In general, I wish I knew a lot more about what it takes to run a successful cannabis business because I can assure you that it is not easy. It’s very expensive, and it is sometimes very overwhelming but at the end of the day, like anything else, if you work hard at it and really have motivation and are determined to do something, hopefully you will get it done and work harder to get closer to your end goal. Time really does move fast, believe it or not, and you will eventually will get to where you need to be.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Todd.
Brooklyn-born and raised, Alex Todd has been the personal jeweler for A-list stars such as Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Rihanna, Kevin Hart, etc. and handled all the prestigious Roc-a-Fella and Paper Planes chains that are the staple of Roc Nation athletes/entertainers like Big Sean, Fabolous, etc. In 2019, Todd announced the launch of Saucey Farms and Extracts, a luxury cannabis brand with an array of premium grade cannabis products. As part of the launch, Alex partnered with close friend and hip-hop artist Jim Jones on an exclusive line of cannabis products called CAPO — named after Jim’s Dipset moniker — that lives under the Saucey Farms and Extracts umbrella.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path and why you moved into the cannabis space?
Originally, I was a big advocate for cannabis over the last 25 years, enjoying it and using it for my own medical benefits. About 5 years ago when states started to legalize, I saw the opportunity to bridge a gap between the culture and the suits of the business. It just felt like the perfect time to get involved — plus, I was getting sick of the industry I was in and kind of felt like I reached a point where I needed to eliminate myself from it and try a new career path.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started Saucey?
I teamed up with Jim Jones, and now we’re partners in Saucey. We have a great partnership; we both have a long-term vision in mind and we are not worried about getting a bag every week. We both have the same agenda in looking to move the company forward, and hopefully in the next couple of years, our intense labor and hard work will come to fruition.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When Saucey began to start really hitting its pace and rocking and rolling, we were in over 100 dispensaries. We were working with a distribution company that used a certain lab that no longer exists, and they didn’t store products correctly. It basically started a recall of our products with 100 stores. That was definitely not fun, but was probably the most memorable experience in this business. It set us back quite some time, but you know, it’s good that I am still here and we can tell the story about it and laugh about it, hopefully in the future.
The huge lesson to learn from that experience is that you have to deal with reputable companies. We were fresh in the industry and just launched a couple of months prior to that, and working with a new distribution company and new testing facility that obviously didn’t know what they were doing. I would just recommend for anyone who is reading this to just really do your due diligence on labs and distros you are working with, and make sure they have the proper experience. We were lucky to survive that, but I would say 90% of the companies that are out there would not have been able to survive, especially on limited funding.
What do you think makes Saucey stand out?
The quality of the product, and attention to detail — from the packaging, to the actual product, to the
nuances of full spectrum of cannabinoids, and just scientific factors that go into us picking out which products we put out there. Also, just in general the limited availability of the product because of how we go after the top quality out there. We go for the top, the best of the food chain, and we just make sure to promote a superior product.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, we have a couple of new products that we released in Oregon. We recently released some gummies and Saucey Lean, which is meant to serve as a healthier alternative to lean without the addictive qualities and side-effects — we’re trying to get people away from the opioid. We’re excited to be working on some new edibles for California. We have a bag of smalls that we’ll be releasing — like a half ounce bag of flower that is already small, that people can just roll up, at a cheaper price point. We also have a pack of 12 pre-rolled joints that we’re working on, for those that don’t want to smoke a whole joint to themselves — we call them shorties. We also have a bunch of other cool projects and developments, including a drink that we’re working on right now to match with the tincture sauce that we’re putting out. So we’re excited to have a bunch of really cool things in development — we are planning to really, really crush it this year.
How do you define “Leadership”?
I would define leadership as someone that leads by example. Someone that is willing to do the little things, and willing to do everything that is needed to get done, from the top to the bottom. A leader should be someone that motivates their team, and is able to show by example. Someone that shows empathy for their employees’ needs, and takes into account what they want to accomplish with the company.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs about managing a team and a company?
Try to hire great and smart people around you — you really are as good as your team, and if your team isn’t strong, there’s no foundation. I would recommend finding people that are smarter than you — I can guarantee that you are not the smartest person out there — and hiring those people. If you surround yourself with smart people, you can feed off of them, and feed off of each other.
Is there anyone in particular that helped you get to where you are that you’re grateful for?
I’m grateful for my mom, wife, kids, family, brother… my partners in this whole thing obviously play a big role. Juan from Roc Nation, OG Juan, Pauly, my brother, my PR team. We have a big foundation, it’s not just me.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I firmly believe in giving back, and I don’t really like to talk about what we do or give on a personal level because when you’re giving, it shouldn‘t be talking about what you do — you do it for yourself, and you don’t need to publicize it. JAY-Z says it best: the best charity is from anonymous to anonymous, and I just don’t think we need to talk about all the great things we do.
What I can tell you is that if you look back at our past — from turkey drives to toy drives, to our regular donations to REFORM Alliance — a criminal justice organization focused on probation and parole — we try to do as much as we can and will continue to push that envelope. And we’ll continue to do that as long as this company exists, and as long as I am involved in the company.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
YOLO — you only live once. Enjoy every day, every minute and every second because as you can see, every day is not promised. Live your life and enjoy it, and just go at it as if it could be your last.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Saucey” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- How much money would be needed to start this, and the funding required to actually make it successful.
- How hard it actually is to grow a quality product. People going into this industry always take for granted how hard it is. When you’re just a smoker, you think, “oh, that’s good,” but we don’t see what goes into making a final product: the development, making new products and strains, and just growing good strains in general. And even just being able to grow is hard: anyone can throw a plant into the ground, but to be able to do it properly and to continue the process — from the curing, to hanging and drying and trim process — is extremely difficult. I wish someone had told me how difficult it really was before we got involved.
- The amount of heat that is involved when it comes to other competitors. I think there is a lot of animosity and red tape involved that shouldn’t be there.
- How difficult it is to manage employees. I never really had to worry about how to manage so many employees before, and how many you would really need. There are a lot of nuances, and you don’t really realize how many employees you are really going to need to run an efficient business. I wish someone had told me more about that because as of right now, at my brother’s farm out in Oregon, we have about 40–50 people that are working there every single day — and sometimes, even double that, so it is a lot of employees. And that’s not counting the sales and marketing, and other auxiliary workers that are part-time workers that are designing and doing all kinds of work besides actual touching of the plant, so it gets very complicated.
- In general, I wish I knew a lot more about what it takes to run a successful cannabis business because I can assure you that it is not easy. It’s very expensive, and it is sometimes very overwhelming but at the end of the day, like anything else, if you work hard at it and really have motivation and are determined to do something, hopefully you will get it done and work harder to get closer to your end goal. Time really does move fast, believe it or not, and you will eventually will get to where you need to be.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I have been very blessed in my life to say that anyone that I have really wanted to sit down with and have a discussion with, I have been able to do that, honestly speaking, which is pretty amazing to say. But if there was anyone out there that is alive right now that I haven’t been able to do that with yet, it would be Elon Musk.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!