1933 Industries President, Ester Vigil on Industry Firsts, New Strains & The Importance of Health

1933 Industries President, Ester Vigil on Industry Firsts, New Strains, and The Importance of Health

Ester Vigil 1933 Industries

Being the first at anything isn’t easy. Being the first in an industry that’s interwoven with decades’ worth of injustice, inequity, and incarceration, is a whole different ballpark. 

Nevada-based cannabis brand Alternative Medicine Association (AMA) is no stranger to the adversities that come with pioneering such unknown territory. They were the first licensed cultivator in Southern Nevada to grow for the medicinal market, making history with their first harvest in 2015. 

Being the first meant there were no best practices to follow and “no playbook to emulate,” as the brand says. Yet this trailblazing paid off – not only for them, but it helped paved the way by setting the standards for other cannabis producers in Nevada. Today, AMA is the largest indoor cultivator in Nevada and a leading producer of craft cannabis flower and concentrates in the state.

The brains behind the brand are an equal story of leadership and perseverance. “I think I may be the only Icelandic woman in the world who sells cannabis,” Ester Vigil, President of 1933 Industries, laughed. Like the brand she helps run, Vigil, too has shared in the tribulations of leading in a nascent industry. 

Rooted in Health 

Ester Vigil moved to the United States in 2001. Prior to joining the cannabis space, she spent 25 years working in the cosmetics industry for world-class brands like MAC, Sephora, and Peter Thomas Roth – the latter of which she spent 12 years as an Account Executive.

“I’ve always been on the journey of figuring out how to be healthy in any way,” she said. “I was in cosmetics because I believe what you put on your skin is as important as what you eat, or read, or see. It’s all connected.”  

This love, coupled with her passion for service, was the driver of her flourishing career. During her time at Peter Thomas Roth, she was the brand’s top-selling representative in the country for 12 consecutive years. And while she cheekily shares she doesn’t “want to give all [her] tricks to the market,” it’s the philosophy in which she operates her life that has allowed her to thrive.

“I love to talk to people and make them feel good,” she put simply. “I don’t sell moisturizer, I’m here to help them.” It’s no surprise then, that when she was approached by 1933’s Canna Hemp™ division in 2017 and learned the healing benefits of CBD, she made a leap of faith and transitioned to the cannabis industry.

“I actually started the day of rec,” she said in reference to the first day of legal adult-use sales in Nevada. “It was super chaotic. It was a very small start-up; there were 5 of us, and within 6 months we were the number one sold CBD brand in the state.” 

In 2019, she joined as Director of Sales for 1933 Industries, the parent company of Canna Hemp™ and AMA, and today, she proudly serves as the company’s President.  

Room to Grow

As AMA has paved the way for some of Nevada’s first cultivators, Vigil is paving the way for future generations of cannabis leaders. Her position makes her part of the 22 percent of women cannabis executives – a number that has dropped nearly 15 percent compared to 2019. 

Gender disparity remains a problem in most industries. Even in spaces like the beauty industry, where the vast majority of consumers are women, only 29 percent of beauty boards and executive teams are female.

These disparities aren’t limited to the business side of it, either. It’s estimated that women make up over 38 percent of US cannabis consumers, but these numbers don’t tell the full story. 

Clinical data often fails to represent the true number of women cannabis smokers, largely because women are more reluctant to disclose their consumption. This remains especially true for mothers due to the stigma and stereotypes associated with cannabis use. 

Loosely defined, stigma describes a part of the self that is socially devalued to where it becomes morally offensive,” writes Matt Reid in the Journal of Cannabis Research. “This aspect can be a physical abnormality, faults of an individual’s character, or membership in a distasteful group. Either way, the “undesired differentness” negatively distinguishes the individual from normal individuals in a society.” 

While there is no doubt that there have been improvements in the normalization of cannabis use, a stigma prevails due to the long and complicated history of cannabis. It was only at the turn of the 21st century that cannabis started to unravel its association with outsiders in society. For decades prior, especially during the Prohibition era, cannabis use was seen as something for the poor, marginalized, or socially outcasted, Reid explains.

Vigil, and women like her in the industry, are working on breaking that stigma.  

Medicine for All

“There are a lot of successful women using cannabis, and it doesn’t mean they’re a ‘stoner’ or this-and-that,” she said. “If you’re a pharmaceutical representative, it doesn’t mean you are a narcotic user. If you work in the alcohol industry that doesn’t make you an alcoholic. It doesn’t always have to go that way.” 

Vigil recognizes the difficulties for both men and women who work in the industry and consume the plant. To her, the approach remains the same. 

“Our focus, ultimately, is to give medicine to people,” she said. “And affordable medicine. You won’t see a billboard, you won’t see fancy packaging. A lot of people have to choose between medicine or food for their kids, and I don’t want them thinking about that when they come to AMA.” 


It wouldn’t be a complete chat without getting all the juicy details about AMA’s lineup, including some sneak peeks for upcoming strains: 

What are some recommendations for first-time users?

AMA: “New smokers should be less concerned with THC potency as they should be looking into terpenes, figuring out what they like in terms of taste, smell, and effect. Everything on the market will get you high, but it’s the overall effect you are looking for. Nobody walks into a bar and asks for shots of Everclear just because it has the highest alcohol content. You want to enjoy the process, not just the destination.

For a new consumer, we suggest AMA strains Strawberry Syrup (22%+), Cherry Driver (23%), Dirty Taxi (25%+), and Sin Mint Cookies (23%).

Our AMA Infused pre-rolls are a great way for new smokers to try some of our strains and ease into their journeys into concentrates. Our pre-rolls are hand-crafted, using top strains and whole buds for a potent and satisfying experience.”

What about experienced connoisseurs?  

AMA:  “Double Solo Burger: THC and terpenes are HIGH!  She is for the experienced or at least the adventurous.

Dirty Taxi: We also suggested it for the newbies, but it has a great high without the paranoia, which everyone can enjoy.

Wedding Crasher and Cara Cara: These strains will be hitting the shelves soon!”

What are some of the hottest strains out right now? 

AMA: “Double Solo Burger Flower (27%+) has a terpene profile that any concentrate would be lucky to have – 45 to 60 mg/g [total] with 30mg/g of Caryophyllene. Terpenes at those levels are practically unheard of in flower, and some concentrates don’t even reach those levels.

Strawberry Syrup (22%+) is a new strain we have high hopes for. It’s a cross between Grease Monkey and Red Pop. She is beautiful in both looks and smell and provides a nice punch.

Dirty Taxi (25%+) is one of our head of cultivation’s personal favorites. It’s a cross between GMO. and Chem I-95. The strain shares notes of GMO with a nice uplifting cerebral high, without the paranoia. 

The above strains are also available in our extensive line of concentrates. We utilize our own flower trim to create our concentrates, thus ensuring quality and consistency. What is cool about our infused pre-rolls is that we combine our flower strain name with the corresponding concentrate of the same strain together in a pre-roll. Therefore, consumers are getting the true strain in both formats.” 

Any underdog products that deserve more love? 

AMA: “Scarlett Johansson has an amazing bag appeal, smell, and taste.  She gets overlooked sometimes due to the 18% THC, but we believe that she hits harder than some strains testing in the high 20s.

Our RSO, too, for people looking for true medicine at affordable prices. 

The AMA-infused Stinger is known for its great burn and smooth taste. We think that it is truly a hidden gem!” 

The cannabis market is saturated with every brand on the hunt for the best phenotypes… How does AMA pick strains that stand out among the rest? 

AMA: “We monitor the market to see what strains are creating a buzz and then we get one step ahead by getting strains from the same family lineage or breeder that has a proven genetic stock. We are always on the hunt for strains that check all the boxes: bag appeal, smell, terpene profile, potency, structure, yield, and consistency. Finding strains that check all the boxes is truly rare. Our Level X brand features exotic strains that test 25% THC and above.” 

What’s next for AMA? Any new products/strains you can tease? Community events? Plans for 2023?

AMA: “We have 20+ strains that will be hitting the market in the next few months. We have just finished the first two legs of our last pheno hunt and have identified winners that will be added to the genetic library and will become part of our rotation. Stay tuned!” 

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