A lifestyle brand with medical and recreational products including flowers, edibles, and concentrates, Sweet Leaf is changing the game with it's plug-and-play retail chain model.

So how did it's trio of founders go from maxing out credit cards to building a $60M empire with 9 retail locations across Colorado and Oregon, with upcoming plans for expansion into Nevada and California?



In 2011 as the country slowly began to rise out of recession, Matt Aiken, Christian Johnson, and Anthony Sauro put all their chips in, bought 40 grow lights and rented an 8,000 square foot warehouse in Denver. Opting against outside capital, they boot strapped to get their business off the ground, $9,000 in cash and two maxed out credit cards, and a whole lotta elbow grease later, they had wings. 80% of profit was invested right back into the business. Expansion was aggressive. As a matter of fact, now that they've reached juggernaut status, they're slowing down to make sure they continue to pay attention to detail. It's one of the things they do best.

So what is it about Sweet Leaf that sets them apart from the sea of other dispensaries, and has allowed them to grow where others have faltered? Lets take a look.



Consistency

Every aspect of Sweet Leaf's branding is so on point. They use the same jars, same displays, same signage across all their platforms. The experience is curated down to the music and the way the buds, concentrates, and edibles are arranged and displayed. All the employees go through the same intensive training program, and provide the highest level of knowledge and customer service. Every store brings their A game daily.

Location, Location, Location

Sweat Leaf VP Nicole West stated "We like to use main thoroughfares...If it's the route you take to work, that's an obvious for us. They have a location around the corner from my apartment, and another near my girlfriend's job, they know what they're doing. And they like to focus on being in working class neighborhoods. Right where the people need it most. Their locations are always inviting, easily accessed, with really easy parking, which they've learned is key. People will drive pass for the place with more convenient parking. They've gotten really good at acquiring businesses from owners who wanted out of the game, and then giving those locations that signature Sweet Leaf feel and experience.

Quality Control

Sweet Leaf has a full on product testing process that keeps the employees involved. Budtenders are selected to test product and fill out a form rating it on everything from aesthetic, taste, effects, and price. This data is passed among all employees so that they are all on the sam page with customers. This data is also used to determine how products get their shelf placement. This also helps vendors, because they get a comprehensive product review for free. Most importantly, customers get they highest quality, and the best bang for their buck.

Never Forgetting Where They Came From

All three of Sweet Leaf's founders come from pretty modest backgrounds, and they don't let the success get to their heads. They don't focus on the boutique high end marijuana market, but rather they aim to be the healing center for the everyman. It's one of the things that makes the Sweet Leaf experience so sweet. You walk in and your greeted and well treated and made to feel at home. There's product of high quality in all price ranges. Their goal is that everyone can walk in and get something - college students, veterans and the elderly, working moms grabbing edibles for a girls night out - they make it so everyone can reap the benefits of that sweet leaf.

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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