Living the Dream: Helen Cho

The Aloha Green Apothecary presents AccesSurf Hawaii with a check during its “Day at the Beach” event in which volunteers help those with disabilities experience the ocean’s healing power through adaptive surfing.

Helen Cho

Director of Strategy

Aloha Green Apothecary

Honolulu, HI

Ready for the next 365 days of insanity? Thanks in part to the green wave of pro-cannabis voters who turned out for the midterm elections, 2019 is bringing an unstoppable groundswell of change to our industry. And on top of the new challenges and opportunities we will find ourselves wrangling with, we have to (at the very least) maintain the relationships we have built with our markets in order to succeed.

This is particularly important for cannabis companies that deal with the consumer, like dispensaries and branded products, because we have to stay recognizable and connected to our customer base while evolving the way we do business. As we begin to morph, we need to remind and prove to our customers that the reasons why they choose us are still — and always will be — safe and that the parts they love about us will not break in the process. 

Here in Hawaii, there is a lot happening inside and outside of Aloha Green Apothecary. Like many other states, major developments are drastically changing the landscape of our industry. Our biggest change will be reciprocity, which will open our market to visitors. We cannot overstate how big of a deal this is for a state where tourism is a major economic pillar. This changes everything about Hawaii’s medical cannabis program, including for our customers, the residents who are wondering if they will still be taken care of.

So we made a promise to our patients that we will continue to honor our responsibility to serve our island family with aloha, even as we grow to serve tourists. For Aloha Green Apothecary, that meant doing more to serve our community and show that they remain our priority. We created a new patient relationship specialist position to provide personalized service and assistance to anyone who needs it. Our community outreach program is now on steroids and we have a full calendar of events partnering with organizations large and small, from six-member support groups to major nonprofits like the Blood Bank of Hawaii and Meals on Wheels. We began holding monthly “Cannabis 101” classes at public libraries all over the island — which grew to include more in-depth classes for edibles, specific symptoms, pets and wellness. We’ve even expanded our internship program to bring in more students. And our company participates in two to three major volunteering events every month.

The more moves we make to prepare for the visitor market, the more we have also deepened our ties with the local community. They continue to have faith in us and even support our growth, entrusting us with the duty of properly representing Hawaii and the spirit of aloha to those visiting our home and to the rest of the world.

How will you maintain trust with your clients, your partners, your investors and your employees over the course of this year of change? We send encouragement and aloha to everyone who is on this crazy journey with us. Good luck in 2019!

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