Heather Nicole Fowler
A self-described HR nerd, Heather Fowler founded Mary Jane's People to make work better after years of supporting big corporations and a little burnout from a global pandemic. Upon the accidental discovery of a gap in HR support for the growing cannabis industry, Mary Jane’s People offers HR and recruiting services specifically for the cannabis and wellness industries intentionally working with Women and PGM leaders.
Using self-determination theory, we build well-being into the cornerstone of companies with the following tenets - making people the highest priority, building the team you want to be on, and community connections. Mary Jane's People was founded to combine the love of connecting and serving people and plant medicine with a mission to make work better. One aspect of Mary Jane’s People's mission is community connection. We founded Mary Jane’s Closet, a no-cost professional career closet offering career assistance and development for trans women, survivors of domestic violence, and the formerly incarcerated.
Growing up as the first child and daughter, my family encouraged me to maintain my independence and pursue my dreams and passions. Fortunately, I was able to after taking student loans and became the first college graduate in my family. Upon getting my bachelor’s, I moved to Austin and continued pursuing an ongoing acting career.
I had little side gigs to supplement my acting, including jewelry making, merchandising, and being an HR file clerk. Eventually, the HR role grew bigger and became my chosen career. It was a pretty easy transition from acting to human resources. I fell in love with HR and felt grateful for finding a career I loved outside of acting. I worked in HR at a top tech company with fantastic mentors and soon moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University’s Graduate School of Business to build a deeper foundation in global HR. I received my Master of Science in Industrial Relations a couple of years later. From there, I partnered with small and large companies building teams through talent acquisition and developing HR programs and departments in a variety of industries, including healthcare, retail, technology - hardware, software, Saas, insurance, biotechnology, telecommunications, knowledge management, website design, environmental science, customer experience, logistics & distribution, digital marketing HCM, and cannabis. I’m a servant leader and employee advocate, delicately balancing the best interests of the whole business. I’ve built a portfolio of unique people experiences and projects leading to high employee engagement and even higher productivity and profitability.
As a teenager, I was a teetotaller with undiagnosed depression and anxiety. It was the last weekend of my freshman year of college that I began using cannabis after giving it a try with some girlfriends. It helped me tremendously and became an ongoing practice in my life. As a college student, I experienced my own justice struggles due to the plant’s criminalization in my home state of Texas where drug laws were and are still very strict making me a lifelong advocate for the legalization of the plant. With my career in HR and the old misdemeanor charge for possession from college, I put myself pretty deep into the cannabis closet.
I continued honing my craft evolving into a relational and progressive global people and talent expert. I enjoyed my work and the people I built relationships with over the years. At home, I focused on my well-being and brain health because staying healthy mentally and physically is imperative as a single mom of 2 children. And even that practice over time became tiresome to manage. At work, I felt performative and I felt it showed. I found myself completely burned out. Some days, I felt like a rubber band about to snap and I was unsure where to find more resilience without something changing. Our global pandemic was the catalyst for me to say, let’s do something better. Just like many others, I wanted whatever was next to be different. I went deeper into my recovery and well-being work, quit drinking, and lost 95 pounds and then everything changed for me professionally.
It was Labor Day weekend after a fantastic 3-days with Phish at Dick’s in Denver. Driving through the town of Greenland, Colorado, on the long way home to Texas I reflected on the weekend and what was to come for me and my children. I looked at a cute octopus sticker I’d been given at the concert. Wondering what in the world luxury cannabis was, I googled the company. Then I had an idea that changed the direction of my and my family’s life. As a long-time advocate of the medicinal plant, I wondered if there was space for me in the growing industry to combine my two longtime loves: Cannabis and HR. Was there room for me to bring my HR and recruiting expertise to the Cannabis industry? Was there a place for me to serve? After about an hour of online research and attending several cannabis conferences, it turned out there’s plenty of space for Human Resources and recruiting in this growing industry.
And so, Mary Jane’s People bloomed and many amazing opportunities have arisen since then. I developed a path using practical HR and recruiting methods to make work better with the intrinsic motivational theory called Self-Determination Theory to build well-being into the very foundation of business through HR and Recruiting. I intentionally work with women and people of the global majority business owners and leaders in the cannabis industry. We’re remotely based, supporting US and Canada to make work better by making people the highest priority, building the team you want to be on, and connecting to the community. Our community offering is our career closet called Mary Jane’s Closet. We provide free clothing and free career resources to women and the formerly incarcerated transitioning to something better. We also work with other HR leaders to ensure equity is achieved across industries through the consistent hiring and promotion of legacy and survivors of the cannabis drug war and other formerly incarcerated. Currently based in Austin, Texas, we are in the process of relocating to Durango, Colorado, and are excited to be closer to the mountain fresh air.