Rico Lamitte CEO & Founder, The Suave Life, LLC
Photo Courtesy: Rico Lamitte
Rico Lamitte and Mieko Hester-Perez have had the same goals for over three years now. Rico is a Northwestern University graduate, former (nearly pro) athlete with 10 years of corporate financial background prior to becoming a serial entrepreneur. Mieko is an autism mom, 14-year attorney service firm business owner, and known globally as a sought out healthcare ambassador for special-needs families.
Both with extensive professional backgrounds including multiple high profile features on major broadcast platforms (NBC, ABC, Fox, Telemundo, Univision, TED, and the list goes on…) yet now in the legal cannabis world we’re constantly seeking ways to provide access to the tools they were privileged to master in the button-up world to industry peers that look like them. Post-George Floyd, they teamed up with EBONY Magazine to produce the virtual Juneteenth Cannabis Opportunity Summit with well-known industry and mainstream thought leaders. They coordinated 14 hours of programming into one day with 53 speakers from 6 countries! The project was awesome and under no other circumstance would they be able to pull off such a feat with that many heavy-hitters dropping that many gems all in one place.
However, they also uncovered a major disconnect between current marketing strategies and actual demographic-specific consumer buyer trends. This was the inspiration for the first of many surveys they put out to learn more about BIPOC cannabis consumers and paint a much more robust picture of the diverse community. Based on their 100+ participant results recorded in less than a month, their findings immediately verified all their theories. They plan on revealing highlights of the findings in a joint project with legendary hip hop artist, AZ and making the full results available free-of-charge to business owners along the way. And now, please eMeet Rico Lamitte and Mieko Hester-Perez. I think you’ll enjoy their story.
Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about yourself? What brought you to the cannabis/botany world? Healing? What was your inspiration to do what you do? Tell me about your path?
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Mieko- In 2009, I went public with my son’s success with medical cannabis on Good Morning America and since that day, I’ve made it my mission to be the source of inspiration and information for families looking to explore alternative and holistic treatment options within the autism community.
The combination of my 20 years of legal experience as the President of CA Corporate & Attorney Services and over 15 years of special education knowledge, I have dedicated my life to assisting families who choose cannabis as a treatment option.
After my son Joey received acknowledgment of his educational progress from the 44th United States President Barrack Obama, he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in late 2011 second to his autism and passed away April 2018 at the age of 19 years old.
Rico- I’m a serial entrepreneur in the industry. Pre-COVID I helped Baker Technologies go public (4-way merger resulting in TILT Holdings) by conquering California’s sales territory; launched 2 of my own event businesses, The Suave Life & CBD Sundays; and own my own consulting firm assisting companies to navigate the fickle marketing and sales landscape of California. Post-COVID I’ve managed, advised, and produced crossover (cannabis & mainstream) events in the virtual space and am currently building a bottom-up broadcasting platform focusing on the often-overlooked voices of our industry.
I started smoking weed in middle school just being bored and hanging out a lot with older kids. It was a welcome alternative to cigarettes which were more of the “mainstream socially-challenged kids’” vice of choice. I’ve been consuming regularly since then; just a bit more selective around drug-testing operations when I got to college and post-grad, depending on whatever job held at the time.
As a collegiate athlete, I developed an opioid addiction senior year prepping for a professional football career and ended up selling weed on the streets of Chicago to support it. Years later in corporate finance, I was called out by a dispensary owner being an addict (I had a bad twitch at the time…). He helped wane me off the prescription meds by substituting different strains and products for each ailment. About 7 months later didn’t need the pills anymore and was convinced cannabis really is medicine. 10 years into my finance career, a benign tumor made me rethink my life’s purpose. I abruptly quit, joined the industry, and haven’t looked back. I’m now on year #4 in the legal space.
WB: Please tell me about your company? What do you do that’s different, therefore better than your competition? What stigmas do you face?
Mieko- I am currently a Healthcare Ambassador for CannaSafe Labs, as well as Director of Product Development for MD Exclusive CBD. I have been truly fortunate to be able to bring perspectives from medical professionals, consumers, dispensary buyer trends, and cannabis/CBD companies. I entered the cannabis space in late 2009 when all there was – was stigmas and as an autism mom, there is nothing you can throw at us, that we catch.
Rico- TSL is all about “the crossover.” I apply proven mainstream business solutions with cannabis industry problems. My unique diverse background in athletics, entertainment, and business allows me to successfully maneuver all three lanes; pulling resources from one end and plugging in to the other. I’m the glue. As far as stigmas- I’m a rather large, self-aware black man. There’s no shortage of stigma I’ve faced while operating in cannabis. The biggest I’d say, however: miseducation about what cannabis is and why it’s demonized. Getting good, science-backed information to folks that need it is still very much a challenge in a federally illegal industry. Adding undervalued communities to the equation makes the work even more challenging. I’m often seen by folks who don’t know me or what I do as: 1. a scammer, 2. a dumb (ex) jock, or 3. harboring ulterior motives. But the end-result of putting folks in a better position to achieve economic success always worth the fight.
After leaving a 10-yr career in finance for cannabis, my main goal is getting great products and information to people who can benefit. While I’m still money-motivated, I’m no longer money-driven. I’ve found success here and there economically in the space, but I get way more of a dopamine rush from helping communities of color, veterans, women and queer communities reach their goals, as well.
WB: What is your six- and twelve-month plan? What obstacles exist in your professional world? How do you anticipate removing them?
Mieko- My six- and twelve-month plans are joining forces with more organizations that represent qualified professionals of color, you cannot be what you do not see.
I would like to be instrumental in placing individuals of color in executive positions to represent product development and buyer trends by having a seat at the table to represent the consumers in our homes in our neighborhoods across America.
Rico- My six-month plan is helping BIPOC communities collaborate, assemble and thrive in an agriculturally based economy. I’ve aligned with some of the most powerful people in the US industry, like my partner Mieko Hester-Perez, and have been building some phenomenal tools and platforms designed to do just that. Almost everything I’m working on currently will be deployed upon the public before November.
12 months- barring any unforeseen circumstances, I’ll be prominently positioned to help even more folks on a global scale. Thanks to COVID- 19, most previous geographical hurdles have been removed. The only current obstacles are time (I have a 4-month-old daughter) and regional legal climates. Making sure I am aware of and respect regional socioeconomic norms and structures are integral to my success.
WB: What is your favorite food memory from childhood? What does your favorite (birthday) meal look like now? Favorite food?
Mieko Perez and Rico Lamitte
courtesy: Mieko Perez
Mieko- My favorite food was Salmon Patties, for my birthday I would have to say is my mothers-in-law Miriam’s Puerto Rican Lasagna Pastelon.
Rico- I grew up in a Panamanian family and my favorite childhood dish was Grandma Almacita’s arroz con pollo and fried plantains. Favorite current birthday dish- my wife’s baked lasagna. I’m a recently converted pescatarian, so while I don’t have the ground beef and sausage as I did before, I’m looking forward to giving impossible meat a try next year.
WB: What is your passion?
Mieko- My passion is honoring the deal, I had with my son Joey, never forget why you started. Passion is the second wind before gratitude…
Rico- Providing educational and vocational access to those who’ve been undervalued, written-off, or just plain lied to about cannabis sativa. All I’ve been told my whole life is how bad it is and how it’ll destroy everything I hold sacred.
Cannabis saved my life. Three times. Thanks to this “evil” plant, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to live a bit longer than many others in my family. I plan on using these borrowed minutes to expose the cannabis’s truths to as many folks as possible.