Sweet Flower Studio City
Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about yourself? Why cannabis? When did you decide to leave traditional business for a much different path in legal cannabis?
Tim Dodd= TD: We launched Sweet Flower because we believe in building a large, scaled and competitively advantaged business focused on the long-term potential of the cannabis industry in California. As the legal cannabis industry emerges in California, I see vast potential to build a differentiated and competitive business focused on operational experience (our team in addition to me are ex-Google, SNAP, Soulcycle, Equinox and Armani), retail and branding know-how, and a strong Southern California focus. Southern California brands are some of the most recognized in the world, and within cannabis I believe that we can build a best-in-class retail experience and brand. The Los Angeles cannabis market is among the most complex and challenging markets, but I have faith that it can also be the most rewarding.
Prior to my introduction to the cannabis industry, I forged a two-decade career in media with various business operations and strategy roles at companies like Time Warner Cable, Warner Brothers, and Neustar. I’ve raised both my career and my kids in Los Angeles and have built strong ties in the community.
In the year since we launched, we’ve acquired and won six licenses. Both Culver City and Pasadena are incredibly competitive markets, and it was an honor to secure licensing above major multi-state operators from outside California. That footprint makes us one of the largest operators in Los Angeles and the only independent local company operating at that scale in this market.
That’s testament to our execution, our team’s strength and our belief we are building something meaningful in Los Angeles, for Los Angeles.
Sweet Flower Studio City
WB: When did you first discover cannabis? Recreational or medicinal? Outdoor or indoor grown? What do your peers think about what you do? How do you describe your path in cannabis?
TD: While I call Los Angeles home, and have lived in the United States for 26 years, I was born in New Zealand. Cannabis wasn’t widely accepted then, but it did grow wild outdoors, and wasn’t exactly shunned. There was common sense policing of it; it was around and enjoyed.
I’ve taken many long-term calculated risks. I moved from New Zealand to the United States at 24 to go to Duke Law. 26 years later, I’m still here. That was a risk. Back then, my peers thought I was crazy, but I’ve always adopted a long-term view. I apply the same view to this business. Investing in building out Sweet Flower is a long-term calculated risk. We’re in it for the long haul on our path – building long-term sustainable advantage in the biggest and most complex legal market in the world.
Sweet Flower Melrose
WB: Tell me about your company? What is your six month plan? One year? What obstacles stand in your way? How do you propose removing those obstacles?
TD: We endeavor to be a pillar of the communities we serve, beyond just selling cannabis. We hold full licenses for six locations in Greater Los Angeles—which places us at the forefront of the city’s marketplace. We take pride in having one of the largest branded presences here.
The six-month plan is simple. We’ll finish the rollout for all of our stores and build out the delivery platform on top of that. We’re also looking at brand partnerships with non-cannabis brands in the hospitality, fashion and wellness markets.
The next twelve months are about changing our market. We have more opportunities than obstacles and see how other communities across the nation are beginning to turn onto cannabis as part of their communities in a very positive way. We’ll leverage our track record of working with communities to get the requisite licenses and will look toward counties and states outside of Los Angeles as we continue to expand our presence.
Of course, the cannabis industry doesn’t come without obstacles. The number of illegal dispensaries in Los Angeles is problematic, giving the wrong impression to new consumers. The transitioning market is also marked by a knowledge gap between producers and consumers. Los Angeles is also home to a very challenging and diverse market with most cannabis operators marketing towards a hardcore male-oriented demographic. At Sweet Flower, we’re conscious about serving everybody while destigmatizing the category.
We’ve positioned the brand to stand out from others. We’re independent from specific brands and industry consortiums. Our name is not a specific callout to cannabis, but to something sweet and fun. Our sales associates and team members support that. Everyone is part of fulfilling this vision.
WB: What is your favorite restaurant? Where? Food style?
TD: I love E.P. & L.P., which is a fantastic Asian street-food place in West Hollywood, close to our Melrose Ave store. My wife and I have a four-year-old, and I spend a lot of time with him at In-N-Out, another great California chain I love. I also have to say I still love Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, also near us on Melrose. It’s incredible Italian food – my wife is Sicilian; I know the best Italian food Is home cooked, but I give Cecconi’s its due.
WB: What is your passion?
TD: To be quite honest, I love L.A. I’ve always been drawn here. I have such a strong passion for the geography, the people, and the culture. I love being in a place I have an affinity for. Bike riding is a part of me. I live in the Santa Monica Mountains. The best bike riding in the world is at my doorstep. Because of my passion for LA, I’m excited we’re operating on a premium scale in this market. It’s an honor to not only win the awards we have in Culver City and Pasadena, but I’m grateful to have the opportunity to build our business and our team in this great city. Our team fits the city – we’re super diverse, we respect each other, we’re operationally focused and we excel at working in super-regulated and fast-changing environments. We’re in the customer service business, and just happen to be selling cannabis. I’m confident in our team, our future, and our place in Los Angeles.
Sweet Flower has six licensed locations – its flagship store on Melrose and store in Studio City. Coming soon are retail locations in the Arts District and Westwood. In addition, Sweet Flower has won competitive licenses in Pasadena and Culver City, where it ranked first among all applicants.
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