Exeleon Magazine

Sophia Felix: A Powerhouse in The Cannabis Industry

Sophia Felix_Exeleon Magazine

Today’s business world is rapidly growing with increasing connectivity across borders. In fact, the role of strong leadership has led to great success and long-term impact for many businesses. But being a leader is not a cakewalk. It requires focus, perseverance, dedication, the foresight to pivot and make important decisions, especially during turbulent times.

A strong leader has the conviction to make the right choices and stand by them and one pioneer who personifies the word “courage” in leadership is Sophia Felix. Sophia is the Co-founder and President of the International Cannabis Consulting Business Women’s Association (ICBWA), a L.A based non-profit organization where her goal is to create an encouraging environment for women in the cannabis space. Invariably, she aims to educate them to see them transform into leaders in their own lives.

Sophia also understands the importance of giving back to society. This points to her involvement as a public relations spokesperson for the hemp-based CBD company Y+M. As a passionate philanthropist, she also serves as the President of the Southern California Chapter for America’s Children of Fallen Heroes and has been involved with Passion 4 K.I.D.S. for over ten years.

Empowering Initiatives

Sophia Felix believes that racial and gender diversity is lacking in the cannabis industry and to bring more women in the spotlight, she connects and collaborates with other businesswomen to introduce more opportunities.

For instance, even though ICBWA is based in Los Angeles, she initiates meaningful collaborations with other female cannabis organizations that are out of state so that members from her organization can attend the events and be more informed and aware.

In 2021, ICBWA received a certificate of recognition by CA Legislature Assembly member Adrin Nazarian for the incredible work Sophia and her team has done so far. This only goes to show how far her mission has taken off on a wider scale. Sophia says, “I realized it is important for ICBWA to be on the forefront so we can further educate and advocate for more diversity and equity.”

For Sophia, as a Latina businesswoman, equity is important as she knows the way forward is by overcoming the challenges and creating a level playing field for everyone. “Giving our members and other women opportunities for a stronger place to flourish in the cannabis industry is the exact reason I co-founded ICBWA,” she asserts.

De-stigmatizing & Conquering Taboos

ICBWA is empowering and breaking the stigma by showing outsiders and new entrants that Sophia’s unmatched vision is not settling for the bare minimum anymore.

She shares, “We are powerful and intellectual women who know exactly what we want, what we can accomplish and aren’t giving up.” Moreover, she also shows the results to the general public by providing facts and statistics as it is also important to educate them for better decision-making and positive outcomes.

“When others see we are consistent and professional it really breaks the ice. I used to be uncomfortable to tell people I was in the industry several years ago until ‘I came out of the cannabis closet’ and told my Grandma Jenny,” she adds.

When her Grandma approved it, Sophia wanted the whole world to know. Now she consults many people around the country who want to know more, mostly for their pain, anxiety, insomnia or just for their wellness. She is a huge advocate of CBD oil and the benefits it provides and really loves speaking about how it alleviates some symptoms associated with PTSD and mental health issues.

Moreover, she has also consulted military veterans and they all have had fantastic results. She adds, “When I get the messages from veterans telling me how it’s helping them it puts a huge smile on my face. I use CBD tinctures every day and it keeps me focused and has personally changed the game for me.”

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Her Powerful & Devout Team

Sophia co-founded ICBWA with two amazing ladies Dennise Mejia and Suzie Ortega. In 2020 when they saw the rapid increase in cannabis being legalized, they foresaw this as an opportunity. Sophia Felix serves as President, Dennise as Vice President, Suzie as Secretary and Board Members and Advisory Board Members.

All of the Board and Advisory Board Members are experts in their respective fields and together they work as a team to get their duties and operations completed to the T. Few of them include – Bernie who works on the website, Rebeca who handles social media, Angie who speaks to the City and political figures, Crystal who recommends potential strategic partners, Maggi who works on grants, while Adelia provides information of events. Sophia handles the daily operations and ensures there is enough funding and resources, along with Dennise and Suzie.

Her team is currently developing their accelerator program and events. The Board Members and their stellar bios are available on the website www.icbwa-ca.org. Sophia takes pride in her team’s achievements, efforts, and principles. She also feels her team is accountable for the success of ICBWA. She shares, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the hard work of each Board Member and Advisory Board Member.”

Ascending Upward Fearlessly

Although Sophia’s life, both personal and professional, was impacted by the consequences of COVID 19, she found a way to overcome and grow. And this led her to ‘finding herself’.

On a personal level, she was not able to travel and initially, her thoughts nudged her to run away from everything. But, to avoid getting overwhelmed by her emotions, she gradually started to shift her focus towards her inner self.

She, then, used this time to reevaluate her personal philosophy by asking deeper questions like? “Is the time I put into my work benefitting not just others but ME?”

Sophia also realized that she had put so much time and energy into people in the past and it was time to put herself first. She shares, “I ended up using the time to rebrand myself, my brand and treated myself as my own client. I found myself again and realized my work not only makes me happy, but it’s also very important. Now I have to live up to my name and reputation.”

On a professional level, Sophia also owns a company called HBM Talent & Mgmt where her presence on the set is important at all times. Here, she learned to pivot and focus on training her team more efficiently. She imbibed the motto – “Work smarter not harder” in every step and built her teams in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York that can perform all the business operations without her physical presence.

Afterwards, she found more success by doubling her clientele.  She says, “I felt on a professional level it was a time in my life I pushed myself to go bigger because I realized that I couldn’t wait anymore for the right time. I just knew I wanted to experience things I wanted to do for myself.”

Sophia Felix chirpily shares, “My life is similar to a series you would see on TV, honestly people would be fascinated if they could be in my heels for a week.” Despite it being exciting, sometimes it can get stressful but not without the “fun factor”. She adds, “I have a super busy schedule and calendar but I plan a week or two in advance so I can maintain a healthy work-life balance.”

Her day revolves around a lot of conference calls, but she balances them out with nice dinners, prayer and meditation in her backyard, and visiting Sunset Cliffs. The sweet highlight of the day is her drive to the donut shop every night to get hot chocolate.

She also made progress on her personal goal by gaining weight in the last few months. She also works out in her room watching history, which nurtures the inner obsessive ancient history lover in her. She also gets great ideas after watching all the YouTube documentaries.

At the end of the day, she never stresses on anything as she believes that God has a big plan for her and she just has to show up to simply enjoy the adventure.

Flourishing Future Ahead

Sophia Felix is a catalyst in providing equal opportunity to all women. She seeks to see them in an equitable, valuable, and powerful position by providing education and advocacy through workshops and network resources.

Since the cannabis industry in the U.S. has seen tremendous growth, particularly as a result of the removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, this creates a great opportunity for ICBWA to help such as providing educational resources and workshops to more members in relevant topics. This includes business development, diversity & social equity, laws, compliance and regulation, youth education and community outreach.

As Co-founder and President, her top priority for the organization will be to apply and procure state and county bids for services related to cannabis business education for women. For example, based on research it’s estimated legal cannabis sales are projected to hit $30 billion in 2022, and $47.6 billion by 2026. Recently there were also reports stating that only 8% of CEOs in cannabis are women.

This is a pressing concern for many women and leaders in the cannabis industry. As a result, Sophia and her team are collaborating with like-minded individuals to support each other. She is a go-getter and thrilled to face the challenges and fully utilize her potential. “I’m extremely confident ICBWA will make an impact in 2022 and in the future, we will see that number rise,” she concludes.

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