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Meet The Tattooed Branding Bigwig Who Gave Up Couture For Cannabis

Sara Rotman with her husband Nate Ryan on their organic family farm, home to Bluebird805.COURTESY: BLUEBIRD805

Anomalous is the only way to describe Sara Rotman’s persona and subsequent career trajectory. Her experience spans more than 24 years working in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries as a creative director, forming the identities for brands like Carolina Herrera, Bliss Spa, Goop, MTV, Vera Wang and Campari. Oh and you know that iconic Tory Burch logo? That’s thanks to Rotman, too.

At the helm of her own agency MODCo Creative (short for My Own Damn Company), which has since transitioned into NEWCo Branding, Rotman once told WWD that she is “a complete snob who’s covered in tattoos.” Yet she’s also an avid equestrienne, competing in high profile events from Argentina to the Hamptons. Her latest venture? Cannabis.

Three years ago, Rotman traded in her enviable closet of designer threads and a jet-setting lifestyle to relocate full-time from New York City to Santa Barbara, Calif., where she has owned a polo team and horses since 2012. The reason was to go all in on Bluebird805—a craft cannabis company she co-founded with her husband Nate Ryan and inspired by the discovery of a life-threatening illness in 2014. Together, they live life on their organic family farm and have planted the seeds—literally—for what is undoubtedly going to be a leader in the California craft cannabis space.

Ahead of Bluebird805’s official launch, with flower and concentrates hitting select California dispensary shelves in late fall, I caught up with Rotman to talk about her awe-inspiring journey from fashion to cannabis farming:

Katie Shapiro: Why cannabis?

Sara Rotman: That’s a long story. But since you asked … I have never been a recreational user. And that lack of interest lead to a grossly uninformed opinion of the plant, its power and the culture surrounding it. In my highly caffeinated New York life, I had no interest in anything that would slow me down or knock my well-earned edge off. I wanted to go harder, faster stronger–always. Cannabis didn’t seem to fit in with that program. Plus, I’m an intractable anti-smoker, adding fuel to my already prejudiced stance. Honestly, I was kind of anti-cannabis. Not from a legal sense, I never cared what others did and always felt it should be legal, but I didn’t find it interesting at all.

KS: How did you do such a 180?

SR: I got sick. I was in a meeting with a celebrity client when it became inescapably clear to me I was going to die. Somewhat immediately. Struggling to be cordial, I needed to get out of there to go to the hospital. I was in the worst pain imaginable and knew I had waited too long. I slipped into a waking coma. I remember waking up to the emergency room doctor telling me that I was in renal failure. I spent eight days in the hospital, then began my odyssey of trying to get well.

KS: What was that journey like?

SR: I was in constant pain, couldn’t work, wasn’t getting better and medicine had no solutions for me. My doctor told me, “Crohn’s won’t shorten your life, but it will drastically reduce the quality of your life.” I think this was meant to be comforting. It was not. As we progressed through the myriad of western medicine avenues available to us, we began researching anything that could help. We started to look at the foods that I consumed, and how to control symptoms with diet, becoming obsessed with adverse effects of GMO’s and the chemicals that are legal to use in our food system. I became afraid to put anything in my mouth that I didn’t grow myself. We purchased a farm, began to eat intensely clean and resolved to grow as much of our own food as we could. Over time, I started to get marginally better, but still couldn’t really work and suffered as my health toggled between improving and tanking.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Katie Shapiro on Forbes

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Published: August 23, 2018

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