What does it really mean to be a social equity business? How can operators in the cannabis space provide access and opportunities to people affected negatively by the war on drugs and give back to their communities in ways that make a real difference?
To answer these questions, we’re talking to Tamika Samson and Beth Waterfall. Tamika is the CEO of KushKart, Beth is the CEO of Beth Waterfall Creative, and the Chief Marketing Officer at KushKart.
Tamika is one of Beth’s clients, and her company is the first majority women-owned social equity cannabis delivery business in Massachusetts. Beth has over 15 years of experience amplifying brands through marketing, communications, and strategic business development and has been uniquely focused on bringing her expertise to the cannabis industry since 2015.
In this episode, Beth and Tamika share how they’ve built not just an incredible business, but a company that really does give back. You’ll learn all about social equity licensing, Beth’s unique work as a marketer and educator in the cannabis space, and how she helps brands like Tamika’s grow thoughtfully and meaningfully while empowering historically underserved people.
- How Tamika became a social equity license holder and what this process looks like.
- How Beth joined KushKart as its Chief Marketing Officer–and how she chooses the clients she works with.
- Why Beth says that attending NECANN changed her life–and what inspired her to launch her educational nonprofit, ELEVATE Northeast.
- What it means to be a responsible member of the cannabis community.
- What KushKart is working on as they gear up to become Cape Cod’s only cannabis delivery provider.
- “Being in that room to not only just learn stuff I hadn’t heard before and to then introduce myself to these people or follow up with these people or just know who they were, that was incredibly more valuable than any article I could read or, no offense, a podcast that I can listen to being in the room and making those connections like we did.” – Beth Waterfall
- “I think that people are really interested in the delivery model right now. People are really asking for it.” – Tamika Samson
- Follow Tamika Samson on LinkedIn
- Follow Beth Waterfall on LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook
- Vicente Sederberg
- ELEVATE Northeast
- EO Care
CONNECT WITH US
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Rick Kiley: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Green Repeal. I’m Rick Kiley. I’m joined by my co-host, Jeffrey Boedges. What’s up, Jeff?
Jeffrey Boedges: Hey, guys. Happy Tuesday.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Actually, we are recording on Election Day.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Yeah, it’s a big day.
Rick Kiley: It’s a big day for America. It’s also a big day, I think, there are several states that actually have cannabis initiatives on the ballot. I think technically speaking, after today, we might have more than 25 states, more than half of the union with legal cannabis. So, it’s a big day. But we’re going to move on to a great interview. We have two folks who were interviewing today. Today, we are welcoming Tamika Samson of KushKart and Beth Waterfall of Beth Waterfall Creative to the show. Tamika is the CEO and co-founder of KushKart, which is the first majority women-owned social equity cannabis delivery company in Massachusetts. Congratulations. And the first delivery operator on Cape Cod.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. All you vacationers out there, you know I’m talking to you, guys.
Rick Kiley: You just get a ride to your door now.
Jeffrey Boedges: You got a guy. But in this case, it’s a girl.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. She is a member of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s Second Social Equity Program Cohort. I should get $5 for saying that correct. KushKart is elevating the delivery game by offering premium customer service, as well as delivery speed with the goal of being the best in the market. Beth Waterfall has more than 15 years of experience amplifying brands through a well-practiced mix of compelling marketing, communications, and strategic business development strategies. And since departing from the traditional corporate world in 2015, she has been advocating, educating, and connecting people with information, ideas, colleagues, and strategic partners that they need to start and grow in the cannabis industry. We met Beth through the NECANN Conference in Albany, and as is her way, she connected us with her client, Tamika, for this interview today.
Rick Kiley: Beth and Tamika, welcome to The Green Repeal.
Beth Waterfall: Thank you so much.
Jeffrey Boedges: How do you depart the traditional world? Is that a metaphysical thing or is it…?
Beth Waterfall: Well, it’s physical. It’s mental. It’s 13 years or so working in accounting firms and legal firms and getting kind of bored, not knowing what my purpose in life was other than helping make rich white men richer. So, it was really kind of an identity crisis and just like, what am I doing in the world? What am I doing to help here? And so, I just honestly quit my job and that’s how I departed. And I said, “Enough of this,” and started looking into cannabis. So, I read an article one night and I was like, “Okay. This is the universe coming into my lap. Let’s go with this.” That was 2015.
Jeffrey Boedges: Now, you’re helping poor white men become richer but just us, just me and Rick.
Rick Kiley: Wait. We’re making money off of this?
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s what I’m saying. I thought you meant like the more spiritual enrichment.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Beth Waterfall: No. Accounting, lawyers.
Jeffrey Boedges: Oh, got it. Alright.
Rick Kiley: Got it. Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, we’re being spiritually enriched. I can’t speak but…
Rick Kiley: And, Jeff, you already did your job. You took us off the rails before we even got to a first question. That’s a record. Well done.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Tried to swat the shot before it ever leaves your hand.
Rick Kiley: No. It’s all good. It’s all good. Actually, I was going to start with Tamika here, and I wanted to and actually, so it’s good. So, Beth already answered this question of making the jump from the world of accounting. But, Tamika, how did you become connected to the world of cannabis?
Tamika Samson: All right. So, first, I’ve always been a consumer of the legacy market ever since I was like a teenager. So, my family, we always had this relationship with weed going back many, many, many years. Career-wise, when I pivoted, I became an unlicensed addictions counselor, mental health therapist, and it was until I started talking to some of my clients and they were telling me how they were using cannabis to overcome their opioid use whether it’s helping them through their withdrawals or using cannabis for any other reason medicinally. It started piquing my curiosity because I never knew cannabis as a medicinal plant. I’ve always known it as a party drug from my growing up. So, I started to research more about it, more about its medicinal qualities. And in that research, I came across the Cannabis Controls Commission’s Social Equity Program so I applied for it.
Rick Kiley: And the rest is history.
Jeffrey Boedges: The rest is history. Yeah.
Tamika Samson: Yes. The rest is history.
Rick Kiley: So, that’s amazing. You just saw this thing and applied for it and now here we are. It’s almost like something worked the way it was supposed to, which I find shocking in America today for some reason but that’s awesome. So, where in that process did the idea for KushKart originate? Was it, “Oh, I could apply for this social equity program,” and then you came up with the idea, or you had the idea going in? Like, talk to us about the genesis of that a little.
Tamika Samson: Yup. So, for me, I looked at the license types that was going to be afforded me as a participant in the program. And I had access to, I think, maybe eight or nine different license types. And I said to myself, like, realistically, what is it that I can do? Like, okay, what is it that I can take control of? What is it that I can see from beginning to end? And being a former truck driver, I was like, “Okay. Delivery sounds like that’s a little bit in my pace. Like, I’ve never had a garden but I have driven a truck before.”
Rick Kiley: You see, Jeff’s an avid gardener.
Jeffrey Boedges: I am.
Tamika Samson: Yeah. I don’t have a green thumb to save my life.
Jeffrey Boedges: If it makes any difference, I’ve never grown weed. Well, I shouldn’t say never. Just not yet.
Tamika Samson: Not yet.
Jeffrey Boedges: Not yet. In Jersey, it’s still no bueno. There’s no grow rule that allows it. And I have three sons that are of teenage approximate years and it just seems like this is kind of a recipe for disaster. So, I’m holding that until my kids are all in college and then I’ll probably turn into a green grower of my own green.
Rick Kiley: Get that long hippie hair growing too.
Jeffrey Boedges: Dude, if you saw my hair during COVID, my hair doesn’t grow long, you know.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, it’s true.
Jeffrey Boedges: It looks like a big shrub. Yep.
Rick Kiley: All right. So, truck driving. I understand logistics. I understand delivery. And that just started from there?
Tamika Samson: It started from there so I was like, “Okay. Let’s start throwing around some names.” So, we started throwing around a few names. One of them stuck, and then I didn’t really like it. And then my daughter came up with another name and I was like, “Oh, I think this is it.” So, that’s where KushKart came from.
Rick Kiley: Alright.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s a good name. Do you think there’s a country song in here someplace, though? I mean, truck-driving carts, weed. There’s a country song in there somewhere. Maybe I’m the only one. Actually, I don’t even like country, so.
Rick Kiley: I’m trying to think of like alternative lyrics to country songs I know. And I only know like country roads take me home because I’m not a fan.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s not country.
Rick Kiley: I know. That’s the closest I get. This is what I’m saying. I’m not a country guy.
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay. Well, alright. I’m taking…
Rick Kiley: And Beth’s shaking her head no.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Beth’s like, “I don’t take country music.”
Rick Kiley: Tamika’s got Bob Marley in the background so I’m guessing…
Jeffrey Boedges: Alright.
Tamika Samson: Well, you already know what I’m doing.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. “One love, KushKart.” Maybe you can come up a song for that.
Beth Waterfall: Well, obviously, I’m thinking, “Oh, my gosh, do we have something here for like a jingle?”
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I enjoy conceiving of jingles occasionally, so that’s fun. We’ll see if we come up with any through the course of this interview. So, can you tell us, I mean, so KushKart is a social equity business. So, I’m assuming there has to be sort of a mission-aligned statement along with that. Can you just talk to us a little bit about like what is the mission of KushKart? And really talk to us a little bit, I’m not sure everybody really understands what it means to be a social equity business.
Tamika Samson: Yeah. No problem. So, our mission here at KushKart is to curate and deliver high-quality products and accessories that reflect the current Massachusetts market, while also elevating those products that’s been developed by small businesses, women, veterans, and people of color. So, as far as socio-equity for us as a business, it can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. But for us, it’s about providing access and opportunities to those that were and still are affected negatively by the war on drugs. I believe that a program like social equity can give those who are majority black and brown opportunities to build generational wealth and break their own poverty cycles, which in turn gives back to their own communities. So, I see it as a win-win.
Rick Kiley: That’s great.
Tamika Samson: So, what we try to do here at KushKart is that we aim to do as a business, give back to social equity participants that’s coming behind us as far as mentorship, donations to different social equity participants programs. And then also by providing education and opportunities for our employees who want to like advance or move up or need some extra skill building to advance. So, those three in combination is what we’re trying to do in that space.
Rick Kiley: That’s great. And so, you mentioned some of these other groups. You mentioned veterans and women-owned businesses. Is the market big enough in Massachusetts that you can be selective about the partners that you choose? And does the Cannabis Control Commission, do they help connect you with others in other like social equity license holders in order to build that network out?
Tamika Samson: So, we have access to each other as a social equity program. You know, whether you was the first cohort, the second cohort, the third cohort, we have like the email thread that we keep in touch with whatever’s going on. You have the decision to participate in the thread or not. You know, I haven’t really been participating too much because I’m trying to get all the other stuff, things going on. But, yeah, the social equity program gives us a list of vendors. That’s as far as they help us. They give us a list of vendors and then it’s up to us to like, for me, example, cohort everybody on the list trying to make connections, trying to put my team together, seeing who I may need on this list, and just going at it that way. And knocking on doors, knocking down doors until you get like the answers that you need.
Rick Kiley: Got it. Got it.
Jeffrey Boedges: And so, these products that are coming in, are you helping develop them in say and coaching? Are you providing that kind of feedback to people in the program? Like, you could do this better or you could do you know what…?
Tamika Samson: I didn’t get that far as far as coaching them to specific products, but just coaching them as far as how do you go about this program. What are the things that you need to do first? What are some of the things that you need to pay attention to? I ask them things like, “Have you read the whole entire regulations, all I think 1,000 somewhat pages of it?”
Rick Kiley: Wow.
Tamika Samson: Like, things like that, you know. I want to be able to let them know that that’s important. You know that’s going to be important. You’re going to have to know exactly what these regulations are and what they mean and what that means for your business.
Rick Kiley: Right. You’re actually…
Jeffrey Boedges: You’re a mentor. Yeah. Sorry. Go ahead, Rick.
Rick Kiley: I’m sorry. No. She was setting me up for my next question here, which is you mentioned the thousands of pages that you need to read. I know that there are probably a significant amount of bureaucratic steps that you need to go through in order to get one of these licenses and it’s great that you’re helping others do it. I’m wondering if you could share with us, like what are a couple of the things that you as a social equity license holder had to do in order to obtain the license or qualify?
Tamika Samson: Right. So, it’s such a long process and you have to do it in pieces like this first step, second steps, three steps, four steps. And the first step is you got to get through the program itself like it’s the eight-month long program and they give you assignments and they give you readings and they give you all these things that you have to do and stuff that you have to turn in.
Rick Kiley: So, it’s like a college course.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s like school.
Tamika Samson: Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s once a week over Zoom and then you get to do other work on your own, at your own pace but there is assignments that you have to finish and readings that you have to read. And then we get live sessions with the instructors to answer some of the questions that we have, anything from like business planning and stuff like that.
Rick Kiley: Wow. And who are the instructors? Are they people who are in the cannabis industry or are they businesspeople?
Tamika Samson: I don’t know who is the instructors for the third cohort, but we had individuals who have their own business in cannabis. They’re like cannabis consultants and they met with the CCC, went through their own approval process, I’m imagining, and they selected them to be some of the teachers of the cohort. But don’t quote me but I think they change them up as each cohort changes.
Jeffrey Boedges: You keep saying cohort. Can you just tell me what cohort means? Because like Rick is my cohort, but he doesn’t admit it, right?
Rick Kiley: I don’t think two can make a cohort. You need at least three, right?
Jeffrey Boedges: Oh, do you?
Rick Kiley: It’s two to tango, three to cohort.
Tamika Samson: Yeah. So, with the Cannabis Control Commission, they get thousands and thousands of applications in and what they did is break it down into like semesters or what they would call cohorts. It will be the first cohort of 1 to 103 people. Second cohort might have 150 people. The third cohort might have whatever. So, they just break it down like that. It’s just a term that lets you know where you are placed in what program. It’s like a tracking term.
Rick Kiley: Okay.
Beth Waterfall: It’s like class of 2021 and class of kind of the different offerings that people have been enrolled in. It is kind of a cohort.
Rick Kiley: Got it. And is this where, Tamika, you and Beth met each other through the cohort process?
Tamika Samson: Through the process that I had to go through to develop my own partners is how I met Beth. One of my partners, Taylor Weaver, I believe he introduced me to Beth and it’s been wonderful since then.
Jeffrey Boedges: All right.
Rick Kiley: Cool.
Tamika Samson: But as far as some of the obstacles that we have to jump through, there are so many along the way. Like, you got to be able to understand that at the end of it, the Cannabis Control Commission is going to want to see a fully realized, ready, set-to-go facility at flying a license. And how do you get there? You know, what do I have to do personally to get there? What do I have to do? What do I have to develop in myself to make sure I get there? You know, how do I build that great team where everybody has the necessary responsibilities to see this whole process through? You know, what do I say to a municipality when I have to ask them and share with them my plans and they give me a green light to come into their own community? You know, there are so many obstacles that you have to take, and you’re just going to have to have patience with that as well.
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. And that doesn’t seem like something that you just finish. It seems like, especially as you’re growing your company, that if you have to go to every new community and kind of go through a lot of that same rigmarole, that it’s constant. You’re just like, “Okay. That one’s done. Onto the next one.”
Tamika Samson: Right. Right. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. And did you have to pay to participate in this process or you’re selected? I mean, it sounds pretty – this is the most in-depth I’ve gotten about one of these processes in a state but, I mean, it’s like you’re getting a crash course in running a business. You’re getting good education. You’re getting access to mentors and a network at no cost to you. It’s like so you’re getting college-level education for free. And I think that’s so tremendous. I think about all the other things that are going on in the country and the people that are saddled with student debt in order to get other educations. And it’s just great that a program like this exists so that you can come to the conclusion of it and be prepared and not on the hook for really anything else other than, of course, making your business work.
Jeffrey Boedges: But, Rick, didn’t you learn to deliver weed in college? I think, yeah.
Rick Kiley: I don’t think I ever really learned. I wasn’t very good.
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay. Yeah, I think he’s being modest.
Rick Kiley: I learned how to beep somebody. Do you remember beepers?
Tamika Samson: I remember beepers.
Jeffrey Boedges: We all remember beepers. Well, I shouldn’t say we all did. Rick and I remember beepers.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I remember there was a period of time in New York City when a beeper went off, you’re like doctor or weed guy. Doctor or weed guy.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, you could usually tell. They weren’t…
Rick Kiley: Yeah. They didn’t tread similarly. Is that what you’re saying?
Jeffrey Boedges: No or hang out in the same bar. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: I know. But in Washington Square Park, everybody walked through there. So, that was the confluence of doctors and weed guys.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. So, can I ask just kind of a crazy question? Alright. So, you mentioned having a location and, obviously, Massachusetts is a pretty good-sized state. How many different locations do you have to have in order to serve the greater or are you starting with one and expanding from there?
Tamika Samson: So, for the license type that I selected, I can have two locations.
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay.
Tamika Samson: Right now, we’re starting with just one location, which is in Eastham, out on Cape Cod. And then we’re going to branch and grow and scale from there.
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay, cool. So, all the deliveries start at one place. And what is that? Sorry. I’m using the Domino’s model in my head. Is it like hot, fast, and friendly? How long does it take when somebody calls before they get the delivery? Because if you get one location, right, it’s not like Domino’s where you can have 100 of them. You got one, right? So, yeah, what’s like the delivery time and how does that work?
Tamika Samson: The delivery time is probably going to depend on where they’re located at because we’re not going to be able to like station cars in different areas, you know?
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. So, that’s what I’m saying. So, everything has to originate at the place.
Tamika Samson: The timeframe as they go on and they select their products and when they do the checkout, it asks them a time of a frame where they get the product delivered. And then within that time frame, they’ll have it delivered. I would love to be in a place where I can guarantee you something, but we’re not operational yet, so I don’t even know.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, 30 minutes or it’s free. That’s what I was hoping for.
Tamika Samson: In the beginning, maybe some towns we can say, “Oh, I can probably say we can have somebody in 30 minutes.” But when you’re talking about from Eastham to P-Town and we don’t have it logistically under fine-tunement yet, I don’t think I can make that promise. But eventually, as we get more staff and more cars and we grow and we develop, we will be able to say, “Yeah. Once you place your order, expect it in 30 minutes.”
Jeffrey Boedges: Tamika, I got an idea for you.
Tamika Samson: Mm-hmm.
Jeffrey Boedges: Boats. Come on. You’re going to go to P-Town. It’s going to be a lot faster.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. My suggestion was you have to have people sign up for KushKart Prime, and then they can get it in 30 minutes, right? Yeah. That’s a good one.
Jeffrey Boedges: KushKart Prime. I like it. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: All right. Well, Beth’s been a little bit silent and I want to find out, like…
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I’m sorry. I keep making all these jokes.
Rick Kiley: No, it’s all good. I’m curious if you could talk to us a little bit about your relationship with KushKart and what are the services that you’re providing to them and how does this relationship work?
Beth Waterfall: Yeah. So, I mean, relationships is the word. That’s how it all seems to happen. And I learned that really early on. Actually, in my old life doing marketing for lawyers and accountants, they get their work by demonstrating a good reputation and then providing value to people. So, I learned a lot in my previous life that I’ve been able to transfer to cannabis. So, coming into cannabis, I knew I needed to meet the right people. I wanted to be involved with their advocacy and help with the legalization here. And so, that was 2015 and I met tons of people. So, the people that actually wrote the regulations, I started working with Vicente Sederberg, which is one of the main law firms that works in the space, which is a nice little transfer of my skills. It was a few years later working with Vicente Sederberg still, Becca Rutenberg mentioned that she was working with Taylor and Tamika, and she made the introduction to Taylor. Like, gosh, it’s almost two years ago now.
Tamika Samson: Almost two years ago. Yeah.
Beth Waterfall: Yeah. And so, then just talking to Taylor, he was still getting to know Tamika and they’re working out their business and everything, just helped them with some initial outreach and getting involved with speaking engagements and helping Tamika get out there, let people know who she was and that this business is coming down the line. So, started which is a little bit of consulting. And then fast forward to this year, I’ve come on as the Chief Marketing Officer. So, staying with them and it’s super exciting because for me coming into the cannabis industry, like I mentioned earlier, I felt like I wasn’t really doing anything for the world and so it’s been incredibly rewarding to be involved with the advocacy group. I started a nonprofit. It’s called ELEVATE Northeast, where we do educational events about cannabis. So, I’m all in on this on the Kool-Aid about how we have a responsibility to give back and provide a platform for others in this space. So, it’s been really, really wonderful to be able to apply my professional skills to now be the chief marketing officer of a weed delivery company. So, my 17-year-old self is jumping for joy that I was able to legitimize it.
Rick Kiley: That’s great. So, are you retaining other clients or now are you full-time working?
Beth Waterfall: Yeah, still working with several other clients. It’s really interesting. Like EO Care, they’re developing an app for medical cannabis. Tamika’s company, KushKart, are going to be delivering with them. Again, it’s all relationships. So, working with Vicente Sederberg, a couple of product manufacturers. I’m in a place now where I’m so fortunate to be able to really pick and choose and be able to work with companies that I really believe in. So, naturally, as KushKart grows, my time and commitment with them will grow as well. But we’re not operational yet, so it’s still kind of a bunch of things. A bunch of irons in the fire I suppose.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Beth, are you specializing in the social equity market or in diverse markets or you take cannabis clients from all sectors?
Beth Waterfall: You know, by taking clients that are not social equity focused, I’m able to take on more social equity-focused clients. It’s all about a mix. My passion is working with women-owned small businesses, the social equity businesses, but the reality is sometimes the early work that I’m doing with them is more of a mentorship or advice because they cannot pay me, they can’t pay anybody. And sometimes my advice has come back to me in a year. Let’s talk some more because you’re just not ready for an investment in marketing at this point. But I’m lucky to work with some industry leaders and some better-capitalized individuals I suppose.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, you’re like George Clooney. You got to make Ocean’s 13 once every couple of years so you can go make the arthouse movies. You would rather make it.
Beth Waterfall: A little bit, yeah. Okay. I’m like George Clooney.
Rick Kiley: Just like George Clooney, Beth Waterfall.
Jeffrey Boedges: Everybody was thinking it.
Rick Kiley: She’s the George Clooney of cannabis, right? That’s what I’m…
Beth Waterfall: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: You’re George@Clooney.
Rick Kiley: I don’t even know what that means.
Beth Waterfall: I’m a super attractive male, yes. My peppery hair.
Rick Kiley: So, a question for you because I know your passion about marketing. I saw a blog post you wrote about how you feel. It’s really important to be educating people in the world of cannabis. Jeff and I, of course, are marketers. We’re in the events business. I’m just curious because I know you’ve been involved with a lot of different folks. You helped me come to be a speaker at the NECANN Conference.
Beth Waterfall: Yes. NECANN is a client still too.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, I’m just curious as what you have found to be the most effective educational forum. Like, I’m sure cannabis companies have, I mean, the industry as a whole has a huge lift in educating people because the depth of knowledge is quite deep. It’s like take all the complexity of wine then add that to pharmaceutical products and medicine and you’re barely scratching the surface.
Jeffrey Boedges: And plant science. Yeah. You throw in plant science.
Tamika Samson: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: So, I’m just curious as to like what do you find as the most successful way to sort of help somebody along their educational journey, you know?
Beth Waterfall: Well, I’m going to go with the events guys, particularly because I want to give you all the love in the world. But honestly, going to a cannabis event changed my life. So, the reason I’m still with NECANN is because I’m so passionate about it, how it transformed my life, and how I see it transform other people’s lives. And so, for me, I had quit my job, I mentioned, and there was this NECANN convention I’d seen an ad for. And I remember being at my parents’ house and saying, “Oh, so I’m going to this cannabis convention in Boston.” I was like shaking and they’d be like, “Oh!” like mortified. I just quit my job. What’s this girl’s problem? Now, she’s going to weed. But I put on my blazer and I went to the convention. It was at The Castle in Boston, and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m only wearing a blazer but I wasn’t. There were other people wearing blazers, and importantly, there were women that were speaking at this event. It was a very small convention expo floor but then they had educational panels and I was struck by seeing my peers or women that I would admire doctors, not just the women, but I had come into this event thinking, “Okay. So, maybe I can help these ragtag cannabis companies become a little bit more sophisticated in their branding and stuff like that.”
And I left that event like completely bought into the fact that I could use my background in marketing, changing people’s perceptions to help advance question 4, to help advance legalization in Massachusetts. So, being in that room to not only just learn stuff I hadn’t heard before and to then introduce myself to these people or follow up with these people or just know who they were, that was incredibly more valuable than any article I could read or, no offense, a podcast that I can listen to being in the room and making those connections like we did.
Jeffrey Boedges: We’ll edit that part out, Rick.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. She said podcasts are the only thing almost as good as events.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Well…
Beth Waterfall: Almost as good as events.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. That’s going to be the quote that we put out with this episode, too. It’s going to be great.
Jeffrey Boedges: That should be our tagline.
Rick Kiley: Almost as good as events.
Jeffrey Boedges: Almost as events. Almost as good as being there.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, I mean, that’s great. Look, we’re big believers in the power of the face-to-face and I think a great event can be transformative. So, I was just curious and I also know budtenders have a tremendous amount of influence on people like the way when a good mixologist or bartender will in the world of spirits or a sommelier will on wine. And actually, I was thinking about this, Tamika, because I was curious when you said that your aim with your company is for the highest level of customer service, I’m curious what that really means in terms of a delivery company. Like, I’m curious when someone calls or DMs you, actually, I don’t know how you’re doing it.
Jeffrey Boedges: They call her and page her.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. When they beep your guys, do you have people who are helping people make informed decisions about what they’re purchasing? How is that working?
Tamika Samson: That’s a good question. And it means the customer having a really great consumer experience from the very beginning when they click on the website to the very end when they get that final product delivered to their door. And we do that by providing education on our website, education about the plant, education about different strains. We will be having different blogs and different educational pieces on our website that goes in-depth about different topics that people want to talk about surrounding the cannabis space. For our customers, we have education pieces on pamphlets. It’s going to be in their bags, certain things that they can look at that they might not have known about as far as cannabis itself, healing properties, things like that. And then also our staff. We want to have our staff to be very well educated and trained so they can answer any of the questions, whether it’s somebody calling over the phone or if it’s at their front door and they say, “Hey, I got one more question.” And I feel confident that our drivers and our delivery staff will be able to answer those questions.
Rick Kiley: Got it.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s great.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. And so, Beth, are you involved in the sort of communications with these folks in like their scripting and how they talk to people?
Jeffrey Boedges: Their training.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Their training and the advocacy? And I guess the follow-up to that is how are you recruiting the people who are going to be your customer service reps?
Tamika Samson: So…
Beth Waterfall: So, I mean… Sorry.
Tamika Samson: No. Go ahead.
Beth Waterfall: To answer the first part of that story, basically, the brand in any good company transcends from that first touchpoint through how people are trained, what they’re wearing, what our cars look like, and all of that. And so, with KushKart, obviously, I’ve been helping with the training materials and helping to develop that identity. But KushKart also, we have electric cars. So, part of the service is recognizing we’re on Cape Cod, we’re right at the national seashore. What is important to our local community as well. And so, just being a responsible member of the community is part of that service, and making people feel comfortable that we’re good neighbors is part of it, too. But, Tamika, I don’t know if you want to elaborate there on the hiring practice.
Tamika Samson: So, as far as the hiring is concerned, we have got with another company that we use their software to hire our guys. And right now, we’re concentrating all of our hiring in the Cape Cod area. So, we want to be able to pull from the exact community that we’re going to be working in, looking for veterans, looking for women, looking for all of the ones that will be affected by cannabis has been affected by cannabis. We look for those types of applications that come through along with the experience. In the executive part of it looking forward as part of that team building, you’re looking for people that actually know what they’re doing and people that you can trust, somebody that can trust me as a decision maker. I mean, it’s all of these things that goes along with it that ends up at the customer’s front door at the end, you know?
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: You’re seeing a lot of things that…
Tamika Samson: So, we look at everything.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Most non-weed companies are looking for the same thing. But I got to ask though, is there a huge pool of experienced weed delivery people out there? I mean that seems like something you’d kind of have to grow at this point.
Tamika Samson: Well, weed delivery is not a thing. So, these will be the first weed delivery people here in Massachusetts. So, the answer to that is probably not.
Rick Kiley: I guess.
Tamika Samson: So, as we develop.
Rick Kiley: Well, I guess another way to ask that is like, are there like people who are involved in the legacy market? Is that where the experience is coming from when you’re hiring them?
Tamika Samson: Yeah. Sometimes you’ll get people from the legacy market. I’ve done this, I’ve done that, I’ve seen that a lot with cultivations, a lot with manufacturers. They have a lot of legacy people that they want to bring on board because they’ve been packaging things before it was even legal. They’ve been selling it and putting pictures and logos on their own products.
Rick Kiley: And they probably come with clients. They probably come with a list of phone numbers and addresses, too. So, I think that’s a good way to build or beeper numbers anyway. I don’t know.
Jeffrey Boedges: For the delivery, do you supply the cars or is it like the drivers?
Tamika Samson: No. We supply our cars.
Jeffrey Boedges: Oh wow.
Tamika Samson: Our employees will be driving our cars.
Jeffrey Boedges: Does it have like a giant, glowing weed leaf on the top?
Tamika Samson: We’re in Massachusetts.
Beth Waterfall: Not in Massachusetts.
Jeffrey Boedges: Not in Massachusetts? You can’t do that? That’s too bad.
Tamika Samson: That would be so cool but not in Massachusetts.
Beth Waterfall: In Massachusetts, the regulations are really…
Tamika Samson: We are going to have unmarked vehicles.
Rick Kiley: Unmarked vehicles. All right.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, no brainer. There goes my branding, my whole branding.
Rick Kiley: Well, I mean, probably if they were marked, I mean, it’s one thing to deliver a pizza. If someone comes and steals the pizza, it’s probably not a lot of financial loss but I imagine someone driving around with a trunk full of weed, it might invite some suspicious…
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay. So, next question. Like, when your drivers go out, they’re hitting five guys in a row or, sorry, five deliveries in a row or they’re…?
Tamika Samson: So, we look at it like this in the car at one time, we can only have $10,000 worth of products. So, our goal is to have…
Jeffrey Boedges: That seems like a whole lot to me. I’m just going to go out on a limb.
Tamika Samson: It sounds like a whole lot. And it is a whole lot.
Rick Kiley: It sounds like a good party, really.
Beth Waterfall: You might head out to Cape this summer, guys.
Jeffrey Boedges: No, we’ll be there. We’ll be there.
Tamika Samson: We want to be able to have the ability to fulfill that. So, in all that comes into play as far as how long will it take to get to the house? What orders came in that morning? What orders came in the night before? What orders are going to be on hold until the next day? And how are we going to be able to set everything up so we will eventually have a definite answer of when this will be to your door, besides them looking at the car, driving around to their house even though they’re going to have that, too.
Jeffrey Boedges: That makes sense. I’m sorry. I know I’m kind of going off script here, Rick, but so are you competing with – so you have a minority in women-owned business here. Do you find that people are choosing you because of that?
Tamika Samson: I don’t know. I think that people are really interested in the delivery model right now. People are really asking for it. That was one of the reasons why we had to put our website back to landing page status. You know, we were already getting orders and people calling, “I’m trying to check out. I can’t check out.” But we’re not open yet so I was like, “Okay. I don’t want nobody mad at me, so let’s just stop that from happening,” and just put a link in there. So, I know the interest is there. As far as the competition with like, I want to be good neighbors with everybody, with every dispensary. There is no delivery on a cake right now but us so I don’t think as far as competition that will be a problem right now, especially in the early stages of this. But we are open and we’re willing to do anything we can to be good neighbors and work with anybody.
Rick Kiley: All right. Let’s answer the $10,000 question then. What’s the date of the first delivery? What’s going on?
Jeffrey Boedges: When should I book my summer house?
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Tamika Samson: And should you book your summer house?
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Tamika Samson: So, we are at the very tail end of our build-out, so that’s where we at. So, as soon as we get that build-out, we can get our certificate of occupancy. We can move forward with final license inspections. So, we’re just like weeks away from that right now.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s very exciting.
Tamika Samson: It’s more like hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. You’re waiting for approvals from bureaucratic offices and that sort of thing, things that are out of your control. So, you can’t commit to an actual date but it’s somewhere between, let’s say, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July?
Tamika Samson: Yes.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. A big range.
Tamika Samson: You gave me a whole lot of room right now.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, that’s what I do. What if I can’t respond specifically? I get big ranges. I’m sure it’ll be done by 2026.
Tamika Samson: I’m sure it’ll be done before the 4th of July.
Rick Kiley: Awesome. All right.
Beth Waterfall: Tamika, we’d better be. Oh my God.
Rick Kiley: I know it’s not a video thing, but you should have seen Beth’s eyes roll back in her head.
Tamika Samson: And listen, I’m on my cell phone, so I can’t even see her.
Rick Kiley: It’s all good. We’re getting closer to the end of our time here. I had a couple more questions because I saw you were able to raise your capital and at the same time maintain majority control of your organization. So, I know that’s a big deal. So, congratulations on that. I know that’s hard for people who have seed-stage businesses. I guess what’s your primary focus in this stage? Is it get through the process, get the business launched? And do you envision yourself at some point going for like another round of fundraising to expand the business? I know you’re going towards two locations, but do you envision a time where it might be more? It might be beyond, I mean, probably can’t be beyond Massachusetts, given the governing laws at the moment but is that in your future?
Tamika Samson: Absolutely. Right now, we’re focusing on these early stages of opening day. Like, that is where we are zoning in and honing in on, but also keeping in mind we’re focusing on compliance as well. We want to make sure we’re doing everything according to the regulations because I know that you guys have heard so many stories going on with so many dispensaries and them not meeting the regulations and getting fined and all these things going on. I want to not or at least prevent us from going in that direction as best as we can, being that this is a new thing. Nobody has done delivery operator yet. So, with that as ongoing education and development for staff safety training is my focus right now really, really heavy because I want especially for new employees that’s new to this field and this is a new field, I want to know what are their thought processes surrounding safety when you’re talking about marijuana or safety in the warehouse, period. You want to be able to talk about that.
And then more of our focus is just going to be continuing to build these relationships that we’ve been talking about with various vendors that we meet at a lot of these events and planning our growth and planning on moving forward as a company. So, first things first right now is going to be getting open. That’s where our focus is but in the back of our minds and on the sides of our minds, we have all this other stuff that we’re trying to do as well.
Jeffrey Boedges: Sure. Yeah. But first things first. I mean, I think if I had to tell you how many times we tell people to eat the elephant one bite at a time, it’s a lot, you know. So, it sounds like you’re coming to the end of the first big course, though, and that’s really exciting.
Tamika Samson: Yeah, it is. It really, really is.
Rick Kiley: So, I read somewhere there’s going to be a grand opening. Is that true?
Tamika Samson: Yes. We are definitely going to have a grand opening.
Rick Kiley: What’s the vision for that event?
Tamika Samson: That is to invite the community out. It’s just invite the community out. I’ve made a really good amount of friends with the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and the Eastham Chamber of Commerce. And to have them come out, invite them out and different other businesses in the area to just come out and celebrate and say, “Hey, here’s another business that’s going to be open for service for individuals who need it.” So, I’m looking forward to that. That’s going to be a fun day. Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Beth Waterfall: It’s definitely important to include not just the cannabis consumers, but again, go back to including the community, community leaders. And we’re a normal business. So, we want to be aligned with people outside the cannabis industry.
Rick Kiley: How are the members of the Chamber of Commerce reacting to your cannabis business? Are they looking at it with it like it’s a normal business?
Tamika Samson: They’ve been very, very welcoming.
Jeffrey Boedges: The ice cream stores are very much in favor of them.
Rick Kiley: Sure.
Beth Waterfall: But even things like looking at membership, membership benefits, so this is one of the ways. So, marketing tip here, get involved with your local chamber because they have mailing lists. And one of the things I was thinking, oh, they may have some sort of hesitancy around sending out marijuana deliveries here now out to their chamber membership. But they’re totally open to all these things, the same benefits they give to other businesses. You know, so far there hasn’t been any sort of, “Ooh, we wouldn’t do that,” even with little radio spots and things like that. So, we’re really trying to leverage some of their local marketing power.
Rick Kiley: That’s a really promising development. That’s so great.
Tamika Samson: Hope so.
Jeffrey Boedges: I do feel like that, well, within the cannabis legal business community, there is definitely a camaraderie that I don’t think exists in a lot of other verticals. I think it’s somewhat unique, but I think this is the first I’ve really heard of anybody saying that it also engenders the support of people from other verticals in the same business community. I think that really bodes well for, quite frankly, for national legalization at some point, if that many people are behind it. Were there ever any people that called you and were like, “What are you doing?” Anybody give you any guff?
Tamika Samson: No.
Jeffrey Boedges: Really? Never. Okay.
Tamika Samson: Nope.
Rick Kiley: All right. Props to Massachusetts. Well done. Well done, people.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Tamika Samson: Yes. Yes.
Jeffrey Boedges: We do have to work on both of your Massachusetts accents, though.
Tamika Samson: Listen, I’m from Brooklyn, New York, and I spent some years in South Carolina and Georgia, so I have like a mix of accents everywhere.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. You got everybody.
Rick Kiley: I’m calling you from Brooklyn right now. All right. All right. Good stuff.
Beth Waterfall: What’s the college in Providence?
Rick Kiley: Oh, there it is. She brings it out when she needs to.
Jeffrey Boedges: I’ll bring you some weed in my cah.
Beth Waterfall: I got weed in my car right now. What are you talking about?
Jeffrey Boedges: I got weed in my cah.
Rick Kiley: Did you pahk the cah at our backyad?
Tamika Samson: Oh, we can probably do this all day.
Jeffrey Boedges: Clearly, we’re not from New England.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, one thing I was curious about, and I think you mentioned you work with all the dispensaries. I just want to confirm that because I was curious if you might be like curating a list of dispensaries that people’s products are available to but I think what you’re saying is you’re staying very dispensary agnostic.
Tamika Samson: Well, what we have like we’re open to working with dispensaries. I believe that we have some conversations ongoing right now with different dispensaries down on the Cape. But our process is to inquire products from various…
Jeffrey Boedges: Supplier.
Tamika Samson: Places on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, women-owned, veteran-owned. We want to have a variety right now. You know, day one, we won’t be able to have the type of variety that is in my head because you’ve got to start small scale. So, then eventually get to what you see as your vision. So, rolling out, we’re still going to have a really good variety, but it’s not going to be like everybody that we have on our wish list right now. Like everybody has their wish list of what do you want to see. Like, my wish list is I want to see a KushKart strain in our warehouse and that won’t happen on day one rolling out, right? That could happen in three months. That could happen in six months. That can happen as we move further along in the process.
Beth Waterfall: Then we have fun.
Tamika Samson: And that’s going to take those relationships, yeah, with certain dispensaries and certain cultivation groups and manufacturers. So, we definitely plan to have really good relationships, we develop really good relationships with them, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.
Rick Kiley: All right. Well, that’s super exciting. So, I’m curious if people want to find out about ordering some cannabis through you, they should go where? To your website?
Tamika Samson: They can go to our website, www.TheKushKart.com. Right now, we have our landing page because I told you people that are trying to actually order but if they put in their information, get on our mailing list, it’ll pop-up right there. And as we get closer to opening day, we’re going to be doing things like advertising and letting everybody know and shooting emails out and all kind of stuff, gearing up to our opening day. So, it’s going to be a great time so they can get on that doing that mailing list.
Rick Kiley: Awesome.
Jeffrey Boedges: You definitely need our jingle by then.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: “187 KushKart for jibs.”
Rick Kiley: “KushKart, KushKart.” I don’t know. “They’ll be there first from the start.”
Tamika Samson: Right. You got some.
Rick Kiley: I’ll get there. I’ll get there eventually.
Jeffrey Boedges: He’s got something alright.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Bad ideas. It’s okay. You got to start with bad ideas to get to the good ones sometimes. And, Beth, if someone was interested in your wealth of knowledge in the industry, how would someone reach out to you?
Beth Waterfall: Very easy. BethWaterfall.com and on socials, I’m @bethwaterfall.
Rick Kiley: Cool. And as we do, we tend to end our interviews the same way. We are always talking about when cannabis will be legal federally in the U.S. It is election day. As we said, there are several states with ballot initiatives going on. And I’m just curious if either of you, if you had to put a date that you were going to wager let’s say $10,000 worth of weed that was in a car that you were like, “Hey, this is when it’s going to be federally legal,” I’m curious if you have any thoughts about that.
Tamika Samson: I would say never. I don’t think it’s going to happen. What I really think is going to, I mean, it’s a process anyway and it’s going to even be an even harder process if it becomes federally legal. But what I really think is going to happen is that they’re just going to turn it over to the states and let the states do their own regulatory depending on the state. I don’t think that it’s going to be legal anytime federally, no time soon. That’s just my personal thought.
Rick Kiley: So, you’re thinking like?
Tamika Samson: You know, we only have half of the states. It’s only half of the states right now that is legal and we have a long way to go to get the others to come on board. And even if they do it, the states would have to be on board first, I think. I mean, I could be wrong, but I don’t see it happening. I think they’re just going to leave it to the states to figure it out.
Jeffrey Boedges: And you might be right, Tamika, but I think like the really smart states out there are taking a look at like, “How many states border our state and how many of those states are legal?” I think that’s why Arkansas legalized like, “Oh, man, we’d be the only game in town down here.” They can get everybody.
Beth Waterfall: 2027 for me.
Jeffrey Boedges: 2027. Alright. Wow.
Beth Waterfall: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: All right. Since you guys are friends, we should put like a little bet on this. We got never and…
Tamika Samson: $10,000.
Rick Kiley: So, in 2028, if it doesn’t happen, Beth, you have to give Tamika $10,000.
Jeffrey Boedges: Just a whole car for me.
Tamika Samson: We’ll stay in touch. We’ll stay in touch.
Beth Waterfall: We’ll stay in touch.
Rick Kiley: Well, look, this has been a really enjoyable interview. I wish you the very best getting the opening date done, the grand opening event done. Jeff and I are going to take a boat up there this summer.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: We’re going to check it all out.
Jeffrey Boedges: Ours will have a big going weed thing out there just so if you’re looking for it.
Beth Waterfall: Well, you can do that as a non-licensed entity.
Rick Kiley: Really? All right.
Beth Waterfall: Yeah. Licensees can’t do that but random people can.
Rick Kiley: All right. All right. Good to know. Good to know. But it’s been a pleasure speaking to you today and best of luck to you.
Beth Waterfall: You too, guys. Thanks so much.
Tamika Samson: Thank you so much. It was my pleasure. Thank you.
Rick Kiley: Cheers.