As a female business owner, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and Co-Owner of Flower City Hydroponics' Britni Tantalo has worked hard to achieve her success.
As a half-white and half-Korean woman, Britni was taught at a young age how different she was, which made her work harder to be recognized.
"I had experienced a lot of racial adversity, which caused a lot of self-doubts and made me feel like I had to work 100 times harder than everyone else to get where I wanted to be," Britni said.
Constrained by the borders of a small community, it was difficult for her to achieve success. Once Britni broke free of her constraints and moved to Rochester to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), she overcame her self-doubt, working to reach her full potential.
"Life is so much more than the borders of a small community," Britni said.
With an undergraduate degree in finance from RIT and an MBA from St. John Fisher, Britni started working out of graduate school as a public tax accountant for Ernst & Young LLP, ultimately jump-starting her professional career.
Before working in the cannabis industry, she had worked within the accounting field for several different positions before finally partnering with her husband, Jayson Tantalo. They worked together to found Metavega Corporation, and then eventually Flower City Hydroponics, pairing their skills together.
"Jayson had an extensive background in cannabis and I had an extensive background in corporate America, so we leveraged these skill sets," Britni said.
In 2014, Britni and her partner Jayson opened Metavega Corporation, an indoor growing equipment wholesale company. In November 2021, they expanded to open Flower City Hydroponics in hopes of entering the retail side of the industry.
"It was time to bring our expertise and know-how to our local community," Britni said.
Flower City Hydroponics and Metavega Corporation are unlike any other businesses in the cannabis industry. With her husband's help, Britni can connect and form invaluable relationships, building a strong community around their businesses.
"Instead of being just the product on the shelf, we're able to actually have conversations, build relationships, share what we know, and then build our store around, you know, all the things that we've gathered all these years," Britni said.
What makes Britni stand out from her competitors is her connection with her customers.
"Our customers are truly what brings to life this whole cannabis movement, whether for recreational purposes, medical purposes, or future business endeavors. It's very rewarding to see them come through our door and be a part of what we're doing," Britni said.
Originally, Britni and her husband wanted to bring higher quality products at more affordable costs to their customers. While this mission has long been achieved, Britni says the next goal they're working on is to educate.
"We aim to educate, facilitate and bridge the gap," Britni said.
Educating others is a significant business goal of Britni's, who wants to help educate her customers so they can walk out of her store with the knowledge and confidence they need to successfully grow cannabis.
For Britni, being a businesswoman has not always been so rewarding. When Metavega first started, Britni, struggled to be taken seriously in a male-dominated industry.
"Most of these men would direct their conversation to my husband and act almost as if I was not even in the room. Luckily, I had such a supportive husband who always brought me into the discussion and gave me the floor to show my expertise and know-how of the industry," Britni said.
Britni's relentless drive to be successful, regardless of any pushback, came from her mother.
Her mother, an immigrant from South Korea, came to America to complete her Master's degree. From there, she met Britni's father and they started a family together.
"Her and my father started a small construction company when I was about 4 or 5 years old during a time when our family was experiencing financial difficulties. I watched her go from small residential projects to becoming the leading general contractor for the federal government," Britni said.
Although she worked in a male-dominated industry, Britni's mother was determined to be successful. She worked on several projects for the army base in Watertown, Veterans medical centers, federal post offices, and federal courtrooms throughout the state, just to name a few.
"I admired her will to succeed in the male-dominated world of construction and for not allowing what others would see as a weakness, being a woman and a foreigner, [to] stop her from achieving her dreams," Britni said.
Although Britni's mother recently passed, she believes her mom to live on in her, as well as her dreams for the future.
"I will continue to make her proud," Britni said.
As a woman and minority business owner, Britni is positioning Flower City Dispensary to obtain a New York State Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries (CAURD) license. CAURD licensees will be the first retail dispensaries to open for legal adult-use cannabis sales in the state, establishing businesses owned by justice-involved individuals at the bedrock of New York’s adult-use cannabis market.