Women have a powerful and growing voice in the cannabis industry, and we’re here to amplify that. Last month we looked at the 10 hottest woman-led brands in the US, as measured by the Pioneer Heat Index, which monitors consumer engagement across three pillars: earned media, social media, and website traffic. More on their methodology here.
This month we’re looking specifically at California-based brands with woman founders and/or CEOs. If you compare this list with the nationwide list, you’ll see a fair amount of overlap, which is unsurprising, given the size and age of the California market. (I’ve no doubt there’d be less overlap if we’d limited ourselves to California-only brands.)
As a case in point, Kiva ranked #1 on last month’s list, #1 on this list, and is currently the #2 brand in the nation on the overall Pioneer Heat Index. And while Kiva has certainly been on the rise, they’ve been buzz-worthy for a while–at this time last year they were ranked #5 on the nationwide heat index, which now tracks nearly 700 brands in 32 US states.
So how do you get to be one of the buzziest cannabis brands in the country and hang on to that title? Kiva’s co-founder Kristi Palmer touts the power of women.
“One thing I love about the cannabis industry is the way that women support each other,” she says. “Because the industry is still in its infancy, it is incredibly inclusive. And we want to keep it that way! Women bring their whole selves to both their personal and professional responsibilities. We need their valuable perspective as leaders to ensure cannabis continues to be accessible to diverse voices and their evolving need-states.”
Susan Gentile, who leads business development for Kiva, told us a story that illustrates Kristi’s priorities. “Before Kiva had 400 employees and back in the days when we all worked together in the same room, Kristi took the time to handwrite a card to all of the women on the Kiva team in honor of Mother’s Day,” she said. “She used the occasion to recognize unique ways that each woman nurtured the team and supported its growth–and I will never forget that.”
Miss Grass, another brand at the top of this month’s list, also credits their inclusive company culture for their successful consumer engagement. Kate Miller, the CEO and co-founder of Miss Grass, says, “From the very start at Miss Grass, we’ve taken an audience-first approach in building our brand and every decision we’ve made has centered around that community. By focusing on building our community first through educational content, dialogue, and events, we’ve been able to utilize data and knowledge gained to inform our strategy and scale our brand as the largest and most engaged community of female cannabis consumers.”
Kayla Noriega-Jacobs, chief of staff at Miss Grass, adds, “Miss Grass is a team of authentic, diverse and badass women. Kate has created an environment in which we are empowered to voice our different point-of-views and relationships with cannabis, while ultimately acting as a team that shares the same values of building an equitable industry, increasing accessibility to the plant, dissolving stigmas and using cannabis in a way that enhances our lives. Having a team of diverse viewpoints with shared goals has an enormous impact on our ability to continuously grow and resonate with our community.”
Her Highness appears on both lists as well, and they rely on woman-focused marketing and word of mouth to build community. Laura Eisman, the co-founder and co-CEO told us, “Through glamorous products and packaging, Her Highness meets female customers where they are. We are a woman duo immensely in tune with our market – we create products that make women drool, effects that make them happy, details that delight them. And they talk about it!! Word of mouth is our most effective marketing tool. Every time a fan shares their experience using our Pleasure Oil, unboxes a Get Lit Kit, or reveals a free gold lighter inside the pre-roll box, we build community.”
Allison Krongard, the brand’s other co-founder and co-CEO told us, “We’re women with a lifetime of cannabis experience here to speak to women about using cannabis for joy, euphoria and better orgasms. We’re here to amp up the glamour for women through cannabis and to use our brand to elevate our female predecessors and peers.”
Everyone we spoke to for this article emphasized the positive power of woman-led company culture. Maggie Rabadi, director of sales for THC Design, said “THC Design is proudly women-owned and several of our departments are led by women, from sales to packaging, distro, testing, trimming and on down the line. Producing the highest quality cannabis requires nurturing, dedication, and a willingness to go the extra mile for our team and our customers.” Co-founder Jairia Pass was quick to point out that the feminine energy starts in their greenhouses. “Once you’ve grown cannabis, you realize how intimately feminine these plants are,” she says.
Big ups to all these powerful women and the wisdom and intelligence they bring to the table! And, without further ado, here are the top ten hottest woman-led from California.
Pioneer Intelligence leverages data to benchmark marketing performance of consumer-facing cannabis brands. Built by a group of experienced and passionate marketers and data scientists, Pioneer helps industry stakeholders better understand how communications strategies resonate with audiences. In early 2021, Pioneer launched its first products, a suite of marketing performance scorecards. These reports present actionable data across three focus areas: social media, earned media and web-related activities. More information can be found on the company’s website, https://pioneer.buzz.
Disclaimer: Pioneer currently has more than 680 brands in their active pool with hundreds more in their pipeline. (Pipeline brands require six months of data before being added to the active pool.) Lists of both active and pipeline brands can be found at pioneer.buzz/brands. If you would like to request your brand be tracked by Pioneer, please email [email protected].