Pillars of Green Enterprise: Aaron Clay Talks Diversification, Education, and Community

For the people who watch his Grower’s Tip of the Day video on social media, Aaron Clay has been an invaluable font of wisdom — and practical advice — for all things cannabis. The proprietor of the Flowers Cannabis Company has been making these short reels daily for the past three years, sharing selflessly what he’s learned about the plants, the industry, and the community he’s a part of.

For Aaron, cannabis is more than just business. After breaking his back in 2012, he found himself in need of pain management. Like many people, he was referred to a pain management clinic. From there, he followed a path that cost many people everything they had.

“I became badly addicted to Oxycontin,” he recalls. “I don’t know how I survived my addiction, but I did. And I was able to replace those pills with pot. I was able to put weed over pills, plants over pills.”

Since then, he’s made it his mission to give people an alternative to those drugs. He started the company that would eventually become the Flowers Cannabis Company in 2019 under a name he later had to change due to trademark infringement. As a shrewd businessman — Aaron owns several non-cannabis companies, too — he quickly saw that doing only one thing could not survive in the growing industry many were flocking to.

“I’ve got processing labs put in place now. I have multiple dispensaries up and running now. I’m fully vertically integrated in the cannabis game,” Aaron explains. “The first four years, I grew and sold flowers. I only had one product, and I would not survive that way. So now we’re processing, we make extracts, wax, resin, and all that. And that gives us a new playing field.”

Like many other cannabis businesses, Flowers Cannabis Company has experienced a windfall during the early days of the pandemic. With people at home and facing a grim reality, many turned to legal cannabis to relax and manage the anxieties of those days.

The boom didn’t last too long, however. In 2022, the industry saw a slowdown, especially in established markets where the abundance of products outpaced the demand, leading to a depression of prices in wholesale and resale alike. “30 years ago, we were paying more for cannabis than we’re doing it right now,” says Aaron.

His response to the crisis in the industry wasn’t limited to vertical integration. He coupled it with diversification, opening new venues to generate income from his years of experience in the industry.

“Another thing I started doing this year was trading in cannabis,” he explains. “I go to all these farms in Oklahoma, and they need to make payroll and might have 100 pounds. I’ll buy those 100 pounds off them, mark it up just a bit, and resell it.”

Consulting is another venue where Aaron’s expertise helped his business stay afloat during challenging times. He can provide anything from plant genetics to SOPs to a wealth of hands-on experience to people who want to start their farms. And in those cases, his service is crucial for any fledgling business, especially when the market’s becoming more saturated.

“If you get that consultant hired, he’ll guide you across the finish line. That’s what his job is: to make sure that all the SOPs are followed properly. And that would be my number one recommendation, the number one tip I could give anybody, is to find a good consultant,” he says. “Education costs money, and the school of hard knocks is very expensive. So it’s much better if you get somebody on your team from the start.”

Throughout all of his activities in the industry, Aaron Clay brings in a communal and a spiritual component. He is a believer, so it never sat well with him that the Church has tabooed cannabis or even shunned people who liked to use it. As a successful entrepreneur who also works in cannabis, he’s been able to slowly change the minds of people in the community and beyond.

“When I go to church, I’ll have a lot of the elders in charge that you never thought would be even curious about,” Aaron explains. “But every time I go to church, that’s the first thing that they want to talk to me about. They don’t care about my heating and air or my other businesses. They want to talk to me about my cannabis business because they know we’re making medicine.”

Aaron can always be found close to his main dispensary in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, for people interested in reaching out to him. Even though he launched a snazzy new website at flowersbrandok.com, he’s still a guy who likes to meet the people who appreciate what he grows.

“I’m just glad to be part of the ride. You know, I enjoy it. I love my job,” Aaron says. “Every day, I get up, come to work, and am in my garden. I see all my babies growing. It’s such a rewarding job. Then, when I go out trading cannabis, I’ll drive all over Oklahoma and see all the different things, and I’m picking flowers and meeting people. So I look forward to my job every day.”

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