From Budtender to Business Owner

It’s Saturday morning and I’m milling my way around the kitchen of one of my best friends, Daron Coon, the owner and creator of C4 Canna Burst. His house is a solid reflection of his personality. Functional, unassuming, meticulously cared for, and exactly what is needed for his purpose; no more, no less. Frankly, the messiest thing in his house is probably me, the shirtless Guido wandering around his kitchen hoping to steal one of his few remaining Gatorades.

Daron and I have a plan to record a podcast in a few hours. He’s already up and at work prepping Mondays orders. His plan is to come home at lunch, chat with me, then head back to the commercial kitchen he works in to finish out the day’s tasks. Sounds like a lot, and it is. These are reasonable growing pains when you create a product that’s surging in popularity. The work doesn’t bother Daron. Frankly, it doesn’t seem to even phase him. But, after being friends with him and working with him for this long, it shouldn’t surprise me.

We met about six years ago when the two of us were both sales reps for an edibles company. Daron has always been a worker, the type of guys who’s genuinely bothered by leaves on his street or a half finished paint job on a neighbor’s house. He’ll be the first to knock on your door and offer to help you finish the project, whether it be out of kindness or OCD, the fact that it’s a nice gesture is the real point of the story.

A little over two years ago it became clear to Daron and myself that our time working for the company that introduced us to one another was coming to an end. This is also when I started receiving nightly midnight phone calls from him excitedly telling me about some breakthrough he had made while teaching himself to make candy in his tiny kitchen. It was during these mad scientists days that Daron began laying the groundwork for what would later become the C4 Canna Burst line. It was also the only time in my life I’ve felt genuine kinship with the character Dr. Watson from Sherlock Holmes. Seeing genuine passion and obsession pour out of someone close to you is a very interesting thing to be in the orbit of. You’ll realize real quick that most of us don’t work as hard as we think we do.

Countless kitchen test batches, branding mock ups, and a few pretty gnarly sugar burns later Daron had built his very own cannabis edible company. At its inception C4 was a well priced and unknown fruit chew line. The cannabis industry is pretty jaded; no one really gets excited about anything anymore. Another dude with another edible, who cares? I’ve been both a rep and a buyer for a cannabis dispensary. If anyone should have empathy for cannabis sales reps, it’s me. Still, I’ve dismissed quite a few of them for stuff that had nothing to do with their product or them as people. It’s just hard to keep giving a shit at this age in the industry.

Again, the work didn’t bother Daron. Having a few existing relationships within the industry, Daron was able to start getting himself some shelf space in shops around the state. Weather it was his good natured demeanor, his persistence, or the solid quality of his product, the number of stores carrying C4 began to build. More stores carrying the product meant more customers were seeing the product. After over a year of work, the table was set for his research and planning to be put to the test.

Daron had done his homework and it was about to begin paying off in a real way. He’d really thought of everything. The name C4 stands for Carefully Crafted Cannabis Creations. Five different flavors meant more options for customers. Offering Sativa, Indica, Hybrid and CBD options boosted his skew count to 20. The compact and sleek boxes, which on their own seem like a fun combination of form and function,in actuality worked together to create a billboard effect in stores. This peaked interest, but didn’t overwhelm. All of this came from his close attention to the lessons he learned while working for other people and using online services to outsource the tasks that he himself was not qualified for.

As of the composition of this article, C4 is ranked as the 8th highest selling edible line in the Washington market. Daron, never one to rest on his laurels (or on anything, for that matter) has even more products coming on the market. His two pack of edibles which he calls “dub” packs came out most recently and frankly they sum up one of the things I love most about him as a person. This guy remembers a time in his life when he has $5 to spend and he made a product that people feel like they chose to get with that budget and not a product they feel like they are settling for. There are options for that price point on the shelves in most stores, but they really feel like an afterthought. Daron made a product that looks and feels intentional, because it is.

Cannabis is a crazy business. It’s a new frontier populated by people attracted to a new and exciting market as well as people who are doing the same thing they have always done, just legally now. Watching these two groups coexist is never boring, and it will be interesting to watch the pure outlaw types slowly fade out of the spotlight of the industry. But before the cannabis millennials begin snap clapping for one another and nerfing  every rough edge of the market, we’re about to see a resurgence of the everyman/woman who wants to work hard and make a good life for themselves and their families. The type of people who remember what it's like to be a person on a budget, know the value of standing by their word, and don’t forget that, without the customers’ support, they would not be in business. Daron is one of those people, his products are stellar and so is his character. Next time you have a chance to vote with your dollar in the Washington cannabis market, give C4 a try. You won't be disappointed by the product or the people who make it.