Director of Strategy
Aloha Green Apothecary
As much as we try to play it down, running a dispensary in Hawaii is as close to paradise as you can imagine. We get to play in the ocean alongside sea turtles (seriously!) and our cannabis plants thrive under the nourishing South Pacific sun.
And we fight to cultivate paradise within our company by building a culture that upholds the Aloha Spirit.
Life in Hawaii is family-based: everyone is your auntie, uncle or cousin. Conversations between strangers can begin with establishing how you’re two or three degrees separated. The Aloha Spirit lives in these connections within our large, extended family.
Aloha Green Apothecary is built on the same Hawaiian values — we love, support, respect, argue and apologize the way family members do. Our company prioritizes the practical and emotional needs of our employees.
There are no set hours for our leadership team, whose members are collectively parents to nine children under the age of 5. We push people to rest, stay sane and maintain balance, not stay late and get burnt out. As a startup company, we don’t have the best pay, but we have the best health insurance plans available and always allow employees the time and space they need to handle personal situations, even if it means they can’t come in for weeks. And just as you don’t disown family members who have made mistakes, we make adjustments to work with employees who need encouragement and personal development.
Trust is one of the pillars that make this company possible. In order for trust to develop, you have to know that person can accomplish the task and they will do everything in their power on behalf of the company. This is how we can function without set hours; we simply expect work to get done.
Trust begins with hiring. Our process for every hire involves the chief operating officer and multiple members of the executive team and includes three interviews. We look for individuals who are curious, want to be trained and desire our company to succeed because they know it will benefit their community and loved ones.
Families are strong when they know how to communicate, when everyone knows their role, decisions are made together and there’s a clear attempt to work as a unit. We have a near obsession with standard operating procedures, redundant systems and open communication. Strong systems and processes mean clear accountability, simple acknowledgment and reliable patterns — which makes it far easier to find solutions by improving the system instead of blaming individuals.
We also train multiple people for various roles. It takes longer for new employees to get fully acclimated, but they have exposure to different parts of the company, can easily fill in gaps when resources are tight and support colleagues. All levels of the company are pulled into a weekly conference call to discuss and share information — and anyone can directly connect with the executive team to give feedback and suggest improvements or ideas. It opens the door to a powerful unity.
Yes, maintaining a family-like culture can make things messy. It can be frustrating and straining. Sometimes, it feels like we are making a poor business choice. But it creates a bond that, in the long run, helps us rise above any challenge and keep a level of flexibility far beyond the breaking points of many other teams. This is what makes us strong. This is what makes us leaders of the Hawaii cannabis industry.