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Small Town Hero Cindy Gowen, Budtender for Knotty Leaves Dispensary

At Knotty Leaves dispensary, Cindy Gowen has made a name for herself as an experienced and compassionate budtender.

Fletcher WOLD

Beloved by her coworkers and the locals of Independence, Cindy Gowen is a notably kind-hearted and welcoming budtender. In her work at Knotty Leaves Dispensary, she provides a safe space for customers to come in and take a load off or share their latest good news and accomplishments. This small town has regular customers that come from all over to see Cindy – take a visit to Knotty Leaves and see for yourself just how comforting this shop and its employees are. 

What do you look forward to the most about coming to work each day?
My family has always worked in the service of others. We each have our strengths, and try to use our strengths to help make someone’s day a little better. My brother’s a nurse, my mom a master gardener, I’m a goof. Sooooo, it’s my goal each day to try and make at least one person smile. Even behind the mask, you can see the sparkle in someone’s eye when they’re smiling.

On the flip side, you can also pick up on cues to see someone may not want to smile, but want to just unload and share something that’s bothering them, or just to vent in general. I think it’s important to realize that sometimes, as budtenders and humans, we just need to listen. We all need that one safe place we can go and know that we won’t be judged. Our goal here is to be a judge-free zone. We’re such a small community here, that our customers become our families and friends. I look forward to making that personal connection every day.

How do you help Knotty Leaves provide a unique shopping experience?
Knotty Leaves has such an amazing crew. My teammates all have their quirks that make coming in for myself, and the customer, a unique one. My contribution is trying to make each interaction a personal one. We open at 7:00 a.m., so I get up early and watch the news, read the headlines, and kind of get an idea as to what’s going on in the area and world. Again, making that connection can be as simple as noticing someone’s a Laker – BOO! – and commenting on last night’s game (I’m not personally a Laker fan, sorry Mike and Dylan). Simple little things can make a big impact. We don’t have to save the world, we just have to be that one spark that will spark another. Those sparks can create a flame. Okay, getting a little philosophical.

What does being a budtender mean to you? How is it different from other previous jobs?
I’ve been very fortunate in the variety of jobs I have had. Working for three of the state’s largest employers has allowed me to encounter a diverse population. After college I worked for the Department of Revenue, Spirit Mountain Casino and Salem Health, working in one of the busiest Emergency Rooms on the West Coast. Being in these industries gives you a perspective on how things can be.  

I feel all jobs have a common thread: the human factor. You can’t work in any of these places without having compassion towards others. End all, be all, we are here to make things better for others, not worse. Being a budtender means I get the opportunity to provide products that can help the insomniac sleep, give the anxious a sense of calm, and those looking to be a little happier or uplifted something to get them headed in the right direction. No matter where you go, we are all looking to be treated with respect, despite the situation. 

What are some of your hobbies and interests aside from Cannabis?
I love learning new things. It seems pretty lame, but shows like “Curse of Oak Island” and “Beyond the Unknown” shed light on how things could have been done in the past, and stories you never knew existed. However, I also love a great episode of “Bob’s Burgers,” “Family Guy” or most cartoon-based comedies.  

One of our customers Jeremiah, gave my boyfriend Jason and me a German Shepherd-Pitbull puppy right after my dad’s passing. Sadie, our new puppy, has given Jason, our other Pit Maui, and myself a new look at life. She takes such joy in everything. Maui, the 12-year-old Pitbull now thinks she’s a puppy. Sure, none of us but Sadie can move at the end of the night, but she’s a handful. Jason does all the work with her, but I am fortunate to have her spend cuddle time with me.

Finally, if my nieces and nephew are all together, I used to love something we call ‘Slicefest’ – we have a slice of pizza somewhere, a slice of pie, and a slice of fun. They are grown and have their own lives, so any time is special. My family is amazing and I am so lucky to have such incredible influences in my life. My friends, coworkers and family are the reason I get up. I am so honored to have been considered to be highlighted. Thank you!

Address: 769 N Main St, Independence, OR 97351
(503) 837-0048 @knottyleaves

Photos by @fwold_photography

About Max Early

Max Early is the State Director of Oregon Leaf Magazine. In this role, Max looks after/coordinates/manages/leads a team providing insight into all aspects of the cannabis industry, including processing and producing knowledge. Solventless concentrates are a quintessential part of his day-to-day life and help him stay balanced. Cannabis has impacted his existence and many close loved ones in such a positive way that he can't imagine life without it!

This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue of Oregon Leaf.

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