Expanding The Circle: DAZED in OKC

By James Bridges

The access to be a part of discovering new and inventive ways of building sustainable and profitable businesses has been a pleasure in my career. The luxury of witnessing new and inventive ways of operating to be unique and sustainable, greatly supersedes the traditional and more conservative business models of incorporating a more corporate structured work force.

DAZED is no different. As a matter of fact, Haitham, Libby, Jamal, Chris and the team at DAZED have proven, thus far, that traditional business woes may be something that some “leaders” tend to add to the overall platter. Some might say that these traditional woes were placed in order to feel as if there is more structure. Perhaps this would make it simple for ownership to manage and give an overall driving means-to-another chapter. Either way, both philosophies are interesting. My question would be, which has the most positive return? 

When we arrived I was not surprised at all to find exactly what was in my imagination. It’s not hard to imagine, yet it seems so hard for many in society to obtain. Imagine this: You are going to go into a giant building that was designed by a bunch of longtime buddies. They are given a mission. That mission is to have the most fun that they possibly can have while creating the most exciting products that they can possibly conceive and only do this with true friends.

However, I would suggest that you do not stop reading under the assumption that the entire story had already unfolded. Co-owners Haitham Abuamarah, Libby Abuamarah, Jamal Ghamrawi, and Chris Adkins have more to tell.

   “I’d rather have four or five people that we can all really trust, rather than a bunch of employees filling spots.” Haitham Abuamarah, owner of DAZED, was passionate about his motivations from the start. However, I must say that the passion was not far away from a very large and authentic smile upon his face.

“Our main goal was just to push good stuff out and see what happens. It kind of just snowballed from there. We had no intention of getting to grow. Thankfully, It came, it came to us, you know what I mean? Everything made sense and it happened. So our main ‘goal’ was that we wanted to be fully integrated. So every time it came to implementing the grow, it just wasn’t in the timing. Until now…”

In the early days of DAZED operations, a list of goals would have easily shifted into a wishlist of sorts. Those certainly tend to leave off some of the items when being fulfilled. However, with DAZED the list wasn’t really that “confusing”.

“Yeah. I would say we’re really big on being organic. It’s amazing what happens when you just let it be.”  Jamal knew the operation like the back of his hand. He had been around since the beginning.

“Do you see that plastic table right there?” Haitham gestured over to a table on the other side of the spacious lab. The table had a cart machine on top of it that sat in an ever ready position to create magic. “It was just me and my cousin. Okay? Of course when I was sitting in here making carts, I was like, Man, fuck yeah. I need more employees. You know what I mean? I knew, more importantly, that I needed five people that are gonna come here and apply the same passion that I have.”

He was remembering, vividly, the days of quiet inside of the room. Only the thoughts of what his abilities as an organizer and a leader could do inside of a new and rewarding industry flowing through his thoughts.

Haitham was visibly proud of the team that they had assembled. The results were proof enough. “I think that we found that team of people that bring everything they have to the table. We are obviously still learning every day. Like with everything, small steps, and there’s small layers. More tables, another machine, another light fixture or two, and then there’s growing the plant. It’s just literally baby steps and I love it.

Before. All this, it was just us and we were just selling, you know, to all these stores that we had relationships with. We weren’t trying to get more, it was just more simple for us. We were just doing our daily routines. It just seemed like it was normal everyday stuff, right?

We weren’t even really knocking on doors much, I mean, we were, but we were just catering to the people that we had already built a relationship with. We weren’t doing the marketing. We were just fulfilling the orders that we had.

We were getting by, I guess, with that, and we were just happy. Then organic growth started happening.”

Haitham described the past few quarters as if they were on a mountain climbing expedition almost by chance. The thrill of it all seemed to be the fact that they were conquering that summit with what seems to be a natural progression of sorts. This may be the force that propels them to the other side in order to look for more hills to climb.

“The cool thing about that is, Haitham continued, it’s like you start to figure out that you don’t need to change at all. No. You just keep doing the same thing that you’re good at doing, and as long as you can focus on remembering that staying true to what you know works. As long as it actually works then that is the secret. So I think, honestly, that’s what I am saying. I never changed it. But me myself, I have never changed because my success seems to have yet to click inside of my own head.

So every day stuff is still the same stuff since when we started. We all are the same people that we were before we started doing this. Yeah, it’s still family oriented vibes and that’s the way we like it to be. Simple.

Me and my wife Libby have been together for 10 years now. She’s probably thinking the same thing that I do. She sees me do this and I see her doing her thing and it’s like, you know, us doing it. It’s just crazy to us. 

So, Wow. It hasn’t been like anything has changed. So it’s a really humbling experience. I’m happy where we’re at. We also have two awesome kids together, so that’s cool.”

Oklahoma born and raised, Chris Adkins, is the lead cultivator for DAZED. Chris and the team grew up together and were longtime friends. “We’ve just been boys ever since middle school. We’ve worked together, you know, coming out of high school. We all did construction together, and so we know how we flow with one another.”

“It’s good that we had that prior experience together. We’re all familiar with one another, you know, each other’s bad habits.” Chris chuckled as we walked through the rooms of enchantment.

As we made our way through the operation, I started to notice the very thing that they had all been talking about without really pinpointing it. This was specifically the beautiful plants themselves.

The wonderful selection of a variety of strains grew before my eyes.

“Just treat them right!” Chris’s enthusiasm shook me from my daydream in the garden. “Make them happy, you know, Chris grinned while holding a fan leaf,  and they’ll treat you right in return.” 

Easier said than done.

Chris was standing in the middle of a room created by the team that was capable of turning out some of the better flower you can find in the state of Oklahoma. Something many people only dream about. This house full of medicine is coming and it is not going to stop anytime soon. If everything they had been speaking about was true, then I do believe. There’s a thought pattern that many people live by. The outcome that I am witnessing at the DAZED level is very encouraging. So much so that I may have to give into the thought of surrendering to my own surroundings in order for the natural flow of positivity to flourish. 

Many highly “intelligent” people have wished for much more by utilizing the same tactics. Why wouldn’t this work for any situation?

“If I could harvest 3lbs per light, then we’d be golden.” Chris explained, “Right now we’re sitting at about 2 lbs per light. So if we could get to 3, the golden number.  I wanna make sure we still have quality along the way first, then bump everything up from there. The way I make sure is by implementing mostly minor adjustments to the overall environment. We want to make the plant as happy as she can be.”

When we returned to speak with the rest of the crew, the entire team seemed to gel. 

“Instead of going ‘All-In’ to start, Haitham wanted to express, “We put our fillers out there in the industry and made our connections. We earned our funding by doing that. We put it together and said, “Okay, well let’s start this company.”

“We started as patients. It was, three years ago, I was doing construction work and I was going to a dispensary with my med card buying, you know, a product and it hit me. I was like, I. I know what these guys want. They come home from work. They’re, you know, tired, exhausted. They don’t wanna spend their whole check. They got families or whatever the case is. So we were looking at all these brands and all these markets and you know, we were like, hey, why don’t we just come in and create that same product that these guys are charging X amount for, and give it to the people at the price point that they can afford.

So they’re not dropping an arm and a leg every time they go into a dispensary to buy the product. So that’s why we’re catching up with skews. At first, it started with carts, then we went to live resin carts, live resin pre. Now we’ve got an entirely vertical operation. We’re gonna give out the flower at that price point to where people are happy and they can have good medicine without having to sacrifice for a better price.

We really come from blue collar roots. That’s really near and dear to our heart. I know everybody says the best product, the best price. We are very passionate about it.”

The entire team seemed to be on the same page. At first I wondered if they may have been speaking in the same vein because they were all together. However, once I was able to speak with them individually, I quickly realized there was no rehearsal day for this interview. These professionals knew exactly what path they were on and none of them seemed to be distracted. 

“Enjoy it, Haitham looked directly at me as if he were talking to this piece of paper and all those who would lay eyes upon it, “Enjoy the ride, baby. Yeah. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the process of shit.”