Women to Watch: Christy Rayfield-Kosem
Christy Rayfield-Kosem is a queen of all trades. Aside from being the Director of Sales for OG Yields, she is a busy working wife, mom, and stepmom. She and her husband raise four boys together and spend most of their time at the gym or rooting for their boys on the field and ice. She loves to cook and have a nice glass of wine. Her friends tease her and say “You can take the girl out of wine, but you can’t take the wine out of the girl.”
Rayfield-Kosem started with OG Yields in November of 2021.
She says she always starts her day with a workout and a review of the inventory. Her job consists of making calls, sending emails, and check-ins with the CEO. There are lunches with colleagues and buyers, and a lot of administrative work.
“You may catch me dropping pizza or lunch of some kind off, in gratitude, to a dispensary or riding along with one of my awesome sales reps.”
To Christy, being a part of sales for the cannabis industry doesn’t differ much from sales in any other industry, aside from being more exciting in current times.
“We are fortunate to be living in this time and working in this industry, we are changing people’s lives, bettering society and making history one election at a time. I sold wine for a long time, and the parallels are crazy, yet very different at times too. This is an industry like any other at the end of the day, you don’t have to take pharmaceuticals to know how to sell them, you don’t have to use a power tool all day every day to know how to sell them, you just have to know your product and why your customer should buy it over the one the person next to you is selling. Sure, there are industry-specific protocols and etiquette, but overall, it’s a sales job like any other. It’s building relationships, staying in front of your customers, knowing your products, pricing them fairly and keeping your word.”
Rayfield-Kosem struggled to list just one reason that she loves working for OG Yields. She listed OG Yields being a Missouri-owned company and what the brand represents among the things she values most.
“I love that we are small, yet mighty.”
As a company, OG Yields boasts a diverse portfolio, Sundro serves as the flagship premium brand, Atta is a fun and playful brand, and Bad Pony Concentrates pulls high-level concentrates from some of Missouri’s best cannabis flower. Bad Pony’s Director of Manufacturing helped to create live resin processing, a point the company takes deep pride in.
“It’s just bad to the bone.”
Like a lot of people, cannabis hadn’t always been a big part of Christy’s life. Being an athlete most of her life, she didn’t experiment with cannabis much. When she did dabble, she struggled to find the right fit. That has since changed, thanks in large part to her current role and her passion for the plant and cannabis education.
“Fast forward to October of 2021 when an old friend, and one of our owners, retired NHL and St. Louis Blues Alumni, Kelly Chase, gave me a call. He told me that he and a group of local St. Louis businessmen, and other former NHL players, had invested in a vertically integrated cannabis company and they needed a sales director. I had been working in the wine industry for 20 years at that point, most of which was spent in sales. I had a successful brokering and consulting business that was thriving, but I was intrigued. I gave it an immense amount of thought, going back and forth, eventually deciding to go for it. I went all in, reading and studying, asking endless questions to every person I could think of and here I am, I’ve never looked back. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Christy has always worked hard to be the best at what she does. She hasn’t personally found an issue being a woman in the cannabis industry and she tries not to focus on that perspective. She doesn’t want to be known for being the best female Sales Director, she wants to be the best Sales Director and it doesn’t matter who she’s up against. Man or woman, she’s coming for you.
“If being a woman in this industry is viewed as a challenge, then bring it, but I don’t think it is.”
Greenway asked Christy about her favorite cultivar from Sundro and the story behind it.
“Our cultivator, Ben Friedenberg, is insanely talented. We recently launched Brett Hull #16 (in the picture of me I’m holding the box), which by the way, received the highest review ever given to a strain by Patients Magazine 94/100! Ben doesn’t reveal many details on it, but let’s just say, it is a perfect representation of its namesake. It’s a pretty smooth operator, yet has fairly broad shoulders, it’s a little stinky with a great subtle citrus note. Just like Brett, it’s beyond memorable and once you meet it, you will not soon forget your encounter. And yes, Brett is one of our owners.”
Christy has always operated with the mindset that everything is manageable and the outcome is 100% based on the reaction to the situation. She applies this to the soon-to-be adult use switch in the Missouri cannabis industry.
“We have worked very hard for months to prepare as best we can while knowing there are a lot of unknowns. Our inventory is solid, but we are realistic, we will sell out of things, everyone will. We feel strongly that we have a pulse on how other states have handled this and have used that information to set our company up for success. We are also fortunate to have such amazing dispensary partners, being able to brainstorm the struggles dispensaries may face in the market has been instrumental.”
It’s no doubt that the cannabis industry consists of the most brilliant and creative business professionals. Christy gave us some great advice on getting into the cannabis industry:
“First and foremost, buy a pair of Jordans and a pair of Chucks and then do it,” she joked. “Figure out what type of role you want and go get it. Everyone is hiring, so strike while the iron is hot. Most importantly, I would say don’t be scared, that you don’t have to be a full-time consumer to have a chance at being successful. This is a newer industry in our state, so more people have never worked in cannabis than have.”
Cannabis, amid its quick rise as an industry, has become one of the most diverse corporate environments in the country. Welcoming individuals and skillsets from all backgrounds and experience levels.
“Some of the people I encounter on a daily basis are closer in age to my children than to me. I love this, maybe it’s the mom in me that loves teaching and giving advice, or maybe it’s the kid in me that gets to feel ultimately cool that people in their 20s and 30s will still hang out with me. While some might see this as a challenge, I see it as a distinct advantage. I bring years of sales experience, sure, I’ve failed a time or two, but I survived, and I’ve thrived in my career while maintaining humility. Those are not easy things to teach, they come with age, maturity and grit.”
For the team at OG Yields, the future is bright. The opportunity presented by the addition of the adult use market means growth and chances for innovation and creativity.
“We definitely have some things up our sleeve as things evolve after we settle into recreational use. I can’t spill all the tea here, but I’ll give you one teaser though – gummies are coming!”