Who is Britni Tantalo? Well, Rochester Woman Online has had the opportunity to follow this Rochester native, mother of two small children ages 3 and 5, a wife and owner of multiple businesses within the cannabis industry for over a year now. We have had the pleasure of not only watching her grow professionally, but also as joining her as she is breaking the glass ceilings of the cannabis world to become one of the “Power Women in Cannabis”.

Britni attended the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and received her bachelor’s in Finance with a focus in economics and her MBA from St. John Fisher University in accounting. Her professional background actually started in corporate as she worked in various financial positions and as a public tax accountant. For the past decade she have actively pursued business ventures in the cannabis industry and is one of the top females in New York State in the industry.

We sat down with Britni and asked her some questions we thought our audience would be interested in knowing. Here is what she had to say.

How did you get started in Cannabis?
Personally, I’ve been a cannabis user since my teens years. I have always seen cannabis as a healing plant as I experienced severe anxiety as a young adult and it helped me to mitigate that feeling. My quality of life was much better due to my cannabis use. Fast forward to 2014, I found myself very unhappy in the corporate world. The inequalities that existed regarding women and men in the workforce were apparent and it was very difficult to navigate. It was clear the glass ceiling existed and that my success was not necessarily determined by my own merit. Looking for a way to pivot, my husband and I decided to start our first business within the cannabis industry MetaVega Corporation. MetaVega Corporation manufactures and wholesales indoor growing equipment and supplies to hydroponic stores and smoke shops throughout the country. In 2021, my husband and I opened Flower City Hydroponics in Fairport, New York, a retail indoor/outdoor grow store. We provide all equipment and supplies needed for indoor/outdoor home or commercial cannabis cultivation. We are both also a NYS conditional adult use retail dispensary woman minority applicant, Flower City Dispensary. We hope to obtain a license in the finger lakes region of the state. Most recently, I am also the co-founder and CEO of the New York CAURD Coalition. We are an organization that provides access to resources and a direct channel of communication across the entire supply chain within cannabis for free to ensure an equitable, sustainable and thriving industry.

Why Cannabis?
The real question is why not cannabis? I wake up everyday knowing that I am helping others. At Flower City Hydroponics I am able to provide access to cannabis cultivation equipment and supplies to help medical patients grow their medicine. This medicine provides them with a better quality of life whether it be from physical, emotional or mental aliments and/or conditions. I’m working so hard to obtain a retail dispensary license as Flower City Dispensary to bring safe, lab tested, regulated cannabis to our community. This will provide career opportunities, tax revenue for reinvestment back into our community and spur economic development that will help others. I am very fortunate to have built a career in cannabis as this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of history and true cannabis prohibition. It’s amazing to be alive in this moment and be a part of freeing the cannabis plant.

How does the Cannabis industry empower women? How do you feel it hinders them?
The cannabis industry empowers women here in New York because the MRTA was written to allocate at least 50% of all licenses within the cannabis industry to women and minorities. There will also hopefully be grants available to help facilitate and encourage this initiative by the state. This should ignite women to want to participate in such a budding industry as it welcomes our presence in this space. Additionally, many organizations that focus on women in cannabis have formed across the state to help provide access to resources for those seeking to have a businesses or work for a business in cannabis. The New York CAURD Coalition an organization that I am the Co-Founder and CEO of has began to build a specific women’s committee that focuses on helping women to transition into legal cannabis. It also provides women the opportunity to build relationships with other like minded women that are already in the cannabis industry to help grow their businesses.

The cannabis industry hinders women in the space by not elevating the current participation of the women who run business in cannabis. These women are current cultivators/processors/retail dispensaries and those with ancillary businesses. The market is still very male dominated so it can be difficult at times to grab the attention of the media to be seen by the community. We as women in this space tend not to be asked to share our stories or are given the platform to do so. There needs to be more emphasis on the contributions of women in the space.

What are the healing benefits of your path?
Healing is a huge part of why I have cannabis be a part of my life and why I hope to help normalize it’s use. It has been scientifically proven that the cannabis plant offers many medicinal benefits to our bodies. There are many components such as CBD, THC, CBG and CBN that all offer an array of medical benefits from reducing anxiety to helping curb nausea and even reduce inflammation. I believe it’s super important that we focus on alternative medicines that removes us from the use of big pharma drugs to help provide relief for others to achieve a higher quality of life.

What are some major roadblocks you have had to face?
Some of the major road blocks that I have had to face within the cannabis industry are access to capital, equal representation and equal access to resources. Raising capital in any industry is difficult for women as statistically we are less likely than men to get a loan to start a business. This rings true in cannabis as well. Most if not all other women CAURD have had issues obtaining capital to fund their business from outside investors. Also having fair representation is difficult for women across the board in cannabis as we tend not be highlighted or brought to the front as our male counterparts. Most stories that are told or that the media covers are not those of women in the space. As well as the lack of leadership positions that are held by women in cannabis. These factors impact our ability to be seen in the space. Lastly, access to resources has been difficult as the number of women to be licensed within the first two rounds totaled less than 10% each round. The resources that are being provided to CAURD license holders are not being made as accessible with such low licenses being issued to women. We must break down these road blocks so that women have the same equal opportunities as men within any industry you are in.

How has the Cannabis industry shaped you as a female leader?
Cannabis has helped me to better understand myself and other women at the same time. Navigating a very infant and volatile market is challenging all on its own but, when you add in being a woman and/or woman minority you begin to see and experience the repression that exists within the space. You realize it’s hard to relate or gain stability until you link with other like minded, powerful, remarkable women who want to strategize, build and uplift other women. To the contrary of what most might believe there are so many women out there that believe in this ideology. This is what cannabis has amplified for me. I’ve always been a person to believe in true sisterhood but being in this industry has shown me to take it to another level. It’s important we have representation in various spaces of the industry and we must work together to ensure this happens. Women must collaborate over complete so we can continue to thrive and achieve wealth by creating strong networks and trust for one another.

What keeps you going as a leader in Cannabis?
What keeps me going as a leader in cannabis is my family and the cannabis community. I’ve been very lucky to be a wife to my amazing husband Jayson as well as, have two beautiful small children with him. Everyday is about them and that’s what truly fuels me. Also it’s the amazing people that I have had the opportunity to get to know and work with that compel me to not give up. Their journeys have truly touch my life and have taught me so much. Being the co-founder of the New York CAURD Coalition has been a blessing to my life because it allowed me to better understand the big picture of what New York legal cannabis should look like or be. I am forever grateful.

What are some words of advice you have for other women who want to enter into the Cannabis industry?
Advice that I would give other women entering the cannabis space is that make sure you do your research on everything as this market is so new and it changes fast (especially regulations). Make sure you are connecting with other women in the industry. Make sure you are attending cannabis events and become a part of cannabis organizations. Be aware of predatory actions as it exists in cannabis just like any other industry. Lastly, be ready to work hard, get no sleep, to be all in and fully committed to taking the risk of entering cannabis. It’s not an easy road or for everyone but the opportunities are endless.

What have you learned along your path that you want to pay forward to the younger generations?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that empowered women empower women! We must breakdown the horrible mentality of division and competition amongst one another. The younger you are to recognize this, the better off all women will be. We must begin with changing our own actions and then teaching our daughters and the next generation of women entrepreneurs the same. We are truly stronger together.

What do you want to leave as your legacy?
I hope to leave as my legacy that I was a woman who gave back to my community. That I was someone who helped many other women along my own journey to achieve their dreams as well. That I was able to create opportunities for women that did not exist before. That I was able to at least make the road a little easier to travel down for those that come after me.

Despite starting off on the right foot, the cannabis industry has proven to be no different than other industries in that it is difficult for women to get ahead. How has is especially been working in NYS?

What is the best part of being a woman pioneering the cannabis industry?
One of the best parts of being a women pioneering the cannabis industry is that I am able to help build and shape what cannabis will look like for women years from now. Although it’s an ever changing industry it’s neat to think so many fundamental changes will occur from the foundation that I’m helping to build. My contributions to ensure that women have access to resources, access to capital, fair representation, access to a network of other women, etc. are what so many other amazing women will continue to build off of long after my time here on this earth.

Who inspires you to keep going, even when things aren’t easy?
When things aren’t easy in my life I draw my inspiration from my mother. I unexpectedly lost her about a year and a half ago. This moment was the most devastating moment of my life. She was my best friend, my biggest fan and gave me an unconditional love that could never be measured. She was a remarkable women who lived her life with integrity, intelligence and she always believed in helping others. She taught me everything I know and guided me to be who I am today. I watched her overcome tremendous struggles as an immigrant from South Korea. She had to navigate an unknown culture as well as try and build a business in construction based off of my fathers professional trade skills. I watched her break glass ceilings in the male dominated industry of construction. She grew from a small residential construction company to retiring as the leading woman minority contractor for the federal government at that time. I aspire to be a fraction of who she was as she leaves behind a legacy of hard work, tenacity, success and giving back to her community. This is how I know I can make it through when things aren’t easy, her strength will forever be instilled in me.

Tell us 3 words that describe you and why.
Family – Because it’s the most important thing to me in this world. Everyday I live for them and they drive me to succeed in whatever I do.

Integrity – I believe it’s crucial that your actions are that of honesty, trustworthiness and of high morals. Whether it’s my personal life or business life I hold myself to a high standard of integrity.

Community – The community you are a part of is a part of who you are. I believe it’s important to always ensure that the community you are a part of thrives and that we must do our part to contribute to it. In all my businesses community reinvestment is at the heart of it. Through educational pathways, access to resources, workforce development opportunities and tax revenue reinvestment I am able to help rebuild my community.

How do you feel you play a role in evolving the cannibus industry for women?
I believe I play a few different roles in evolving the cannabis industry for women. The main role I play is that I am one of the few first ever women minority conditional adult use retail dispensary (CAURD) applicants in New York State. Being one of the very few women to have a cannabis conviction and also show two years of profitable experience shows how my role will be a part of evolving what a cannabis dispensary owner would look like or be. These were the two main requirements to qualify for the CAURD program in NYS which would potentially allow you to be first to market to open a dispensary in your selected region. My participation and the other few women that also participated ensures we as women have a seat at the table to ensure future evolution of our presence in the space. The second role I play is as the CEO and Co-founder of the New York CAURD Coalition. Myself and fellow woman minority CAURD applicant and coalition member, Venus Rodriguez have started a women’s committee within the organization that will provide representation, access to resources and a network of other amazing cannabis women to work with. This is how we help women to evolve, we invest in them, we guide them and we provide roads to opportunities for them.

If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say?
Five non-intuitive things you should know to succeed in cannabis are:
-Understand cannabis regulations and compliance. Most would think this is a given but the truth is regulations are complex and hard to understand so most avoid them but they are very important to the success of your business in cannabis.

-Know your local municipalities stance on cannabis.

-The free services that are made available locally for cannabis businesses through organizations such as the Business Insight Center in downtown Rochester.

-Know who your local government officials are within the cannabis industry to create an open dialogue for the impact you want to have in your community through cannabis.

-Build a relationship with your community by helping to educate them on cannabis and the consumption of cannabis. This in turn will create a normalized and safe cannabis industry.

What have you found to be the best platform for getting your business and industry out to the public?
Honestly, it’s really been social media and engaging with my community by speaking on panels or attending other women events in my community. It’s about showing up and networking to let people know who you are and what your doing. You have to put the work in to know your audience and once you know it you go full force in showing them who you are.

How have you had to get “creative” in your marketing approach and has it worked?
It’s important to be creative for sure when it comes to marketing but it’s also equally important to be authentic. For me, I have always just remained true to myself and that has served me well. I believe if your message remains authentic then people will receive it the way you intend it to as well as really understand what your business is trying to achieve.

Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5years?
In the next 3-5 years I see myself and husband running one of the first ever women minority owned recreational cannabis dispensary’s in the finger lakes region of New York. I see us providing career opportunities to women in our local community. I see us reinvesting back into our community through the tax dollars our dispensary generates. My hope is that economically our communities benefit from the newly emerging cannabis industry.