Jennifer Chapin, the cofounder of Kikoko, recently recalled how she was “laughed out of the dispensaries” when she tried to sell her low-dose cannabis-infused teas in her company’s early days. Three years later, Kikoko’s teas, which come in sachets and canisters wrapped with pink-and-purple stripes and cartoon flowers promising benefits such as “Sensuali-tea” and “Tranquili-tea,” are sold through over 300 storefronts and delivery services across California.
“We are a women-centric, women-owned, women-operated company,” Chapin declared to a room full of women at Arcview, a conference for cannabis investors, in Los Angeles in February. “By women, for women.”
Arcview welcomes investors irrespective of gender, but Kikoko had sponsored a women-only “tea party” (with unmedicated tea) to facilitate some female-friendly networking and announce that the company was seeking capital for expansion into new product categories, with minimum investments starting at $1 million.
Founders of female-focused cannabis startups like Kikoko may soon be laughing all the way to the bank—and they’re getting there by looking beyond millennials, and catering to women in their 40s, 50s, and beyond. Executives such as Chapin, who is 55, are listening to older women’s wishes for low-dose cannabis products that address concerns such as sleep, anxiety, and sexual pleasure, and positioning their companies at the very lucrative intersection of women, weed, and wellness.
Wellness, women, and weed
It’s a market that’s growing. Women control the majority of household purchases, and according to the US Consumer Expenditure Survey, single women over 45 spend about $640 per year on personal care items and $400 annually on drugs. As legalization takes hold, those products are increasingly likely to contain—or even be replaced by—cannabis. According to sales data and a survey of 4,000 cannabis consumers by the San Francisco-based delivery platform Eaze, the number of female cannabis consumers nearly doubled in 2018, and with their growth outpacing men, women are on track to be half of the cannabis market by 2022. Female baby boomers on the platform grew by nearly a quarter between 2017 and 2018.
Women are on pace to be half the legal US cannabis market by 2022
Kimberly Kovacs, the cofounder and CEO of MyJane, which delivers “curated cannabis” boxes to women (think Birchbox-meets-Eaze), was also at Arcview. That same week, her company was acquired by the cannabis logistics conglomerate MJIC for an undisclosed sum, after completing just three weeks of deliveries. MJIC CEO Sturges Karban was unabashed about the acquisition’s main attraction.
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News