Sky Cannabis | Interview With Skylar Jessen
Cannapreneur: Skylar Jessen
Company: Sky Cannabis
Brands: Sky Dispensaries | Sky Cannabis | Sky Wellness (CBD)
We sat down with Cannapreneur Skylar Jessen of Sky Cannabis in Arizona, a state with a highly successful, and largely underrated medical marijuana market. We talked about all the most pressing issues about being a cannapreneur, and dove a bit into the backstory details that we love to extract from cannabis industry pioneers. Where is he from, how did he get into the industry, and where is this industry going next (and how is his company playing a role in taking it there)?
Skylar is a man of faith who believes in the Lord, and the power of cannabis. Here’s what he had to say…
CM: Skylar, grateful to have you considering how much growth is going on with the company right now.
Before we get into it, can we start by diving in a little bit more about where you’re originally from, your experiences growing up (i.e. parents, environments, schooling, etc.) and where you’re living now?
Skylar: I currently reside in Arizona but was raised in Spokane, Washington with my two siblings. Honestly, I experienced a childhood that really set the foundation for my character and passions. My parents played a huge role in my life as mentors and motivators and set a positive example for me. One of the most influential mentors in my life was my Nonna (which is Italian for “grandmother”). She recently passed away but was my first true guardian angel. I have no words that could possibly explain our relationship.
In terms of what has kept me driven and given me purpose, I’d have to say that my faith and my love for sports were key factors.
When I was young, being involved in motocross and football taught me how to persevere and work hard for what I wanted. In fact, I broke every school record for my position in football and track while breaking city and state records as well. I went on to receive handfuls of scholarships to top Division 1 colleges across the nation. Some may wonder why I chose Washington State University when I had offers on the table from schools such as Notre Dame, Boston College, and Harvard. I just say that it was all part of God’s plan in the end.
In terms of my current personal life, I have a small circle of loyal friends that have been trusted confidantes for over 20 years. They reflect my belief that trust and communication are the key to any successful relationship whether in life or in business.
“trust and communication are the key to any successful relationship whether in life or in business.”
CM: We first learned about your Sky Cannabis packaged can that you guys produce, but before we get into the can, tell us a little bit more about your backstory and what you were doing before starting Sky Cannabis?
Skylar: The first product I launched that really set me off into the entrepreneurial world was a safety knife called KutzEZ. The unique thing about KutzEZ is that it can virtually cut anything while keeping you safe.
CM: Interesting. So, why cannabis, now? It’s clearly a great opportunity, and as the entrepreneurial spirit that you are, I am sure it was always there, even if it was just a blip of a thought in the back of your mind. But how did it really work its way into your life and become the very big and sustaining part of your life that it is now?
Was there one of those “aha!” moments in your life where you knew at some point this is what you’re going to do with your life?
No matter what industry I find myself in, my passion is helping people in meaningful ways.
But I never would have guessed that I would land in the cannabis profession. I have been blessed with the ability to network and felt the Lord would align me in a calling that would allow me to have a positive impact on others.
I’m focused on changing the negative stigma of cannabis through education, which results in helping others achieve better health and a better life.
CM: How long have you been in the cannabis industry now?
Skylar: I’m lucky to have been involved in different parts of the industry for around 4 years now.
CM: So let’s talk about Sky Cannabis as a brand. How did Sky Cannabis go from concept to brand? Why the name Sky?And at what point did you start to say, “you know what, it’s time to take Sky Cannabis into a more developed out concept and really expand on the brand.”?
Skylar: We wanted to put our time and efforts towards a “people’s brand”. For us that means a brand that is high quality so as to deliver stellar medicine to our patients. But it also is important that our brand be relatable in the market.
We went through a few concept and name changes in order to find that one that most reflected our brand and translated best to consumers. Sky seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
“A brand isn’t about just a logo, its about the meaning behind the brand and that’s what truly makes a brand impactful is when people believe in it and not just like the way it looks.”
We included a telescope that is pointing skyward in the logo to symbolize always keeping your head up and being on the lookout for bigger and better things. Since the dawn of time, humans have looked to the sky for inspiration and to understand the profound nature of the universe. Sky is a lofty name and one we are proud to claim as ours.
Developing and expanding a brand includes thinking outside of the box. You can’t focus on what you want but instead on what your customers want. We feel our customers value experience and so our motto is “Elevate your experience.”
CM: So you had your Sky Cannabis brand concept developed as a people’s brand, and put a TON of thought into your logo development. How did you come up with the messaging? You tag line?
“We chose “Elevate your experience” as Sky’s tagline, because LIFE is about experiences and enjoying those experiences to the fullest.”
I believe that life is about embracing experiences and enjoying them to the fullest. Money comes and goes but an “experience” is what is remembered. Do you remember the exact cost of taking your family to Maui? Or do you remember the sun, the palm trees, the dinners, snorkeling, and so on? That’s how we view our brand: Elevating your experience every day!
CM: If you could describe the essence of your brand how would you describe it? That is, how would you describe it’s vibe (mission, values, style, what it represents, etc.)?
Skylar: SKY is not just a Cannabis brand, but an organization built on the foundation of knowledge, research, health, wellness, and respect. It’s also built on an appreciation for the patients we serve, the public we educate, and our team that makes our purpose possible.
At our core . . .
We are invested in the long- term sustainability of our patients, their individual health needs, and the medical community at large.
We are committed to science and technology to not only increase the industry’s standards of quality, but bring the best possible products to market.
We are inspired by our talented team who produce and operate at the highest of levels to not only ensure quality, but because they genuinely believe in their work.
We are dedicated to our community by educating them on all of the benefits cannabis and its complimentary products, as well as providing a workforce for a rapidly developing industry.
CM: We’ve gotten to experience Sky dispensaries first hand and the experience is another level. Definitely an “elevated” experience right in line with the brand. Once you had a product line created, how did you decide where you were going to have a dispensary?
Skylar: In Arizona, the process for being approved to operate a dispensary includes an evaluation of the Community Health Analysis Area (CHAA). This means that ultimately the Department of Health Services dictates which city your license will be awarded in.
“Due to the stigma of the industry and with Cannabis being federally illegal, it makes it very difficult to find prime locations that are zoned to operate a dispensary in Arizona”
CM: That sounds difficult. Once you went through the regulatory process of actually getting a dispensary license and finding a location, how did you choose what to carry in the store? There are so many products to choose from, how do you pick what’s best for Sky dispensary’s selection?
Skylar: Quality and integrity come first when we consider which products to carry for our patients. We work with vendors that meet our strict standards and high level of expectations. We carry top quality products that our popular in our area and provide test results for every product we carry in our dispensaries.
CM: With high quality cannabis and cannabis products being your number one priority, how do you decide on what products you’re going to make under the Sky brand as your own?
Skylar: First, we always solicit input and feedback from our patients. We ask what they want and what products would meet their health and wellness needs
Second, we look at what’s trending in the market, along with thinking outside of the box. Because we include industry leading technology in our brand, such as our hermetically sealed cans, we like to stay ahead of the game. This allows us to bring the patients the newest, best, and highest quality products on the market!
CM: With such a distinct focus on medical marijuana patient care, what are the top 3-5 favorite products that you feel help patients the most?
Skylar: Great question. There are 4 product types which come to mind.
- CBD – because this powerful cannabinoid has the most medicinal healing properties
- Vape pens – because they are convenient, discreet, and smoother than flower.
- Flower – because it is our most sold product in our stores. I think this is because it has so many uses and people can really connect to the raw plant in a way that is perhaps harder with other products.
- Edibles – because they are great for patients who have higher tolerance and need the effects to last longer.
CM: You have a ton of returning patients which is clear testament to SKY’s quality. Can you tell us why your patients have become such loyal followers and consumers of Sky?
Skylar: I think our followers appreciate that fact that we emphasize the whole process, from seed to farm to testing to patients. We know that it’s important for consumers to understand how much care is taken with our Cannabis products.
We also have the best budtenders in the industry. This means they are using their knowledge and passion to help educate and guide patients and provide remarkable customer service. Without all of the hard workers behind our products, our brand would be worthless. Our amazing team is what keeps Sky respectable and relevant.
“All of this is evidenced by a few recent accolades we are so proud to have received, including being awarded one of the top dispensaries in North America by Leafly.”
CM: What has been some of the greatest feedback you’ve had from your patients?
Skylar: It gives me chills to tell this story because I experienced it firsthand.
I went into one of our dispensaries and noticed an older lady in a wheelchair being helped in the door by her husband.
You could tell that it was their first time in a dispensary. I don’t typically help patients because I leave that job to our amazing budtenders but I decided to help this patient because I wanted to hear her story. I also think the recent passing of my grandmother played a role in me wanting to connect with her.
She began to tell me that she was a cancer patient, on chemotherapy treatments, and that her doctor had given her 45 days to live.
She said she had always been against Cannabis but that she felt the cancer and chemo was killing her and that Cannabis was her last resort.
I was able to offer her just the right combination of RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) and CBD that I felt would work for her and her symptoms. I am now proud to say, almost a year later, she is alive and walking on her own.
When things like this happen, it really motivates me to be my best version of myself every day. I want to help as many people as I possibly can. I have been blessed and given a lot and it’s my time to give back and help others. And with this powerful plant, we can help millions!
Along the same lines, it’s amazing to hear the constant 5-star reviews we receive, not just about our product, but also about our budtenders. Patients share feedback how they are respectful, polite, and educated.
Our budtenders are integral team members and I am proud of what a great job they do serving Arizona medical patients.
CM: Wow. Thank you for sharing that story. Achieving high quality in both products and service is no easy feat in the cannabis industry with all of the strict and precise regulations. What are some of the biggest obstacles your team has faced in your industry?
Skylar: What obstacles haven’t we faced?! In the cannabis industry, everyday a hurdle is presented and how you overcome that hurdle is what matters. People joke and say that Cannabis years are compared to dog years. As in, one year in the cannabis industry is like seven years in another industry because it’s progressing so quickly. This means that you always have to be adaptable and quick on your feet.
CM: What do you think are some of the hardest parts about building a brand in this industry?
Skylar: One of the hardest parts about building a brand in the Cannabis industry is the limitations and legalities that that aren’t present in other industries. For example, you are not allowed to place paid ads regarding Cannabis on Google or Facebook, so you have to get very crafty. The good news is that this builds ingenuity because you have to think unconventionally in order to achieve your goals.
CM: With the restrictions on cannabis business marketing practices, how important has social media and the internet been in the building of the Sky brand? Or at least, how important do you think it will be as you continue to grow it?
Skylar: Social media has been a very important piece of the overall puzzle. It has allowed us to reach out and educate others in a way that has never been as accessible or possible.
“An important factor to the success of our company is educating others on the key qualities of cannabis that can ultimately treat their medical needs.”
Social media is always evolving and a crucial component to branding. It allows us to get in front of millions of people across the country instead of older marketing practices with less of a marketing reach.
I think that having a strong local and national marketing presence brings value to our brand.
CM: Agreed 100%. Marketing is KEY. With all of this experience you have had with both the highs and the lows of the cannabis industry, what’s the best advice you can give someone just starting out in this industry or in taking on a big role in it?
Skylar: Start by surrounding yourself with the right people and build a solid team because they will be your key to success. We could not do what we do at Sky without our team, who is constantly ensuring we are aligned with our vision and goals.
Educate yourself by learning everything from the ground up. Knowledge is key! The more you know, the better you’ll be able to navigate your way through the industry with confidence.
“Pursue what you are passionate about!”
The Cannabis industry is just like any other industry. If you’re passionate about marketing, dive into the marketing division of Cannabis. If you are passionate about growing, get your hands dirty and start by learning everything you can about growing and cultivating.
Because the industry is still so new, those involved in it are the pioneers and are tasked with navigating their own way. That said, the Cannabis community and available resources for learning are increasing every single day.
CM: Skylar, it has really been a pleasure learning more about you as a cannapreneur, SKY as a cannabis producer and dispensary, and about the cannabis industry through your eyes.
Anything else you’d like to share with us that you haven’t already but would like our readers to know?
Skylar: Thank you for your time.
I am committed to being a positive figure in the industry and to inspiring others to be the best version of themselves every day!
I also just want to share how humbled I am to be part of the entire team: from our growers to our budtenders to our core operating team. And because of them, I get to connect to customers and patients whose health and wellness have been drastically changed in amazing ways. It’s like a dream come true, every single day!