About Phil Cooper and High-Minded Events
High-Minded Events highmindedevents.com
Phil Cooper is the Founder and Owner of High-Minded Events, which focuses on de-stigmatizing cannabis culture and consumption by including it in their events. CBAI is once again partnering with High-Minded Events for the annual ICANN PAC fundraiser, Fall Impact, on Thursday, October 20th.
Tell us about your company
I started High-Minded Events a little over two years ago, in Summer 2020. I already had a successful career in the event design industry, doing high-profile events with big names. But with cannabis becoming legal in Illinois, I saw an opportunity to offer my skills as someone who has the ability to help people approach cannabis in a familiar and comfortable way. When the pandemic took hold and events were canceled, I felt like it was an opportunity for me to really take the time to research and kick off this new company. We dipped our toes into a few events in 2021 and were really pleased with the response because I think people see it as a natural progression, now that cannabis is legal in Illinois.
What role does your company play in the cannabis industry?
Our company has two main areas: one is our catering side, which includes anything from equipment rental – where we provide safe and elegant consumption at private events – to coordinating private chefs, budtenders and chocolatiers to infuse cannabis into food and drink. The other side of our business is our efforts to work directly with cannabis brands to help them design, execute and manage their cannabis events.
Phil Cooper, Founder/Owner, High-Minded Events
Phil Cooper is the Founder and Owner of High-Minded Events, which focuses on de-stigmatizing cannabis culture and consumption by including it in their events.
What drew you to the cannabis industry?
As a recovering alcoholic , I found that cannabis was a healthy alternative for me. At the same time, being a person who doesn’t drink in an industry where one of the main tenets is drinking can be really difficult and isolating. There are tons of events where you walk in the door and are handed a glass of champagne; I’m immediately left out of the customer experience. So, I saw this as a real opportunity to bring a healthy alternative to private events and give people who don’t want to have a drink the option to imbibe in another way. Being able to bring that option to private settings is part of our mission and a really personal goal for me.
What excites you about the cannabis industry?
Working directly with small, craft growers is really exciting. Whether we’re helping them throw their own event or incorporating their products into private events or weddings, I love being able to help these smaller operations get more exposure and break through to some customers. These small events are great opportunities for us to talk directly with consumers about these new brands and their high-quality products without it being a more formal marketing event.
What are the biggest challenges facing your business?
Because cannabis is still relatively new in Illinois and because it’s still federally illegal, we are limited in the venues that will let us hold events. But it’s not even just events: right now, we’re working on trying to secure our own space here in Chicago and there’s some bureaucratic confusion when it comes to zoning. We keep getting bounced back and forth between departments because we’re a new type of business in a new industry. We’re missing some clarity when it comes to consumption rules in Chicago, particularly for events. I’d like to see a very clear process put in place for hosting cannabis-forward events: here is the office responsible for the permitting, here are the requirements and fees, here’s where you can have the events. If a brewery was hosting an event, you’d be shocked if they weren’t serving beer. Cannabis events ought to be treated the same way.
What can we expect from this year’s ICANN PAC event?
It’s going to be an elegant event providing attendees with meaningful networking opportunities with government officials and members of the industry…and plenty of opportunities to sample cannabis products! We’re going to have tons of delicious infused edibles and an interactive joint-packing station where attendees can see the flower they’re picking and get a custom joint rolled to either enjoy at home or in the private courtyard at the event. And we’ll of course have my favorite: infused beverages, which are probably the most popular item at our events and a great substitute for alcohol.