Family-owned businesses are built on hard work, love and sacrifice.
When we first got started, we had to choose where and how we wanted to grow the best weed in the world. We could choose anywhere in Washington state. We first analyzed our growing method to determine the optimal growing environment and the desired climatic conditions to optimize production. We wanted to grow sustainably. We wanted to harness the energy of the sun, but also control for all the environmental elements. So we settled on greenhouse production.
But we live near Seattle and its rainy, overcast days and high humidity make it less than optimal for greenhouses. The ideal environment would be sunny, warm and dry. The closest area for those conditions was central Washington. The problem was that would put our farm three hours away from our home, too far to commute. Our life was stable. My wife, Kelly, was working at the preschool our kids attended. We had just moved closer to family, literally living right next door to Kelly’s sister. We also knew the farm would be chaotic and take long days of work. After careful thought, we chose to sacrifice in order to start our business.
I got an apartment with my brother near the farm. That way I could work night and day, Monday through Friday doing the buildout. Kelly continued working as a preschool teacher and taking care of our family at home. I would come home on the weekend and we would soak in all the family time we could. Then, we would do it all over again the next week.
I’m not sure I can adequately put into words the difficulty of not going home each night. Being away is the hardest part about being involved the industry. In Washington, the law says no one under 21 years of age can visit our facility, not even our children. There will never be a bring-your-kids-to-work day. They will never know what it’s like to run around the garden or learn the hard work of family farming like they would if we owned a winery or orchard. It’s the unfortunate reality we live in.
As our kids moved out of preschool, Kelly began to focus more on our business. She had already been doing vendor days and maintaining some of our relationships, so it was awesome when she was finally able to do it full time, working with our retail partners and expanding our reach to nearly 100 retailers. It’s amazing to get to work with her and see her shine. Her strengths complement my weaknesses and vice versa. Our company is built on our product, but also and more importantly, our relationships. With her spending more time engaging with our partners, our sales have jumped approximately 25%.
For five years we have continued the grind of the same weekly schedule, split across the state. Monday to Friday, I’m out at the farm while Kelly is working with our retail partners and taking care of our kids. I come home on the weekends, and we enjoy every minute of the family time we get. Then we do it all again the next week.
We’ve sacrificed tremendously in order to build a company that now employs more than 30 people and is one of the top producer/processors in the state. I’m one of the lucky few who has been able to build a company with the person I love the most in the world. I’m proud of how far we have come, and excited about the journey that remains ahead.