“Don’t listen to anyone. Just trust yourself. It always works out.”
Danny Weis: So I’m sitting here with Sarah Evans with Feel Good Distribution. She runs a premier wholesale distribution company that serves the local southern California THC industry, and they currently operate from Long Beach. Sarah, how are you doing?
Sarah Evans: I’m good, how are you?
Danny Weis: I’m very good. So I’m gonna start out with a couple of general questions about the Feel Good distribution. How many employees do you have?
Sarah Evans: Oh gosh. Currently, we have eight.
Danny Weis: Awesome, and how much experience did you have starting out in the industry before you started Feel Good originally?
Sarah Evans: Initially, Omer and myself had already been in the cannabis industry, we were already running distribution and before the new California regulations took hold, he (Omer) cultivated and I (Sarah) owned an edibles company, so I was already selling to the cannabis industry via local stores…
Danny Weis: What kind of edibles?
Sarah Evans: They were baked goods, all sorts of cookies, cakes and they sold, like hotcakes!
Danny Weis: Delicious…Do you still make them?
Sarah Evans: Nope, no time!
Danny Weis: Oh yeah, I know. That’s really work intensive. Running an edible company. So what was your background before you got started in cannabis?
Sarah Evans: Before I got started in cannabis, I started, ran and sold a sex toy company; and before that I was a textile designer, I went to school for painting, I was a trained painter and designed prints for very large companies that most people walk around wearing a similar like graphic art for prints, like you’ll find what you see on blouses or shirts or… I did homewares, so I would do upholstery fabrics, I do curtains, I designed, you name it and I worked with companies like American Girl, Nordstroms, Walmart, JCPenney, a lot of big names.
Danny Weis: That’s crazy. So why did you decide to turn that off and focus within the THC space?
Sarah Evans: I was making millions of dollars for other people. Yes, I made really great money, but I was making other people extremely rich, and I decided enough was enough. It was the fashion industry, and I knew there was something better than this, even though it was my passion and my gift… I know I’m good at this. I just knew there was something else out there that didn’t require me giving my all to someone else and being taken advantage of..
Danny Weis: Well, that’s awesome, and you still like working in the Cannabis Industry, obviously?
Sarah Evans: Love it, and I love weed, I smoke every day!
Danny Weis: What’s your favorite part about working in the Cannabis Industry?
Sarah Evans: Oh gosh, I guess the twist and turns… No day is the same. I like that. I operate in a world of change, so for me, having a stiff day where it seems to be the same every day is boring and I will… wilt! So, yeah, this is good for me to live in a day that no day is ever the same.
Danny Weis: It’s always different problems and…
Sarah Evans: Different problems, different solutions, different people.
Danny Weis: Awesome. For you guys, what was the process of getting set up in the regulated,. licensed marketplace here in Long Beach.
Sarah Evans: It was hell. First of all, we helped the City and the County form regulations, because they did not know anything about it, so they would contact us for things we knew, because we had been doing this for years before regulatory things happened, so we definitely had a backbone and understanding of how this place should operate.
Danny Weis: So you guys sort of created the templates…you were the guinea pigs…
Sarah Evans: We were the guinea pigs, yet again, for everything, the poster kids. The cool kids at the cool lunch table. Yeah, we didn’t know what we were doing, I still don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re doing it.
I just know that what we do is we stay lean and mean, and we don’t involve investors, that’s been our greatest success, because I’ve seen everyone else around us, not stay lean and mean…
Danny Weis: So keeping the equity partners a small controlled group makes sense…
Sarah Evans: Yeah, keeping it culturally based, which is what cannabis is what has kept us afloat and that’s why I think we have succeeded and continue to…
Danny Weis: Just keep rolling with punches. What was the hardest part?
Well, here’s a new question. As far as your experience in the last five years, what is the most fucked up thing that happened to you? And how were you able to get around that?
Sarah Evans: Well, a brand that we used to carry, that we built, and I say built because they were only in two stores and we got them and built them into hundreds of stores across California, and they left us with only a two-week notice and they were 90% of our revenue.
Danny Weis: All of your volume?
Sarah Evans: Yes, so we lost five of our sales reps, 14 of our brand ambassadors, our in-house staff, and Omer and I had to go back to square one and rebuild our business. It seems like that’s what most people should do in our world, and they don’t, but we did it and then we came back on top again.
Danny Weis: How were you able to do that?
Sarah Evans: A lot of blood, sweat and tears. I guess just going back to our roots; and knowing how to… We created this business, first of all… He (Omer) and I created this business. There weren’t reps… When we first started, we had hired six reps within a month, all of them were gone because they got to see what the cannabis industry is like. Yeah, so he and I went out there and built every relationship and walked into every single store and opened up every single account and then placed our reps into those territories.
Danny Weis: So you both did it and then just made sure that you were placing people that you trusted…
Sarah Evans: yes, into the sales channels that we owned.
Danny Weis: Okay, that makes sense. Looking back, and you guys probably have seen more than anybody else within the distribution space, because the distribution industry within the THC marketplace didn’t really exist until a few years ago. Although not the way it is or was expected to be now…
Sarah Evans: I can think back when we were first doing it, Omer and I were really great at creating… We didn’t know we were creating a distribution company, we thought we were creating a sales rep agency, and we had sales reps and were still doing the logistics by getting the product from the brand and delivering it, and I didn’t realize then we were a distro company and that we would segue into becoming legal, which made sense to me. I was like, ohhh, that’s what we’ve been doing all this time.
Danny Weis: But it seems like your main focus on all of your client base was probably from the retail aspect, selling and dispensaries, and that’s where it started.
Sarah Evans: Our pain point was sales, which we got to see before we started this business, that…“there’s a lot of businesses and companies that are suffering in our space that don’t have good sales backing,”
…so we created that for our business…
Danny Weis: So, a sales team.
Sarah Evans: Yeah, sales team, and then from there, I grew it. It did very… extremely well, not very, it did extremely well.
Danny Weis: That’s awesome. So do you also service the CBD industry? Or do you mainly stay focused on mainly THC?
Sarah Evans: Yeah, we stay focussed on THC.
Danny Weis: What is some advice that you would give yourself, if you’re talking to yourself five years ago?
Sarah Evans: Everything’s gonna be okay and it always works itself out. Don’t worry… just stop worrying.
Danny Weis: Just trust yourself!
Sarah Evans: Just trust your gut. Don’t listen to anyone. Just trust yourself. It always works out.
Danny Weis: A really positive attitude, but you can only have that attitude if you have seen everything.
Sarah Evans: I would also tell everyone “Don’t join this fucking industry!” It’s not even an industry.
Danny Weis: If they’re not from the industry already?
Sarah Evans: It’s not like you think you’re gonna make tons of money…You can, but you gotta position yourself properly to be what you wanna be.
Danny Weis: Yeah, it sounds like you have to have that real passion…
Sarah Evans: Yeah, it’s all passion based. It’s a culture-based industry, and I think what is happening right now is you have many suits coming in, these people not from the industry, which to me, I’m like, that’s great. We need different perspectives. I believe in perspectives, it’s healthy to have a million different perspectives, but at the same time, they’re coming in, seeing something thinking it’s gonna be this big thing and…
Danny Weis: This huge opportunity?
Sarah Evans: Yeah, and it’s not that way, it’s just me to sell something that’s honestly the price of a stereo system, and the people buy it in bulk and they keep buying it… I get it, but there’s a lot more that goes into this than just the money.
Danny Weis: I totally get that. As far as moving forward with all of this stuff, 2021, how has the industry, from your point of view, been affected by all of this Corona, COVID-19 stuff, have you seen a big dip or have you seen it stay steady? What’s your point of view on last year?
Sarah Evans: Well, in COVID-19 in March… Well, I’m sorry that’s not true. We knew it was around before, but when Trump did his March speech to shut down everything we expected, and I watched the news for day in and day out to see if we were an essential business and the moment that we were, it was a blessing because our business quadrupled and it continues to go up. And if you ask, I feel bad for people that it’s affected, but I’m on the other spectrum of it, where we have more money, more problems, so there’s a lot more at stake and having to create the space for people who work in a healthy environment. I’m creating more jobs during this, so I am in a different spectrum than what other Americans might be feeling or what most Americans might be feeling.“So the pandemic, if you asked me, it was a blessing. It was a human reset and it was also a ‘business boomer’ for us.”
Danny Weis: Right. Awesome, and with the new administration coming in, what are your thoughts about how that will affect the industry locally here in California and nationwide, what are your thoughts?
Sarah Evans: Interested to see what’s gonna happen. I kind of know what’s gonna happen just because some of my friends are lobbyists, they work directly with DC, so they work with Biden’s administration, so I’m thankful to have those friends I went to college with and they tell me what’s about to happen in my world and I need to prepare because we’re getting ready to bank, FDIC will definitely get involved very soon, and you have the big companies like Coca Cola and Phillip Morris setting up their huge buildings, and I know exactly where some of these addresses are, which tells me that something’s about to happen, so that is why I’m getting ready to… We’re basically right now forming everything we need to so we can be bought out, because I know that we will be sought after…
Danny Weis: Absolutely.
Sarah Evans: There’s no way around it as we’ve been approached to be bought out many times, so there’s no way I can compete with the margins of Coca Cola.
Danny Weis: While you position yourself to be an attractive acquisition, absolutely. As far as other jurisdictions, you guys are mainly based here in Cali, are you looking at any other states?
Sarah Evans: I’m not, however, Omer, I believe, is looking into Michigan, because that’s where he’s from, but I’m not. California, specifically Southern California is the Mecca when it comes to cannabis in the world, so my main focus is California.
Danny Weis: Absolutely. In the industry overall, do you have any thoughts about where you think the industry is gonna grow to and say three, five years, 10 years?
Sarah Evans: Oh, this is just like alcohol, this is like the alcohol industry.
Danny Weis: Like a similar trajectory from Prohibition?
Sarah Evans: Taxation will change and this industry will become more affordable. I think I’ll look back one day and be grateful I was a part of something big, maybe I’ll still be involved in it, but“this industry is tough to be a part of, so you really need tough skin and a strong backbone to stick it out,”
so when you say five years, 10 years? I mean, this industry to me is like dog years. In five years, I don’t know what it will look like, because in one year, a lot of things take place.
Danny Weis: Yeah, That’s true.
Sarah Evans: Five years? Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know.
Danny Weis: Honestly, nobody has a crystal ball but I think we definitely saw the opportunity when we all got into it, but thank you so much for your time.Categories: Cannabis Distribution, Cannabis Industry Leaders, Cannabis Industry News, Cannabis Law Tags: California, Cannabis Industry, Cannabis Licensing, CDFA, CDPH