A well-manicured piece of dried marijuana flower doesn’t just happen. It takes a steady hand, a practiced eye and a reliable scissors. A reliable presence and a professional attitudehelp, said Patrick Todd, owner of Green Cross Specialties, an indoor cannabis grower in Bend.
“It’s a cosmetic process, and you’re trying to get a quality product, as well,” he said.
That’s where the Happy Harvesting Co., a Bend-based business with a Portland presence, too, comes in.
Todd said he’s worked with the startup since he became the first in Bend to obtain a license to grow recreational marijuana. Rather than hire extra labor to harvest and trim his product, Todd turns to Happy Harvesting co-founders Jessica Thornhill and Eleanor Sauerborn, who bring a crew to work temporarily at an affordable cost.
“The biggest thing for me is reliability and consistency,” he said. “They run a quality business, which is hard to find in my business. I hate to say it, but it’s true.”
Thornhill and Sauerborn, both 28, met five years ago while trimming plants for a mutual friend who grew medical marijuana. Prior to that, both held traditional jobs. They said life took a fresh turn when they decided to go into business together in September. They recently talked to The Bulletin about their startup. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Whose idea was it to go into business together?
Thornhill: I would say it was Eleanor’s idea. She had the drive behind her, for sure, and we worked really well together. She had set up a couple of trimming jobs here and there, for friends, and we were always the two that showed up and were professional, ready to work and weren’t there to just hang out and whatever.
Sauerborn: We started with $2,000 in our pockets and no idea what was gonna come of it. It was the two of us and $2,000. That should be enough to buy some scissors and some bins.
Thornhill: And some business cards.
Q: What were some of the challenges you ran into?
Sauerborn: Scheduling, over-scheduling and taking on too many clients; saying yes when we should have been saying no.
Thornhill: Also, not taking everybody’s advice, kinda being selective about whose advice to take.
Q: You said you like to hire experienced people. How do they get that experience?
Sauerborn: Some companies are mass hiring, whereas we’re looking for a specific type of person. Some of them come untrained, some of them are trained and have a little bit of experience. What we’re looking for is that eagerness and positive attitude. We are hiring.
Thornhill: We’re looking for the passion.
Sauerborn: The professionalism comes right along with it.
Q: I imagine you pay minimum wage?
Thornhill: Above. For little or no experience, the average is about $13 an hour. If they come in and they’re just amazing during their training period, we typically set them around $14 or $15.
Sauerborn: We only pay minimum wage during the training period.
Q: Do you consult with growers if you’ve done something for somebody else that you can apply?
Thornhill: For every new client that we acquire, we do a consultation before we actually start working for them to kind of get an idea of what they’re looking for and provide for them, and if we’re going to be a right fit and how we’re going to approach that specific job.
It’s not as simple as cutting the buds off the plant, cleaning them up a little bit. Growers have particular applications, whether it’s going to be turned into edibles or displayed on a shelf.
Q: Is the business profitable?
Sauerborn: Yeah, it’s definitely worthwhile. I don’t think it’s as much of a moneymaker as some people think. It’s a very small dose at a time. The more we’re doing the better we’re doing, but it’s a long game, not a short game. Some people are wanting to get into the cannabis industry to make a lot of money very fast and that’s not necessarily how we’re looking at it. It’s a career, it’s a path, it’s our path.
Q: What is about the business that gives rise to such a strong feeling, career-wise?
Sauerborn: I love my job for the first time.
Thornhill: It’s really just a feeling that you get. I don’t dread going to work anymore like I did with monotonous, traditional jobs that I’ve done.
Q: Where do you see the business in five years?
Thornhill: In five years, we should have our Portland, Southern Oregon and Central Oregon teams very, very secure and hopefully maybe branching off to other states that are trying to do the same thing.
Sauerborn: I would say that our first year was a learning experience, just in general, in that you have a lot of fall-on-your-face moments and that, I think, is the first part that will test your character. We’d like to potentially be going into Salem, Eugene and maybe five years down the road be going into Humboldt (County, California), maybe before that getting our inner office dynamic (worked out) and all of that kind of stuff is probably the most important part.
Q: Is it difficult to be a young woman in this particular business?
Thornhill: It can be, but I think in any aspect of business it can be difficult to be a woman, whether it’s cannabis or any other company.
Sauerborn: We definitely don’t market our business as female-owned because we don’t want people to see us as just that. We don’t want to be stereotyped. We want to be seen as hard-working, bad-ass people. We want our business to be recognized by the work that it does, not by who owns it.
— Reporter: 541-617-7815, email@example.com