Mireille Tessier (AKA Mimi) is one half of the dreamy Edmonton-based retailer, Daikoku. With her husband, William, the couple moved from Quebec to Alberta in July 2018 with their sights set on opening a cannabis retail store. Today, Daikoku has become a regular neighbourhood fixture, and home to some of the most knowledgeable budtenders, and if you look close enough… unique touches like miniature homemade dollhouses
Entrepreneur, trailblazer, cannabis retail leader, whatever you want to call her, here are 9 questions with Mireille Tessier:
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1 - You’re an entrepreneur who’s had multiple business ventures. What inspired you to open a cannabis store?
My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. It was terminal. During the course of her illness, we also discovered that she was allergic to narcotics. (Opioids are always the first medications that are tested to ease cancer symptoms.) When I asked her treating doctor “Why not weed?” I was informed that it would be a bad idea to make someone who has lung cancer smoke something.
I realized then that there was a LOT to do in terms of educating people. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking of rolling a joint for my mom. But I was thinking of potentially cannabis oils, homemade topicals, soft gels. But the stigma was so strong against cannabis people that a doctor refused to consider it.
I want to help destroy that stigma, so that people who would be in a position like my mom’s could have alternatives that aren’t shunned by the majority. In this sense, I was incredibly inspired by the story behind Charlotte’s Web.
2 - Any tips for someone looking to open a retail store?
Learn. Everything. You. Can. Understand why cannabis is so personal to each individual, be open-minded and get ready to pivot so much you’ll be dizzy at the end of the first week.
3 - What was your experience during your first year of opening? Any surprises?
We moved from Montreal to Edmonton to open Daikoku, so our biggest surprise was how much we fell in love with Edmonton. Especially the people. Edmontonians might probably be the friendliest, nicest Canadians. And everyone here has such great stories. Being a dispensary, we get to connect with people in a special way. While we can’t talk about weed’s properties, people who shop for weed have their own history with it. They have certain expectations as to effects and smells, so it’s fun educating as to why they love certain lineages more than others or why some products seem to give better results than others.
4 - What trends are you seeing with customers in Edmonton?
Flower reigns as supreme Queen. Obviously, we’re still getting a lot of the “What’s the highest THC you’ve got for the cheapest price?” but the conversation is (slowly) shifting from “Quality = High THC” to “Quality is a result of a lot of factors.” I thought we would see more love for hereditary names, and more outcry when some companies relabel. I’m actually surprised at how few cultivar hunters there are in the regulated market. I’m hoping that will change with time.
5 - What would you like to see more of from LPs?
Freshness. There are a handful of companies that I can reliably say “This bud is squishy” when I open my eighth. It’s gotten better since the industry has moved forward and most have put 2 way humidity packs, but we’ve still got ways to catch up. (I mean, if GOOD BUDS always has fresh bud, why can’t everyone else?)
6 - The cannabis industry is still missing...
7 - Your favourite cannabis ritual is...
Opening the jar, take that first whiff, and take a picture. I send the picture to the team with my initial impressions, from nug density to how it grinds. Using a clean vape, I take my first inhale at a low 365˚, and finish the first bowl at 375˚. I try to tease out the whole terpene image, then I try to detach a part of my mind as I observe my unfettered behaviour for 15 minutes, and report back to the team. It’s a unique way to consume cannabis, and a series of habits I got into as a result of sharing our impressions with the team. We can’t share them at large because of provincial regulations.
8 - Advice to women entering the industry...
Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid that you don’t know enough. Don’t be afraid of the industry. Don’t be afraid to reach out, ask for help, ask for advice. Weed is the single most female industry - we ain’t smoking male plants! - and we have the opportunity to make a new industry a level playing field. So get on - it’s a fun ride.
9 - Why do you think your customers keep coming back to shop at Daikoku?
Well, we have the best team, so that’s a huge reason people keep coming back. It might also be because we’re the only store in town that shows terps on our menu, we don’t have those scroll screen menus, and we highlight local products. Mostly, though, it’s cause we have the very best customers 💛