From Real Estate to Cannabis: Exploring Life-Changing Career Choices with Sabrena Peterson
Sabrena Peterson is the Director of Sales & Marketing at RĒL.
Her professional career includes acquisition and operating in the commercial and residential real estate industries. She’s also been involved in aviation, oil and gas and technology projects. She was the Director of Operations for a well-known real estate development company where she managed several projects. Throughout her career, Sabrena has been responsible for maintaining regulatory compliance, coordinating corporate events and reporting on industry/business performance.
Sabrena’s extensive background and connections provided her with the opportunity to get involved with RĒL, an innovative company producing high-quality and technologically advanced vaporizing products.
Ms. Peterson is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing for RĒL. The company’s sleek line delivers an impressive and dependable experience with every use. Their mission is to provide premier product without harmful chemicals, manufacturing the best products as well as delivering outstanding customer service. From the disposable vape pen to the rechargeable Goliath, the RĒL product line has something for adult cannabis enthusiasts of all levels to enjoy.
Sabrena took a few moments out of her busy day to talk with Viride about her involvement with RĒL, the cannabis industry and making a positive impact. Here’s what she had to say!
V: How did you get involved with RĒL?
Sabrena: I have always been a consumer throughout my life. I was never morally or ethically opposed to cannabis legalization to begin with, which is a good starting point. I had a couple business associates that me and my current partners had known through the real estate industry who were involved with helping to market a vape pen that was getting ready to expand throughout Arizona. They asked us to consult and asked if we would be interested in taking the product national. That opportunity didn’t pan out for us. But, it did open our eyes to explore data and going to conferences and trying all the product we could find in the market. Throughout the process, we had a taste of the industry as being a viable potential. It was like a series of events that continued to force us into the industry with people we ran into and where conversations went. We decided let’s just do it and create the product that we wanted to find when we were out there shopping. We wanted a suite of products that could cover all demographics. That was two years ago, and it was a lengthy process of getting to a point where we had devices that we were comfortable with putting out in the market.
V: What was the licensing process like?
Sabrena: It was interesting to say the least. Originally, we were medical in the third or fourth quarter of 2016. And in the ninety days that followed our initial licensing process, regulations changed and recreational became legal. That put our launch back by six months. When it is all said and done, we were in the market for seven months of 2017. We launched at the end of April and have been going ever since.
V: You seem to be a jack of all trades for the company. How do you feel about this work compared to what you used to do?
Sabrena: It is the best job I’ve ever had. It is the most stressful, but is also the most fun and I absolutely love it. It is worth everything I go through to be able to work with great people and to be in an industry that has endless opportunity. This is probably the best industry for women. I came from the traditional corporate world and feel like the glass ceiling is much, much lower in the cannabis world. There won’t be long-standing generational male dominated hierarchies that exist in the corporate world. In the cannabis industry, it is so much easier for a woman to start and manage a business. Women can be an authority within their niches in the industry if they really know their stuff. If you can capitalize on that knowledge and share and educate, there are just so many ways for women to promote themselves and their product. You must work hard and know your stuff, but if you do, then the opportunity is there.
V: Previously, you were in real estate and marketing. Why did you make such a significant career change?
Sabrena: Prior to being called into consult, I never realized that the cannabis industry was as legitimate and large and growing as it was. It opened my eyes to it as a possible career path. What really motivated me and was a determining factor for me entering the industry was realizing how much opportunity there is to do good and to innovate. There is a lot of space to be creative and impactful because it is such a new industry. I was really inspired by all the research and development occurring now and will continue to occur to understand how to best utilize the plant.
V: You’ve mentioned being a cannabis user yourself. Do you think that had anything to do with your decision to break into the cannabis industry?
Sabrena: I have been self-medicating without realizing that was what I was doing since I was younger. For a while, I was on ADHD medication and I’ve also had a lifelong problem with insomnia. Before I ever understood anything about cannabis genetics or strain profiles or terpenes, before I knew what the real difference was between strains, I would naturally gravitate toward the energetic sativas. I smoked those during the day not realizing it was my own way of counteracting my symptoms like a pharmaceutical prescription would. In the evenings, I started to move toward the indica strains. If I woke up in the middle of the night I realized that certain strains would help me fall back to sleep. I started to understand more of the science behind how cannabis affects people. It lit a fire in me to educate other people and be on the forefront of this movement.
Viride: The market and demands are changing regularly. What is RĒL working on to keep up with these?
Sabrena: I’ve been working with one of the extraction artists who is a good friend and is also a French trained chef. He spent a decade over in Europe before coming back to the states and opening one of his own restaurants in the LA area. Now he is in the cannabis industry, but he is in the process of creating recipes for some interesting distillate flavors. In 2017 we were just a CO2 company and for 2018 we decided to get into the distillate game. We are trying to do a couple of things differently by utilizing the skillset of our in-house chef to come up with some great combinations. The test groups have gone well and the most popular at this point is a maple bacon flavor waffle which we are calling Breakfast of Champions.
V: Which pen will that go in?
Sabrena: Distillates will be available in most devices. The Goliath comes in a kit. The cartridges for this one is a tank that hits like a beast. When you go back to get refills, you have the choice of CO2 oils or distillate oils, so at that time the consumer can decide on flavors.
V: The company is still relatively new. However, it looks like RĒL is already working on upgrading their devices. Why is that?
Sabrena: We redesigned our line for 2018, which is like 2.0. Last year, we had a higher than acceptable, to us, defect rate on our pens and we are committed to the philosophy of continuously improving our products. We really believe that even if people love it and only a few experiences a problem, we still want to address those issues. We won’t settle for anything less than the best. We took the opportunity in 2018 to go back to the drawing board and take the feedback we got from consumers and dispensaries on each one of our products and establish where we can make significant improvements and where we needed to go back to the drawing board. We also wanted to find niches we weren’t addressing yet. It was a productive 4th quarter of 2017. The reception we’ve gotten in the market unanimously is that we knocked it out of the park this time, so we are excited.
V: Did you discover anything significant while making these changes to your product?
Sabrena: We didn’t solve all our problems and wound up switching over to the latest generation of ceramic coil cartridge where the coil is embedded within ceramic rather than just coated in it. This has a significant impact in keeping the terpenes mostly intact. We’ve also introduced a disposable puff activated pen which is slick and discreet looking called the Nano. We now have dabbing device which is rolling out this year, which has precise dosing for medical users who are interested in being able to microdose accurately. We are thrilled to introduce a device called the Edge, which should come out in mid-March. It is a credit card sized vape pen, which is so slick and high-tech looking, but easy to use. It has a magnetic cartridge. It fits in the palm of your hand or the coin pocket of your jeans.
V: While redesigning the product, did you find other areas to expand into or change as well?
Sabrena: What’s new for 2018 is we are offering distillates, so we’ve expanded there. They are going to be available in a mix of different flavor options, but we are going to offer a couple at a time that will be cannabis derived terpenes that will be reintroduced to the distillate. We have the potential to get some entourage effect back since the distillate doesn’t have the cannabinoids in it by nature. We are also going to have a few of our chef created flavors available. People will have a choice if they like the taste of flower and want to introduce that entourage effect into their distillate vaping experience then they can go for the cannabis derived terpene flavors verses the organic fruit and vegetable terpenes that we use in the more adventurous flavors that are not cannabis derived. We worked so hard on our own cartridge design.
V: RĒL is a fantastic product but is currently only offered in Oregon. Does the company have plans for expansion?
Sabrena: We are looking at that. We are going full steam ahead and are excited to grow. We are in the licensing phase of a cultivation and processing facility in southern California just outside of LA. We will start there later this fall. We also have plans to move into Nevada by the end of 2018 and are in final negotiations to take over an existing cultivation and processing facility in the Las Vegas area. We are excited to be moving forward.