7 February 2018 Issue 21 Feb/Mar

Verena von Pfetten: founder of Gossamer

New Yorker Verena von Pfetten co-founded cannabis lifestyle magazine Gossamer in 2017. Her business is one of an estimated 28,000 in this fledgling industry, capitalising on the legalisation of recreational weed. Eight US states have now legalised non-medical use of cannabis.

Sum up what you do in a sentence.

I’m the co-founder of a lifestyle publication for the modern cannabis consumer.

Why did you decide to get into this?

Despite the fact cannabis is a daily part of millions of people’s lives, we felt there was nothing in the space that reflected the way most people really interact with it. It’s not all about getting high or researching strains: it’s about having a better experience. We want to offer that same quality of experience through our content.

What would you go big on if you became President?

It seems obvious: legalise cannabis. More importantly, though, I would focus on reforming our criminal justice system, and pardon those who have served or are currently serving sentences for cannabis-related offences.

What would you outlaw?

Civil forfeiture, which allows US police officers to take assets from people they suspect of wrongdoing without actually having to charge them with a single crime; pet stores; and the death penalty.

What’s the wisest thing someone’s told you? 

Assume the best intentions.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Coat check at a fancy French restaurant in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. I spent October through March getting fur coats chucked in my face.

What’s the best ever invention?

Red lipstick, modern medicine.

Where would you like to go in our time machine?

The next presidential election: 3 November 2020.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Meryl Streep, Michelle Obama and food writer Ina Garten, hosted by Garten at her home.

Does modern capitalism work? 

No.

Somewhere you visited recently that you’d recommend?

The Lightning Field by Walter De Maria – a land art installation of 400 polished steel rods built in 1977 atop a plateau in rural New Mexico. The site was chosen by the artist for its propensity for lightning storms. Seeing the work involves an overnight stay in a wood-sided cabin with no cell service or wifi. It’s one of the most beautifully quiet experiences I’ve ever had.

If we hit ‘most listened to’ on your music, what would come up?

‘Come Dancing’ by The Kinks, ‘XO’ by Beyonce and ‘If I Had A Million Dollars’ by Barenaked Ladies.

If you weren’t running this business, which one would you like to take charge of?

Teen Vogue. Or ‘Drinks ‘n’ Snacks’, a bodega I’d open with my best friend, offering a mix of high-end sandwiches, tasty cocktails, and corner store staples: kitty litter, toilet paper, and the world’s best selection of 99-cent ramen.

How do you relax?

A low-dose edible, long bath, and a good book.

Who’s your hero?

Anyone with the conviction to make decisions every day that reflect their moral beliefs.

What’s your death row meal?

A never-ending bowl of spaghetti bolognese; sea urchin sushi; and a two-cheeseburger meal from McDonald’s, Big Mac sauce on the burgers, large fries, four-piece nuggets, and a diet Coke. Raspberry rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream.

Do you have any regrets?

I am firmly anti-regret. It’s not worth the time or the energy.