Jessica Versteeg – AuBox

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“Creating AuBox as a luxury cannabis brand isn’t just about the high end experience, it is part of my mission to de-stigmatize cannabis as an illicit drug.”

 

Featured Cannapreneur:

Jessica Versteeg, Founder of AuBox

Feature: Jessica Versteeg

Company: AuBox (IG:@theaubox | Facebook: /theaubox )

Location: San Francisco, California

Website: www.theaubox.com

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Cannabis and pageantry don’t normally go hand in hand. But that didn’t stop former Miss Iowa, model, social media influencer and Amazing Race contestant, Jessica VerSteeg, from pursuing her passion.  
 
Jessica hasn’t always been a supporter of cannabis.  In fact, initially she heeded all of the cannabis warnings.   After the untimely death of her ex-boyfriend and NFL Giants safety Tyler Sash from an accidental prescription drug overdose, Jessica became a strong advocate for medical marijuana and has made it her mission to use her platform as a way to educate Americans on the benefits of medical marijuana.
 
Jessica and I had a chance to get deeper into her experience with cannabis and the NFL, her transition from an opposer to a supporter, and what luxury cannabis really is.  Here’s what the the luxury cannabis entrepreneur had to say:

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Jessica Versteeg Founder of Aubox interview with Cannabis Magazine

Jessica Versteeg | Founder of AuBox 

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CM: Jessica, I am so excited to learn more about your backstory and about AuBox.  I came across AuBox about a month ago, loved the concept, and just had to know who the woman behind the AuBox concept was.  

Before we get into the company itself, tell me a little about your back story.  Where did you grow up?

Jessica: I was born in Germany on a military base and moved to the US when I was 5. I grew up in Oklahoma with my mom and sisters during the school year and every summer my sisters and I would visit our father in Virginia then Christmas in Iowa with our dad and grandparents.

After high school I moved away to model and I traveled the world for 10 years basically playing dress up until my then boyfriend was released from the NFL for too many concussions we “retired” in Iowa where we both had family and where we had originally met back in our childhood.

CM: Where are you living now?

Jessica: Now I am living in California and AuBox is based out of California as well.

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San Francisco Bay

San Francisco

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CM:  How did you decide on the move to California?

Jessica: Before starting AuBox I was Miss Iowa 2014 and with the momentum from the title, I moved to San Francisco which is where I learned about the amazing benefits of cannabis.

CM:  Your journey went from pageants and modeling, to the cannabis industry.  That is a genuinely unique trajectory. What led you in that direction?

Jessica: I recently lost someone very close to me. We were together for a while and he was in the NFL. During his time in the NFL he would say, “Jess I really just need to smoke for my pain, I think I could get addicted to these painkillers.” and I would remind him that the NFL doctors know what they are doing and marijuana is a ‘gateway’ drug. 

When the NFL released him for his 5th NFL concussion and brain damage he was addicted to the painkillers (he said this would happen and I still had no idea). Being out of the NFL meant he was out of pills.  I kept relating his constant sleeping, the constant vomiting, and the new aggressive personality to his concussions… because that’s what the NFL and everyone around me was telling me. 

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Cannabis and the NFL

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CM: What happened at that point?

Jessica: As the addiction progressed, it became part of my daily routine to clean up his vomit and help him find small things like his car keys or his laptop. Until one day I went to clean his vomit and I counted 15 undissolved pills. Then it hit me, I confronted him about the addiction and from that point on things were different.

CM: Wow.  You know, I have heard stories about the NFL related to brain damage and opioid addiction, but you really lived it first hand.

Jessica: Ultimately his new aggression put me in the hospital. While I was there I kept thinking what could have been different. And I realized if I could go back in time, for the 1st time ever, I would change something in my past. I would have allowed him to smoke cannabis as a form of medicating.

Maybe he would have still been released for his 5th NFL concussion and maybe he would still have brain damage, but he would not have developed that addiction to pain killers. After I ended up in the hospital, we broke up. One year after our break up he passed away from an overdose on painkillers.

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Jessica Versteeg Founder of Aubox interview with Cannabis Magazine

Jessica Versteeg |  Founder of AuBox

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CM: It makes total sense that the experience brought you around to the idea of cannabis being a positive alternative medicine. 

Jessica: Absolutely.  How could it not?  Even though I have changed my mind, with a lot of people, there’s still the notion that marijuana is just for stoners or that there’s no real medical benefit, but research shows that’s not true. 

CM: You’re so right.  At this point the notion of cannabis having medicinal benefits is basically irrefutable!

Jessica: I want to change the way people see cannabis.  I want to take away the “stoner” stereotype.

CM: It sounds like AuBox is your vehicle for change.  How did you develop the concept?  

Jessica: I am creating AuBox to be both a luxury experience and an avenue for patients to get their medicine without having to go inside a dispensary (Some patients physically cannot leave their home).

With AuBox, patients can sample a large variety of high end products that work best for their needs, in the privacy of their own home without judgment.

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AuBox Logo Cannabis Magazine

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Creating a luxury cannabis brand isn’t just about the experience, but part of my mission of de-stigmatizing cannabis as an illicit drug.

Reflecting on my time with Tyler, my attitude towards medicating with cannabis versus prescription painkillers at that time was very different than it is now. I figure, maybe changing one more person’s view on cannabis, will save one more person’s life.

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[eltd_blockquote text=”Maybe changing one more person’s view on cannabis will save one more person’s life.” title_tag=”h2″ width=””]

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AuBox Sampler

AuBox | Au Sampler Box

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CM: I have seen the boxes and I love how many customized options you have!  Men, pets, intimates, edibles, etc.  Who do you have in mind when designing the product collections?

Jessica: The goal is to attract someone like myself, guy or girl that likes nice things, wants to know then products they use are lab tested, wants to open a product that has been nicely packaged, and wants to become knowledgeable on what they are using.

I want to deliver a product that feels sophisticated and elegant.

CM: Luxury cannabis is a relatively new concept.  Since it is your specialty, can you expand on what makes a cannabis product “luxury” and how you select the products for the boxes?

Jessica: To me and for AuBox what makes a product luxury is quality. When you have the choice between a $5 glass pipe and $5,000 24k gold pipe I think that sets a real standard. It creates a conversation piece when guests come over and to me that’s part of getting your neighbor down the street to open up about cannabis, maybe he/she goes to Miami Art Basel every year and spends a ridiculous amount of money adding to their art collection and now this gold pipe has made them think twice about the cannabis industry.

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[eltd_blockquote text=” I hope to bring Au Box to every legal state and become the Neiman Marcus of cannabis.” title_tag=”h2″ width=””]

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Luxury is opening up a beautiful box and finding perfectly packaged products inside with information about each product, with lab tests for every edible product, experiencing something new with each box. Luxury is the difference of buying a bikini at Neiman Marcus that you know will last for years or grabbing a bikini a from the corner store that you know may fall apart after one dip in the pool.

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AuBox Man Box

Au The Man Box

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CM:  Aubox has been operating since last year serving medical marijuana patients.  How do you see AuBox developing as adult use legalization becomes more wide spread?

Jessica: I see it becoming more comfortable for people.  

CM: Like, a luxury AuBox subscription will be just as comfortable as a fine wine of the month club?

Jessica: Yes!

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“I see the cannabis industry really growing. After all, it is one of the most versatile plants on earth.”

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CM: Other than luxury cannabis of course, what are some of the main points of growth you see coming in the next few years?

Jessica: I would love to see the industry grow on the banking side, I would love to see more scientist gathering information because I know there will be many amazing things to come from this plant, I would also like to see all states become cannabis friendly. 

CM: You personally have an impressive social media influence.  How important do you think the internet will be in shaping this industry as it continues to grow?

Jessica:  The internet and social media will play a HUGE role in shaping this industry. I know that increased exposure to the industry through social media will open they eyes of many.  

When they see their doctor smokes a vape at the end of the day, when they see athletes using the cannabis muscle rubs, when they see their colleagues enjoying an edible at the bar vs having a few beers.  Seeing other responsible- hardworking adults that are not part of the “stoner culture” using cannabis for pain relief or recreationally will make them feel more comfortable about opening up to cannabis.

 I think social media will be integral in getting skeptics engaged and more open to learning about the benefits of cannabis.

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Cannabis companies social media

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CM: Social media has definitely been a struggle for a lot of companies throughout the cannabis space.  What else is especially unique about doing business the cannabis industry versus other industries?

Jessica: One major unique thing about doing business in the cannabis industry is that there are no laws set in stone, things are always changing and you either have to be on your toes or have a very good lawyer to keep you informed on what licenses need to be updated, when to apply for what, and where to go next.

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“There is something changing and something new to learn everyday in the cannabis industry .

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CM: It seems like there is something changing and something new to learn everyday in the cannabis industry!  Tell me, what are some of your favorite events for keeping up with the business and culture?  Some that might be helpful to people looking to learn more about the industry?

Jessica: I mean, honestly, there are so many events I can’t list them all!  But, my top 5 would be Marijuana Investor Summit, Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo,  Cannabis Business Summit, The Cannaisseur Series, and Science of Cannabis  Summit

CM: That’s a solid list!  

Thank you so much, Jessica, for sharing your story and for helping us get to know AuBox better.  You are definitely positioning AuBox as a leader in luxury cannabis and  I am excited to watch it continue to innovate!

Jessica:  Thank you for reaching out to me and for taking an interest in AuBox!  I have learned a lot, and now am armed with knowledge on the healing benefits of cannabis, and with a great team that is committed to best serving the cannabis consumers and patients who appreciate the nicer things in life. 

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 Jessica Versteeg Founder of AuBox interview with Cannabis Magazine

Jessica Versteeg | Get Your AuBox

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