“To just know that there are all these ways that we can help, you know, change and highlight ways that people can bring more joy into their life is really exciting.” - Karli Warner
Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Karli Warner of Garden Society, to talk about how she built a standout brand while keeping the dignity of advocacy with the use of creative ideas and the processes she used in scaling up while ensuring the quality of products to keep customers patronizing your brand.
[00:01 – 08:31] Shayda shares the whirlwind of relevant cannabis events
[08:32– 16:24] Karli’s Background on Cannabis and Stepping in the Industry
[16:25 – 28:02] Finding One’s Niche and Building the Brand
[28:03 – 38:58] Founding Creative Ideas for the Cannacurious and Collaborators
[38:59 – 49:09] Scaling Up while Maintaining the Quality
[46:13 – 48:51] Food for Thought: How do you uplift your product?
As co-founder and head of marketing for Garden Society, Karli’s communication and marketing prowess makes the brand shine. As a working mom and wife to a cancer survivor, she understands the positive wellness impact low-dose edible cannabis can have on the mind, body and soul.
Karli began her career in communication and marketing in the wine industry at a boutique PR agency in Napa, where she learned the ropes of pitching and building media relationships. While also expanding her wine education and knowledge, her interest in the wine business quickly deepened and led her to explore other aspects of brand and event marketing. As her career progressed, she moved to Constellation Brands, the world’s leading wine company. There she emerged as a top-tier marketer, learning firsthand the importance of partnerships and cross-brand collaborations. Through thoughtful storytelling, pitching, and partnerships, Karli landed media coverage for brands in national media outlets including Today Show, Wall Street Journal, Wine Spectator and Food & Wine magazine.
While at Constellation, Karli helped launch a wine brand that, at the time, she didn’t know would eventually shift her career from wine to cannabis – this is when her Garden Society story began. In 2016, Karli reconnected with her former wine industry peer, Erin Gore, who had recently launched Garden Society, a cannabis company focused on women’s wellness. Shortly thereafter Erin asked Karli to join the Garden Society team to lead marketing and communication efforts. Together, Erin and Karli have quickly built a well-recognized luxury cannabis brand that has garnered the interest of Today Show, CNBC, Marie Claire, Los Angeles Times, Forbes and many more.
As she loved telling the story of wine - from vine-to-glass – Karli is even more passionate and personally touched in telling the Garden Society story, from seed-to-delectable confection.
Connect with Karli
Visit https://thegardensociety.com/ and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @grdnsociety
Shayda Torabi has been called one of the most influential Women in WordPress and now she’s one of the women leading the cannabis reformation conversation building one of Texas’ premier CBD brands. She's currently the CEO and Co-Founder of RESTART CBD, a female-run education first CBD wellness brand. And has formerly held marketing positions at WP Engine and WebDevStudios. Shayda is the host of a podcast for cannabis marketers called To Be Blunt, where she interviews top cannabis brands on their most successful marketing initiatives. When Shayda's not building her cannabiz in Texas, you can find her on the road exploring the best hikes and spots for vegan ice cream. Follow Shayda atRESTART CBD
Karli Warner 0:00
Every party we did, there was someone there who was what we call Canna confident, and she would share her story. So we would do our education piece, we would share our stories, but then someone in the room would end up inevitably sharing as well. And that's what changed minds. It was, oh, I'm in this room. I'm in this community of women. And there are already women in here. We're using cannabis. And they're okay to talk about it in an open way in this forum. And so I think that was really significant to changing minds.
You're listening to to be blunt, be podcast for cannabis marketers, where your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here's your host Shayda Torabi.
Shayda Torabi 1:07
Hello, everybody and welcome back to another episode of The to be blonde podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, cannabis business owner and brand marketer. And today I am coming to you a little exhausted. It's been a whirlwind out there. Oh my gosh, if you read mjbizcon or MJ unpacked, I don't know if my body has fully recovered from that experience and event yet, but I basically left Vegas was in Austin for a few days, then flew to Oklahoma, to speak with the okay women can which is a nonprofit that is all about supporting the women in the Oklahoma cannabis industry. And they invited me to be a speaker at their inaugural Midwest Conference. So that was really exciting. I really enjoy getting to obviously speak and share my opinion, but mostly really love networking. And so it was a really fun event and opportunity to get to just connect to the women and the Oklahoma and kind of be on cannabis. And they had a lot of great national speakers that actually came in and joined. And so that was really equally fun for me because I got to meet some women that I really respect and admire and got to share the stage with them. So that was a slam dunk for me. Now, when this episode airs in a few short days, I will actually be heading to Houston to speak at the Lucky Leaf Expo. They're having their Houston event coming up this Friday and Saturday. And I love the Lucky Leaf team. They've been a really great event that has been taking place here in Texas over the past couple years and super grateful to be a part of their speaking circuit. So if you'll be in Houston definitely would love to connect and say hi to you there as well. But kind of going back to MJ biz and MJ unpacked, that was my first time ever going to mjbizcon. And it was so frickin crazy. I mean, the energy in the room, the amount of vendors, there were the amount of parties and events and happy hours and speakers and just like all the different moving pieces. You know, as somebody who comes from Austin and where we have South by Southwest, I think I was a little prepared for it. Just understanding you know both that as well as prior to getting into cannabis. I did work in corporate events. And so I spent quite a few years going to trade shows in Vegas, but the convergence of cannabis and conference and everything in between layer on top of you know, you haven't COVID Kind of going on where there hasn't been a lot of in person events and things are finally starting to open up again. So it was a really good opportunity to just get to go be in person with so many listeners, I got to meet some of you guys that was really fun for me, I appreciate it. Everybody who, you know, tapped me on the shoulder and said, Hey, and I also got to meet a lot of my speakers and guests on the podcast, which was really, really exciting. Got to meet Jocelyn shell tra from headset, got to meet Dave Polishchuk from branding bud and made a lot of really great connections. I am just super grateful that I've been able to have on the podcast and then kind of transcend that into real life. So still definitely digesting the conference. I think there was a lot of forward thinking just in terms of you know, emerging cannabinoids, how the markets are going to get kind of unpacked and stacked as we have the move towards federal legalization and kind of what some of the leading brands are doing to kind of prepare themselves for federal legalization. I think one major takeaway was hearing from Warner brands that they still kind of see themselves in an emerging market versus someone like myself who looks at a brand like wanna and feels like wow, one is kind of established, they've made it but they very much take the posture of there is more to be done and we are in the middle of it and we are evolving and we are iterating and we are helping contribute to the future of cannabis. So I just recently saw on social media, they're also coming up with some new interesting innovative products. So definitely on the same page in terms of the ball is moving and we are evolving with it. So really great to again, just kind of get to hear from some of these great industry leaders in an in person setting was really
really, really impactful and inspiring. But also can't pass mentioning all the dope after parties. I mean, I literally, I didn't know what to expect, but God to make it to a couple of the top ones, so definitely want to give a shout out to grasslands for including me on their invite list. That party was the first night and just blew my mind and got to again see a lot of people that I really respect in the industry IRL. So all that to say I'm a little exhausted. But as you can tell my schedule isn't slowing down anytime yet. So happy to be here sharing some updates with you all as well as providing you with a brand new episode of the podcast, which I am presenting today from actually the show floor at MGM PAC. So MJ unpacked, this was his first year of that type of show. It is a CPG consumer packaged goods focused event and why I thought that it was really important for me to be a part of it was because that's the whole premise of this podcast is talking about the branding, the consumer packaging of these products, and ultimately who are reselling to consumers. So thinking of it kind of in that total approach is really something that I love I want to learn more about and so getting to be part of MJ unpacked and just like be a part of there specifically from a content perspective was really, really neat because it speaks the same language and that's where I definitely got to express a lot of you know, the things that I've observed in the industry, seeing manifested in real life through the display of all these amazing brands that are making up our space. So MJ unpacked, gave me a press pass shout out to MJ unpacked, thank you so much to George JJ and his team as well as we Wilder she definitely is the woman to know when it comes to cannabis and PR and you know, kindly and graciously has allowed me to connect a lot of her clients but also made it possible for me to be at MJ unpacked. So that was a really great opportunity that allowed me to record the podcast I'm about to share with you today. So I got to interview Carly Warner she is the co founder and Chief Marketing Officer of garden society. Now garden society is a delicious craft cannabis brand that focuses on edibles as well as Sungrown prerolls. And they connect responsible farming sustainable ingredients and strain specific cannabis. They are two badass women shout out to the women in cannabis. I just heard a stat, you know the conferences that was kind of repeated. Cannabis used to have a large percentage of women owned businesses. I think it was originally like 30% A couple years ago. Presently, it's down to 8% 8% of women owned cannabis brands. So as a female founder myself definitely feel that number a little bit more close to home as we continue to evolve the conversation of women being in cannabis. So glad to have Carly on the podcast Harley represents a Sonoma cannabis brand. And we talked just about that what it's been like building a cannabis brand in Sonoma County, where alcohol and wine in particular are really the focus of the consumer and how through their brand, through some unique marketing, messaging through the quality of their products, as well as some fun activations in the form of Garden Parties. And using air quotes, we really dive into some of these unique ways that garden society has really grown and built their brand, a lot of the passion behind how they created the brand as well as what they are looking forward to doing in the market. And yeah, we sat down I apologize in advance. If it's a little bit noisy, we were on the show floor. So hopefully that adds to the excitement. The encouragement of you may be wanting to participate in MJ unpacked next year. But without further ado, I'm going to welcome Carly to the to be blunt podcast.
Karli Warner 8:32
So I'm Carly Warner. I'm co founder and CMO of garden society. We're a craft cannabis company based in wine country, California. So we're fully licensed in Sonoma County, we make beautiful edibles and pre rolls which we call rosettes, their little minis. And then we do hash infused rosettes. We feel very passionately about educating women specifically, but our customers span across all genders. And it's really about the quality and the craft and making sure that they get consistent effects. So super exciting. I'll share a little more about like our founder and how she develops the chemistry of the input of the cannabis because it is it's you know, we do use full spectrum, but just my sort of background and how I got into cannabis. So I always like to start with the fact that so I went through dare in fifth grade. And I was like, oh my goodness, I was I was like very straight and narrow and, and like okay, drugs are bad. I got it. So I am smelling the smell in my house frequently. And so I go pee picking around in my parents closet and I find a little bag of green herbal looking stuff. And I'm like, Oh my God, my parents do drugs. I was mortified. So I approached my mom. And I was like I found this in dad's closet. I think it's maybe pot or maybe it's marijuana. I didn't even realize that those For the same thing, like that was different, right? She was like, she tells me to this day, she had to, like, hold her breath, not to laugh. But she just told me that my dad used it to kind of help mellow his stress and you know, calm anxiety. And that was just like medicine for dad. And so I was kind of like, okay, well, so then a year later, I found out that my uncle who was dying of AIDS, also used cannabis to help me. And it was sort of planted this idea of like, I still felt like it was a drug. And it was scary to me. But I was like, Oh, that's really interesting. Like it is used as medicine. So fast forward into call, like, I never really dabbled with it. I really went sort of more the other, like, straighten their continued sort of what I call this down the straight and narrow, I think, partly because my parents did it. So it's like, oh, it's not cool, because my parents
Shayda Torabi 10:49
do do either, like follow in their footsteps, or you go the opposite direction.
Karli Warner 10:52
Yeah, exactly. So I was going the other way. But um, in my early 20s, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and put on pharmaceutical drugs, which really did improve my quality of life significantly. But as I was getting older, I was noticing some of the side effects of the medicine were sort of having more of a negative impact on my life. And so I started just trying, you know, weaned off of what I was on, and just sort of tried different lifestyle changes to manage the depression, anxiety. And my boyfriend at the time now husband grew cannabis and was really into it. And so he kind of helped me start trying out different strains. And we vaped it a lot were like more just like small micro dosing, but it really helped me anxiety. But I was doing this always with my my husband and his buddies. This was like, I didn't have any girlfriends that that were into cannabis like I was. And so I was working at the time for Constellation Brands in the wine industry, my backgrounds in public relations. So love what you did. And just kind of started learning more and more about how cannabis can be incorporated into your life in different ways and help in different ways. And it's interesting, I was still afraid to walk into a dispensary. I was very intimidated by the, the whole process of it. And so my husband would go in and buy me some products. And so I got to play with different candies and topicals and little things, you know, from the legacy days, but I was you know, working in line and I hadn't really thought about it. So my business partner and I met through Constellation Brands, air and gore, I helped launch her husband's wine brand through constellation. So we were ended up meeting at immediate doing media tour around the country. And we were at the Nomad hotel in the library in New York and we started talking about smoking weed. And it was like she was this like high powered, like very successful career with a German CPG company traveled all over the world like she just knocked my socks off. But and I just was blown away at this woman who also was so into cannabis and her story is very medical as well. And so I remember at Aspen food and wine we were sitting at a table together with this giant plate of French fries. We've gone to a dispensary smoked a joint. And she was telling me about how she wanted to someday have an edibles company and I that stuck with me. So we sort of parted ways I not just naturally like life got busy and I stopped working on that brand. And in my personal life. I had gone through some pretty significant trust tragedy. In 2014, my daughter was stillborn full term. And then four months later, my husband was diagnosed with lymphoma. And it was really, really challenging. But we ended up like cannabis just kept appearing in, you know, he had to use cannabis to eat while he was on chemo because it made him really sick. And so there was about six months of that. And then I proceeded to have four more miscarriages and just it was it was this time in our life that really brought my husband and I together but it was really challenging. But there was this common thread of cannabis. So in 2016, I finally had a beautiful daughter, Catalina and around you know, around four, she's four months old, I was supposed to go back to work and I was like, No way like this is not happening. And about two months later, Aaron reached out to me on Facebook Messenger Kismet because we didn't have each other's phone numbers anymore. She had quit her job in April. And she set out to build a cannabis brand and edibles brand. So she asked if I would meet and we sat down and I couldn't say no. But I was like, you know, here's I'm only gonna work this amount of time. And it's got to be like this. And I really set firm boundaries to make sure that I could be the mom I wanted to be but also, I mean, I had never dreamt of being an entrepreneur. I was like I'm a I'm a I'm a worker bee I'm really good at what I do, but I liked sort of having that structure around me of like a corporate you know situation. And so when she started talking about this, I was like oh, I don't know if I can do this and I don't know if this is for me and but it just kept going and going and her energy really gave me the confidence to be like, no I can do this Like I couldn't figure out how this works i and at the time it was under Prop 215 in California. So it was, you know, medical market. And we launched the company really around educating women and breaking down the stigma because for us at that time, there wasn't really a brand that resonated with us, it was all very sort of masculine and targeting, not to us. And so we wanted to build a brand that really was comfortable for both men and women that was high quality and consistent, but was approachable. So we actually started by doing these in home women's parties. So we would go into women's homes, they'd invite, you know, 12 to 30 of their good friends. And we would talk about cannabis, we would educate, we had a little, you know, one on one presentation that we did, through Prop 215, we were able to actually hand sell there. So talk about the product educate, they could feel it, touch it, smell it. And at the time, we had chocolates and gummies more of like a pact of like a French confession. And that really propelled the energy behind we had built all these sort of what we call now brand evangelists in Sonoma County. And, and it was small, but we were growing and it was really sort of like guerilla style, you know, it was just the two of us were bootstrap the company. And we just sort of built and chiseled away day by day. And we started to get placements on store shelves and continuing these women's parties. And yeah, that and now we're sitting here today, five years later.
Shayda Torabi 16:25
No, look, what an inspiring story. I mean, obviously do not, you know, take away the heartache that it sounds like you and your family and just, I think obviously everybody who kind of finds themselves I always hear some sort of reflection on something was not you know, working in our lives, and we were turning towards cannabis. And so I think from that perspective, obviously, this plant is so therapeutic for so many people for so many different reasons. But connecting the dots from how do I you know, get cannabis or know that I might need cannabis to then the end consumer of feeling like they can trust the brand or enjoying the products or understanding the quality obviously, we're seeing it more than ever that the brands are showing up and rising up in the cannabis industry. But being able to I think niche is something that gets talked about but doesn't necessarily get adopted maybe as much and you know, just from my own experience running a CBD dispensary. Of course, you want to be everything to everyone you want to sell to every person who is interested. But the reality is long term, I think when you are trying to build a brand, brands can't be everything to everyone, you want to find your people and it's kind of the, you know, it's okay that not everybody likes you because you only want the people who are gonna support you and champion you and want to continue to be a part of what you're building and creating. So kind of in that vein, when you were creating the brand, did Aaron already bring the brand name together? Was that something that you all created together? Obviously, being in Sonoma and having this wine background? I can imagine you know, the vineyards have some sort of influence with garden. And so I understand branding enough to know that like there is some on the nose stuff, right? It's like no doubt like this is like the brand that if you can manifest who the customer is in Sonoma County, who is buying your products, what they look like where they shop, what they consume, you can probably make those correlations but outside of that brand existing kind of walk us through what was that brand iteration of this is the brand name was it always that did you evolve into the brand always look and feel I mean, you just show me some of your packaging and just seeing it here on the show floor for everybody listening we are at MGM packed isn't alive. In the in the rooms recording, you can hear probably some of the, you know, chatter of the show floor. It's wrapping up today. But it's been a really exciting conference. And specifically, I'm JAM PACKED why I thought it was so valuable was being able to highlight those different brands, where at the end of the day, we're all relatively selling the same thing. But you can see such distinct personalities. So knowing you know your niche, how did you iterate and build the brand. So
Karli Warner 19:03
Erin had already started she hired an agency in this in San Francisco to help with the name, but it really comes from So Erin lives on a micro farming Healdsburg she and her husband he's a grape grower, but they grow like tomatoes that restaurants in town by and they grow cannabis and they grow. They're surrounded by vineyards and you know, grow all kinds of they have chickens. And they have this beautiful rose garden and Aaron has the story of how you know she'd be on phone calls in China and it would be stressful and she'd have her you know, headset on and be out in the garden clipping flowers and roses and just sort of like doing she's really great with floral arrangements. So the name really came from that and then society is we're really we have been dedicated from the beginning to build an empowered community who is Cana confident and proud and understands the plant and why it works for them and loves to share Air, you know that experience and that story. So that's where garden society comes from that was mostly formed before I got there. And then we worked with a branding agency to create like the flower patterns that you see on all of our packaging. And we did a reiteration a couple years in and added this other beautiful floral pattern to the brand. And I needed something that sort of drew it all together that was cohesive, that could be anywhere and not just associated, you know, correlated to a specific product. So we had the bones and sort of the structure of it. And then as the years have gone on, we've, you know, I've done different iterations of the look. And then also, the messaging has been really interesting. It's really always been, you know, women owned, crafting quality, and building this empowered community of women. But we have always had really supportive and incredible men in our lives and male consumers. So fun fact, actually, around 67% of our consumers from retail data are men. And yes, some of those are probably buying garden society for, you know, other people in their lives. But there's also this fact that they love the size of the pre rolls, they love the quality and taste of the chocolate. So in the retail store, the retail experience, we really try to be neutral in our messaging and inclusive, but certainly on, you know, at the forefront of what we're doing, it's educating women and bringing women into the fold around cannabis. And also everything we do is, you know, trying to build again, this empowered community. So an example of something that we just started doing is we partnered with an incredible organization out of New York called sad Girls Club. So they're a nonprofit dedicated to breaking down the stigma around mental health, specifically for black and brown women who were the stigmatization is even stronger than for, you know, other other women. And so we're doing some sponsored content and in real life, what they call soul sessions with them. So that's part of this community we're building, Aaron also mentors, a lot of women in the industry who are just starting out. So we try to really live that value through everything we do in garden society. And we actually even in fundraising, so in 2018, we started to do just a small round, like a seed round of funding, and we had supplement male investors say, you know, you don't have any, why don't you have any women on your cap table yet? Like, Why are women not investing in you must not be that authentic, or good or fill in the blank. And so we took that, and we said, Alright, we're, you know, we're going to turn this on its head, and we ended up building what we called Project sparkle, which is our a women's slate of angel investors. So we have women from across the industry, we have women from CPG, we have women from consumer insights, who have invested in garden society, because they believed in what we're doing. And now we have this incredible army of women who were able to tap into for different expertise for building word of mouth, all of these different ways that we can utilize these women that are putting this power behind us. And in having that we were able to then raise, you know, the funding that we needed, and have this powerful story. And we're doing a lot of work around, you know, spreading that and making sure that we're we're making introductions, because all of these women on our slate want to continue to build women brands. And so now we're making introductions and making sure they're looped into other what other women are doing in the industry. And
Shayda Torabi 23:25
it's so enriching and encouraging, and especially her story of just being able to have this. It's like, it's not to reduce it, but like to really get back to you know, like that moment of she's in her garden. She's finding this piece of just like trimming her roses, and just that inspiration and realization of wow, this is something that I can build a brand experience a conversation off of something to create some sort of, you know, all a branch or rose branch out to that consumer who might be perusing a dispensary and trying to you know, pick out the brand that speaks to them the most. I love that. So kind of off of that. You're a California Sonoma County brand. What is that market like in particular, knowing that alcohol and wine is such an influence in the market? Obviously, you're not selling in the same mediums. You can't sell cannabis at a winery or distillery or even at you know, the local store shop that selling wine like you have a different output to the consumer. But I'm just curious from building a brand in such a defined market that is wine. Did you notice that it helps or was there any challenges around the adoption from a consumer perspective from specifically maybe these women who are used to their tradition of wine branches? Are they now being converted into cannabis or Roset branches and kind of what is your influence been navigating that I guess God graphical area that you've been building your Brandon?
Karli Warner 25:02
Yeah, it's um, you know, there were definitely minds that needed to be other educated or changed or shifted or evolved expanded or what was interesting is at the you know, women's parties, you certainly had some attendees who like, came to just sort of hear the hear the stick hear the pitch, but were it very much like I am not going to consume cannabis. And what was interesting to watch is every party we did, there was someone there who was what we call Canna confident, and she would share her story. So we would do our education piece, we would share our stories, but then someone in the room would end up inevitably sharing as well. And that's what changed minds. It was, oh, I'm in this room. I'm in this community of women. There are already women in here, we're using cannabis, and they're okay to talk about it in an open way in this forum. And so I think that was really significant to changing minds. I think there's so much confusion which I'm sure you experienced between hemp drive CBD and THC and CBD from can you know, the cannabis plant. And so it was educating demystifying. And in some cases, it was that they should go and find like a high quality, beautiful CBD product on on the hemp derived market. And then in some cases, it was like oh, no, you probably should try it. You know, if you're open to having a little bit more of like an experience like an elevated experience for it, then we can bring in a little bit of that THC. And it quickly we quickly evolved from being this sort of Canna curious consumer to serving this Canna curious consumer to serving this Canna confidence consumer. And you can see that in the evolution of our products. So we start out with a 10 milligram chocolate and a five milligram root Patay. And then we moved when when legalization happened, the fruit back tail was not a viable product for the shelf at the time and the way that the manufacturing was working in testing, it was just, it was a challenging, challenging product to work with. So we ended up expanding our chocolate line and starting our rosettes, which are pre rolls. And that was really just Aaron and I like, we want joints to smoke. Let's make pre rolls, like real good market research there. But I need this product. So pre rolls, you know, we're one of the fastest growing categories at the time. And then what we did last winter is we actually partnered with a hash house out of Washington, we licensed them into California. And we also started making hash infused rosettes for ourselves. So that sounds delicious. Yeah, and so our products are divided into three categories, blissful wrasse, which are all the indica leaning strains, brighter day, which are more sativa leaning and common focus, which are the CBD rich strains. So we still have that sort of entree product in the CBD line. But then you can really, you know, expand up and go from there. And
Shayda Torabi 28:04
I appreciated the highlight of, obviously, the power of influence. And I think it's something that I really tried to resonate and emphasize through the podcast, and obviously through my guests stories and testimonials of just, it's amazing, obviously, when you can impact a billion people, 1000 people, 100 people. But when you are trying to truly make an impact, I do believe it has to be distilled down into a one to one conversation. And so I'm curious kind of what the transition was. You mentioned you started doing these, what did you call them before? Because now you call them Garden Parties, don't you always call the artisan garden party.
Karli Warner 28:42
And we had we called the we had a couple of women who did these outside of Aaron and I and they we called them our gardeners. I love that. So right before the pandemic, we did this whole panel of tests around this garden party program, figuring out like, how do we scale this out, we had started doing some in San Francisco, some in the South Bay. So from Sonoma County, that's like up to three hours away. And you know, we have luckily, so we got a Type s license. So we have a microbe is, so we're able to do manufacturing, delivery and distribution. And that's allowed us to be very nimble and flexible throughout the last few years. But also that allows it allowed us to service these Garden Parties even want, you know, even past legalization of adult use, right? So we looked at all of that. And then and then we were, you know, talking to different partners to scale this across the state and the pandemic hit. And we thought about taking them to zoom, but it just, it felt like a distraction at the time. We really we were looking at closing around a funding that fell through our investors got COVID It was just a disaster. I mean March 2020. I'll just say that not good. But we quickly said okay, what do we do to Like shrink down our spend on it. We've always been like a really like sustainable company fiscally responsible, we've had to be to stay, you know, to continue building. And so we really, we decided to basically hone in and really focus on the wholesale channel, build a trade marketing programs support the retailer, bud tender, and then pivot over over to contract manufacturing. So we were making our pre rolls in house already. And we started working with other brands to make their pre rolls, we make a really good pre roll. And then earlier this year 2021, we licensed the Hash House Sitka out of Washington into California and so just looking at different ways to build revenue in a more creative way without taking away from building garden society the brand because that's really the baby in the forefront.
Shayda Torabi 31:00
Hello, just want to take a quick moment to thank my sponsor, and full disclosure, my company restart CBD, restart CBD is a brand that I built with my sister. So we are family owned and women owned, we do operate a brick and mortar in Austin. So if you ever find yourself in Central Texas, we'd love for you to come say hi. But we also ship nationwide and we carry a wide range of CBD products, we really care about this plant, we really care about educating our customers, this show would not be possible without their support. So please go check us out at restart cbd.com and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks. And let's go back to the show. Yeah, I mean, yeah, really just truly so impressed and inspired by what you're sharing. And obviously going through it. It's not always rainbows and you know, butterflies, but I think the output of when something negative or challenging kind of hits your way, not getting discouraged from it, but kind of using it as fuel to kind of overcome it and pivot and just learn from it ultimately. And so it's just interesting, even on the idea of just you know, a garden party, I kind of want to go back to it a little bit to understand before, because maybe people don't understand this, and I understand it a little bit but always good to just get like a refresher from someone who's like lived through it. But like, when it's medical, it sounded like you were able to sell your products at these pop ups that you were doing. When recreation happened, you no longer can sell through that means correct. So how did that transition kind of that output for you? From medical to recreation? Where? Because like when you're talking about these events, like I think of, you know, the Tupperware party? Absolutely, yep. You know, the sex party is the sex toy parties where it's like, Okay, girls, we're gonna all come we're going to talk about this thing. And you know, people can buy on the spot. And there's obviously, you talk a lot from just our conversation about partnerships. I'm curious if there's any others, whether it's, you know, past or present or future looking. Because I do think that's the future of where brands exists, right? No longer are the days of, Hey, I just want to buy some weed weed legal where's the transaction happening, it's, I want more from the brand, I want the packaging, the smell, the experience, when I interact with them on social media to be then not only stellar, but then the deliverance of when I meet them in person at a pop up at a collaboration working with another brand out in the industry. And so obviously, partnerships can be super helpful and beneficial. I used to do partnership marketing, I know sometimes on all partnerships are always, you know, aligned in the same direction. So just curious kind of what your perspective has been on partnerships, how that has maybe helped strengthen or maybe giving you some pause to rethink certain things kind of moving forward. But you know, how do you all do partnerships with the brand?
Karli Warner 34:02
So in the past, I mean, I think partnerships are integral to building a cannabis brand. And so in the past, I love working with other women's brands and just other cannabis brands in general. Like we've worked with some Sonoma County brands just any way we can support you know, our peers and just continue to grow together like other cannabis brands. Yeah, Sonoma. Yes. So um, like we did a recipe collaboration with Stephanie from mellows, which is an edit I love those edibles brand in California. We've collaborated with our retail partners to create recipes. And then I mentioned sad Girls Club and looking forward I really see part like, so we're doing strategic planning and for next year, and I really see collaboration and partnership as the way that we really are going to grow. I was moderating a panel earlier about building a national cannabis brand. And everyone aligned that partnerships and collaborations are going To be key, I'm super excited about opportunities to partner outside of cannabis. So I've always had, you know, our brand is very, aesthetically, you know, it's a huge part of the brand is the way that it looks. And so to possibly partner with like an up and coming artist and have them iterate, what brighter day feels like to them or to partner with a fashion house or, you know, things like that I really, we're just closing our Series A funding and so to have resources and to have the mind space to start thinking about these collaborations and partnerships and where the brand can go. It's so energizing and exciting. And I just keep visualizing this billowing sail that's just got all this wind blowing into just capture and funnel that into the brand and finding these right partners and collaborators and create, you know, just even more of this lifestyle. I mean, at the end of the day garden society is a wine country lifestyle brand. And who doesn't want to live the wine country lifestyle, I mean, it's beautiful, it's delicious. It's fun, it's relaxing, it's a little bit aspirational. And so I think in that way, the thought of bringing garden society across the United States, and empowering all of these people to choose cannabis as a way that they can build more quality of life or just have more joy or, you know, have more fun on the weekend, whatever it is, help with an ailment, we have so many seniors who use our milk chocolate because they can't sleep. So we get them to sleep. And then if they wake up to be in the middle of the night, they can just go back to sleep. So to just know that there are all these ways that we can help, you know, change and highlight ways that people can bring more joy into their life is really exciting. And I would love to partner with brands that align to that joy and that authenticity and just wanting to bring more of that to everyone.
Shayda Torabi 37:00
Yeah, definitely aligned with brand partnerships. I think it's something that I just like come from partnerships. So it's for me like the second part of my brain. It's like, oh, collaborate, like let's do something together. But I think you obviously hit the nail on the head in terms of one addressing acknowledging at a national kind of cannabis level. The experts they agree collaborations are the future. But I think it's because people are going to realize, again, it's really interesting being so this is my first summit MJ biz for summit MGM pack, because it's MGM packs first year, you definitely still see like legacy cannabis brands and not legacy in the terms of maybe they've been around since you know, the black market days. But like, they speak to the original cannabis consumer, you know, the male and the mom's basement Rastafarian colors. And I think that there's definitely that consumer out there in the market. Right. But like, now you're seeing that cannabis consumer transcends so many other different industries or genres or intersections. And I think we're just scratching the surface of where this industry is going to be able to play when it comes to collaborations and partnerships. I mean, obviously, being able to, like, do a collab, if you're a wine company with a chef is much easier to be like, yes, we will just donate, you know, 12 cases of wine, and we're going to go to this local restaurant, and it's going to be super easy. Like, for my understanding, you can't just give away products, it has to go through a certain process that you understand based on regulations to be able to give that product at for collaboration or partnership or have to sell some sort of like trade, right? So it's just I think those complexities I don't think are bad, they just obviously make us have to be a little more refined of how we approach it. But ultimately seeing that that consumer is all of us. And we're also different. And so being able to tap into kind of like you were expressing. There are people who want to kind of feel the way that it feels when you are in wine country. I mean, full disclosure, I've never been to wine country, the closest I've been is like Marin County, which is I have to come visit I know I have these gardens and talking about I'm like, oh my god, I see things like growing up close. I mean, Texas's we grow things we have, you know, farm communities, but it's not quite the same abundance as California over there. But I'm curious, you know, expansion wise. In a true CPG world, your product is distributed nationally, even internationally. But we do have regulations. And you mentioned you, I guess, license, a hash company from Washington to manufacture in California for you. Are you licensing your brand out of state yet to distribute into more markets? Or are you just trying to focus on California?
Karli Warner 39:39
So we definitely have a national expansion plan. It's a little bit different. So we're really focusing on our manufacturing expertise. So we have some things in the works, but they're not like published sizable yet. But it's really driven around all manufacturing expertise. Erin's a chemical engineer and a Lean Six Sigma black belt, which is a process and engineering certification. And so we have a spectacular facility in Cloverdale, California. Its Lean Six cert, like, all the systems. And that's impressive. So, yeah, so you know, taking the brand and really being able to scale it across the country, but in a way that we can maintain the quality right is going to be really integral. And, you know, we'll see, you know, work, we're testing this and we'll see how it works. And I'm sure there will be a smattering of different I mean, look at what Nancy Whitman from wanna just Bill air is building continuing to build. I mean, she is really someone that we have followed, and they're great leaders are both, you know, we fangirl a little bit around Nancy, but, you know, they they did, you know, they did different things in different there's different ways to cut this. And so it just depends on, you know, kind of where we go next. But it Yeah, we definitely have now, no,
Shayda Torabi 41:03
I think that was a great answer to it. Because I think that's what I just want to come across for people to understand. I think when people assume getting in cannabis, it seems really great to go multistate, obviously, you know, we want to have as much I think it's not a negative thing. We, as humans, we want as much control as possible, like, why not have our product, especially when you reduce it down into as in a CPG world, I don't just sell my products in the Walgreens in Texas, like, I would hope that my products maybe start in the South that I can take on another market. And you see this kind of expansion rollout. Why not cannabis, but obviously, knowing that we do have a little bit different things that we have to navigate before we can open up interstate commerce. And I'm the first person to say I'm not ready for interstate commerce. But given the rules that we have to play within knowing, and just hearing your thoughts around the expected quality of the products that you're currently delivering, and making sure that when you move into another state, you understand that the products that is being produced in that state will be equally the same quality. And it's kind of a funny topic that I feel like has been swirling around this conference, which is the conversations I've been having, but people who kind of you know, articulate, man, just because x state went legal, the quality of their products are still not good. And so that's something I always reflect on too, when we do look at interstate commerce and federal legalization. I don't know if we're gonna want Texas but not that people can't grow great, but in Texas, or there's, you know, indoor growing, but respectively speaking, you know, you do look at, you know, the Emerald triangle, and that's kind of the pinnacle of what really good grows look like. And so understanding just because you can do something or can't do something, when things do open up, what does that gonna look like? And where does the quality fall? Because right now you will have to literally build a whole nother manufacturing, you're gonna have to use flour from that state. It's not the great flour grown in Sonoma, it's our from whatever state you're trying to expand. And I just don't think people really realize that when they see some of these brands, and you brought up one other great one, I've been a big fan of theirs, their gummies are like always stocked stash, like, whenever I visit Colorado, I'm like, Yes, done, we're going and now you can find them. across United States, even they're an international item they just opened up in Canada. But they have mastered the quality of the consistency and I think edibles is one thing obviously growing flour is another the extraction process everything. So there's a lot of stuff that goes into delivering that final product, that you're slapping your beautiful brand that you've built all this equity around and then bringing it in another state. So I was just curious, I think that you took it in a really great direction. Kind of to sum it up a little bit. You know, being here at a conference like this having the tenure in the industry that you've had. What do you feel is an exciting opportunity for brands kind of what has been some of your takeaways from this week that we've all been a part of men? How do you take what you've learned this weekend? Like? What are you walking away with? Really, from a brand perspective?
Karli Warner 44:02
I feel like I'm partly still digesting at all. But I've definitely I mean, this has been one of the most, I'd say beneficial conferences to attend for me just from the tiny nuggets of information that I've taken away from each conversation. And then just the consistency of certain themes like partnerships, or for example, I've talked to several people about like as you are expanding out of state the importance of like regional PR and making sure that you're integrating into the community and that you have programs that support the community and that you're hiring the right way within that community. So just really having an eye to that. from a brand perspective. I think it's you know, this is the first national conference. This is my also first time to MJ so just seeing all these different brands and from different states and looking at like their product mix or the way that they're marketing their messaging, even the words that they're Using it's so different state to state. So that's been super interesting. And also just because we are are at the stage where we are starting to expand, it's given me a lot of considerations and just things to think about. And I think, you know, it's highly competitive. And I also just hope to see, you know, we've really tried to build, we're small but mighty, and we've tried to build a very sustainable company from the fiscally fiscal responsibility lens, and not over fundraise too fast or not fundraise against an unreachable or unattainable valuation that forces us to do things that aren't smart for the brand's longevity, and really looking at how do we build a brand that can continue to grow at us in a, you know, like systematic scaled way that's consistent. And so I'm super proud of the fact that Aaron and I have been able to do that thus far. And so then just connecting here and meeting people who know who gardens society is from out out in the world has been great, doesn't fully answer your question. But that's just been sort of like my takeaway experience.
Shayda Torabi 46:13
I was able to get my hands on a couple of the garden society products. And from my perspective, I definitely appreciate being able to try as many brands out there, I think cannabis is one of those things that obviously, very similar to wine, there's so many different varieties, there's different regions, there's a lot of variation when it comes to the end product. And so no doubt that same effect is happening in the cannabis industry. But being able to hear Carly's perspective on how they created garden society, what the growth of the brand has been like, as well as all the different touch points that go into creating a brand a 360, approach those different experiencial aspects, packaging, what the product actually looks like, from a shelf perspective, from an E commerce perspective, then translating that into the actual product itself, the quality, how does it actually make me feel when I'm consuming these products. And so being able to, you know, again, have that perspective, have an understanding a little bit of how Carly and her co founder, Erin have gone into the consideration of building gardens society as a brand to then see the reflection of that actually, in their products was just so fun for me. And so I hope that you always, you know, feel inspired by these episodes, but ultimately get to be a little bit more tactile with them. I encourage you to check these brands out if you're visiting California. They are a California brand. Currently, if you're in Sonoma extra specially hope you get to pick up some garden society, but being able to travel and experience cannabis and all these different regions. And all these different formulations, the types of products, the consumption methods, all the variability that currently exists in the market is a really fun intersection for me as a brand marketer because that, to me is really what's defining the brand at the end of the day. We're all selling cannabis, but it's how you uplift that product, how you speak to your consumer and how you create that niche. So garden society is a 10 out of 10. For me, super thankful to have Carly on the show. Lots of great lessons learned so I hope that this episode was equally inspiring for you as it was for me. And of course we'll be back next week with another brand new episode. Until then, take care and talk to y'all online. Bye bye.
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