The Sira Spotlight series focuses on one of the most interesting aspects of Sira Naturals: our people. Each month, we highlight members of our staff from across the entire organization.
In this Sira Spotlight, we are highlighting our Needham Assistant Management Team, Anthony Kaczynski, Emily Robinson, and Natasha Belmont Rose, to learn about their roles helping to oversee the dispensary operations at Sira Needham.
(Pictured above from left to right: Natasha Belmont Rose, Anthony Kaczynski, and Emily Robinson)
What is your role at Sira?
Anthony: I’m one of the assistant managers at our Needham dispensary.
Emily: Assistant manager!
Natasha: Assistant manager at our Needham location.
How long have you been a part of the Sira Team?
Anthony: I joined Sira Naturals in January of 2019 at the Somerville location.
Emily: Just over 2 years!
Natasha: I joined Sira in October 2020.
How has your past experience informed your current role at Sira?
Anthony: I ran and co-owned a court reporting agency from 1993 through late 2018, although it still exists in reduced form. Being a business owner gave me a unique perspective on how to run a going concern, and the checks and balances that I had to put into place at Kaczynski Reporting are not that different in theory than what we do at Sira for compliance. I also have been using cannabis since 1972, and I am obviously delighted that it is now legal and able to help people.
Emily: Thankfully I’ve had over a decade of retail experience before I came in to Sira, and that certainly helped. I learned a lot about what not to do on the way up! Learning to be open and a good listener has been the most beneficial so far.
Natasha: I fell in love with the cannabis industry five years ago. I started as a PA and worked my way to General Manager with a shop in Los Angeles. This incredible learning journey taught me to invest time in those around me and advocate for the growth of the industry, community, and education.
What skills, qualifications and experience does it take to join the Sira Retail Team? Do you need prior cannabis experience?
Anthony: I did not have prior cannabis experience before coming to Sira, but the on-the-job training is great, and allows new employees to learn on the go. What’s important is for a new patient advocate to have cash handling skills and experience, great attention to detail, and a willingness to continually learn. Prior retail experience is invaluable in dealing with the patient population, but the most important attribute is the ability to truly listen and connect with patients and their needs.
Emily: Certainly, retail experience helps, but this company does such a great job of making sure everyone receives all the necessary knowledge. Prior cannabis experience doesn’t hurt, but everyone here is so willing to share their knowledge and information that you won’t feel left out if you’re unsure!
Natasha: You do not need prior cannabis experience to join the Sira team. If you are willing to learn and are excited about cannabis, we are thrilled to teach. Sira’s training is built to set you up for success! Retail and cash handling experience certainly help!
What type of training is involved in the onboarding process of new hires?
Anthony: Cash handling, product knowledge, compliance, Leaf Logix, check-in and curbside procedures, and Needham and CCC regulations, for starters.
Emily: SO MUCH! But it’s all-important and relevant! There’s of course some reading and following along with modules, but one of the great things about training in retail is that it’s always easier to digest once you can put it into action, and there’s always action!
Natasha: We have a handful of informational modules we go through first. Then you get to spend time in each position - learning the steps, policies, and procedures and getting hands on experience until you’re comfortable!
What policies and practices has the team put in place to encourage social distancing and stop the spread of COVID-19?
Anthony: I think Sira has been great at implementing a consistent approach to the pandemic. We of course always require all employees and patients to wear masks when in the dispensary; plexiglass shields have been set up at the registers, and the POS areas are fully disinfected and wiped down after every transaction. We are cleaning touch points on an hourly and scheduled basis as well throughout the dispensary. There is clear signage inside and out (near curbside) encouraging social distancing, and there are strict limits on how many people can be inside the dispensary at any given time. And curbside has been a godsend!
Emily: Only having 3 registers on has been super helpful in maintaining social distancing, and I’m already a huge fan of disinfecting, so that’s been especially great. How could I forget DOORSIDE?! What an awesome function to put in to place for patients, especially now!
Natasha: Curbside is an incredible way to encourage social distancing!! Constant disinfecting plus limited capacity is another. Look for floor markers of where to wait!
What’s the most important thing you want patients to take away from their visit to Sira Needham?
Anthony: I want patients to feel that they have been truly heard, and that their questions and concerns are getting straight answers. The atmosphere at Sira is convivial and caring at the same time, and I feel that we provide excellent patient/customer service.
Emily: I want them to take with them the idea that we are always (during hours we’re open) available to answer their questions and help guide them through their cannabis journey—even if that journey doesn’t require many answers.
Natasha: A visit to Sira always provides quality product and a genuinely wonderful experience.
What sets Sira Needham’s experience apart from other dispensaries in the area?
Anthony: Product variety and quality; I hear continually from patients how good our flower, concentrates and edibles are, and our menu is comprehensive. I also think the attention to detail and emphasis on customer service sets us apart.
Emily: I think we genuinely care about providing a wonderful patient experience, even in these fast-paced times, and I believe we always will.
Natasha: Our staff, the passion they have for cannabis, and the kindness they show our patients. Plus, our product is amazing.
What excites you most about working at the Needham Dispensary?
Anthony: I love learning new things, and the promotion to Assistant Manager has given me much more of a sense of the inner workings of running a dispensary. I truly enjoy engaging with our staff and training them, and I always love interactions with patients. I have to remind myself that not that long ago, legal cannabis seemed an impossibility, yet here we are, crushing it!
Emily: THE DISCOUNTS! Jk—honestly, the pace of this dispensary allows for more in depth and thorough conversations with patients who really need that time.
Natasha: I love our team. We empower each other every day to be our best.
Since only Financial Hardship discounts are allowed in Needham due to town regulations, which products do you recommend most for value-seeking patients?
Anthony: The Nantucket Nuggets are a fan favorite and provide the most bang for the buck, $56.00 for a quarter after the discount is applied. They’re a great way for patients to experience both variety AND quantity at an extremely affordable price.
Emily: NANTUCKET NUGGETS, BABY! What a superb way to offer quality product at a lower cost. Patients really dig it.
Natasha: The Nantucket Nuggets are definitely a steal. It’s good quality and always a favorite!
What’s your favorite Sira product and why?
Anthony: Astonishingly, I have yet to get my medical card, although I am well-versed in cannabis usage. I would bet however that Dream Lotus is going to be my favorite strain; I love Blue Dream, and the hybrid sounds right up my alley, as I want to be able to focus while using cannabis.
Emily: I would be lying if I didn’t say Nordic Goddess—it lasts SO long for me, and it’s almost instant relief. And it smells great!
Natasha: The elusive Live Rosin is my jam. That terpy goodness is smooth and potent.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
Anthony: Music is my passion. I am in several bands (Fireking, Trusty Sidekick, and a touring member of The Magnetic Fields for starters), and I am also a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter. I’ve been playing music in one form or another since the mid-1960s (piano lessons began at seven years old), and even though we are in an age where people consume their music digitally via streaming, I insist on the primacy of physical media and have a frankly enormous collection of CDs and LPs. I also love reading, traveling, and exploring new cuisines. I’ll be really happy along with the rest of humanity when the pandemic ends and I can go on the hunt for new restaurants in odd locations.
Emily: Reading, hiking, playing with my cats, and I think I’m about to start teaching myself an instrument—cause why not, right?
Natasha: I love spending time with my dog and very demanding cat, I love good movies, and late-night walks around my neighborhood to soak in Massachusetts! It’s still so new.