If you bought cannabis products in the mid-2010s, you probably remember just how profoundly bro-y all of the emerging brands were–design was lowbrow and often covered in naked girls and aggressive guys.
This is why when Christina DiPaci launched her brand, she did things differently. She’s the founder and CEO of Paradiso Gardens–one of California’s largest, independent, and women-owned craft cannabis farms. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, Christina brings a wealth of knowledge in compliance and finance, as well as the art of strain selection, package design, and brand development.
Today, Christina joins the podcast to talk about her journey into the cannabis industry, how she created a brand that celebrates vacations and fun, and why she thinks we won’t be sending cannabis via FedEx for at least another 30 years.
Before we get into the interview with Christina, Jeff and I dig into an article titled “The Top Seven Cannabis Industry Marketing Challenges” and share our thoughts on some of the top challenges, namely the issues with advertising and marketing restrictions on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Enjoy!
- How Christina created a brand that clearly differentiates itself–and why her packaging and branding is so colorful without being “stoner-ish.”
- What Paradiso Gardens is doing to make their operations as sustainable as possible.
- The importance of having non-cannabis merchandise to help build a cannabis brand.
- The one thing Christina legally can’t do now that she wishes she could.
- How Christina learned to grow her own plants.
“Growing plants is the same way as making a painting.” – Christina DiPaci
“Persevere, that’s the main thing. You’re going to have pitfalls. There’s no way to avoid them. You need to have them so that you can learn and grow, and you can continue to help define what your business looks like.” – Christina DiPaci
- Paradiso Gardens
- Lola Lola
- Kiva Sales & Service
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
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Rick Kiley: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of The Green Repeal. Today, we got a great interview lined up for you featuring the CEO of Paradiso Gardens, Christina DiPaci. Christina appears to be living the dream after college out in the Northeast. She and some close friends ventured out west, started working in cannabis. Together, they founded and created Paradiso Gardens, one of the largest independent cannabis companies in the country. They built a great brand with sustainability as a core value. They seem to be doing well in no small part due to the positive company culture they’ve created. So, stay tuned for that. But first, I’m here with my partner, Jeffrey Boedges. We need to chat about some cannabis marketing challenges. Hello, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey Boedges: Hola, señor.
Rick Kiley: Hola. You always say hola. It’s nice.
Jeffrey Boedges: I can say – we could…
Rick Kiley: And you also like to say, “La cuenta por favor,” at the end of a meal.
Jeffrey Boedges: I do. Mostly because I think my brain is actually on vacation in like Cozumel right now.
Rick Kiley: Nice. Nice. And you know, strangely enough, Paradiso Gardens likes to think of itself as vacation weed.
Jeffrey Boedges: See what it did there?
Rick Kiley: Same. Yeah. So, look, I actually did a little bit of research. I know that’ll surprise you. And I found out…
Jeffrey Boedges: And I actually didn’t.
Rick Kiley: That’s okay.
Jeffrey Boedges: I know that won’t surprise anyone.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, boy. Any college professors, high school teachers listening?
Jeffrey Boedges: Any of the ones that had me, they are like, “Yeah.”
Rick Kiley: “That sounds about right.”
Jeffrey Boedges: “That’s the Jeff we know.”
Rick Kiley: Well, I found an article on CannabisBusinessExecutive.com published earlier this year titled The Top 7 Cannabis Industry Marketing Challenges. So, this was a survey that came from Jointly and Ganjapreneur, and it was based on responses from 100 cannabis business executives and the results paint a clear picture of what’s going on in the marketplace. So, I actually just thought, Jeff, you’re not looking at this. So, this was from April, and I’m wondering how many of these seven you might get right. I’m going to tell you there are definitely some you will and I’m pretty sure there are definitely some you will not.
Jeffrey Boedges: All right.
Rick Kiley: So, what do you think?
Jeffrey Boedges: First is how to have a motivated workforce that isn’t stoned to the bejeezus belt.
Rick Kiley: Wow.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah? No?
Rick Kiley: No. So, survey says X on the board.
Jeffrey Boedges: This is why I don’t go on Family Feud.
Rick Kiley: I think you’re thinking a little too hard. There’s something a little more obvious.
Jeffrey Boedges: I would say baggage, you know, basically people not really knowing.
Rick Kiley: So, number one, lack of consumer education about cannabis. I’ll give you that one. That was the number one answer on the board. Ding. Ding.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yup. Federal restrictions would be the other thing where they, you know.
Rick Kiley: I’ll give you that too. It’s advertising restrictions was the number 2 one. But yes. Yeah. That’s the big thing. Next? When you get sick of this, I’ll just read them off.
Jeffrey Boedges: Did I mention having the stoned workforce already? That’s seven.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, there’s seven.
Jeffrey Boedges: You sure it’s not three? I think it’s three.
Rick Kiley: Okay. Let’s get to three. Let’s get one more.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s the taco one. No. I’m going to let you read it because I’m on the spot.
Rick Kiley: Number three, lack of budtender product knowledge. Number four, backchannel deals. So, I think number three is quite, you know, that’s something that exists in a lot of places, but backchannel deals…
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s all categories?
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Those top three I think are pretty much things that we’ve talked about a lot but 88% of executives reported that backchannel deals, which negatively affect fair competition or at least a minor problem in the industry, with 41% believing these deals are a serious or a very serious problem. Now, this is also because of the fact that there’s no federal legalization.
Jeffrey Boedges: Then there are no three tiers. And I think a lot of these companies, they pride themselves on being seed-to-sale. I mean, I wouldn’t call it exactly a backdoor deal per se but I would definitely say it doesn’t lend itself to competition from a supply side.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, that’s interesting. Number five, Illegal market competition. The illegal market has been a problem. Surprise, surprise. 84% of executives believe the illegal market is at least a minor problem with again 40% calling it a very serious problem. So, I think that kind of in line with the backchannel deals, obviously, that black market exists and it’s going to take a while to get rid of it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Again, I guess we’re going to discuss all these in a little bit more detail but that’s capitalism. There’s a black market because there’s a market and that’s it.
Rick Kiley: Well, and the legal market is pretty pricey, and it’s pretty pricey again because of the fact that it’s not legal on a federal basis. Okay. So, two more down here that showed up in this survey, and I wouldn’t have gotten these at all. Corporate and/or celebrity brand competitors. So, with so many big companies and well-known celebrities jumping into the cannabis industry, many brands are finding it more difficult or more expensive to compete. 72% believe that corporate or celebrity product competition is at least a minor problem. I am surprised but I guess it’s expensive to start up one of these things, and I guess that would help.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I don’t know. Most of these corporate deals that we’ve seen from sports drinks to gaming to tennis shoes to sneakers now, it’s usually an equity swap. You know, if you can find the right celebrity who’s willing to put skin in the game, they don’t really cost anything on the front end. They discuss it when they start selling stuff out the back end, but that’s not the worst problem to have.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I mean, maybe this is because their brands have already started off in the marketplace without a celebrity component and now the new entrants have it, and so they’re trying to play catch up. I don’t know. Interesting. You know, not something we’ve talked about.
Jeffrey Boedges: You and I are available for celebrity endorsements, by the way. Just to put that out there for the listeners.
Rick Kiley: Right. For our friends and family who know us. And then the last one was oversaturation of the market with too many brands. Well, that is probably the case. Oversaturation in the cannabis market isn’t a big problem today but it will be in the future and 69% of cannabis executives think market oversaturation is a minor problem or worse. I mean, I think this is more of an education issue myself. People don’t know the difference between products and brands and strains and all that. But, yeah, there’s a lot of choice out there, and like being presented with a wine list that’s 500 deep. That puts anybody in an uncomfortable position and not know how to make a really good choice. So, I guess that’s something that we could worry about. Is there anything else that we’ve been talking about that you think has come up that’s not here?
Jeffrey Boedges: I mean, every one of our podcasts is really about a different challenge. We’ve got well over seven. So, I’m going to say, certainly, the social equity is a huge problem that I don’t really feel had been addressed yet. You know, and I think there are other things like not even mentioned here, which I think should be is banking. I think finance and banking is still a huge issue. You know, the tax…
Rick Kiley: Marketing challenges. The marketing challenge.
Jeffrey Boedges: Oh, marketing challenge. Oh, they have to be marketing.
Rick Kiley: No, I mean, don’t have to but that’s what this article was about.
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. Okay. So, marketing challenges. Yeah. I mean, I think the biggest one out there and probably in here is really I don’t know if I would think of it as saturation per se. I think it’s just very difficult to build a brand. And if you’re doing it state-by-state, man, it just makes it that much more difficult.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. And the one I wanted to spend a minute on was this idea because I think it’s come up a couple of times this idea of the advertising restrictions. And like advertising restrictions, they exist in other sin spaces. Alcohol has advertising restrictions. Tobacco has advertising restrictions. Gambling has advertising restrictions, but…
Jeffrey Boedges: Gambling doesn’t and that’s a big issue but that’s another conversation.
Rick Kiley: But here and we’re going to hear in the upcoming interview, being able to just advertise your prices on Instagram is something that cannabis can’t do. And I think we’re not going to get into it that much today but what companies need to be doing, this is the place where it’s funny because the advertising restrictions really gave birth to our industry, the experiential industry, and it started with tobacco and tobacco advertising became you couldn’t advertise on TV anymore. They had to find other ways to connect with consumers. And so, I think there’s a live engagement side that is just a requirement as a solution to get around that. But the other thing from the digital side, when people are investing a lot in their image and their Instagram accounts and how they portray themselves, I think the thing that keeps coming up is also the premium to create first-party data. So, if you’re doing more than just reaching people through Instagram, through social sharing and you can capture someone’s email, mobile phone number, and you can curate direct communication to these folks as well, I think that’s really got to be something where people are spending their time and energy at the moment because these other methods really aren’t out there. And you can send things to your own proprietary list of customers and consumers and so forth.
Jeffrey Boedges: Sure. Yeah. Well, I mean, content creators, content providers can also do that in a very massive scale, you know? So, I mean, I think you mentioned social companies, social media Instagrams, and Facebooks, but I mean, let’s look beyond that like start looking at like Googles and Amazons and the guys that are really the behemoths of data marketing. You know, once this becomes legal federally, they’ll obviously become masters at it. When you can order cannabis on Amazon, I mean, it’s going to be really, really crazy. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. It doesn’t mean the big guys will win because you can go on Amazon today and order stuff from many guys. You go on Etsy and you can really find some bespoke things. But those guys, you know, these content providers out there are the ones that have reams and reams and reams of data about you that then they can cross-reference with your cannabis relationship as well, right? So, they might know. They’re going to be able to tell you, “Well, people who bought green lawnmowers in the last year are ten times more likely to smoke weed than the guys that brought a red one.” They’ll know that kind of crazy algorithms that they can then use to really accurately target consumers.
Rick Kiley: Then you go sponsor a lawnmower convention. That would be good.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Tractors and trim.
Jeffrey Boedges: No. I was thinking more like, “Let us mow your grass.” The slogans really write themselves on that one.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. All right. Cool. Well, listen, we’ll of course keep talking about these things over the next episodes. I think we’ll be able to go into more detail around education. You know, that’s one of our sweet spots and the budtender knowledge. So, I think we’ll spend time talking about that. But we want to get you guys to our interview and it’s a great one. Christina DiPaci, she’s delightful, knows a lot, and they’ve built a really great brand.
Jeffrey Boedges: She did what we all want to do. She got out of school. She’s like, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to move to California and grow weed.” I wanted to do that coming out of college and I didn’t. And now I’m kind of like, “Sh*t, man. I should’ve.”
Rick Kiley: Well, let that be a lesson to you. Follow your dreams, kids.
Jeffrey Boedges: Just go out and do it, man. You can only screw it up so bad.
Rick Kiley: All right. Thanks for listening. Enjoy the interview. Cheers.
Rick Kiley: We are back for another episode of The Green Repeal. Welcome, everyone. It is post-Thanksgiving. I’m leaning into my winter eating style where I try to lay on a little extra to deal with the cold that’s coming into the Northeast. How are you doing, buddy?
Jeffrey Boedges: I’m the same, man. I am freshly off my Thanksgiving break up in New England and I have packed on a couple of extra pounds feeling pretty positive about it but back on the sunny Isle of Manhattan today. It feels very nice to be in the city.
Rick Kiley: Well, very good. Very good. We are excited to have you all here today. We have a great interview with Christina DiPaci. Christina is the founder and CEO of Paradiso Gardens, one of the lardest – largest. Let me say that again. Lardest? That’s not a thing. One of the largest independent craft cannabis farms in California. Women-owned and supported by lifelong friends, everyone at Paradiso is united by the positive and uplifting powers of craft cannabis. That’s just so nice. I want to say it my radio voice like that. Well-versed in the cannabis trade for over 10 years, Christina does all. She knows the world of compliance, finance, as well as fun things like strain selection, package design, and brand development. That’s not to suggest that compliance and finance aren’t fun but they’re not as sexy as those other things. Christina holds a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from the Parsons School of Design and a graduate certificate in Scientific Illustration from California State University Monterey Bay. And in addition to helming the Paradiso operation, Christina enjoys living in Big Sur with the ocean, her two horses, and beautiful garden. We can see them behind her, at least her home. It’s lovely. When you see the Paradiso brand, you sense that this tranquil Big Sur lifestyle is being rolled up and delivered right to you.
Rick Kiley: Christina, welcome to The Green Repeal.
Christina DiPaci: Thank you for having me. Beautiful introduction.
Rick Kiley: Well, thank you. Thank you. I’m really proud.
Jeffrey Boedges: We should set that to music in like a rolling sort of string backdrop I think could really bring it to life.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I just like lifestyle being rolled up and delivered right to you. I think that’s really my mantra for this conversation.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s your pun for the day.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, Christina, welcome. Can you give us a little bit of your backstory, tell us how you got involved in the cannabis industry, all that good stuff?
Christina DiPaci: Yes, absolutely. Of course.
Jeffrey Boedges: Tell us how you got from Parsons here in New York. So, you’ve got some New Yorker in you.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. I grew up right outside New York City and so did my other co-founders. So, very much a friendly business.
Jeffrey Boedges: We almost bought a place in Nyack, but then we moved a little further west. But, yeah, it’s awesome there.
Christina DiPaci: It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Yeah. So, Nyack to Parsons to California. I think, as they say, it’s fun to do bad things with your friends. And so, we started smoking weed at an early age and then kind of experience showed us that it’s not really terribly dangerous drugs. And as curious kids, you kind of work out the supply chain and you realize it’s not terribly dangerous people that are involved in the cannabis world. We saw a CNBC episode about the Emerald Triangle and we saw in like 2009 and how they were like, “Yeah. We’re selling weed for like 2,500 a pound. We’re like, “What?” And through the friends and family connections, we’ve made our way.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, you moved out for the bargains.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. It’s like Costco out here where you had the big box.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Cool.
Christina DiPaci: So, we moved out to Humboldt in 2010 and really started going and doing all of our focus into the cannabis industry at that point. And so, we had Parsons and Humboldt and we opened a delivery service based on Berkeley in 2013, and they all kind of culminated and led us to Monterrey, where we started a greenhouse farm, really large scale in 2016. And so, that kind of set the stage for the recreational market and our participation in it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. And it’s just you and your two partners. Is that correct?
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. We have two co-founders but also, we have a bunch of friends who do random things throughout the company. We have a wonderful team of people who are not friends and now they’re friends.
Rick Kiley: What’s the job title for a friend who does lots of things? Like, what was that person’s title at your organization?
Christina DiPaci: So, that’s Julia and her title is Jules of all Trades.
Rick Kiley: Nice. I knew it was going to be something fun and creative. Awesome. All right. Emperor of the Gardens, I think it should be one that’s out there, something. We should come up with a few more.
Christina DiPaci: That one’s a good one.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. All right. Well, so you developed the brand Paradiso Gardens but was the farming piece, was that first? I guess what was the genesis of coming up with the brand idea?
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. So, from our experience of having the delivery service, we saw brands that were on the rise and it was a really low bar, very low brow too. The branding is like 2014, 2015, 2016 in California. You know, lots of like naked girls and aggressive guys.
Jeffrey Boedges: This is where the Parsons work comes in here.
Christina DiPaci: Exactly. It all connected at that point. But, yeah, we had a large farm. We’re producing a lot of weed and we still don’t have a dispensary license, and so it’s our one way to connect with consumers and that really have that creative outlet. And so, we worked with OMFGCO, a design agency out of Portland who helped us with brand identity. But, yeah, we wanted to have a brand that was more highbrow. High design was approachable and also very true to the cannabis culture and kind of mirrored our experience where we’re very recreational users and we wanted to celebrate that fact with our brand.
Rick Kiley: All right. Cool. Good.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, I saw that it’s mostly flower, right? Would you guys kind of position yourself more as a party brand or do you still see it kind of being across the board?
Christina DiPaci: Oh, I like a party brand. We say that we celebrate vacation lifestyle, so it doesn’t have to be necessarily social, but I guess you can have a one-person party.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, for sure. Trust me, that’s all I get invited to now.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. “Jeff, could you stay home? Cool. That’d be great.” Yeah. His will be, “We’re having a party. Just you have one by yourself. Cool. Thanks.”
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. You can go ahead and dial in.
Rick Kiley: All right. I’m tired of dial-in parties. All right. So, wait, Jeff mentioned flower. So, I looked at your website, of course. We do a little research. Is it exclusively flower products? I saw just flower and pre-rolls. Is that the run?
Christina DiPaci: That’s true. Yeah. Our original focus was everything we produce on a farm to have it be in a packaged branded good and so we’re approaching that point. And so, what you’ll see in 2020 is a lot of other types of products. So, we’re doing edibles and topicals and kind of venturing out.
Rick Kiley: Okay. So, you got more stuff to come.
Jeffrey Boedges: More stuff coming.
Christina DiPaci: Exactly.
Rick Kiley: Awesome. All right. Cool. And so, where can people find your products? I mean, we hear where you’re operating but are you distributed all across the state? Are you thinking about other markets as well? Tell us about that.
Christina DiPaci: Sure. We’re all across the state. It’s easiest if you look at our Instagram or our website or read maps. You can find us. I would love to be in other states. I think that’s a conversation of how to do it in practicality and really expanding your network into other operators and alignment in other states.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I get the feeling that where we’ve seen from some of the conversations that we’ve had with other people from California is that I think the Triangle has its designs on being the number one exporter if and when it becomes federally legal. You know, they’re just like, “We should supply all the weed to the country.” It’s a very bold mission.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. But a clear one.
Christina DiPaci: I think in a sense, it’s already happening. And so, they’re just being true to that.
Jeffrey Boedges: And grayish area.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. And the tastemaker is more than that. So, it’s strain development comes out of here, new products, especially when you get into those stackable products, all of the trendiest stuff in California.
Rick Kiley: Got it. And so, you started out, you mentioned you started out, you’re in Humboldt County and now you’ve moved into Salinas Valley. I’m curious as to sort of what prompted that change, that switcheroo.
Christina DiPaci: You know, the conversation started was really surrounding regulatory environment. Monterey County was like as long as you’re in these greenhouses, you can grow however many plants and however many square footage. And at the time, no one was like that open. And I think that there are a few other reasons that added to the conversation after that point, which is the proximity to traditional agriculture. And so, you have very easy water rights. You have accessibility to raw materials like we have a flat paved road that goes to our greenhouse. In Humboldt, you do not have that.
Rick Kiley: Okay. I guess that makes a difference. Yeah. It’s good.
Christina DiPaci: I remember our first soil delivery. They were like, “I can’t believe this. It’s where you’re growing. It was so anti-Humboldt.”
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s the first time I’ve ever heard anyone say it’s soil delivery, by the way. I think that’s a first. Well, when you’re running a greenhouse, for sure.
Rick Kiley: Well, you do need soil. You need soil in the greenhouse. Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: And you guys are running greenhouses, though, and not like I know like Humbolt, it seems like a lot of people are doing sunshine. You know, they’re not really growing in greenhouses. Is that true? Or am I just sort of…
Christina DiPaci: Oh, that’s definitely true. I think most people in Humboldt have a hybrid model where they have their outdoor crop that’s pure sunshine. And then they have a couple like other hoop houses are full greenhouses do have supplemental crops throughout like spring and summer months.
Rick Kiley: Got it. And is everything you’re growing being used exclusively for your own products? Are you selling anything to someone where you like extracting and then selling to another brand to be put into a concentrated gummy or some product like that?
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. We sell our trim and our trim actually gets stripped for terpenes, and it ends up in like a pretty big variety of different brands for cannabis leaves terpenes. And then we make pre-rolls for Lola Lola, another pre-roll brand.
Rick Kiley: Lola Lola? I just want to make sure.
Christina DiPaci: Lola Lola. Yeah. Lola Lola.
Rick Kiley: That’s fun to say.
Jeffrey Boedges: L-O-L-A. Lola.
Rick Kiley: Cool. All right. So, then let’s talk about the name like, obviously, we spoke about at the beginning here, talking about the name, about the branding. What really was the inspiration behind the name and the design, the package? You know, how did that whole process come to be? How did you come up with that idea?
Christina DiPaci: Sure. Well, we’ve really been recreational users, so we wanted to celebrate the fun aspect of weed. The laughter gives the bonding between friends kind of the escaping from your woes of your everyday life. And so, we started there and then OMFGCO, the design firm, really helped pull it all together and give us a pretty solid basis of concepts of imagery and so we have this idea of Paradiso Garden as like your everyday paradise. Whether it’s real or imaginary, it’s still like when you smoke weed, you have lower stress levels, you slow down, you appreciate the fun, the colorful, and the silly parts of life. And so, you see those aspects throughout all of our packaging and branding.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. It’s very colorful packaging. So, quick question for you, though. So, did you guys do the name first and then the actual grow? Or did you start with the grow and then while things were kind of coming online, you worked out the brand name?
Christina DiPaci: We started with the grow, and then we did the brand.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. You guys were, “Build it and they’ll come.”
Christina DiPaci: Yes, exactly.
Rick Kiley: I wonder if the grow were very different if you were to come up with a different name like if it was something really like had different color or different smell, you’re just like, “This isn’t Paradiso Gardens. It’s like Skunk Highway.” Just curious.
Christina DiPaci: I don’t know. I mean, our farm is super weird.
Rick Kiley: I don’t know. I just made that up, man. I don’t know if that’s a good brand name.
Jeffrey Boedges: No, I like the name. It sounds like something that comes out of Missouri before it comes out. I am from Missouri so I can say that.
Rick Kiley: That’s funny. I mean, I really like the packaging also. I mean, you said you wanted to be fun and celebratory, the fun side of weed but it doesn’t strike me as like overtly stoner-ish. It’s very elegant and clean still. And I think it definitely leans away from what I think we perceive now is like the more medicinal packaging, the things that look very pharma associated. So, it’s definitely not that but I think you’ve done a really nice job that it seems attractive to what I imagine is a wide array of people. So, I think it’s great work.
Christina DiPaci: Thank you.
Jeffrey Boedges: Can I ask you – yeah. Go ahead.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: No, please go. You go first. You’re the guest.
Christina DiPaci: Oh, I was just going to say we wanted to make sure that it was approachable for newcomers and for connoisseurs, for everyone who smokes weed and are interested in it. And so, that was one of our goals.
Jeffrey Boedges: And how many SKUs are you guys doing and how many different strains and how many things like that? Are you guys marketing under the Paradiso label?
Christina DiPaci: Well, 20 to 40.
Rick Kiley: Twenty to 40?
Jeffrey Boedges: Your partners are listening. Don’t get it wrong.
Christina DiPaci: Twenty to 40. Probably more, to be honest. We do a lot. Paradiso has a lot of small batches. So, we put all of our choice cuts from our farm. We do a lot of trial strains that end up coming out very nice and go into Paradiso. So, it ends up getting quite a variety of strains therefore a lot of SKUs.
Jeffrey Boedges: Is it like a vintage then? So, when it runs out, it’s out? Or have you guys discovered something you like, you keep producing it?
Christina DiPaci: Both at the same time. So, sometimes we’ll run a strain for maybe a year, year-and-a-half at most, and sometimes we just run it for a season.
Rick Kiley: Got it. So, it’s a different variety. It’s more of like akin to a seasonal or like a seasonable beer. It’s Octoberfest season so that’s the beer that comes out. You get a lot of pumpkin ales and that sort of stuff. So, you’re bringing it around certain times a year?
Jeffrey Boedges: I assume you have some peppermint weed right now for the holiday.
Christina DiPaci: We have Christmas Snow for Christmas.
Rick Kiley: Oh, nice. See? We’re not that far off. All right. Cool. Awesome. So, one of the things that we read about is that you have a big dedication to the operation towards sustainability and that even your packaging and that work is also designed to be eco-friendly itself. Can you talk about just the whole sort of sustainability, the philosophy, and how it’s tied really throughout your whole organization?
Christina DiPaci: Sure. Why not?
Rick Kiley: That’s great.
Christina DiPaci: So, we chose to highlight our packaging and chose to really stand by a promise to be as sustainable as possible with it because it is such low-hanging fruit. Really, it’s a simple project to kind of be like, “All right. You can do glass jars, plastic jars, or you can do compostable jars.” So, we choose compostable. We choose ocean plastic lids. We choose recyclable aluminum pre-roll tins and we choose compostable bags inside of them to keep the pre-rolls fresh. And so, those are a lot of things that it’s uplifting to be able to choose those wonderful things.
Jeffrey Boedges: What is an ocean lid?
Christina DiPaci: An ocean lid is plastic that they scoop out of the ocean.
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay. Second use.
Christina DiPaci: And so, that’s like an up-and-coming plastic material. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: All right.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s good.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. And we found a really good company that is focused on these products, and so they’re constantly innovating and as long as we have a really good relationship with them. And so, we’re constantly trying to get the colors a little bit better or the material to be a little bit sturdier or whatever you might have.
Jeffrey Boedges: Do you want to give them a shout-out by name so other people can be as responsible? Or is this a competitive advantage?
Christina DiPaci: No. We love to share knowledge. It’s KasePack with a K.
Jeffrey Boedges: All right. There you go.
Rick Kiley: All right. Well done, KasePack.
Christina DiPaci: They’re phenomenal.
Rick Kiley: Let’s get some more business going their way. All right, cool. And so, does your philosophy around sustainability and eco-friendly packaging extend to other parts of the business as well? We’re recently out in Vegas for a conference where sustainability from the growing operation to everything is a very hot topic right now. So, I’m curious how that permeates your business.
Christina DiPaci: Of course. So, conceptually as a grow, we’ve kind of chosen the most sustainable method for large-scale production. So, we’re in greenhouses. And so, throughout the entire year, every two weeks for harvesting like 20,000, 30,000 square feet. And so, we’re able to use the sunshine for as much as possible throughout it. And then we turn on supplemental lighting for the hours when the sunlight isn’t great. And so, there’s a lot of press now about indoor production and how kind of it’s just wreaking havoc. And where we grow, we naturally have a cooler climate so we don’t need to put any sort of…
Jeffrey Boedges: Air conditioning.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah, air conditioning or things like that. The climate lends itself really, really well to what we’re trying to do. We’re in a valley so there’s plenty of water. It’s a huge ag area. And so, there are things like that. And then there are disappointing things, which is like the track and trace system that we have to use. We use like 150,000 to 200,000 tags a year because it’s so backwards how you need like a plant throughout its lifecycle base for us needs like 10 tags. And so, you’re creating all of this waste and it’s so sad and it’s just like the regulations kind of thing.
Jeffrey Boedges: And the tags, these are all plastic?
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. They’re plastic with like RDFI things in them, so they’re not even recyclable by any means.
Jeffrey Boedges: That is odd.
Rick Kiley: Let’s get some compostable tags going there.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a dirty little secret. You’re the first person I’ve heard mention that as an issue but, yeah, that’s a lot of plastic.
Rick Kiley: That’s a lot of tags.
Christina DiPaci: It’s a lot of plastic. It’s a lot of tags. It’s a waste of labor. It’s a waste of physical material. It’s a horrible thing and I try to talk about it.
Rick Kiley: Can you take those tags and give them to the company that’s doing the ocean plastic process and just like take the tags when they’re done and say, “These caps are made from recycled tags.” I’m just wondering if that’s an option out there. If not, we should start that company.
Christina DiPaci: I know. I’ve never thought about that. I got to ask them.
Rick Kiley: Let’s start that business.
Jeffrey Boedges: Let’s make him into keychains and you can sell them.
Rick Kiley: Oh, keychains. Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: I would love to have kind of the Drekker keychain.
Rick Kiley: But you keep those RFID tags active so you can follow your consumers around, right? Talk about big data. A little Big Brothery. All right. Well, in this case, Big Sistery. Let’s do that.
Christina DiPaci: There we go.
Rick Kiley: Cool. So, listen, I’m curious. You mentioned you had a delivery service when you started. So, I imagine that you might had a little bit of a leg up on others in terms of trying to gain traction in retailers and get the word out to customers, get the brand into certain dispensaries. I’m just curious about your process and sort of how you go connect with the trade and connect with consumers about your brand.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah, definitely. So, we’re distributed by Kiva Sales & Services. And so, Kiva’s one of the largest edible companies. So, that’s a great leg in because their sales teams are representing our products as well. And then we have a pretty high-level sales team in our Cal director, so Cal director and the VP of Sales, who kind of do a lot of hand-holding of very big accounts making sure that we’re in there. We have wonderful brand ambassadors who are in shops all the time. Both are building relationships with the budtenders and then doing promos or building relationships with the consumers. And I think the key to a successful cannabis brand at this point is having a lot of non-cannabis merchandise because you’re so limited as to sampling in what you can do with products, to give away products, especially outside of the dispensary, that you really want to have like a lot of other sh*t to give away.
Jeffrey Boedges: I saw on your gears, you guys are like the pin masters. I mean, you guys have more pins than any other brand I’ve seen. Is that kind of like one of the things you guys are hanging your hat on is the pins? Pardon the hatpin pun here.
Christina DiPaci: A little bit budtenders where these things around their necks that are like lanyard things that have their IDs on them. And so, pins are like the biggest gateway to the heart of a budtender.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s like budtender flare.
Christina DiPaci: Exactly. So, that’s why we focus on pins.
Rick Kiley: Like, when I was growing up and we were going to like ski mountains in the 80s, like the pins were really popular, like you would show where you’ve been by having the hat with all the pins on it or something like that. Is that a level of budtender cred? I’ve like earned the pin from a certain place. Are you the only company doing this? Are there other companies doing this?
Christina DiPaci: No. Yeah. I think most of the companies have pins because they want to be represented with by their budtenders.
Rick Kiley: All right. Man.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, I think we’ve got to do like limited edition ones, ones that are like super like collectible that people want to grab.
Rick Kiley: I think ones that also like get light up, maybe play music, Bluetooth, Bluetooth speaker pin.
Christina DiPaci: There you go.
Rick Kiley: I’m just like let’s bring it to the next level here. Sorry. You can take these ideas.
Christina DiPaci: Those are great.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I think they may not be gold but maybe like bronze, something.
Jeffrey Boedges: Something that counts.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, we know we’re obviously working in a heavily regulated industry and one thing we’re starting to talk to people more about is like, what would you like to do that you can’t do? Well, if you had the power to wave a magic wand and make something happen that you’re currently prohibited from doing, to connect with member of the trade, to connect consumers? Like, what do you think that thing would be that would be most valuable to you? And that you know that like Levi’s Jeans can do it because it’s not cannabis yet.
Christina DiPaci: Oh, advertise on Instagram and be able to sell direct-to-consumer via our website and to all 50 states.
Rick Kiley: Simple, straightforward.
Christina DiPaci: And it comes overnight shipping with FedEx.
Rick Kiley: All right. Overnight shipping with FedEx.
Christina DiPaci: That’s what I wish.
Rick Kiley: All right. Good.
Christina DiPaci: That would be amazing.
Rick Kiley: All right.
Jeffrey Boedges: I got the new one. BudEx, right? Instead of FedEx. Anybody? No?
Christina DiPaci: I think it’s inclusion. Just include us with FedEx. They’re already doing a phenomenal job. They have all the infrastructure.
Rick Kiley: I’m pretty sure they’re probably delivering some already. I’m just going to go out there in a limb.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. You need a lot of dogs to be able to stop that I would think.
Rick Kiley: I don’t know. FedEx, you get on the show. You let us know how much were you intercepting an overnight packaging? I just think it’s happening. How else is it getting from California to New York?
Jeffrey Boedges: Maybe we should have some of the mule Clint Eastwood’s driving it out here.
Rick Kiley: On his mule? I don’t think so. Well, we love asking these questions because we’re marketers, we’re event marketers, and one of the things that we really like doing is bringing a brand to life in a really like immersive way. So, I thought it’d be fun to take a minute to just talk about what would be like an ideal experience? If you could create an atmosphere, you could create an immersive environment, what are the key elements of your brand that you want to bring to life? You mentioned this vacation feel like would you like bring people out to Big Sur, out to the beach? Would you rent an island like spend all the money?
Jeffrey Boedges: How many grows have like an onsite hotel and spa? That’s what I want to know.
Christina DiPaci: Zero. But that would be nice.
Jeffrey Boedges: Wouldn’t it be cool? Like, you could come out, man, and just like really live the life for a day or two. I’d go do that tomorrow.
Christina DiPaci: It would be really nice.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I wonder if you guys talk about this.
Christina DiPaci: For sure, I thought about it. I think it would be really fun to build sort of like a funhouse. Portals are a big concept for us. So, I’ve always wanted to have them be like very, very life-size and big and animated. So, your doorways are different portals and…
Rick Kiley: Like on a cruise ship, like a cruise ship portal? Am I envisioning that correctly? Or like a portal between space and time?
Christina DiPaci: A portal between space and time. That’s more what I’m talking about.
Rick Kiley: All right. Yeah. I like it.
Christina DiPaci: And then you go from room to room like a funhouse and some are like just do traditional sand. There are palm trees, you hear the ocean, you feel the warmth of the sun, and you like smoke some weed and then you go through another portal and then you’re in like you’re like the shadows from a tree and you hear the rustling of the leaves and the shadows flickering with sunlight and you go through another portal and then you’re in another space.
Jeffrey Boedges: A taco room.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. Taco room with margaritas and then they’re delicious. And then you go through another one and it’s like psychedelic and there’s mirrors and lights and it’s like trippy and they smoke more weed. That’s what I wish you could build.
Rick Kiley: And do you end up in a room that’s like inside your own brain and you have a freak out for a moment and then you emerge like also?
Christina DiPaci: I hope not.
Rick Kiley: No. That room’s always part of my experience.
Jeffrey Boedges: Be kind of cool though.
Rick Kiley: You need to come out the other side. That’s the trick.
Jeffrey Boedges: If you had a couple of eyeballs that you could look out and see like a whole another world and it’s kind of like being John Malkovich where you’re looking through someone else.
Rick Kiley: Right. Yeah. So, I’m thinking of the scene in that movie where John Malkovich goes into John Malkovich, and it’s just a whole bunch of weirdos that look like him going, “Malkovich, Malkovich.” Sorry. Can we design that room? I’m not sure that fits with what you’re talking about.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah, I’m open.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s definitely psychedelic. That might be for our mushroom client.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, that’s true.
Jeffrey Boedges: When it becomes legal in California
Rick Kiley: Any day now, I think. Any day. Cool. Well, that sounds like fun. I like the portal.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. No, I would love to do that. But that’s doable, to be honest with you. That’s just a pop-up. I mean, you’ve probably been to 29Rooms when you’re in your New York state of mind and that’s what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to create these different sorts of I wouldn’t call them freak-out rooms but they’re definitely this idea that you come in and have this immersion into a specific type of space. I think what you’re talking about could be easily accomplished and, man, do I want to produce that? So, when you guys are ready, please call us because we want to give you guys some ideas on how to make that happen.
Rick Kiley: And each room could actually be like the fabricated out of a greenhouse too to tie it back to the brand, right? And the environment’s like inside of each of these little greenhouses that you bring together. Portal it up.
Christina DiPaci: That would be cool. Oh my god. Great.
Rick Kiley: All right. Sold. That’s fun. See, I like brainstorming. But let’s bring it back here to your brand a little bit because I had a couple of questions. And the one that jumped out at me on your website because you used a term that I usually associate differently. Well, your website says your products are created in collaboration with select readers and usually like in our business, collaboration is usually a celebrity getting his name on like a bottle of booze. So, I’m curious as to what this means for you. Like, these breeders, are they people that work on your team? Are they people who come in from other farms? What is that?
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. What are they breeding?
Rick Kiley: Yeah. And our portal’s part of it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Are horse breeders we talking about?
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I think you need to come out with a SKU named Portal pretty soon. That’s the other thing.
Jeffrey Boedges: Oh, that is good.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. That would be good. So, we work in collaboration with breeders. What we mean by that is we’re not breeding strains. I’m not breeding a new strain from our farm. So, what we do is we get cuts from certain breeders. They’re not a part of our team. They’re at best friends. They’re just people in the community that we like working with. We like their genetics. They’re producing things that are not only commercially viable, but they’re on trend with market demands. And so, we work with people at Grandiflora with Seed Junky, with MaxYields and we get different pots from them and we trialed them out and the things that we like, we like and we produce for the same amount of time. But we get in maybe five to ten strains a month. So, we’re just trialing, trialing, trialing.
Rick Kiley: Got it.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s a good job to have.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Let’s come back to that a second.
Christina DiPaci: It’s really fun.
Rick Kiley: My mom told me that smoking weed all the time couldn’t get me anywhere. So, no. So, when you’re getting these, you’re saying you’re getting cuts from them so it’s not seeds. You’re getting plants that you’re planting that you’re able to sort of harvest I think pretty quickly amongst after receiving them. Is that correct?
Christina DiPaci: I think it depends on what you would define as pretty quickly. It takes us four to five months. From when we get a cut, it’s four to five months until we see the final product.
Rick Kiley: Got it. And is that process like one where are you buying those or is someone like this is the sample I’m giving you to grow to see if it works for you? Like, how does that relationship work?
Christina DiPaci: You’re buying them.
Rick Kiley: Okay. You’re buying them.
Christina DiPaci: We generally buy 100 to 500 of each trial.
Jeffrey Boedges: How often are you guys harvesting? So, rotationally, obviously, you’re talking about like a rotational crop thing so that you guys obviously have something in the pipeline all the time. But how often is that?
Christina DiPaci: Every two weeks.
Jeffrey Boedges: Wow.
Christina DiPaci: So, we’re harvesting between 500 and 1,000 pounds every two weeks, depending on the season. Right?
Jeffrey Boedges: And you still have to go do that kind of work or do you guys have like the team?
Christina DiPaci: We have a hundred-plus people on site every day, so we have a really, really big team, great team. We’re cutting clones all the time. We’re transplanting, we’re harvesting, we’re trimming, we’re packaging. I’m making pre-rolls. We’re doing all the track and trace. We’re selling it, we’re marketing it.
Rick Kiley: They’re going through 120,000 tags, remember? That’s a lot of tags. Okay. And then the job then, as Jeff alluded to, to try out one of these strains, you’re just rolling it up and smoking it, essentially, right? Is that the job?
Christina DiPaci: It’s a little bit more complicated. No. So, it’s how many grams per plant to get yield, right? How does it look, its quality visually? We send it to a testing lab, so we get terpenes and cannabinoid analysis on it. And then the final one is smoking it and making sure that it has nice high, taste good, burns clean.
Rick Kiley: How predictive at this point is all those first few steps to understand what the experience is going to be when you smoke it? So, based on the look, the lab, and the terpene composition and everything, are you at the point where you feel like you could be predictive with the effect for most people? Or is it still just like so different because everybody’s physiology is different?
Christina DiPaci: I think it’s so different but I recently reread the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, and now I’m very convinced that from I see that plant in week seven or eight a flower and I can tell like I’m like you know within you. We’ve been doing this for so long, you’re like you can tell. You know how it’s going to trim up, you know how it’s going to smell like, so you kind of know how it’s going to smoke like. You know the genetics on it so you have a good idea where it’s going to hit cannabinoid-wise. So, I’m more like trust your instinct.
Rick Kiley: When we work in some of our spirits clients, especially stuff that’s aged a long time like cognac, the cellar masters in the cognac what they do is they get Eau de Vie, which is the freshly distilled wine, and that’s basically brought to them. And they just like pull some out and they can smell it and maybe they taste a little bit of it, I think. But based on that experience, they can start to say, “Oh, this is one that I know will be able to age for like 40, 50, 60, 100 years and be great. And this is one it’s not quite as good. I’m going to put it in this batch that we’re going to pull out in like seven, eight, nine, 10 years.” And I feel like you’re kind of talking about something that feels a little similar. That’s cool.
Christina DiPaci: I think so. Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Christina, I have to ask, where did you get your green thumb from? I mean when you look at your training, it doesn’t seem to be something that would have set you up for a career in horticulture.
Christina DiPaci: No. I think that came from just pure interests. You know, I like working with plants. I’m very, very curious about them. Even in my art years like I would be drawing plants and working with them in that respect. And so, that came very naturally to me. And I think it’s like, I use this analogy a lot where everything is basically a creative process, including horticulture. So, as long as you understand your materials, you’re going to trial something and do a rough draft, you’re going to learn, you’re going to be correct, and keep going. Growing plants is the same way as making a painting.
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. And have you had false starts where you’re like, “Oh, that didn’t work. I just killed that plant?”
Christina DiPaci: So many.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s me because I got a garden.
Christina DiPaci: We’ve made every mistake possible.
Jeffrey Boedges: Good. So, it’s not just me. I have wasted some money on some really expensive plants that I’ve managed to cut fairly short.
Rick Kiley: Sorry, dude.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. It’s a lifelong learning process for me. I feel like I’m not gifted like Christina, unfortunately.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I’m curious also, you know, cannabis is legalized out here in New York and they’re still figuring out that whole system. The Northeast just kind of like growing into it. And one of the laws that’s written in the New York is that people who have currently actually today who have a medical license can grow their own plants if they want to, I think up to, I think, four or six maybe. And I know that that’s a law that exists in California that I think medical patients at least can grow their own plants. Do you ever sell your plants to customers or as like people who wanted to do their own home grow? I’m just curious.
Christina DiPaci: It’s six per person regardless if you’re a medical patient or not. It’s everyone in California you can grow six here. And because of our licensing, you would need to have a dispensary or not or delivery a non-retail but you need that retail thing to take money from a consumer but you see it. It’s a lot of dispensaries now. We’re starting to get the clone programs.
Rick Kiley: So, dispensaries are selling plants like it’s the Lowes Garden Center, and you go in and you can pick out a plant.
Christina DiPaci: Exactly. On a much more small scale.
Rick Kiley: Right. No, I’m trying to figure out…
Christina DiPaci: And they’re tiny.
Rick Kiley: You know, how do you get plants? It just seems like how does that process work?
Christina DiPaci: You could do that. I recommend that. You can also start your own seeds but seeds are super expensive here. And then a lot of them become males.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I don’t know where you get.
Jeffrey Boedges: We’ve asked a lot of people about seeds.
Rick Kiley: Like how to get the seeds.
Jeffrey Boedges: How do you get them? I mean, it seems like there’s a lot of plants that have to produce all those seeds. And so, how did they actually get started? I mean, everything must have at some point sort of come from the legacy market.
Rick Kiley: I think they were all just left over from like my suitemate in college, right, because the ad was like seeds and stubs.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, at least that. At least you pulled yours out. When I was in college, that’s all I had left. Those went in the pipe too. It’s probably got some tigs.
Rick Kiley: Cool. Well, listen, I wanted to ask you about because we started off very, very much at the beginning how your story started with some folks that you’re close with, and that’s how you launched the company. And it appears to me anyway that you’ve taken some care and ensuring that you are working with people that you know and trust and that you have really strong relationships with. I’m curious, sort of like how integral to your success do you feel that’s been? I mean, obviously, you’re doing very well so it must be good but I imagine also working with people who you are close friends with often might also create some tension. I’m just curious as to sort of how you feel that’s been a core part of your operation in your growth.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. That’s a great question. I think that from the start, we’ve really valued our culture and our team and how we communicate and it’s been a huge learning curve. And so, you have to do a lot. It starts with yourself, so you have to be really honest with yourself. And how are you communicating and what level of professionalism do you want to be at and how does that, you know? Are you just being professional just to be professional when you start a company or is it really effective? And you have to be able to deliver feedback to people both good and bad, right? And then at a certain point and it could be easier or harder with friends, it really depends. For us now, at this point, it’s easier because there’s a lot of hard conversations. There’s a lot of sh*tty situations where we find ourselves in and to be able to deal with that with people who you don’t feel judged by it that you feel like there’s a foundation of trust and that it’s really, really, really been a great strength for us. You know, I think another part of it is when your team grows and how you deal with that. Unfortunately, the culture and the atmosphere and the vibe of it kind of takes the lead. And so, we’ve had people who are great but they just don’t fit with everyone else. And so, it’s this whole process of it’s kind of like gardening but you’re constantly tending to your team and making sure everyone’s communicating well.
Jeffrey Boedges: Prune when necessary.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, I think that’s a universal dynamic for any kind of organizational structure. The two things to talk about. First is like Rick and I have been working together for 20 years and I tell people all the time, “It’s like being in a band. I know when he’s going to come in with the guitar solo and shut up and vice versa.” And I think that’s one of those things that you just get from experience. I don’t know if there’s a real shortcut to finding that type of chemistry. But then the trust is you just got to be there. You got to believe that the other person’s going to have your back. I think that’s important. And then when you talk about growing the culture, yeah, I mean, gosh, and it’s really hard on a good day. It’s been really tough lately I think with labor being what it is. Have you guys had similar instances where it’s become harder to find talent as the industry has expanded?
Christina DiPaci: I think yes and no. Right now, it’s actually pretty easy to find talent. And it has to do with a lot of companies I think maturing. And so, we’ve kind of developed a very good culture at our firm and so we became kind of known for it. Yeah. So, people are like, “Well, I want to work for this company that gives me a little bit more freedom or it’s not as hierarchical,” things like that.
Rick Kiley: Got it. Cool. And I think our listeners are made up of mostly people who are thinking about or already involved in the industry. If you were to offer some advice to people who are looking to build their team and start their business, do you have any sage words of wisdom around that idea, how they get started, pitfalls to avoid, helpful hints, great brand names, good source of tags?
Christina DiPaci: I think to persevere, you know, that’s the main thing. Like, you’re going to have pitfalls. There’s no way to avoid them. You need to have them so that you can learn and you can grow, and you can continue to help define what your business looks like and I think a part of that too is just being honest, especially with yourself and making sure you’re really doing your best to communicate with everyone. You’re really doing your best to be the best person you can be. Because I think regardless, the cannabis industry is particularly one like hell hole of an industry to be in sometimes.
Rick Kiley: I haven’t heard the term hell hole before.
Jeffrey Boedges: Challenging I’ve heard. That’s the first one. I think that might be the strongest I’ve heard, hell hole.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. It was in that movie, Spinal Tap. Didn’t they have a song called Hell Hole? No? Am I wrong?
Jeffrey Boedges: I don’t remember. Sorry.
Christina DiPaci: I don’t remember.
Rick Kiley: I’m dating myself.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s a punch in my guy card right there, man. I’ll work on that.
Rick Kiley: That’s all right.
Christina DiPaci: Well, California has its own taste of the industry. It’s a particular challenge and that’s a nicer term, yes. It’s challenging at times.
Jeffrey Boedges: I have a question that’s kind of burning a hole in me right now. It’s like, so you guys had, I mean, it seems like from the story is that you were big quick. That’s the way I’m reading. And maybe I’m reading too much into it. So, how did you guys get the capital and the know-how from people who really, at least again, I don’t know who your business partners are, but you seem to be outsiders kind of coming into this and there’s everything from getting the permits and the licenses to then getting the property and getting all the materials you need. Can you share a little bit of how you got started from a financial basis and from an organizational basis? And if you don’t want to, that’s fine too. I’m just curious.
Christina DiPaci: I’m happy to share. I’m happy to share. I think we came in very naively and so that gave the fuel to the fire being like, “Oh, we can totally do this. Like, no problem.” And so, we really raised a good amount of capital before the regulations came into play and we’re definitely outsiders. None of us are. You know, we had a little experience in business but it was also semi-quasi illegal delivery service and other grows. And so, we knew the industry well. We do not know business well. We don’t know our clients well. We do not know regulations well. And so, if you’re being honest about that you don’t know those things well, you bring people into your team that do know them well and can help you navigate. And so, we work with a – he helped us on our lease originally in Salinas. We worked with a fantastic lawyer who I talk to almost every other day. He still continues to hold our hand through compliance and licensing process and all that.
Jeffrey Boedges: This is your consigliere.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. And then financially, luckily, some of our other high school friends were gamblers who got a good amount of money that way and then are into cryptos. And so, we have a good base of family and friends. And we try to…
Jeffrey Boedges: Wait. So, the trick is…
Rick Kiley: Hold on a second.
Jeffrey Boedges: You got to grow up in Nyack in order to be able to do this if I’m hearing you right.
Rick Kiley: So, learn how to count cards, kids. Head to Vegas, make a bunch of coin, perhaps pull off an upset victory at the World Series of Poker, and you too can have a new cannabis company. This is a message, everybody.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. This is hard to replicate. It’s hard to scale that.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. I think it’s hard for anyone. Luckily, nowadays, I mean, it’s still pretty terrible but at least people know what you’re talking about when you’re like, “Hey, I want to do a grow.” It’s not completely foreign and there’s other people, there’s comparables, there’s other companies doing it. So, it’s easier to have. There’s more money in the industry in general.
Rick Kiley: I’m sure like when Jeff and I started our business, we’re the only owners of the business. It wasn’t really capital intensive to start it up but I think there is something there around – it seems like the core members of your, forgive me if I’m wrong, but the core members of your team who are involved in the business also, it was their capital. Like, the people who they were part of the sort of founding group, the capital came from them, which I feel like is a different situation than raising capital from an outside entity and having to deal with that relationship. And I think a lot of people have to work through that and that’s not always enjoyable or empowering. I think sometimes it works out well but it’s sometimes hard to have outside investors and meet whatever those terms are regardless without them being part of the business,
Jeffrey Boedges: It seems like the angel investor is essential, especially in what you’re doing because of the nontraditional nature.
Christina DiPaci: Yeah. And a lot of the capital, most of the capital was our money. And so, when it’s that way and then it’s other people who also are putting more their money, they’re putting money into you not necessarily they understand the business. That’s one thing. But yeah, it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing. There’s no revenue goals I need to meet. I don’t have to spend most of my time talking to investors where my CEOs, that’s what their job is.
Rick Kiley: And you’re truly independent. And that’s great. And we don’t see a lot of that. You don’t see a lot of independent companies be able to grow and scale. And I think that’s super impressive and you guys are doing a really great job.
Jeffrey Boedges: Agreed.
Rick Kiley: And so, it’s really awesome to see. So, with that, I’m going to leave it there. I don’t have anything else better to say than that other than we got to come up with some new brand names. So, look, the way we try to wrap this up we call our podcast The Green Repeal. We actually haven’t talked to like about regulation, compliance, and legality, which is fine, totally refreshing change. But we’re trying to sort of chart the course here until where cannabis is federally legal in the US which, of course, will open it up for you to FedEx your product to all 50 states. So, we’re curious as if you have a thought about when that might happen and would like to share that with us. And maybe you should ask your gambling friends since they’re really good at predicting odds on these things. You can come back to us with some other thoughts too.
Jeffrey Boedges: Also, we’re looking for investors for BudEx if you guys want to get in there.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. It’s planes that smoke themselves.
Christina DiPaci: Oh my god. What are we talking about? Oh, it’s the federal legal thing.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Christina DiPaci: I have to say some time in five to six years, something like that. You’ll see the Banking Act passed and you’ll see some sort of decriminalization and opening the states to talk to each other. But I think it’s going to be like 30 years before it’s like completely ironed out and you can actually FedEx weed. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Right. But I think you could just probably send it through a portal at that point.
Christina DiPaci: I don’t know.
Rick Kiley: Like, we don’t even need FedEx…
Christina DiPaci: We don’t have self-driving cars right now. We don’t have flying cars. It’s already the future. We got nothing.
Jeffrey Boedges: The flying cars are coming. The flying cars I’ve seen. And they’re in California. There’s a guy that there’s a company out. They’re like quadcopters.
Rick Kiley: Isn’t that the jetpack guy, though? He’s the guy like flies above the water. It’s a different podcast now, Jeff. Sorry. Welcome to our tech podcast.
Jeffrey Boedges: Flying cars are coming. Flying cars are almost here.
Christina DiPaci: I can’t wait.
Rick Kiley: Awesome. Christina, it has been great talking to you. We really loved hearing about your business. We wish you continued success, and we definitely want to make that portal greenhouse event happen somewhere and hope that there’s lots of big things in your future. Thanks so much.
Christina DiPaci: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a really delightful and fun conversation. You guys are cool.
Rick Kiley: Thanks.
Jeffrey Boedges: Completely unprofessional, but cool.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. And I never get called cool. I usually get nerd. All right. Cool. Thanks, Christina. Cheers. One more thing, though, before we go. If people do want to find out about your brand, they do want to go get some, they do want to get on the list of the FedEx, where should they go?
Christina DiPaci: You can visit us at ParadisoGardens.com. We have a store locator on our website or you can find us on Instagram @Paradiso.Gardens.
Rick Kiley: Sweet. All right, everybody. Check it out. Cheers.