Cassi Doolittle uses her PR degree and family background in business to manage multiple dispensary locations.
When Cassi Doolittle graduated from University of Oklahoma with a public relations degree, she did not imagine she would end up juggling management duties for what will soon be a total of nine dispensaries.
“I worked in the corporate world for a few years after I graduated, and then I went into the family business at the Oklahoma State Fair, so my background is more so in the food industry,” Doolittle said.
Her family owns and operates Doolittle Sweet Eats, which has held a food contract with the fairgrounds for 55 years.
“My family just has a background in entrepreneurship, and so when we saw this coming down the pike, we started doing our research and visiting other states where it’s legalized and just started from there, and it kind of snowballed,” she said. “Just started gathering as much information about the industry as we could and going to conferences and stuff like that to just gain knowledge and talking to people in the industry. And we just kept going.”
While she did light research for the past two years, she “really dug in” last summer and started attending conferences in Washington, Oregon and Las Vegas.
Fire Leaf now has five dispensaries open, with three in Oklahoma City, one in The Village and one in Norman. Four more are in the works. The first two dispensaries opened in mid-December. Doolittle manages operations for all of them, and Fire Leaf now employs between 50 and 60 people.
“We weren’t, like, the first. We wanted to make sure we got it right before we opened, but we were definitely out there early,” Doolittle said. “I just saw kind of, like, a need in the industry for stores and dispensaries that offer a wider range. A lot of the stores that we were seeing didn’t kind of have a little bit of everything. And I really wanted to be able to offer patients everything I could because everybody’s needs are different. That’s kind of how it started, just feedback from patients on what they wanted. And that’s really, I think, where we’ve been able to fill a need, listening to the patients and trying to get whatever they want.”
Fire Leaf opened with about 15 strains, but now its locations have about 40 different varieties of flower.
“Our whole goal at the beginning was to have options because some people need an indica,” Doolittle said. “There are certain things in flower that different people look for, the terpenes and all that stuff. And so if we have the wide variety, we really feel like we can help more people.”
Dispensaries will soon be open in Edmond and Guthrie in addition to two more Oklahoma City stores.
“Then I think we’re going to relax for a second, take a breath, get some more feedback, really dig in on fine-tuning our operations, and then maybe a different market, maybe Tulsa or smaller towns or something,” she said. “But right now, we want to focus on the metro area. We’re here. I feel like I can have more hands-on here and fine-tune our operation where I’m local. And then we can look at other areas.”
Doolittle is also proud to be advancing her employees.
“I’m moving my employees up. I had one general manager last month; now I have two people that are out of the stores, helping me organize behind the scenes. And I might have three next month,” she said. “So we’re just scaling with it as we grow, so it’s not all falling on me to do everything because I have a great staff and they’re so excited about the industry. They’re motivated themselves. They do research all the time. So that’s definitely been helpful.”
Doolittle started casually smoking cannabis in college and then began consuming more regularly after college.
“I would say two years ago, I thought there’s, like, a possibility. But that’s like rainbows and unicorns — maybe it’s going to happen,” Doolittle said. “It’s been amazing seeing people that are coming out of their shell and getting comfortable with it. There’s a huge need in Oklahoma industry for education — educating patients, educating employees — and there’s not a whole lot of resources in Oklahoma yet for that. You have to either go out of state and go to a conference or they have classes in Colorado and stuff, but Oklahoma, there’s a lot of educational needs. That’s what I would really like to see. The next big push would be education.”