For our third installment honoring some of the best ladies of cannabis, we connected with Amanda and Jen of Kikoko. Co-founders and co-CEOs Amanda Jones and Jennifer Chapin are two powerhouses who founded the company on the principle of equality for women with six rules of doing business. Number 1 is ” No Assholes.”
What drew you two to work with this magical cannabis plant?
We had a friend with cancer. It was 2014, and she could not find any products that she felt were reliable and low enough dosed for her needs. She had some bad experiences on high THC and felt there was a real need in the market for a low-dosed, female-oriented brand. The more scientific research we did on the plant, the more convinced we became that it was nothing short of a human rights violation that the plant had been legally taken out of circulation as a highly effective alternative medicine. Voila – Kikoko was founded in 2015.
How do you and your company hope to impact and/or inspire women?
Amanda and Jen are longtime women’s rights advocates and unabashed feminists. At our age, we were sick and tired of mansplaining, dismissiveness, and workspace bias. We set out to eradicate all of that at Kikoko. We also decided to create a brand that was based around women being their authentic selves, speaking up, trying new things and living loudly and bravely. Our other goal was to provide women with a way to reduce their alcohol and pharmaceutical consumption, which cannabis can do beautifully in many situations. We are strong believers that cannabis is healthier for the human body and the planet.
What has been the most difficult and the most rewarding thing about building your business?
Well, clearly the most difficult thing has been CA state taxes and regulations. We are not alone in that. There has been hurdle after hurdle, many of them we believe to be punitive to business and not constructive to the wellbeing of the public. However, women are good problem-solvers too. We take a running start and jump each hurdle at a time.
The most rewarding thing I would say would be that we have built a company run by women for women. We have around 35 employees and approx. 85% of them are women. We have women machine operators, a woman Ops Director, a female Chief Science Officer, etc. Another wonderful thing about Kikoko is the women we have attracted. We are lucky to have extraordinary talent on board, and the diversity represented makes us a much stronger company.
Cannabis so far is a local industry, born from a global movement. How can leaders across geographies work together to bring other women into the industry?
I think this is already happening. Although the number of women in the industry has now been drowned out by the number of men getting in, it is still a growing pool. And female founders support one another, which is unusual. We are happy to expand that support globally once the industry reaches that point. Additionally, we speak on panels and offer advice whenever asked.
What is one bit of wisdom or advice you have for other women looking to lead in this space?
Do not take money from assholes. You will live to regret it. Pay for a really good lawyer as early as you can. Trust your female instinct as it is strong and typically correct. And do not partner with anyone you have any doubts about. It is better to walk away from opportunity or money than to take on a bad situation. Spend cautiously and wisely on only the things essential to grow the business. When all goes horribly wrong, have a cup of Kikoko!
Kikoko creates organic cannabis-infused products formulated to help with sleep, mood, pain, sex, and everyday wellness. Check it out!