For Marijuana Venture’s fifth annual issue highlighting women in the industry, we look at 10 leaders who will help shape the industry’s North American landscape over the next 12 months.
From marketing professionals and CBD producers to government regulators and community leaders, we are honored to be able to tell their stories.
In her own words, “it was perfect timing.” When Blythe Huestis relocated from Arizona to Pennsylvania to start working as the president and director of retail operations for Beyond Hello, the company began designing its chain of Pennsylvania cannabis stores.
Contributing to the look, feel and identity of the Beyond Hello brand and retail stores became a passion project for Huestis. She says she’s incredibly proud of the result. Although there are thousands of dispensaries across North America, she feels “there’s something really special about Beyond Hello.”
“We’ve built this business based on those two simple words — going beyond a hello,” Huestis says. “I genuinely believe that positivity is palpable. I believe you can walk into a space and feel the energy, so we try to create a healthy, happy environment that people want to be in.”
Huestis had several years of cannabis retail experience from managing Arizona Natural Selections’ chain of dispensaries, but when it came to Beyond Hello’s style, one of her primary influences was her mother.
“I lost my mother to cancer nine years ago and despite many members of my family being cannabis advocates and consumers, my mom was staunchly opposed to cannabis,” Huestis says. “So when I joined the industry I kept her in mind and wanted to create a place where my mother would feel comfortable. I believe that if she were alive today, she could walk into a Beyond Hello store and feel comfortable about what she was doing.”
Beyond Hello went on to earn another three dispensary permits, allowing the company to open a total of 12 stores in Pennsylvania. Its success caught the attention of Jushi Holdings, a Florida-based cannabis and hemp company, which acquired Beyond Hello in July 2019 for $63 million in cash, notes and stock. Shortly thereafter Huestis was promoted to vice president of retail operations for Jushi Holdings.
“Everything we do is really a team effort,” Huestis says. “I think that’s also why I feel super fortunate to be part of the Jushi team, because I am now among pioneers in the industry and I am among incredibly business savvy people so I think it’s exciting that collectively as a team we can drive this forward.”
Huestis is tasked with implementing standard operating procedures, maintaining compliance, improving efficiencies and making sure her company’s retail brand is consistent across six locations in Pennsylvania (soon to be 12) and operations in Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada and soon California.
“I think consistency is key,” she says. “If we’ve created something that I believe is very special then we want to make sure that doesn’t stay isolated to a few stores but that we can continue to spread that to all of our locations.”
Since she first entered the industry in 2010, Huestis has helped open more than eight cannabis dispensaries across Arizona and Pennsylvania. She says she is excited to continue the mission she started with Beyond Hello as the company expands across Pennsylvania and into new states.
“Entering into this industry, I had hoped that it would be for the long haul,” she says. “I think the apprehension is now completely gone.”