Store where you work: Herbal Outfitters

Location of store: Valdez, Alaska

Name: Brandee Martel

Why did you decide to become a budtender: Many years in the service industry and a passion for cannabis led me to become a bud tender.

What’s your favorite part of the job: I enjoy getting to know people traveling from all over and getting to try a variety of new products to help people find the right cannabis product for their needs. I always have fun whenever someone comes in for their first experience with cannabis whether they’re 21 or 91.

What sort of things have you learned on the job: I learn something new every day. From new consumption methods to new products our industry is always evolving.

How do you help a customer who is new to cannabis, or returning after years away: Whether someone is brand new to cannabis or a returning customer I ask a lot of questions to see what they’d like to get out of their experience and try to guide them to a product I think will be a good fit.

What’s the biggest challenge in your job: I think one of the biggest challenges of our industry is trying to combat misinformation and preconceived notions about cannabis. I try to stay well informed so I can pass along correct and relevant information to our customers.

What’s your most memorable job experience: I think my most memorable experience at Herbal Outfitters, I wasn’t working quite yet, but it had to be opening day. It was so exiting to be with my fellow Alaskans waiting to get in!

What’s your personal favorite product among those that you sell: My personal favorite lately has been the infused prerolls. We have a couple different types and they are all delicious. Nice and stoney. 

How long have you been in Alaska, and if from somewhere else, where: I was born and raised in Alaska. I am originally from Fairbanks but have lived in Valdez since 2007.

If you could share a bowl with one famous person in the world, who would it be and why: It might sound a little bit unoriginal but I would love to sit down and have a smoke session with Snoop Dog! I grew up listening to his music and he’s been a big activist for cannabis over the years. 

What are your interests outside of work: When I’m not working I am usually on some kind of adventure with my two dogs, Valdez has plenty of hiking and gorgeous scenery to keep us busy. 

If someone asked you about becoming a budtender, what would you tell them: I would tell them to do it!  Since becoming a budtender I would tell anyone that this industry is the most rewarding & fun industry that I’ve ever been in. I would suggest to anyone who is serious with getting into the cannabis industry to make sure they know and understand the state’s regulations and statues to make their job easier & efficient.

•••

Name: Alexandria Santana

Why did you decide to become a budtender: I got intrigued about the cannabis industry when my grandfather got cancer, and cannabis just had just become legal in Alaska. I was learning about all the benefits of marijuana for cancer patients that helped him during his treatment.

What’s your favorite part of the job: Helping my awesome customers and getting to meet people from all over the world.

What sort of things have you learned on the job: I’ve learned that when it comes to marijuana it doesn’t always solely matter about the THC potency but how each strain is different and can affect you in different ways with regards to the different cannabinoids and terpenes in each individual strain. 

How do you help a customer who is new to cannabis, or returning after years away: I always like to ask my new customers how they would like to consume their products as they step back into consuming, or if it is in fact their first time ever trying cannabis or cannabis infused items. 

What’s the biggest challenge in your job: l Don’t feel like I have one! I’ve learned a lot and I love what I do!

What’s your most memorable job experience: Our Vote No on 1 Campaign. Shortly after the store opened there was opposition from some of the locals, and when the town came together for the actual vote the proposition to close down marijuana licenses in Valdez lost by a landslide!

What’s your personal favorite product among those that you sell: Almost any indica strain.

How long have you been in Alaska, and if from somewhere else, where: I’ve been in Alaska for 25 years. I originally moved from Redlands California as a child. 

If you could share a bowl with one famous person in the world, who would it be and why: Gordon Ramsay. I’d love to be able to get high & then make some bomb food with him. 

What are your interests outside of work: Living in Valdez I like to do outdoor things in the summer. Fishing, hiking, camping, biking, kayaking. Anything outdoors pretty much.

If someone asked you about becoming a budtender, what would you tell them: You have to pass a test to get your handlers card. You have to make sure to know all the rules & regulations, but once that’s done Its one of the most fun jobs you could have! 

•••

Name: Randi McAlister

Why did you decide to become a budtender: I decided to become a budtender to educate myself and become more familiar with the industry. This has led to me being able to help customers in the right direction of what can help them.

What’s your favorite part of the job: Being able to help customers and seeing what really works for them.

What sort of things have you learned on the job: Before working at Herbal Outfitters, I didn’t know a lot about the CBD side of things. After working here, I understand how CBD and marijuana can really help someone in a medical aspect (in my personal opinion because the state is very clear that we’re not licensed professionals like Dr.’s, etc.).

How do you help a customer who is new to cannabis, or returning after years away: When a new or returning customer comes in I would usually start by asking if they are looking for THC or CBD. After that is discussed I figure out how they would like to consume it. If it would be smoked, eaten, vaped, and so on. Once that is decided I would recommend starting out with smaller doses and working their way up if need be. 

What’s the biggest challenge in your job: COVID was something that was a little challenging when it first started. Having to limit people in the shop and keep everyone safe. It was a learning experience, but we have great routine down now to make sure everyone is staying safe.

What’s your most memorable job experience: My most memorable job experience would be a regular occurrence actually. When someone comes back in to the shop and says the products they got before helped them. To see that it can help with pain, anxiety, and much more is an awesome feeling.

What’s your personal favorite product among those that you sell: My personal favorite product would be indica flower strains. I use this in the evenings to wind down after work and help myself sleep.

How long have you been in Alaska, and if from somewhere else, where: I have lived in Alaska for my whole life.

If you could share a bowl with one famous person in the world, who would it be and why: Tracy Chapman! It would be dope to get stoned and listen to her sing some music.

What are your interests outside of work: My interests outside of work are enjoying the hiking and scenery in Valdez. I love being outside when I can & soaking up the sun.

If someone asked you about becoming a budtender, what would you tell them: I would tell them to go for it! It will only benefit the community to have more people educated on marijuana.

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