Mimi Lam is the CEO and co-founder of Superette, an award-winning cannabis retailer and lifestyle brand. Beyond expanding Superette’s retail footprint and customer base, she is focused on pushing the industry towards a future that's more inclusive, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and how/why you started Superette? What’s unique about your model compared to other brands in your industry?
Hi! I’m Mimi and I started Superette with my co-founder Drummond Munro in the fall of 2018. As a retail brand at our core, we know that retail experiences (cannabis or not) are the last place where customers can really connect with brands in a meaningful way. However, it felt like cannabis retail was becoming a monoculture, especially in Canada. We started Superette with the idea of being able to have enjoyable and delightful cannabis buying experiences.
What values are you guided by? How do you communicate these values and Superette’s purpose to your community?
Fundamentally, we focused on creating spaces at Superette that are innately familiar. We use familiar elements of retail places such as a supermarket and bodega, so that customers intuitively know how to shop at our stores.
Beyond that, being thoughtful is all-encompassing - from engaging with our local neighbourhood via community service and exploring ways to make our operations more environmentally sustainable, thinking through each detail of the in-store experience to ensure that our customers have a truly unforgettable experience.
How important is sustainability in the cannabis space? Any tips for consumers who are looking for responsibly sourced cannabis products?
Sustainability is critically important in the cannabis space, and to be honest, the legal cannabis industry as a whole and in every step of the value chain. Customers can vote with their dollars and research to figure out who and what they are supporting. If this is important to you, you can educate yourself and look for producers that have cultivating and processing practices that use less energy (i.e. outdoor vs greenhouse vs indoor) or make it a priority to utilize natural resources like rainwater in their operations. Also, the amount of single-use plastics in this industry is embarrassing, so seek out brands that use biodegradable or recyclable packaging.
Superette’s branding is epic! From the brick & mortar store, to the packaging, to the online experience, how do you ensure all touchpoints with customers feel cohesive and on-brand?
Thank you! Even before we started Superette and had our first store, we partnered with Design of Brand and spent a lot of creative energy on building the framework of what we wanted to share with this world as a brand. As we grow as a business, we have expanded on the initial vision and visual framework, but always focus on being cohesive so that the audience can grow with us
Tell us a bit about how you made your decision for packaging?
We reflected on how we could reduce our green footprint at the stores, the first item that had a huge volume and cost was our bags. We were buying plain brown paper bags that needed to be stamped with our logo. The combined costs of labour to imprint the bags, wholesale cost and shipping of the bags was a lot more expensive than we realized.
During our research to find more sustainable options for our shops, we landed on the noissue website. We were impressed by the positive impact that noissue was making in the ecommerce world where packaging is viewed as wasteful. The collaboration together produced Superette’s fun bags that are currently in store.
What are your key sources of inspiration as a business owner? What resources, mentors, influences do you look to?
This sounds a little cheesy, but my inspiration is our team. Everyone brings a tremendous amount of passion and their own unique skills and talent. I am constantly learning from them and knowing that I get to do cool things everyday with such a great crew is what I look forward to most in my days.
In terms of resources and influences, I do a lot of reading and listening to podcasts on different topics. My daily podcast rotation is How I Built This, The Daily, Harvard Business Review Ideacast, and Rich Roll.
I recognize that I have a lot to learn, so am constantly trying to learn more, whether that be creating a more inclusive workplace to new trends in retail branding. Also, learning from other founders’ stories is really helpful in getting insights on how they dealt with specific challenges or scaled their business.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to small business owners or entrepreneurs who are just getting started?
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you will face constant challenges and setbacks, as well as distractions that might take you away from your values and purpose. My advice is don’t lose sight of why you started your business and what you stand for.
Learn more about the brand and get a taste for the Superette experience on their website!
More about Mimi: Mimi Lam is the CEO and co-founder of Superette, an award-winning cannabis retailer and lifestyle brand. Beyond expanding Superette’s retail footprint and customer base, she is focused on pushing the industry towards a future that's more inclusive, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly. Mimi is a founding member of the Ontario Policy Cannabis Council and is part of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s National Cannabis Working Group.