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ButACake CEO Matha Figaro Making Her Mark On Infused Edibles | Upcoming Industry Events | Legislative News
As a first-generation Haitian-American, Matha Figaro never imagined her love of baking would lead her to the cannabis industry. Once an executive pastry chef in her hometown of New Jersey, Matha is now the CEO and founder of ButACake – a company that specializes in high-quality buccal cannabis products that are both delicious and discrete. As a pioneer in the industry, Matha values providing joy and relief to customers and coworkers alike, with the ultimate goal of improving people’s quality of life. Her passions for diversifying the products on a retail shelf and helping others enter the legal cannabis market has led her to serve as the CEO of CannPowerment – the first woman and minority-owned cannabis product manufacturer in the state of NJ.
While we just celebrated Women’s History Month, we honor women every month at Azuca! This April, we explore Matha’s creative entrepreneurship and the challenges she faces in the cannabis industry. Plus, catch up with the latest from us and learn more about our exciting, upcoming events.
8 Questions with Matha Figaro, CEO of ButACake
You started out as a pastry chef. How did you first get into the culinary space? Was this something you always wanted to do?
All of my earliest memories involve baked goods. My first birthday cake was handmade, by the time I was eight, my aunts had started to teach me how to bake. I was gifted an easy bake oven and it was subconsciously always in me. I didn’t know it was what I wanted to do professionally until 2010.
Since then, my experience in the food industry taught me how to look at food in a different way. In restaurants I wasn’t baking to put food in a bag, I was baking to present beautiful and delectable dessert plates. Now I look at food as a consumer-packaged good so I can share my talent with as many people as possible.
Why did you decide to do a Listerine Strip-style/cannabis breath strip product? How was the process different from creating butter cakes/other traditional edibles?
My childhood friend and now business partner on CannPowerment got to see ButACake as an operation and realized that with legalization coming to NJ there was an opportunity. In December 2021 we formed CannPowerment and did the strips to do a few things; raise capital for a legal license, increase brand awareness, and manufacture a product.
New Jersey legalized recreational marijuana sales in April 2022. What’s it been like going from a legacy to a legal operator?
Legacy operators aren’t getting legally licensed fast enough, a few companies still dominate the market and the q1 numbers haven’t been published yet. It’s difficult, they created a process that forces me to stop generating income while they take months to get anything done.
My biggest advice for legacy operators is … no double dipping, like don’t even try to have a thought about doing both sides because you’re being watched. Plan. Save, then save a little more. Commit. Execution is key.
It looks like you’ve been locked out of your LinkedIn account. Is it because of a censorship issue? How have you had to overcome these challenges in the industry?
I’ve had three accounts shut down by LinkedIn. I used the platform as a place to share aspects of my legacy to license journey along with thought pieces driven by the overall market, legalization, legislation, and regulation. One day I posted a picture of a cookie, and talked about how I came to be in love with the art of baking, the post had nothing to do with cannabis and I woke up the next day to my account being shut down. LinkedIn provided no real answers, solutions or resolve.
What’s one lesson your career has taught you that you think everyone should learn at some point in their life?
Boundaries. Have them, and use them unapologetically.
I’m thankful for those who recognize the hurdles I face as a Black woman and entrepreneur, the stereotypes I fight, and the prejudices I endure, and still choose to lift me up and hold me down. That’s what true support looks like, and it’s what keeps me going.
What’s next for you and ButACake?
What’s next for ButACake is transitioning into the legal market with the help of Our Dream Academy. ButACake earned a scholarship to showcase the brand at MJ Unpacked NYC 2021, where we met the female-led team at Azuca. I was thrilled to find that both of our businesses shared similar values and a mission, leading to a potential partnership that could lead to ButACake edibles powered by Azuca in the legal market someday.
Although the journey from legacy to legal hasn’t been easy, I’m grateful for Azuca’s support. This is the kind of partnership that represents a new chapter in the ButACake story and I look forward to sharing the progress with our cannabis community along the transition!
If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
My mom’s white rice and green pea sauce with caramelized onions and ribs with a side of fried plantains. Washing that down with a Malta and only if it’s the Goya tall boy. We’re Haitian so for the rest of my life, it’s going to be that.
Who would be your top three ideal dinner guests, dead or alive? And what would you say to them?
General Toussaint Louverture – With no internet and modern communication technology, how were you able to gather so many Haitians that you were able to succeed in defeating the french and taking back your independence? If back then you could see the price generations of Haitians have paid for independence would you still have fought or would you have preferred we ended up like Guadeloupe?
Rihanna – I would ask her to do business with my manufacturing company CannPowerment to manufacture and package not just her Fenty products as is but also to do a line of cannabis infused topicals with her.
Governor Phil Murphy – As a resident of New Jersey, I want to express my gratitude to Governor Phil Murphy for his leadership in supporting cannabis legalization in the state. I recognize and congratulate the Governor’s efforts to get the recreational cannabis program up and running, as well as his work on catching up with the medical side by licensing the first two woman owned dispensaries both that are independent and one being Black owned. However, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s still SO MUCH MORE work to be done, and it needs to get done faster. While the state has made significant progress towards a legal cannabis industry, the slow pace of awarding licenses to independent operators, especially MINORITY operators is concerning. As a concerned future licensed operator, I’d urge Governor Murphy to take swift action in getting independent and minority businesses licensed and OPERATING within the next 120 days. Governor Murphy, you cannot let the promises of social equity be further delayed, as the person NJ voted for to be in office you must work towards a more inclusive and fair industry that benefits all New Jerseyans much faster in this upcoming year than you did in the last.
Upcoming Industry Events
Don’t miss Azuca at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Miami Beach on April 11th and 12th. Our Co-founder and CEO Kim Sanchez Rael will be joining an amazing lineup of speakers and presenting on “The Evolution of Social Beverage Consumption.” Learn more and register for the conference using code AZUCA20 for 20% off – plus book a meeting during the show to meet on-site with Kim and Corinne.
You can also find Azuca at MJUnpacked this spring. Join us at New York Hilton Midtown from April 26 to 28th for an exclusive event catered towards THC CPG brand and retail decision-makers and accredited investors. Visit us at Booth 100 on Level 3, and don’t miss our CEO’s panel discussion on “How to Set Up a Licensing Deal Without Losing Your Pants.”
Mark your calendar for June 8th and 9th to attend this year’s Lucky Leaf Expo in Edison, New Jersey. Catch up with industry experts, leading businesses, and find our Founder & Chief Creative Officer Ron Silver giving live cooking demos. Learn more and register here.
Catch Up with Azuca
In case you missed it, Azuca was recently featured on the Benzinga Cannabis Insider Podcast. Tune in for a discussion about all things Azuca, alcohol vs. cannabis social consumption, consumer expectations, and more with our CEO & Co-founder Kim Sanchez Rael and hosts Elliot Lane & Javier Hasse.
National – Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines presented a Senate bill to grant banks permission to provide services to cannabis businesses. Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and banks are prohibited by federal law from providing cannabis companies with financial services, such as bank accounts, business loans, and credit cards. The draft that surfaced at the Montana Legislature last week would allow banks to work with marijuana businesses, although it would require a change at the federal level.
New York – Medical cannabis operators filed a complaint against New York’s regulators to seek opening licenses for all retail dispensary applicants. The Coalition for Access to Regulated & Safe Cannabis (CARSC), which includes multiple medical cannabis operators, sued New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) which are the two agencies responsible for the implementation of the cannabis legislation.
New Mexico – New Mexico’s medical cannabis program could see changes under Senate Bill 242. The bill seeks to simplify the registration process for patients and proposes aligning the timing for patient enrollment and medical certification submission, allowing them to renew both every two years.