built our business around the vision of creating clean, quality cannabis and cannabis products using ethical, organic, and sustainable practices. After years of successfully implementing these principles, I realized that we’re doing something unique and valuable. We’re a small shop, but our organic (certified as such by a third party), sustainable (also certified) model is working—and very few people have the necessary experience to successfully replicate the operating procedures.
I’ve seen way too many consultants opening up shop in recent years giving out advice -- whether or not they have actually been an operator or held a license (or worse, lost their license or business). Many consulting firms aren’t experienced operators in this field, and are not keeping pace with the marketplace’s rapid changes. One visit to any cannabis conference reveals charlatans of all professions (ready to integrate into cannabusiness) on full display. My previous success as a nonprofit executive director blends with a near decade of directing operations at L’Eagle for verifiable expertise not just in the cannabis business, but in business.
This industry is maturing, the market is shifting, and consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. As more states come online, competition is getting fiercer, and the race to the bottom is getting faster and dirtier. Everyone is jockeying to attract the 21 to 30-year-old “standard” cannabis consumer, but analytics show new demographics coming to cannabis for a variety of reasons.
Health and wellness enthusiasts are embracing the cannabis lifestyle. Baby Boomers are using cannabis as an alternative to certain prescription medications. Women are exploring cannabis as an alternative treatment for menopause or menstrual pain. Athletes find relief in cannabis treatments to aid recovery and avoid narcotics. These new cannabis consumers want clean, quality products produced through sustainable, fair methods and they’re more willing to pay for products from sources that share their ideals. These groups lean more towards the Whole Foods shoppers—not fast-food eaters.
The under 30 camp appreciates ethical companies and products and wants to like the companies they’re supporting. They want to spend their money with businesses that prioritize consumer health, environmental stewardship and respect their employees well-being. Millennials cannot be cast aside merely as a side-show demographic, but as a driving factor for entire industries either thriving (Uber & Lyft) or going out of business (Toys-R-Us & Applebees). As such we encourage a relationship with this hyper aware community.
It’s no longer enough to design cannabis businesses that only appeal to the stereotypical stoner demographic. Although mediocre products, questionably low prices and gimmicky setups (“it looks just like an Apple store”) are falling rapidly out of style among a growing number of cannabis consumers, you might not know it from the direction many consulting firms are still pushing their clients. Relying on responsible brands that have built a solid reputation to shepard a new company is much more effective than investing in someone else’s concepts.
Fair labor practices, sustainability and organic cultivation are going to be the next big differentiators for cannabis. After eight years of being guided by these very principles, L’Eagle Services has this niche down to an art. As there are no other operators following our model, we field enough regular inquiries from interested parties asking for our help to know our expertise is valued and needed.
In 2009, my husband and I made the decision to enter this industry without investors. We’ve been succeeding with higher standards and fewer resources than many operators, in the most competitive market in the cannabis world (Denver has 300 stores). We have the know-how to replicate our strategic model on any scale. While we never rushed to expand, after playing The Tortoise and the Hare for the past nine years, we can now fully ensure the integrity and quality of our business model. We are ready to share our blueprint with other companies to build their own ethical, thoughtful, successful cannabis business.
I feel that our industry as a whole is better served when businesses prioritize quality cannabis, sustainability and ethical cultivation practices. I feel even stronger about fair labor employment standards and regularly sharing our ethos with our government partners on multiple levels. For these reasons we launched our full-service consultancy company that will make a difference consumers, employees and regulators can appreciate.