As a fully distributed team, cannabis events provide us with a unique opportunity to not only connect with friends in our industry, but to have valuable face-to-face time with our own teammates. We were stoked to have a great Confident Cannabis crew at both Hall of Flowers and Meadowlands recently.
Here are our team’s biggest takeaways from both of these awesome events.
Hall of Flowers
Hall of Flowers is a highly-curated B2B cannabis industry trade show designed to facilitate commerce between licensed cannabis brands and retailers in California. Exhibitors showcase product categories across flower, concentrates, edibles, topicals, accessories, and technology. After taking a break for COVID last year, the Sonoma County Fairground in Santa Rosa, California was packed and the energy was buzzing.
“So good to see everyone!” Steve Albarran, Co-CEO/Co-Founder of Confident Cannabis said, “Whether you’re one of the brands, distributors, retailers, or another industry insider, Hall of Flowers would not have been the same without you! After two years of Zoom calls and minimal in-person interaction, it was soul-building to reconnect and meet with our friends and partners in real life, some for the first time.”
Steve noted that attendees at this year’s Hall of Flowers were hustling and doing deals more so than previous years. “Coming out of a tough couple of years, it’s clear that everyone here loves what they do, but they are also hyper-focused on running a successful business.” The industry is learning and growing together and events like Hall of Flowers help the whole industry thrive.
Paul Cebulak, VP of Sales & Client Success, also felt this shift. “Attendees came to do business—sourcing, selling, and finding new packaging,” Cebulak said, “There were a lot of deals being tied up on the floor.” A trend Paul picked up on was that pre-rolls seem to be growing in popularity, with many brands launching new and interesting spins. Pure Beauty, a brand Paul loves, is launching a very cool (tobacco-free) menthol filter infused pre-roll.
Sales Manager Hannah Hayes shared that the event felt similar to a high school reunion and the energy was high with many launching products or looking to invest. “I was able to put faces to names of people I’ve talked to on the phone for years,” Hannah explained, “It was great interacting with so many people there and seeing exhibitors go all out with their booths.” From a rainforest inspired booth to gourmet candy displays, there was no shortage of creativity.
In light of the pandemic, it was hard to predict what an event of this size would feel like. Account Executive Tommy Ramos felt only good vibes at Hall of Flowers. “It was a really big turn out and it felt like the industry was ready to meet in person again,” Tommy shared, “Almost every vendor recognized our logo and knew we did testing and thanked us for doing what we do.”
Meadowlands is an annual cannabis industry retreat hosted by our friends at Meadow among the majestic Mendocino redwood trees designed to build a more united, collaborative and equitable community in California and beyond. This was our third time attending Meadowlands and it won’t be our last. Eight of our customer-facing teammates came to camp in the woods and bond with each other, old friends and new acquaintances. Between night hikes, sound baths, and morning yoga, our team was able to blend work with play (but mostly play).
“As a distributed team, it was so good to hang out with the people we work with every day,” Steve said, “Some of us had never even met in person.” Our primary objective for Meadowlands was team-building, second to business development, networking, and sales. “Meadowlands feels like more of a leadership retreat than a work trip. It’s not about doing business, but instead is about having meaningful conversations with like-minded people facing similar opportunities and challenges,” Steve explained.
“Sound baths are extremely healing and therapeutic, especially in conjunction with plant medicine, Lab Account Manager Taylor Voice said, “It was very clear the difference the plant makes. There was alcohol present but it was not abused. I felt the plant allowed us to connect and respect while letting loose a little.”
For Vendor Account Manager Pam Sanchez, her main takeaway from Meadowlands was remembering that we work with and for a plant that is medicine and healing in many ways to people. She also enjoyed being able to connect with the team in-person, “I learned about their kids, life partners, and hobbies,” Pam noted, “I think we often miss those connections as a remote team. Being remote is great if also accompanied by real effort to bring us together from time to time. I was very appreciative that our leadership team created this opportunity.”
Pam also learned about how busy folks were at the beginning of 2020. In talking to Blake (a smoke shop owner in Sacramento) and his partner Andrea (a dispensary consultant), she learned about how that has drastically changed in 2021. Although business is still growing for them both, they see the effects of the market as well. “I was reminded of how resilient and optimistic people are in this industry,” Pam shared, “I ate breakfast with Tom—Sales Director at Backbone—and he spoke about how aggressively they are growing. It really seems like every platform is trying to collapse processes for cannabis operators.”
Jensen Hellmers, Wholesale Account Executive, saw first hand how energetic and creative cannabis operators are within a mature California market, where people are really dialed into discussing current and future issues supplemented with their own solutions. “I learned more about the power cannabis has on a singular person to a whole crowd of people,” Jensen said, “There is no mistake as to why a few hundred people gathered in a patch of redwoods in Mendocino, California.”
Steve felt that overall, there was a general feeling of “satisfied tiredness” among the crowd. The last two years have been tough for the world, but especially cannabis operators. People were emotionally drained—understandably so. “That said, everyone at Meadowlands still works in the industry they love and there was a certain feeling of accomplishment for having survived and made it this far, and general optimism about the future,” Steve said.
Senior Client Success Manager, Ebonie Cobb also noticed that a lot of attendants were in the rebuild phase, “They were either trying to create a new lane post covid or rebrand the product.” Account Executive Tommy Ramos walked away with similar lessons, “The last couple years were rough for cultivators,” Account Executive Tommy Ramos said, “A sense of starting over and pressing the reset button was a common theme.”
Finally, Steve told the story of how he connected with an Oregon grower named Johnny at the mushroom painting station, (yes, Meadowlands had a mushroom painting station) because Steve recognized his “Quality Drugs” t-shirt because he recalled the words in neon at Serra, a high-end retailer by Groundworks in Oregon. In turn, Johnny recognized the Confident Cannabis logo on Steve’s t-shirt and said he loves our software. “We were stoked to immediately ‘get each other’ and share something in common like that as total strangers. We high-fived and kept painting.”