Photos courtesy of Etain Health
As one of the state’s original purveyors of medical marijuana, Etain Health is poised to expand from a cottage industry to a family dynasty.
Founded in 2016, Etain Health is one of New York State’s five original licensees to sell medical marijuana and is currently the state’s only such business that is family-run and owned and operated by women. Among its four locations, Etain boasts an upscale retail dispensary in Midtown Manhattan but maintains its corporate offices in Northern Westchester. 914INC. recently sat down with COO Hillary Peckham to learn more about Etain and get a read on the state of the industry.
Please explain the family corporate structure and the origin of your company’s name.
We founded Etain in memory of our grandmother, Frances “Granny Franny” Keeffe, a woman who filled the smallest moments of our lives with music, laughter, and joy. During her battle with ALS, we began researching medical marijuana and discovered all the potential benefits it could provide. Etain is managed by the female members of the Peckham family — Amy Peckham, CEO, Keeley Peckham, CHO, and myself — and we’ve made every effort to bring the compassion and dedication that originally inspired us to enter this industry into our daily endeavors.
As for the name, Etain comes from a major figure in Irish mythology: the original strong, female protagonist. Etain was an unrivaled beauty whose story is one of perseverance and transformation. Like our Granny Franny, she reminds us that no matter the challenges life brings, an enduring spirit will always win out in the end — even if in a new, unexpected form.
Do you feel that being a family-owned-and-run business has helped you achieve your professional goals, and do you see it as an advantage compared with the more commonplace corporate structure?
I think it’s absolutely an advantage to have a family-owned business. By owning our business fully, it means we are able to make decisions about its future, the products we build, and our operations ourselves, without outside interference from other shareholders. Having family work for the company also means you have a team of highly committed people who are there to support each other. Not that being with family all the time doesn’t have some downsides, but since we all get along, I think it’s been one of the best things for the health of our company.
You’ve opened four locations in five years. How were you able to achieve that, and are you anticipating launching more in the near future?
Lots of work! We spent a year planning how we would launch our business before actually acting on anything. That time gave us the opportunity to work with local officials to make sure they were accepting of medical cannabis and of our dispensary locations, and for us to construct a store design and execution plan. Currently, we are allowed a maximum of four stores, but if that ever changes, we would love to expand our footprint through New York.
Every industry has unique challenges. With five years’ experience to reflect on, what do you see as the biggest hurdles to overcome with a business such as yours?
In order to succeed in cannabis, you have to be able to pivot really quickly. It’s a nascent industry, in which the standards are changing all the time. Being able to adapt well has been really important to our success. Being New York’s only family-run, women-owned-and-operated medical-marijuana company has not been without its challenges, but we are thankful to have the support of the community and the patients who’ve grown with us since the beginning.
On March 31, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use and will create a comprehensive bureaucracy to regulate it. When do you think this will go into effect, and are you prepared to adapt your operations in response?
Etain is excited and optimistic about the potential of fully legalized cannabis for New Yorkers. Providing safe access to high-quality cannabis products and helping New Yorkers achieve a better quality of life has been our mission since we began six years ago. We support and commend the writers of the [legalization bill] and are looking forward to what the future holds. As the first and only women-owned licensee in the state, we’re especially excited about the aggressive goals for a diverse and inclusive cannabis industry. However, it takes time to build a new regulatory body, train them, and stand up an entire program. I would expect that there will be many months between now and the start of recreational sales.