VERENA VON PFETTEN
We are pleased to spotlight Marfa Muse Verena von Pfetten, Co-Founder of Gossamer, a cannabis lifestyle brand and biannual print publication covering travel, design, and culture through a green lens.
A digital native, Verena started her media career at the Huffington Post and was Executive Digital Director at Lucky Magazine. Before starting Gossamer, she consulted for an impressive roster of brands including Instagram and Glossier.
Verena wears our original Signature Reversible Quilt in Pale Sage/Pale Yellow in size L to ensure the fit was a little oversized.
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY. WHAT LED YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I’ve always worked in editorial, but mostly online. I started my media career (and met my co-founder, David!) at the Huffington Post back in 2007. From there, I went on to launch or oversee sites for different publishers, mostly in the lifestyle space—fashion, food, culture. I eventually landed at Conde Nast where I was the executive digital director at Lucky magazine (RIP). After that, I spent several years consulting for brands, platforms, and publications, such as Into The Gloss and Glossier, Instagram, Man Repeller, etc. I’ve always been interested in storytelling and community building—how what we think or want or love can be communal and how we can share that insight and intimacy with others.
I eventually realized that there was no world in which I was going back to work for someone else. Plus, and I’ve said this before so apologies for repeating myself but I think it’s important: at almost every company I’ve worked at in my professional history, there were incredibly talented, brilliant women running the show—and one level up from them, a man, or a C-suite of men, reaping the benefits. I wanted to be able to own and answer for the value of my work.
WHAT LED YOU TO LAUNCH GOSSAMER?
Cannabis has been a part of my life for a long time. But when I looked around me and thought about the products I had access to, the accessories I used, and the publications I read, I realized there was a huge disconnect between the quality of that overall experience and the rest of my life. Everything that existed in cannabis at the time was so focused on getting the highest for the cheapest, or on strains, or on outdated stereotypes of stoners. As someone who smokes weed but doesn’t define myself by that fact, I wanted something that spoke more to my interests and values: culture, style, food, art, travel, sustainability, and social justice. That’s why we built Gossamer for people who also smoke weed. (Literally – that’s our tagline.)
HOW HAS THE PERCEPTION OF THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY CHANGED SINCE FIRST LAUNCHING GOSSAMER?
When my co-founder, David, first suggested working together on something in the cannabis space back in late 2016, early 2017, I was intrigued but honestly terrified. It felt like a potential career killer. But after thinking about it more, I realized how problematic that was—the fact that I could go out and get drunk at happy hour with my boss but not comfortable tell someone that I’d nibbled an edible and taken a bath to decompress after work? And if I feel that way, what does that mean for people who don’t look like me (read: aren’t white) or who come from a different socio-economic background or professional network? The way cannabis has been criminalized and stigmatized—both historically and still to this day—is so deeply racist and deeply prejudiced.
While several years of recreational legalization across 15 states has made it a little easier to talk about, I know that for many people, depending on where you live and the color of your skin, that conversation is still scary.
It’s important to us to continue to push that perception forward. Cannabis gives people a better experience—deeper sleep, longer laughs, and better-tasting takeout, ha. We want Gossamer to do the same: to offer our community a better experience through everything we do from our print magazine, to our social, to our owned products as well as the ones we recommend. In doing so, we hope to change the perception of cannabis, cannabis consumers, and the conversation around legalization and social justice.
WHAT MOMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER?
I used to say launching Gossamer - but now I think it’s actually running it. There’s so much work that goes into getting a business off the ground that few people really talk about what it means to sustain one, especially if you’re growing organically and without the infusion of capital investment. I’m proud to co-own and co-run my own business and to be able to own every decision we make. I’m also immensely proud of the fact that we donate 2% (and up to 5% sometimes!) of all revenue, not just profits, to organizations dedicated to undoing the harms of the War on Drugs and supporting communities of color. It’s incredibly important to us that we consider giving back a core part of our business, and not a line item or an afterthought. In other words, we prioritize giving back above everything and I’d love to see more businesses take a similar approach.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
Recovering tomboy. I hated and refused to wear skirts and dresses as a child, and to this day feel most at home in jeans. But I do love a printed dress—it’s probably how I incorporate most of the patterns and color in my wardrobe—plus, they’re fun to layer: over jeans, under sweaters, etc. I’m barely functional without lipstick (red) and have a serious coat hoarding problem. (In my defense, coats are literally all anyone sees of one’s style for a good five months out of the year in NYC.) And lastly: comfort is king. I rarely wear heels and think you can make a sneaker or slides work with almost anything.
HOW DO YOU STYLE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
This coat is so versatile that it goes with almost anything: legging and exercise gear, jeans, dresses, heels, sneakers—I even wore it with jean shorts the other day when NYC finally hit 65 degrees. I’m partial to the green side but the citron-sorbet color is so special. I wanted it a little bit oversized—as my friend Jayna says, “Slouchy, not sloppy”—so I went one size up from my usual measurements, which was perfect.