The Story of Sespe Creek

Sespe Creek CEO Chelsea Sutula in her Ojai headquarters.

It began as a blue dot on Weedmaps.

The year was 2011 and Chelsea Sutula was looking for a new medical cannabis delivery service. She has long used sativas to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Medical cannabis was legal, but high-quality, medical-grade cannabis was still tough to find. Sespe Creek Collective was the new venture of a pair of brothers who were cultivating cannabis under California guidelines near Fillmore’s Sespe Creek.

Roland, the elder of the Sespe Creek brothers, made that first delivery to Chelsea’s home — they chatted while Roland weighed out Sespe Creek’s signature Blueberry Master Kush strain. By the conversation’s end, Chelsea volunteered to join the nascent Sespe Creek team. The small family operation added its first female member.

The little business began humbly — Roland trained Chelsea in the finer points of traveling from home to home carrying a briefcase featuring a small selection of mason jars, plastic baggies, and scale. Will, the younger brother, tried to impart some of his cultivating expertise before Chelsea realized that, although she loved working in the garden, her skills were best utilized developing the business and delivery operations. Will continued cultivating, focusing on developing CBD-rich strains like Canna-Tsunami — years before CBD became a household acronym. Eventually the brothers both sought other opportunities outside of the cannabis industry and by 2013 Chelsea was at the helm.

By 2016, Sespe Creek was twenty employees strong, operating out of a 3,200 square foot Oxnard office space. Nov. 3, 2016, days before California voters elected to legalize recreational cannabis, Sespe Creek was raided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office (VCSO). Chelsea spent almost 24 hours in police custody and her four animals were impounded.

All charges have since been dropped. Her time in police custody not only strengthened Chelsea’s resolve to share safe, legal cannabis with her community, but transformed Sespe Creek’s entire team into passionate advocates for other folks who are incarcerated to this day due to cannabis offenses.

Sespe Creek lost more than $100,000 in inventory to the raid and was out of business for a year. Nov. 2, 2017, Chelsea and team opened their Bryant Circle headquarters in Ojai, becoming Ventura County’s first-ever permitted cannabis dispensary.

The Bryant Circle space is furnished with bright blue flooring — reminiscent of Sespe Creek after a strong rain. Customers are greeted by a pair of employees who sit below a muralized version of a cannabis flower. The showroom itself features a painted replica of Ojai’s pink moment sunsets and a gallery space — currently featuring the stories of imprisoned cannabis offenders.

And it’s not finished. Sespe Creek customers now have a safe, welcoming space to learn about and purchase cannabis, but they still lack a safe space to use the product. In California, some types of housing prohibit on-site cannabis use.

We believe it’s time to create a new kind of bar: a place where adults can come together to enjoy the cannabis plant in community.

Our story will continue to evolve; we look forward to sharing it with you.

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