Photos of Fall 2019, Pt. 1
Grants Pass, Oregon
Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, Washington
Port Angeles, Washington
Title: Founder and owner
Despite being only 28, Bethany Rondeau is a hardened CEO who has no problem sticking to her price point and telling retailer buyers “no” when they try to get her to lower her price. It’s a skill she learned in her other business, raising and selling falcons to sheiks in the Middle East, and she literally laughs at the idea that any pot buyer in Washington state is difficult to deal with.
“Uh, no,” she says. “I would like anyone to talk to (a sheik) and try to get the deal you originally quoted them at and then come back to me.”
To this day, Bethany says Falcanna, the Tier 3 indoor grow she owns with her husband Justin, has never lowered the price of its product, which has led to monthly sales of between $150,000 and $200,000 and a reputation for high-quality bud that is so sought after it rarely gets off the Olympic Peninsula where the farm is located and into stores in Seattle.
“You can always say no,” she says about being asked to lower a price. “I’m holding on a price where our margins are going to make it so we can be here long term.”
Bethany has already been in the cannabis business for longer than most. She and her husband got their start in Washington’s medical industry more than 10 years ago when they opened the Olympic Sinsemilla dispensary. When the state folded the medical program into the recreational market in 2016, she and Justin sold product until the last legal day and then went “full throttle” into the recreational market.
“It’s going great,” she says. “I’m turning down stores.”
It’s partially her other business of selling raptors that allows Bethany to hold to a price point. She got her first bird, Nikoma, a red-tailed hawk, at age 14 after reading “My Side of the Mountain,” a young adult novel involving falconry. Bethany also met her husband through falconry when she was 18 — Justin was the apprentice of a falconer she was studying with and they bonded over a love of both the birds and the book.
“I have a passion for nature and a huge respect for it,” she says.
The two hit it off, continued their birding education together and started their falcon breeding project soon after. Bethany says they are youngest falcon breeders in the world registered to export their birds overseas, mostly to the United Arab Emirates, where their birds have helped the sheik win multiple titles in the country’s falcon racing circuit.
The overlap between the two businesses, she says, is the focus on genetics and breeding. In both businesses, you select for the traits you want and breed out those you don’t. And when Falcanna finds a strain the Rondeaus like, they stick with it, instead of cycling through trends. Bethany says it has created a recognizable brand with recognizable strains.
“We just don’t compromise,” she says. “We don’t cut corners.”
At Falcanna — a combination of the couple’s two main business interests — Justin is the “mad professor” while Bethany handles much of the business side, something she learned from her parents, whom she says are entrepreneurs that have run businesses her whole life. In fact, she dropped out of school at 14 to work with her parents at the family businesses.
“I learned a lot from them,” she says.
Despite her success and the demand for her cannabis, Bethany says Falcanna has no plans to expand in the next year or so, though the company recently purchased another production license from a failing grow. Instead, the goal at Falcanna is to keep growing the type of high-quality marijuana that she wants to smoke.
“We’re not industrial cannabis,” she says. “We’re really craft cannabis.”