“I’m about legacy, love & purpose. Legacy because I’m in tune with where I come from & the importance of tradition, Love because I try to do most things from a place of love & light & purpose because I want to be intentional about how I live life.”
With those words, Payton Shubrick & I began a conversation that was years in the making. I’ve had the privilege to know Payton since her freshman year of college, & I can attest to fact that I knew she would be a beacon of excellence long before she would leave our alma mater. Whether she was excelling as a track star, President of the Student Government Association, or leading the Young Alumni Committee, she was a star for the College of the Holy Cross, & that says nothing of her volunteerism efforts or work at Mass Mutual. As for this conversation, it would come to fruition due to the unlikeliest of reasons: cannabis.
Payton Shubrick is the CEO & founder of 6 Bricks LLC, a cannabis corporation in the process of opening a dispensary in Springfield, MA. After deciding she did not want to go to law school, Shubrick still had a burning need to make a positive mark on Earth. Her motivation for participating in the cannabis industry developed after reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and deciding to engage in a space that has disproportionately impact her community and black people across the United States.
6 Bricks is founded on the mantra: people, plant, purpose, and it with this ideology that Payton continues to develop her company, and herself as she stated “I’ve become erratically vulnerable in the best of ways. I did something that took a lot of courage and regardless of how it ends it made people think twice about the City of Springfield and what success can look like”
Interestingly, cannabis had not been a hobby of hers before starting the company. “I didn’t smoke weed until I opened a cannabis company,” says Shubrick. “I remember in 10th grade a kid in the hallway dropped a dime bag and immediately everyone swarmed him. I remember the scent of the hallway being so dank. I didn’t get what the big deal was, but in 11th grade, I noticed people I know started smoking. I just got a contact high.”
Never one to back away from a challenge, Payton Shubrick describes herself as “gentle pressure relentlessly applied”. She’s aware of the expectations she’s had to subvert growing up, describing her time as a black woman in Springfield as one where it is expected to have a one-parent household and to have seen a shooting. Yet, those expectations have not soured her views of the city stating, “Springfield for me is home and happiness, and it’s economic development, which is what I’m attempting, so it’s beautiful”.
Knowing her tenacity and penchant for breaking glass ceilings, I had to ask her: what does it mean to be a black woman in 2021, and in the cannabis industry?
“It means carrying something really heavy and because you’re able to carry it people give you a hi-five when what you really need and want is for people to help with your load. Sometimes it’s isolating. Other times it’s frustrating but it’s also empowering. It makes you have to Rely on yourself. In cannabis, it means receiving letters for Mr. Payton Shubrick, and people asking who really owns 6 Bricks. You’re expected to be a white man in a suit, but it also means that because you’re already assumed not to be capable that when you show up and crush your presentation or have a well-thought-out plan, that you’re helping people undo their own conscious bias in a real way.” – Payton Shubrick.
When asked about her relationship with food, Payton says food is a love language (admittedly she gets upset when people don’t eat her food hot or the way she intended it to be served). As she says, “It’s the unofficial way of displaying care and emotion when you don’t have the right words, especially in a household where you don’t always express your feelings.”
Coming from a “big food family”, she discussed the complexities of her upbringing as her mother’s side of the family is Italian and her father is African American, creating an interesting food dynamic in her household, and during holidays: “My mom’s side of the family had an interesting way of making things. Mac and cheese had tomatoes and stuffing had 3 types of meat. They always started dinner on time. My dad’s side started late and fried their turkey. We were big but not united”
Regardless of the diversity of foods available, Payton says her favorite meal growing up was still spaghetti and meatballs. She states “It felt very Italian and had clear parameters for what was good and bad. Like you could either do it or you couldn’t.”
As our conversation came to an end, I asked Payton what one thing people need to know about her. She retorts “I’m comfortable being uncomfortable which I believe speaks to a constant state of fighting and showcasing grit. If you can get comfortable with the uncomfortable it takes away the chance of surprise and provides you less of a challenge and more of an opportunity.” She continued by providing her mantra, and the best advice she’s ever received from fellow Holy Cross alum Ron Lawson: “Fear and faith cannot coexist”.
Speed round with Payton Shubrick
Che: What’s the last good meal you ate, and where was it from?
Payton Shubrick: Center Square Grill in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. They’re family-owned. From their dinner menu, I had scallops and risotto and it was very, very good.
Che: Who is someone that inspires you right now
Payton Shubrick: Melissa Butler from The Lip Bar. She’s a black woman from Detroit who told she’d be squished on Shark Tank. She went on to sell lipstick at the majority of the Target stores in the U.S., and she told Mr. Wonderful to fuck himself. She’s not doing what society expects her to as far as being married or having kids. And she’s content with herself. Which I don’t think most people are.
Che: If you had to have a smoke session with any 4 people, dead or alive, who’s your rotation?
Payton Shubrick: Jay- Z, Michelle Obama, James Baldwin, and Billie Holiday. Very random but yeah.
Che: If you woke up tomorrow as a fictional character, who would it be?
Payton Shubrick: I’d be Olivia Pope. But like without the personal scandal. I wouldn’t sleep with the president, but I’d handle shit.
Che: Any advice for young black women currently in spaces that don’t traditionally have young hold space for young black women??
Payton Shubrick: Be authentically you and don’t allow being a woman or being black to be a barrier for entry into anything; Because at the end of the day, regardless of what society tells us, we’re not the problem. Being black, being a woman is not the problem. Societies expectation and misinformation is the problem. Be you. Be present. Be in the room. Fall down seven times, get up eight. And get the job done.
Che: Any exciting events or projects?
Payton Shubrick: If I do my job right 6 bricks will open this summer so there’s that. Outside of that pretty low-key.
Learn more about Payton Shubrick here.