stop, spoiler alert, it didn’t stop. So we bought pizza, hunkered down in our cars and made the best of it, until it was canceled, but not before the judging was complete and AMAZE came away with a first-place win for our Florida Purple Rosin Cartridge and a second place award for our Ruby Grand indoor flower.
We joined teams with Headchange and launched our Hash Hole campaign. It was so much fun, not only to film, who doesn’t love hanging out with Cory Sanson and Peter Seay, but perhaps even more so in seeing how the public responded to our call to action – creating their own pairings and sharing their doinks with us on Instagram. This was a 5-month long project that started with a phone conversation between Cory and myself and turned out to be the coolest project to date, in my humble opinion.
Whew, we did a lot in 2023.
How did you get into cannabis?
This is my favorite story to tell!!! I stumbled my way into cannabis. I left the corporate world to marry my hubs and chase my dream of helping people live their best life. My best friend was looking for someone to work part-time at Elevate Holistics, signing people up for medical cards and I thought it would be a cool, easy job to supplement my income. I mean my boss was my best friend, it doesn’t get better than that, and if you have ever seen one of my setups for AMAZE events and loved our tablescapes, you can thank Robyn V for that as she taught me everything I know. All the while this was happening, my other best friend, Melissa Khan sent my resume to our CEO at AMAZE, knowing he needed a sales rep and thought that I would be a great fit. I followed up on that email but didn’t hear back from him. That particular night we were doing a pop-up at a dispensary for med cards and I had the distinct pleasure to meet Brian McKanna who changed my life. Sounds dramatic? Perhaps, but in my world, it is 100% true and I tell this story to anyone who will listen. We got to chatting at this POP UP and I found out that he didn’t come from cannabis either and when I asked how he got this particular sales job he replied, “I emailed them 6 times, I just kept emailing until they answered.” Ever have those light bulb moments, me too, and this is one. I went home that evening and emailed our CEO again. I got a reply the next day, an interview the day after that and then a tour the following day, and before you know it three and a half weeks later we were launching AMAZE in Missouri at MoCann as title sponsors. No small set up there, and man was I nervous. Imposter syndrome is real. I got to see Brian that night, hug him so hard, and tell him how, by sharing his story with me, he changed my life and to this day is my favorite person to see at events. The rest is history.
Why not? It was sales and I knew sales. I had no idea I was getting a job that many people covet. I had no idea I would become passionate about living soil and cultivars (I didn’t even know what the word cultivars meant). I had to learn it all from the ground up and the coolest part is EVERYONE I came into contact with was willing to teach me. I was vulnerable with people and asked questions. Like the time I asked our Director of Cultivations if he glued 2 seeds together to make a new strain. I kid you not, I asked that question during my interview and still got the job. I find in life if you can handle being just a bit vulnerable and share that you don’t know it all, or in my case, nothing at all, people will respect that and teach you. I have a strong skill set from the corporate world that was translatable into cannabis, I just needed cannabis knowledge. My sales partner, Steve-O, had to teach me how to compute ounces to pounds when I first started. And so I say to anyone who has taught me something about cannabis, thank you, I am better for it.
What is it like being a woman in your field?
It’s pretty freaking awesome! I get to connect with other really inspiring, hard-working, and very successful women through different events and networking groups such as JAINE. Marketing designs dresses and skirts for me to wear to events, Steve-O wears the polo, and it’s so fun showing off our strain art on a dress and anytime someone designs something for you to wear you feel all kinds of cool, at least I do. Thanks, Kristen.
What if any challenges have you faced that you feel men in the industry don’t generally deal with?
We like to have a good time in this industry and sometimes some people take that too far. As a woman, I have to be aware of that. Being aware of my surroundings and how friendly is too friendly. I am grateful that Steve-O is always with me at events.
What are you passionate about?
Gratitude. It is the key to happiness and happiness is the key to true success.
Where do you find inspiration?
Most recently? The book “On Fire” by John O’Leary. Probably the most impactful book I’ve ever read on gratitude and how you choose to look at life.
Daily? The Post It notes in my bathroom, doors, and car. I use them as a visual reminder to be intentional in my thoughts, rather than what my brain automatically thinks – which studies show are 80% negative thoughts.
And in spreadsheets, I am not kidding, I love a good spreadsheet, add a pivot table and I am a happy girl!
What motivates you?
Ummm, Florida Purple? I feel like that is an appropriate answer for this article. I am also very motivated by the people I surround myself with, after all, you become the five people you most hang out with. I have greatness all around me, personally and professionally, so it’s hard to not be motivated. My hubs is the most successful leader I have ever known, my best friends are all successful, loving, strong individuals so seeing them be so fantastic at life motivates me to be greater. And working with the best of the best keeps you on your toes.
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
Way to ask the hard questions. This one has me scratching my head. I threw a conference once. A legit, buy a ticket, come be inspired conference. I created the content, rented the space, stage, had coffee mugs made with my logo, LOVE AND LIGHT, the whole thing. That was pretty freaking cool. I will go with that.
What advice or encouragement would you give to other women in the cannabis industry?
Asking a question does not equal weakness, so ask them all! Join JAINE, you will find other like-minded, cool supportive women who will welcome you! Find your people in this industry, they’re out there. Be you, this industry allows for creativity and self-expression!