Some people are born to lead, born to create, born to build and bring people together. We're all capable of learning how to lead and how to create something new. In the right environment, with great teachers and role models, we can do incredible things. But, some people have no choice; they find a way to lead and create because that's the only way they know how to be themselves. What's remarkable about creators is they can operate in almost any environment. Give them a bit of time, and they'll create, lead and build something new from nothing.
The motivators for creators vary; some are driven by solving problems, others by the reward and status. But some creators are driven by a customer they know they can serve, a customer they can help and bring joy and happiness to. Nick Wavy, the owner of Wavy Buds is driven by his customers, and his customers know he cares.
I think part of why Nick cares so much is that he started as a creator in social media. And social media is simply about knowing your audience. Knowing what they want, and developing compelling content that makes them want to come back, engage and share. If you do this well, you'll have a loyal following of supporters, friends, allies, homies, and everyone in between that trusts you and respects your hustle. Because they know you care about them, and in return, they care about you.
To me, it's not about the money. Carrying ourselves with integrity gets recognized by people and I think that's why we do well as a team.
When the pandemic hit, Nick Wavy needed to pivot his business. Because he knew his customers well, combined with his knowledge of cannabis, he successfully transitioned into the cannabis industry by staying true to who he was. And in return, he's built a loyal customer base that has allowed him to open three cannabis retail locations in less than two years.
Nick's formula is simple, know your customer, know your cannabis, and bring your friends along with you.
Nick's story is so fascinating we had to interview him to learn about his journey into the cannabis industry and opening three dispensaries during a global pandemic.
What is your background, and how did you come into the cannabis industry?
I come from social media. I started my Youtube channel (Nick Wavy) in 2017. I started out making videos related to a men's hairstyle called 360 waves. It's a hairstyle where you brush your hair down, and it creates a "wave." As the years went by, I changed my hairstyle, and that forced me to create new content. I ventured off into vlogs and pranks, and that grew my channel significantly. I decided to get my 360 waves back, but at the time, I had around 150,000 subscribers. A dream of mine was to create my own hairbrush, so I launched my company and named it Wavy Merch. I sold hair brushes, hair cream and durags, and leveraged my YouTube platform to promote the products. The company did well, and I was able to build capital. When Canada legalized cannabis, I knew it would be a life-changing industry that I felt would be profitable for years to come. I applied for my license, not knowing whether I would receive it or not, and here we are today.
What motivated you to start your current business?
Before Wavy Buds Recreational Cannabis, I opened up a barbershop named Wavy Cuts. I had experience in the hair industry, so I felt like a barbershop would align with Wavy Merch. Unfortunately, the same week I opened my barbershop, COVID-19 took over the world. I was forced to close down with no idea of when I could open again. Barbershops were deemed non-essential, while cannabis stores were classified as essential. It was a no-brainer for me to transition.
Describe a previous failure that was instrumental in developing you as a person, business owner, and entrepreneur?
When I was younger, I put some money in penny stocks and lost it all. I saw the share price continue to go up, so I blindly invested my money without doing enough due diligence. The stock tanked and got delisted, and I lost all my money. I learned at that moment that It would be much more practical for me to invest in myself than other companies. I had no idea what the CEOs were doing. If I invest my money into myself, I know I'll find a way to make it work. Another lesson I learned was the closure of Wavy Cuts. When COVID-19 struck, I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel in regards to when I could open up again. It took me a month of paying reduced rent to realize I needed to transition. I ended up selling the barbershop to recoup some of my investment. The lesson I learned was also to be prepared to transition. Expect and prepare for the unexpected, then execute.
What have you and your company done to develop your culture?
The culture at Wavy Buds all comes down to us as people. I grew up in Scarborough, and my friends come from different ethnicities and cultures. Luckily, I've been able to hire and work with people I've known for almost over a decade. They believe in my vision, and we work well together as a team. We all have our roles, and we execute them gracefully.
What social values do you support, and how do you actively instill them at work?
Honesty and integrity. I can recommend the most expensive strain to my customers, but I find more pleasure in being honest by recommending what I personally use. To me, it's not about the money. Carrying ourselves with integrity gets recognized by people, and I think that's why we do well as a team.
Why do you think your employees like working at Wavy Buds?
I don't act like a "boss." Everyone gets respected and treated the same. I can't do this without them and vice-versa. I play my role as the leader of the operation, and everyone plays their part by following along. I believe everyone who works for Wavy Buds is a genius in their own way. It's my job to recognize their strengths and utilize them correctly. I have an open-door policy. You can speak to me about any concerns, and I'll do my best to handle them. I value and consider everyone's opinion. I try to be flexible with the schedule. Everyone gets paid on time. I buy lunch for everyone. It's not bad working over here!
How do you engage with your customers?
My team and I always try to engage with customers on a personal level. We sell the same cannabis as every store in the city, so there has to be something about us that stands out. The reason why we do well is because we don't try hard to engage or relate with the customers. We just be ourselves, and everyone's personality at Wavy Buds is likeable and enjoyable. I used to work every day by myself at our Scarborough location. I was able to establish good relationships with the customers by just being myself and caring. I don't work at that location anymore, but I definitely miss the community and the people.
What effective sales, marketing, and social media strategies have you used to attract customers, develop your brand, and increase customer loyalty?
To be honest, we haven't utilized any of those strategies. We just be ourselves to build a good relationship with the customers. We also smoke a lot of cannabis ourselves. We try all the new products that come in, which leads to us being able to give honest reviews to customers. If something has been sitting on our shelves for a long time, I won't push the sale to customers. I'll give them my honest review on the product, which justifies our pricing. Customers appreciate that honesty. Coming from social media, I've also built a respectable platform. A lot of people support my brand and everything I stand for.
How do you differentiate your product and services compared to your competitors?
Everyone who works at Wavy Buds consumes cannabis. We test out all of our products and don't focus so much on profit margins. We make sure the products we carry are high quality. Every employee has manners and is sociable. Customers are able to recognize these traits, which make them enjoy our service.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the cannabis industry?
Plan long term. This isn't a get-rich scheme that everyone thinks it is. The business is fierce and a lot of your competitors will have more funding than you. Grow organically. The key is survival. The longer you survive, the more solid and respected your brand will become.
Also, make sure you have a great team around you who can contribute their unique skills to your vision.