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From her kitchen bench to the #1 cannabis company in California with Kiva Co-Founder, Kristi Palmer

by Female Startup Club
September 26th 2020
00:50:37
Description

Joining me on today’s show is Kristi Palmer, she’s the co-founder of California’s biggest cannabis company, Kiva Confections. 

What started out of desperation in 2010 with duo Kristi and Scot... More

doing here, we're in month two of being part of the hubspot podcast network and I wanted to take a second to shout out another incredible women lead podcast, Being boss with Emily Thompson if you're a creative business owner or thinking about becoming one. Being boss is an exploration of not only what it means, but what it takes to be a creative business owner, freelancer or side hustler, I loved Emily's episode on taking time off as a business owner, it's definitely a really challenging part of running your own business and I recommend giving it a listen, check out being boss wherever you get your podcasts. This is Christy palmer for female startup club. Mhm. Hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of female startup Club, I'm your host, june rasheen and joining me on today's show is Christy Palmer, she's the co founder of California's biggest cannabis company Kiva confections. What started out of desperation in 2010 with duo Christie um Scott Palmer has since grown into the best selling Edibles Company in California. A decade later, Christie bootstrapped her brand from her kitchen back when the landscape was very different and unregulated through to what it is today.

A company with millions of dollars in venture capital funds, a huge team of 300 people and almost 1000 dispensaries, just in the state of California alone, tune into this episode to hear about the journey and what it took to get started, some things you might not know about this industry and what it's like today, working in a highly regulated space, I also just want to take a moment to say that this is my 60th episode and I am, so so in disbelief at what we've managed to build in such a short space of time since the pandemic hit in March, I went full steam ahead with female startup Club and it's just been so crazy the last few months. So for everyone who's been here since the beginning or for any new ears who have found us recently, this is such a huge thanks from me, I love receiving your DMS and chatting with all the female entrepreneurs who are out there hustling to bring their dreams into a reality, both on the show and through my social media, you guys are just the absolute best. So thank you so much for always brightening my day. I also feel like this is a great time to give a shout out to our main sponsor, Clay vo you might have heard their ads in our episodes, but it's so important for me to mention their support for female founded companies like myself and for you guys listening in, they're an email marketing provider whose mission is to support more female founded brands.

So definitely jump on their website and check out their product. It is so legit and we've got tons of useful resources that are coming your way and resources that I'm consuming myself from their website, but I digress, let's get stuck into this episode, this is Christy for female startup club Dude it's safe to say that most of us have been doing more online shopping lately? Right? And if you're an e commerce brand that means you might be seeing more first time customers. But once they've made that first purchase, how do you keep them coming back? How do you keep them connected to you and your brand? That's what Clay vo is for. Clay vo is the ultimate marketing platform for e commerce brands. Clay vo gives you the tools to build your contact list, send memorable emails, automate key messages and so much more. That's why it's trusted by more than 40,000 brands including female founded businesses like curl mix hint and Campari beauty.

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We teamed up with leading performance marketing agency amplifier to create the best tool on the Internet for female founders to learn the exact strategies they're using right now to scale their clients to seven figures and above. In the last 15 years, their team has spent more than $100 million on performance marketing and they know a serious thing or two about e commerce. The course is designed to give you the tools needed to build a profitable and consistent revenue stream for your business. Whether you're just starting out or wanting to scale to the next level, you'll learn everything from winning ad creatives to identifying your target kPI s implementing retargeting funnels and deploying scaling strategies to increase your revenue to upwards of seven figures per year. We currently have an introductory offer on the website for $149.30 dollars from every sale is proudly donated to the Malala Fund, a charity that's working towards a world where every girl can learn and lead female startup Cup precincts. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Christie, So happy to be here, doing thanks for having me.

I'm super excited to learn about how you got into the CBD space. Obviously now it's become such a huge industry. There's so many buzzy startups in the space, but you launched your brand 10 years ago. So I want to go back to that time and what you were doing before you launched your company. Yeah, so um before we launched our company, um my husband and I, we met in a photography school and uh so from photography to cannabis was quite a leap. But uh so we uh we met in photography school and um we graduated in 2007 when the economy was not doing very well here in the states. And um we, we needed to make ends meet and so we were trying to shoot weddings and hotels and food and restaurants, whatever we could to try to scrape by, but it still wasn't enough to pay the bills. And so I grew up in the bay Area, my husband's from SAn Diego and I spent more conservative in san Diego, but in the Bay Area, cannabis is like you know, whatever everything else very culturally accepted here.

And so we decided to start a backyard garden shed cultivation in the, it's actually in the house that I grew up in. And so we set out to start growing flower and we quickly discovered that we weren't necessarily natural born indoor farmers. So uh but the great thing about those early days and having the cultivation was we learned about the cannabis industry and so that got us into the dispensaries and um really got us to understand a bit more about the culture, a bit more about the businesses that existed, the consumers that existed. And that's really where we saw the true opportunity in edibles. Um and cuba is an edible cannabis infused edibles company. And so that's where we saw, okay that the real opportunity isn't in cultivation for us because you know, we're not very good at that anyway, but the true opportunity lies in edibles.

Um and the edibles then we're just really unprofessional and they were, you know, they didn't look anything like they do today. So a lot of opportunity there for us. And so in those early days when you realized the backyard garden wasn't going to be the big thing, how did you actually get started making the edibles? Like how do you know what to do? And do you need a license to sell them? Like how does it Work? Yeah, so back then, um you did not need a license in fact, so that was in 2010 in California only required you to have a license starting in 2018. So we went our first eight years without any real regulation or licensing and we started in our home kitchen. Um I don't have a culinary backgrounds, but we were how do you say desperate to figure things out and try to find the next opportunity to make it work. So really google. We joke that the company was built on the back of google school, google.

Yeah. Just research. I love that school. Yeah. And my husband is a he's a son of two teachers. He's amazing, he's an amazing student. He can learn anything, give him a problem and a little bit of time and he can figure out a solution. So um he really started digging in and researching what would be really first we had to start with what would be the best medium for edibles. And at the time there were cookies and brownies and goldfish coated in THC um So it really wasn't um there weren't many professional products on the market at that time, like elevated products. Yeah, exactly. And everything. There was no testing, there was no labeling, You would see a brownie and saran wrap and I would say 10 X. Right, you're like, I don't know what X. Is X. Is a variable. So I know I want them, feels pretty like mad scientist. Kind of uh Yeah, totally.

It was very experimental back then. So we knew from the get go whatever products we came out what they were going to have to be safe and trusted and tested. And so we eventually landed on chocolate because it's a very scalable medium. You can start with a teeny tiny little machine on your on your kitchen counter and you can go all the way up to like Hershey's where you know, they make millions of pounds of chocolate of every year. So chocolate's very scalable. And then really the product of the chocolate and the cannabis they really marry well together, they're both products of the earth. They're both natural and chocolate. So disarming. Right, I don't think I know anybody who doesn't like chocolate. And so it's a really nice kind of entry point into cannabis. It it sort of takes a very familiar format and mixes it with an unfamiliar format to present something that's very friendly and welcoming and easy to wrap your mind around if you've never used cannabis before.

Sounds super delicious. Yes, there's been lots of lots of chocolate eating going on in your kitchen back in the day so much. Yes, lots of chocolate. Maybe lots of lots of buzzy chocolate eating. I'm sure was there any brands at that point who were doing that? Like was there anyone to look to for guidance or did you have to make the blueprint for yourself? Yeah. At that time when we launched, there was one other company that launched just about the same time. So it was really just the two of us that we're doing kind of the same, a similar thing and that we were both testing our products for potency, which was huge. Right? That was that reliability and consistency component. So no, there wasn't a playbook, there wasn't any any anything really was very very much trying to figure it out on our own. But in the confection space, that's where there's a lot of guidance and that component of the business in the early days especially was huge.

Just learning how to work with chocolate and that you can find online. But as far as how to start up the cannabis business, that information was a lot harder to come by. Very few people, attorneys, consultants that you could call on. It was just such a small market in a depressed market in an environment where it's not fully legal, especially at the federal level, but also at the state level. There just wasn't a great, uh, there wasn't regulation or laws, um, to make people feel comfortable. So it ended up that everybody kind of hit away in the shadows a little bit, a little bit scary to kind of come out and declare who they were what they did because it wasn't the protections. Just really um, they weren't as as good as they are today. Got it. And when you were in those early days, how did you start finding people who would buy your product and sort of flying under the radar to make sure that you weren't getting into any trouble And like big scale marketing?

What was those early days of finding your customer? Yeah. So early days. Um, 11 thing that gave us a really big like up was having the cultivation, um, got us into the dispensaries. And so then when we flipped over to chocolate, we had already established many relationships throughout the bay area. Um, so we had probably 60 doors that we were working with with with the cultivation. And so then when we flip to chocolate, we had relationships already established that was huge. And I didn't realize how impactful or how fortunate we were to have those relationships until years and years later. Looking back when me and if you're a brand new brand In an industry, it can be very hard to get that. 1st, 2nd, 10th 20th customer because people want to know well what's everybody else carrying right? And you know, how are you doing in this store? How are sales here? So you really have to ask people to kind of come out on a limb with you and and meet you in the middle and trust you when you don't have a lot of prior experience.

So that was really helpful. Also reaching our customers in store happened a lot by our end consumers that the final person that was going to be consuming the product, what was so important there was I think our packaging, there wasn't any other way really to communicate in store. And if there was, we didn't have the money to do it. And so what we lead with was product. So we made the most beautiful package that we could, we thought long and hard, were very methodical, meticulous about the placement of the information on the package. We worked at the great graphic design team who we went to them and said, hey, we need a we need a package and a logo and they said, no, you need a brand. Remember like, oh you're right brand, because the brand is so much more than a package, right? It, it knows what it stands for. Um, and in our case it was going to be trust and professionalism and it was going to really help a new consumer.

I feel like we had put the time and attention into these products um, right that we had their back that we weren't going to give them 10 X is, but that we were going to give them a consistent experience. So I think with having a beautiful package and a consistent, reliable product. That led to a lot of word of mouth for us. And so people would tell their friends or the, um, the dispensary staff would try the products and like them and so then they would recommend them. So it took a while for things to really catch on. But yeah, word of mouth I think was huge for us. Did that then start the kind of ddC side of the brand and people buying through your website directly. So we actually don't have any dTC um, sales as of this moment, we're working on it, but our primary channel are only channel has been through the dispensaries. So people would contact us and say, hey, can I buy direct from you or can I buy in bulk from you? Um, but the answer was always, unfortunately, no, they had to go straight to the dispensaries.

Oh, wow. I didn't even notice that when I was on the website digging around, I guess unless you're going through the checkout process, you, you don't realize, but I'm sure you have such demand now, especially to launch that side of the business. Yeah, exactly. And regulations in a place where we can do that. Okay, right. Got it. It wasn't that week. Couldn't do it before. So now it's, you just have to get a license for that component of your business. You can easily kind of tack it on if you want. Whereas before it was honestly, it was probably just too much for us as a small business to try to manage another sales channel, such as DTC, that's, that's, I think more accurate. Even regulation how much does it cost to get the regulation to sell direct. Um, you know, the license for that is Depends on how the volume you're going to do. But an educated guess might be around $50,000, wow. So it's still a steep investment for sure.

I want to talk about the early beginnings when you guys were talking about, you know, you needed to leave photography, you needed to leave that creative field. You were desperate to make money? How much did it cost to like get started. Did you have to buy the machine for your kitchen to make the chocolate? Did you have to, did you have any really big costs that you needed start up capital for? Yeah. So we were able to really start on a shoestring, which was great. Um, which is really great. We did end up borrowing from Scott's dad. About $36,000 when we were all said and done the great thing about borrowing from Scott's dad. Bill was, he was like a really great investor because he made us tell him why we needed the money. He didn't just say, all right, here's your $36,000 check. Best of luck. It was like, we would call him and say, hey, we we need to order more labels. Oh, you need to work over more labels. Why do you need to do that? Well, because we sold out of all the product that we've been making and now we're ready to order more or we need to order more chocolate or a bigger machine.

And actually a huge part of that, about 36,000 went to a chocolate machine, um, that we used to scale. So our first piece of equipment, I don't know, it's like 1500 bucks. That was, you know, it did like £10 at a time. And we could do like 92 bars every two hours. Then the new machine came and allowed us to scale. It did like four times as much. Um So that really was a was a breakthrough moment for us and it took two about it's probably like month three of our, in our startup, their start up phase that we purchased that machine. So we kind of limped along for the first two or three months trying to get a good proof of concept before we went out and spent that amount of money machine like that. Mm for sure. And I guess you would have needed to have made sure that the stores were ordering, you know, in bulk to the point where you're really tipping that scale and it's not possible to keep going on the current machine that you had.

Yes. And that's the best That's the best feeling. It's the worst feeling in the best feeling when you're like, okay, we need a scale. I know we need to invest in a piece of equipment, but it's expensive. When do we do it? And there's been a few points in our history where um, if we don't meet demand, you know, that's how, you know, you need to make an investment is because all of a sudden you're suffering, your business is suffering because you can't make the demand. So that's a great, that's like, okay, perfect. We're missing out on sales were missing out on revenue because we can't meet the demand of our customers. That's an excellent time to reinvest. Mm. Yeah, for sure. And in those times, how did you then get the financing to be able to make those bigger investments into product development or into the new machinery and that kind of thing. Yeah. In the early days, especially we grew really slowly and the cannabis industry was at a place where you couldn't really grow too quickly because of a lack of licensing and a lack of access to capital.

Um, the cannabis industry is saddled with the problem that we can't get access to traditional banking because we're not federally legal. So, you know, a line of credit or a loan for working capital has never been an option for the cannabis industry. So slow growth, wow, I didn't know that. Yeah, it's really, it's really, um, hamstrings the industry big time. Um, but there's been a lot of attention put on that problem. And so hopefully fingers crossed it'll change. Maybe not this year, but in the next couple of years perhaps. So, um, yeah, that traditional channel of capital never existed. So most businesses at that time did grow very slowly. So we relied pretty heavily on our own cash flow. I would say for the first many years we didn't take on investment until 2016 So for the, or I'm sorry, 2018. So for the first eight years, it was just, you know, we wanted that big shiny machine that was going to help us grow.

Okay. We have to save and save and save and save and save, we were able to get a loan for a piece of equipment and finance it not through traditional channels, but through more expensive channel. So you just end up having to pay you more interest or whatever it is on that piece of equipment that you'd like to, or that, you know, another business in um, confections might have to pay. So that, that always is. Um, in the cannabis industry been a little bit of a hard, hard point is um, you know, you have to, it's sometimes a bit more expensive sometimes if it more difficult, you're not always treated like a regular old business and that's what we've, we've been wanting to have, I've done or be treated like a regular old business for a long time. For sure. It's a hard chocolate to swallow in that scenario. And what was your experience like when you did go out to raise capital? I know you've raised a significant amount of money now And I'm wondering in 2018, obviously the landscape has significantly changed from 2010 to 2018.

There's a lot of press, it's all kind of becoming an industry that's really buzzy, really, you know, so many startups in that space. What was your experience like going through that process? Yeah. So raising capital? We were, we were fortunate that we were able to wait as long as we did and that the longer you can wait, it's not, not always the case, but in our case, in our unique case, the longer related the more successes we had under our belt, the bigger our company got. And then the kind of, the better your story gets, you have more data, you have more winds, so you have a little bit more leverage on your side. So we were fortunate to be able to wait until 2018 and we've been, we've been meeting with investors and collecting contacts for years, I'd say really since, since we started, if somebody called and said, I'm interested in investing, we kind of say, you know, we're not really looking right now, but happy to have a conversation.

So, um, that was really great, especially in the early days, it got us practicing our pitch in an environment when we didn't need the money. And so that's a really nice time to practice your pitch when you don't need the money. Very clever. You can be, um, a little more candid, a little more picky. A little more bold. Yeah, a little more full. Exactly. So that really, that was really helpful. And when we went to raise money, it was just looking through our past contacts and deciding who was a really great set and by that point in time, had a good list of folks that we knew from the industry and, um, and had built a relationship with over the years, and so we could pull on that list, but, and and the moment when we knew we needed investment was when the industry went legal. And so 2000 and 17, we had about 1200 stores that we were working with different dispensary channels.

Yeah, so it was great California was a huge market. Um and then uh january 1st, 2000 and 18, you wake up in the morning, that's the first day of licensing. First day of regulated market, there were only 10 customers, 10 dispensaries that had licenses and we had a license as well. And when your license, you can only work with other licensed stores. So it was like, So from 1200 to 10. Yes, What? Oh my God, that's crazy. It was crazy. So it felt like free fall, you know, you're like, whoa, what's happening? And everybody was so excited about the California market, what's it going to be like? It's going to be huge, colorado was huge. But it just the way California to their regulations and their licensing, it just took time for dispensaries to get licensed. So over time. Now, fast forward for 2.5 years from that moment There's about 7-800 um stores, so we still haven't gotten up to where we were back in the day.

But those have built up over time. So that's when we kind of looked at each other and we went, oh we need a safety net, We can't just weather the storm of regulation with cash flow because here we are on January one and the cash flow is hindered temporarily right now. So that was the moment. We're like, Okay, we need to go out and get a little nest egg here or get a little war chest filled up and um that way we can weather any issues that come our way. And then we also really needed to hire, we needed to build out the team and get folks along with us that had experience and talent and could help us build the business in this new environment. Mm Yeah. Gosh, wow, that must have been such a, an interesting time to be trying to grow the business whilst also being a few steps back as an industry. Yeah. Where is the brand today?

Like how big is your team? What's, what's the positioning of the brand at the moment? Yeah, so the team is about just over 300 and that includes, Whoa, that's amazing. Thank you. Yeah, it's exciting. It's um it's crazy, it's super exciting and it's, it's so fun and challenging at the same time to build out a team. But it takes a lot of practice and that's one of the other benefits of growing slowly in the beginning, is being able to practice and hire some learn a lot from the hires that you make, especially when you're small. The people you hire to take you from A to B. Are different from the people that you hire to take you from BBC and so on. So hiring the right folks then really helps you build out your teams and with people that have experience and talent in their area, they can really work to build out professional teams that are efficient, operate and deliver the goals.

So yeah, super exciting. But yeah and your other question was around the positioning. So yeah, today really are positioning um remains pretty much consistent with where we started. There is still a strong need, we haven't fully fulfilled the goal of providing you know the best possible um edibles to consumers. And and I say that because there's so many channels and there's so much more innovation and um different types of products, different types of cannabinoids. So um the primary one that we are using is THC um that CBD is also in our lineup. Um We just launched a product with CBN and so we're looking for new types of cannabinoids, new effects for consumers. Um New mediums, we just launched um it's been about a year and a half now that we since we launched our gummy and then we have a new product line coming um this fall so we're always looking for new mediums as well that people will find interesting and looking for that kind of next popular product category.

So it's still all about consistency. Product quality, giving people the same amount of THC and every dose and then having fun too I think is really important um To remember people, your consumers are excited by that. I think when when you're having fun doing your job and running the company coming up with new products, people can sense that it comes through in the package, it comes through in the social media posts definitely does. Yeah. Right. That level of enthusiasm and excitement and people want to be part of wanna be part of that so um keeping it fun keeping it light. Um And I think also part of the positioning too. Absolutely. I want to talk about your marketing team and how you market directly to wholesale crowd versus how you would market to obviously did you see the direct consumer. Um But just quickly before we start on that, I was reading a report the other day and it was talking about like the biggest trends on the internet at the moment and I read that one of the number one trends was sleep gummies.

Um So good for you guys. Yes, I can confirm that. We just launched a sleep gummy like a few months ago and it became our top seller. Nice. That's so cool. So um yes, so going back to your marketing team, how do they market to wholesale distributors in the US versus how you would usually market to a customer. Yeah. So we do two types of marketing. We do the to the uh to the dispensary customer and then also to the end consumer. So to that wholesaler, aside from making our products and our confections, we also are a distributor. So we have a direct line to the customer to the buyer, the retail buyer. But it's hugely helpful, hugely helpful. And those are customers, you know, that we built with our own two hands back with the cultivation. Um Some of them have been with us as long as that. Um Others are new and are still emerging. The market is still growing. But um, I think one way that we've really been able to stand out is we have a reputation for quality.

So that is, it goes back to the, you know, the question you have around the early days, and how did you stand out in the early days? That is like the backbone of the company, is the product is the quality and the fact that you can rely on that no matter what is going on in the industry or with Covid in the world. Right, Akiva Bar will always taste like a bar will always deliver the same effect and experience to the consumer. So that's really huge in our being able to break through to the retail channel is when we call a new dispensary or get an introduction and they find out that we're Kiva, they're like, oh, okay, sure. I'll take a phone call or, you know, oh, I've tried your gummies where I tried your mints. Sure, we'll have a meeting. So we get a lot of doors opened for us with our time in the market, that reputation component. But then we're also coming out with cool new stuff all the time and I think that is extremely important.

People want new and people want fresh and exciting. And even our employees, I even myself, I'm like, what are we working on next? Right? Like let's do it. It's just like human nature. We want, we want, we're curious and we want something new and different and fresh. So um that's really huge as people um The product line doesn't get stale. And so when we, even when we have a new customer, they're like, okay, you know, I've tried the bars and I've tried the gummies. But what else you guys working on? And so that's a to be able to answer that question, talking about new brands and new products or new flavors or whatever. It is exciting that you've got going on that that shows that consumer that you're serious and your professional and you're ready to innovate and invest in your own brand. Mm For sure. How exciting. It all sounds so cool. You said something earlier that I realized, I don't actually know the answer to? What do you mean when you say it's all based on THC and what is the difference between THC and CBD such a good question.

Yes. Okay so THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis. So that's what's going to give you. That traditional high CBD is known as the lesser or non psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. Um So that's what gives you a more um more of a calming soothing effect. It doesn't get the wheels turning, it doesn't give you a head high in the same way that THC does. Um So that's what a lot of folks end up using as like an entry point into cannabis is CBD. It's also known for its um anti inflammatory anti seizure. So C. B. D. S became very popular probably about 5 to 6 years ago when a young girl had seizures. And so it's great for helping suppress seizures.

And so that's really what well gave CVD popularity and THC THC is popular basically for that for that high and that's that's what gives you a like, you know, a change in the headspace and um a change in mood and uh um some psycho activity can be connected to that if that's the effect that you're looking for and you consume an amount that would give you that type of activity. Got it. And so the other kind of my C. B. N. That's where you're seeing in the sleep gummy realm. CBN is great for sleep and you only need like a little dab will do? Yeah. You don't need a lot. Okay, very good. Rocky, you'll be sleeping for like the next day. Um so a little goes a long way, but that's becoming really popular seeing a lot of new brands launch CBN products. So I think that's gonna be um a really popular product category for the foreseeable future.

Mm. Yeah, well I I actually never heard of that before. Does that mean if you guys wanted to launch, you know globally and expand to new regions, you're not allowed to, because you use THC, you know, in London, there's loads of CBD, you know, there's the drugstore now which sells CBD products. It's very um I mean it's all regulated, you can buy everything over here, but I hadn't heard that you could buy THC products. Yes, you're exactly right. So THC is is not legal in most countries. Um and if it is, it's usually only legal for medical use, like and even here in the States, it's not legal for either. Um yet it is legal in the state of California um or in the state of massachusetts or michigan um it's not even fully legalized in new york for example, so each state has its own set of rules and regulations um if they have any at all.

And so in order to get your product into the state of massachusetts, you have to make it in that state as well, so we have a whole new facility um in that state and that's how businesses are expanding. Um so it's labor intensive. It's expensive. It's uh, it's not the most efficient way. It would be far more efficient just to ship it across the state to another state. Like we do chocolate in every other type of product here. But unfortunately the laws don't allow for that. So it makes expanding into other markets definitely more difficult. It's like starting a new business in each state that you want to be in. Yeah. And it sounds like you would face such a unique set of challenges being in a space that's just naturally regulated, naturally has red tape around marketing on platforms like facebook and and things like that, that other businesses wouldn't think of.

And I guess you'd also have to be like really committed to joining that industry to move past those kinds of challenges that I'm sure you have. Yes. Yes. And that's, it's, I'm so glad you bring that up because I think the people in the cannabis industry who work in the cannabis industry as well are very passionate and they loved the plant. They feel a connection to cannabis. They feel like they're stewards of the plant. Um and that they have to help normalize and get the word out there. Um So yeah, you get a very passionate group of people for sure. I bet, Wowie cool. Lots of characters. I'm sure. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch a business either in a unique space? Um, something like yourself or just in general. Yeah, I think, um, go for it definitely, definitely jump in with both feet.

Do a lot of planning. I think there's uh, there's no shortage of preparation and planning that you can do. There's so much to think about and to uh, to execute on when you're running a business that taking a breath and taking some time to plan and think about what you're trying to do on a bigger scale, Making sure that you have your ideas in order and you have a, um, I think just really a business plan for yourself is super important, but it's, I think it's also really good to do the planning, but then you got to just go with it right, You could plan as much as you want, but then life happens, right? So you have to be able to kind of roll with the punches and, and feel comforted and supported by the fact that you didn't do the planning and you thought it through and you thought of all these different scenarios and now you're in real life and you've got a, be able to think on your feet and be fluid.

So I think it's super exciting to start a business, it's a ton of work, but, you know, you get to essentially make your own schedule sort of, your sort of like always on the clock. It can be so rewarding. So I say yes, do it get going and do it absolutely jump right in? Yes, okay, We're up to the six quick questions part of the interview Question # one Is What's Your Why? So I think um why do we start Kiva confections? Was to um to create a better edible experience for consumers to change the way that people think about cannabis and as growing up in the Bay Area, that was really important for me was to de stigmatize cannabis and let people know, you know, it's not that bad, it's just pot right? Like it's just pot people smoke it, they get friendly and happy. Like what's the problem?

So I think definitely my wife is to normalize and and change the way people think about canvas. Absolutely. And I think the stigma thing is such a big, the thing that needs to be worked on. I had a really cool conversation with the founder of Qasem a magazine and what she's doing around breaking down those stigmas and especially stigmas around people of color. Um and the treatment of people of color who smoke who smoke weed. Um it's an important one to focus on in the bigger picture. For sure. Yes, yes, there's a lot being done with social equity in California right now and it's um it's refreshing, it's really good to see the, that's part of the conversation now. Absolutely Question # two is what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that's made your business pop. Oh yes. Um very, very early days. We did a trade show in san Jose. It was the beginning of the cannabis industry and you could basically do almost whatever you wanted um at that trade show and it got us in front of lots of people and it really taught me how to talk about the products and um it was a great proof of concept for scott and I to talk directly to the consumer because remember we were selling to the dispensaries so we didn't ever really get to one on one talk with consumers.

So that was amazing to be able to talk to them and ask them questions about what they were looking for or what they liked about the products, what brought them over to the booth for example. Um and it was amazing. We had the best experience. We sold out of all the product that we brought with us, we stayed up all night long making more, and we left that trade show with $5000 and we thought, oh my God, like Do people make more money than $5,000? Like, aren't we, can we retire? I mean we were like so jazzed by that and it built so much confidence, that was huge, just feeling like, yes, Okay, people like us, right, we're doing something good at finding people. It was so great. Like it was awesome. So yeah, that was the best early days marketing experience for sure. Really cool, amazing question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? Oh yes.

So I love hanging out with the key to team. I love going to conferences, reading the news, hanging off my husband. He's super smart, but I think where I probably get the most benefit is really from the Kiva team. Um having had assembled this incredible group of people. I'm learning from them every single day. Um when we sit in meetings and we're having conversations or were on the phone um whatever the case may be, it's when you've hired folks like we've hired you kind of need to sit back and let them do their things, let them do what you hired them to do. Um and so it's really refreshing and really fun to listen and learn from those folks and I learned something new from the Cuban team like all the time and it's, it's so fun. It's one of the most rewarding parts of the job is um is working with amazing people and we have 300 of them.

So wow, that's so special. That sounds so nice. Love that. Love that for you. Um Question number four is how do you win the day and that's around your personal am and PM rituals that keep you feeling successful and happy and motivated um and productive. Yes. Um Eat breakfast. I love making sure I have to eat breakfast or I will last very long. Um and I just had a baby, not too many, not too many months ago, so um eat breakfast with the baby now, so that's super fun. Way to start our day. And the other one I love to do is take a walk and it's late in the evening after the baby goes to sleep. I love to put my headphones on, listen to an awesome podcasts such as yours and cruise around the neighborhood and um just clear my head, focus on something else other than work or um you know, the stresses of being home and having a baby or whatever it is, it's just a really nice time to unwind and you know, the neighborhood's quiet and yeah, I love taking an evening walk.

It's best. Maybe I'm going to do that after this podcast. Go out for a nice stroll. You've sold it to me. Question # five is if you only had $1,000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it? Yes, payroll. I Don't know if you get far with 300 stuff, I know that everyone gets a dollar. Um uh payroll is huge without the team, like you would come to a screeching halt. Um if for some miracle $1,000 being everybody, the next thing would be ingredients to make gums, gummies are our biggest movers and our most popular products, so it would definitely be buying materials to make the product because without that you're coming to a screeching halt. So yeah, definitely that gummies, everyone check out the gummies, Question Number six is how do you deal with failure?

And that can be around a personal experience that you've had or you're just your mindset and approach. So with failure I cry uh complain. Um But really I like to um I like to air out my failures um you know like dirty laundry, I like to talk to to family and friends um about failures, I feel like it helps helps me process them and um and it I think it's nice when you can talk to somebody, they can they can make suggestions or they can give you advice or just listen and not I think helps process. And I think failure is a necessary evil. We learn so much from failure, right? That's why it's so great, it's so bad and good and polarizing and just intense failure because you know you're learning a lesson, you just wish you already knew it right?

Like damn! I wish I just had the intrinsic knowledge already, but the only way to get that is to get in there and do it yourself and learn those hard lessons and those are the best. When you fail. Those are the best lessons, you're like, oh yes, that one is ingrained, I don't even have to write it down because it burned. I joined. I will never forget this because it's burned into your psyche. So, um yeah, I think failure can be really painful, but it's so, so valuable. So, you know, I think it's important to be thankful that you have the opportunity to fail because that means you're out there, you're putting yourself out there, you're taking risks, you're living your life. Um, but sometimes that comes with a little bit of failure. Ain't that the truth? Uh Christie? That was so cool. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today and taking the time to talk me through your business and how you've been growing over the last 10 years into such a huge team.

Thank you john, it was a pleasure to be here. I really enjoyed talking to you today. Hey, it's just me here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup Club podcast. If you want to hear more, head to my instagram at Dune rasheen to see my filmed interviews with incredible female founders like Erica from fluffy Beauty Greta from drop bottle and Sammy leo from breeze bomb. And if you like what we're doing here, visit our website and sign up to female startup club dot com to get all of the good stuff delivered straight to your inbox. And lastly subscribe to the female startup Club podcast. Mm hmm. Yeah

From her kitchen bench to the #1 cannabis company in California with Kiva Co-Founder, Kristi Palmer
From her kitchen bench to the #1 cannabis company in California with Kiva Co-Founder, Kristi Palmer
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