In one sense, the cannabis industry is like any other: when you identify a gap in the market, there’s an opportunity to achieve success by filling it.
Space Coyote’s high quality pre-rolls, available all over California, do just that. Today’s guest, co-founder Libby Cooper, has helped to create a truly unique brand that marries the highest-quality flower with well-established branded extracts. In just a few years, she has built an impressive company and created a curated, top-shelf cannabis experience for her many fans.
In this episode, Libby shares the story of how she built a premium company and a high-end category on her terms in just a few short years, the changing perception of adult-use cannabis usage, and how Space Coyote’s marketing has adapted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- How Libby “came out” as a cannabis user to her friends and family.
- Why Libby and her co-founder Scott alternate their titles of President and CEO annually – and how they delegate who handles what while maintaining a balance of power.
- The importance of destigmatizing the word “stoner” – and why Libby’s brand is all about celebrating the psychedelic cannabis experience.
- How Space Coyote’s branding changes every time the company enters a new state.
- The many different flavors and experiences that can be created in cannabis pre-rolls – and why Space Coyote’s prerolls are the equivalent of farmer’s market fresh tomatoes.
- Why Libby is optimistic we’ll see federal legalization within the next four years.
“Weed actually tastes better when it’s grown with the sun, when it’s grown in a loving way. There are some things that are just better when it’s done naturally.” – Libby Cooper
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Rick Kiley: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to The Green Repeal. I am one of your co-hosts, Rick Kiley. I’m of course joined by my partner in crime, Jeffrey Boedges. Hello, Jeff.
Jeffrey Boedges: Hi, gang. Greetings from sunny not Hawaii where I am.
Rick Kiley: Our guest today is laughing because she’s living in Hawaii. And our guest today, we’re very excited to speak to Libby Cooper. She is one of the two co-founders of the cannabis brand, Space Coyote. You have to say it in that voice when you say it like that. It’s a truly unique brand that marries the highest quality flower with well-established branded extracts. We’re going to talk about what all that means. They focus on curating a top-shelf cannabis experience. And Libby and Scott had built an impressive brand in a really short period of time. It’s a young company, right? Only a few years old?
Libby Cooper: Two years.
Rick Kiley: Two years. So, their pre-rolls are available at hundreds of dispensaries throughout California and are highly acclaimed.
Libby Cooper: I love the pun.
Rick Kiley: You see what I did there?
Libby Cooper: Yes.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. The witticisms, they’re just going to roll in like waves.
Rick Kiley: Libby, welcome to The Green Repeal.
Libby Cooper: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Jeffrey Boedges: There’s no place on the East Coast where these are available because I saw one on your map there and then when I looked at them, I tried to click on them and they said the addresses were like La Cienega. I’m like, I’m pretty sure that’s north.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. Unfortunately, not but we have some very serious plans of expanding to the East Coast. So, fingers crossed it’s soon.
Rick Kiley: All right. Well, hopefully, we can talk about that. Do you want to give everybody a little bit of background on yourself, your story, how you started in the cannabis industry, how you arrived here, and how Space Coyote came to be?
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: I say Space Coyote a lot. It’s so much fun.
Jeffrey Boedges: I’m very interested in this answer, by the way, because I look at your profile, and it’s like, “Wow. Okay. You went from being like a really straight legit like Executive Creative Director into this,” which is…
Rick Kiley: Into space.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. Into space. Well, I think the beginning of the story really starts when I first tried weed in high school and we can always look back to that but I always considered myself a stoner, but very much like a high functioning stoner and also like a secretive stoner. So, I had worked a couple of tech jobs in Silicon Valley out of college and ultimately didn’t feel very passionate about them. So, when I decided that I wanted to work in weed, I had like a “coming out” to my friends and family and they were all shocked. And I was like, “Well, I’ve been smoking weed since I was 14,” but I didn’t want anybody to know.
Rick Kiley: You remember last Thanksgiving? I was stoned at that time.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. Remember last week? So, I knew it was something that I was really passionate about but my peers and family just really had no idea but I really made my entrance into the cannabis space by working at Eaze. And while at Eaze, I discovered a huge gap in the market, which was this high quality, high potency pre-roll was missing. At the time, Scott, my co-founder and I really did want to start a company together. He was running his own startup and we decided to do it. After I worked at Eaze for a couple of years, I was ready to make the move to start my own company. And the actual name, Space Coyote, was born out of a psychedelic trip in Joshua Tree. So, it was Scott’s birthday and we gathered like 25 friends, drank mushroom tea, and watched a meteor shower, and there were coyotes zipping in the background. Everybody was wearing just these like beautiful outfits and shilling coats and it was the type of content that anthropology wished that they could capture. It was just like one of those moments where we thought we probably looked really glamorous, but I’m sure we didn’t. We were like, “Welk,” but the name, Space Coyote, was born out of that night. It then took a whole year to decide that we were actually going to start a real cannabis company. So, the name existed long before the company.
Rick Kiley: Got it. Cool. I think Scott was also introduced to weed recreationally like you but I think both share this idea. I mean, the fact that you both discovered there were medical benefits after the fact and you, in your case, it was alleviating symptoms of celiac disease. Is that correct?
Libby Cooper: That’s correct. Yes.
Rick Kiley: Cool. So, I mean, I guess what’s your relationship with the plant today? Is it medical? Is it both?
Libby Cooper: It’s a great question. I think, for me, it’s very recreational. I think I like to use cannabis the way that people drink alcohol. I don’t drink myself but it is definitely my vice and Space Coyote is all about exploring the psychedelic side of weed. So, I very much lean into that, like this is my pleasure. I’m doing this for fun but I think I can only say that because I’ve worked so hard on the health side of this question that I’m no longer relying on weed for that pain relief and appetite stimulation that I used to heavily rely on. So, I feel really thankful that my body is in a great place that I can really just focus on the recreational side.
Jeffrey Boedges: Cool. But, I mean, going out and staring at the stars and coyotes and stuff doesn’t exactly sound like a medical treatment. That sounds a little bit more or even like a drink after work, “I had a rough day. I think I’m going to go with the coyotes out in Joshua Tree.”
Libby Cooper: Exactly. Yep. So, you could argue that that is a positive health forcing yourself to get off the screen, get out of the office. I mean, one of the big reasons that this company is entirely remote from day one is because I was in my mid-20s and already burnt out and I couldn’t imagine sitting under fluorescent lights at dual monitors for the rest of my working life. I wanted to start a company with Scott where we both share the same ethos. If people want to work from Brazil, they can and we had an employee do that. If people want to work as a night owl because that suits their sleeping patterns more, they can do that.
Rick Kiley: That’s cool. Very cool.
Jeffrey Boedges: We’ve been experimenting with it ourselves. The jury’s still out but I think we’re trying to follow your spiritual path.
Rick Kiley: We only have one person like work at night, though, like that part, that’s hard to do. I can’t do that.
Jeffrey Boedges: My wife will work until first in the morning.
Rick Kiley: Reverse circadian rhythm thing.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I can’t do it either. I mean, I like to go to bed early.
Libby Cooper: I like to go to bed early too but that’s recent. I had to force myself. I was one of the people that would light up around 1 AM. That could be a creative thing.
Rick Kiley: Sure. Yeah. You don’t come up with the idea of Space Coyote at 7 AM like that’s not an early morning discovery. That’s cool.
Libby Cooper: Agreed.
Rick Kiley: So, I read that you and Scott, your partner, you do something unique that you change your titles each year. One of you is president, one of you is CEO, and then you swap? So, does the actual work that you do switch or does the decision-making switch? Like how does that relationship work?
Libby Cooper: Yeah. So, Scott and I just decided that we wanted to really have a stand for equality and we have equal share in the company. We started it together. Truly as business partners, we just wanted to show our employees and investors that it doesn’t mean that just because Scott was CEO when we started, it’s not a static role. In terms of what our actual day-to-day jobs are in that role, we still stay in our lanes. I’m very much the designer. Anything that you see visually of Space Coyote is coming from my brain and then Scott is logistics. He is operations. He’s also overseeing things like the legal side, which is a whole experience in the cannabis industry.
Rick Kiley: I hear it’s simple. I hear it’s a very small form.
Libby Cooper: A walk in the park.
Rick Kiley: It’s like on an index card. That’s all you got to fill out and you get your license. It’s cool.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. So, you can really think of it as Scott’s sort of this engineering, more mathematical brain, and I’m much more of that like artistic vision brain.
Rick Kiley: Right. Cool.
Jeffrey Boedges: Got it. So, who ranks?
Libby Cooper: Yeah. I know. So, it’s equal but I was CEO last year and Scott is CEO this year.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, he’s more equal.
Rick Kiley: Does the CEO rank like have you ever just like, “Well, I’m CEO this year so we’re doing my thing.”
Libby Cooper: You know, it’s never come up that way, though, if it’s something that someone feels very strongly about and it’s within their expertise, it’s just like, “You know what, I trust you.” Even if I were to disagree with something that Scott was saying, if it’s within his realm, ultimately, he is making that decision and the same goes for anything on my side.
Rick Kiley: Nice.
Jeffrey Boedges: It sounds like marriage.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Libby Cooper: It does. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: It sounds like a good partnership and that’s great.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. It’s a great business partnership.
Rick Kiley: Cool. So, what I really find interesting about your brand, when I started digging into it is that we’ve done this show for a little while. We talked to a lot of folks about who feel that kind of eliminating this idea of stoner stigma is really important for the category to grow. So, when people have images of who uses cannabis, they think of Cheech & Chong or Dazed and Confused, and burnouts and people that aren’t…
Jeffrey Boedges: Harold and Kumar, man, how can you leave off?
Rick Kiley: Oh, yeah. They did pretty well for themselves but there aren’t a lot of images out there in the world for aspirational professionals for whom it’s part of a life where they are also successful in achieving, etcetera, the way you might see such imagery for the alcohol category, for example.
Jeffrey Boedges: There’s no Michelob ULTRA right now of weed brands out there.
Rick Kiley: But that’s a good idea.
Jeffrey Boedges: They’re going for the workout.
Rick Kiley: There’s a ton of wellness brands, though.
Jeffrey Boedges: And then they get a good high.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, I just find it interesting that your brand seems to be aimed squarely at, I mean, you said it yourself, the traditional stoner, the psychedelic experience. I mean, obviously, it’s a very purposeful choice and I’m curious if you feel that even given that choice, whether or not you feel that sort of the idea of being a stoner needs to be destigmatized like in the world.
Libby Cooper: I don’t think the word “stoner” needs to be destigmatized. I think that it just needs to be said more. That’s sort of the camp that I’m in. One big reason that I wanted to start Space Coyote was this ability to totally own it and have people celebrate being a stoner. One thing that I think about a lot is who is the heritage market. Who is the person that was buying their weed when it was definitely illegal, they were making that risk for something they really, really enjoyed, or maybe really needed? And they are stoners and I don’t think that we should be trying to rebrand who that person is.
Rick Kiley: Right. All right.
Libby Cooper: I mean, I very much feel like the brands that have been doing the work to destigmatize what smoking weed means are so valuable. It’s just we’re doing a different type of project. We can only do what we’re doing at Space Coyote because a bunch of brands and a bunch of people before us helped reframe what weed is and what a stoner is. Now, we can come back and reclaim that original meaning and we can talk about getting really high and waking and baking and smoking one too many joints.
Jeffrey Boedges: That is probably the most interesting take on whitespace I’ve ever heard.
Libby Cooper: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: An underserved market for the stoners. I mean, that’s just counterintuitive.
Rick Kiley: No. It’s just interesting because I think, I guess, even I still hear it and say it that stoner that when the word is said, it seems to feel like the meaning behind it sometimes is like calling somebody an alcoholic, for instance. It’s like it’s associated with someone who does something too much and it’s preventing them from achieving in life. So, I think it’s a challenge to change everyone’s opinion of that word per se but I’m excited to see what’s happening in the market so that that’s not the case anymore.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. And I think, just to interject, I do think that there are brands that need to still use words like elevated, and maybe instead of say stone, they say like,” I’m vibing,” or whatever it is. It’s these euphemisms. Especially in markets all over the East Coast, you’ve sort of had like a slower start than the West Coast and I think maybe that’s why that is your sentiment because so many more people need to be exposed to what elevated is before that they can hear what like totally blazed is.
Rick Kiley: Right.
Jeffrey Boedges: Baby steps. We’re taking baby steps.
Libby Cooper: Baby steps.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. All right.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, how much the culture on the West Coast, though, seems to really kind of benefit that? Because I think about when I look at your brand that definitely has a surf culture sort of vibe to it. That culture isn’t nearly as prevalent on the East Coast. They’re much more businesslike. And how many friends do we have that leave New York and go to California, and they’re just like, “Oh, it’s just totally different out here.” They really like the five steps slower approach to life that sort of comes with out there. I kind of feel like when I look at your brand and I look at other brands that lean into more of a traditional rec market, that they have that vibe, that West Coast, Hawaiian, whatever you want to call it vibe that I always call surf culture. Do you agree with that? Is that where you kind of come from? It’s certainly looking at some of your posts on Instagram and things like that. That’s what I’m picking.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. I completely agree with that and I think it does open up a really interesting conversation about expansion. What is going to happen to the brand? How are we going to make it more accessible to everybody, and not alienating to someone who lives in Washington, DC who doesn’t relate to this at all? Do we choose to be sort of aspirational like this West Coast ethos and dream? Or do we maybe mellow out the brand a little bit, take out some of the specific language around Joshua Tree? We could even potentially change some of the graphics but that origin story still needs to come through. But there’s going to be a point. I mean, it’s so strange to just have a cannabis brand in a state. That’s such every day I think this is so bizarre because it’s going to be reinventing the company. Every new state we go into, we’re going to have to modify a little bit. And so, I do completely agree with you.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Well, luckily, Coyote is now I think in all lower 48 states.
Libby Cooper: They are thriving.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. They’re jamming so you’ve got the best brand ambassadors.
Libby Cooper: And everybody can look to the space.
Jeffrey Boedges: We should get them branded. I wonder how difficult that would be?
Rick Kiley: You want to capture and tag them?
Jeffrey Boedges: Capture, tag them, and yeah just have a tattoo on them.
Rick Kiley: I don’t want to try to catch a coyote, man. They’re dangerous.
Libby Cooper: I think we’re probably more dangerous than the coyotes because we’d probably end up hurting some coyotes.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s true. That’s true. Well, it would be a very kind branding. I’ll work it out. I’ll get back to you.
Libby Cooper: Thank you.
Rick Kiley: Alright. So, I want to talk a little bit about your product and you have this idea behind creating, it seems to be all pre-rolls what I saw on your website, and I don’t know if that’s true so I’m just going to say, they all pre-rolls at this point?
Libby Cooper: At this point, they’re all pre-rolls. We do have some fun things coming out that are not going to be pre-rolls.
Rick Kiley: Cool. So, everything you have right now is flower married with an extract. So, obviously, that’s a unique take but can you, to someone who’s never had that experience before, what does that do for me as someone who is using it? Like, is it something that’s more potent? Is it a different flavor? Is it a longer experience? Why do I want this product?
Jeffrey Boedges: Yes.
Libby Cooper: I think the why is a big deal. It’s a great question. I like to think of it like a piece of toast because once you’ve had a piece of toast with jam on it, you’re never going to go and just like eat a plain piece of toast. Even if you’re just a toast-and-butter person, you’re always going to have something on that piece of toast. And if you smoke a Space Coyote and then go back to a normal pre-roll, you suddenly realize how dry that pre-roll is, how that weed has been ground up and sat in a tube on some dispensary shelf for a few weeks before that it’s been at a distributor for a few more weeks. So, you might be smoking a joint that’s been rolled and sitting for three months. And it is a dry and somewhat tasteless experience.
Rick Kiley: That’s bad.
Jeffrey Boedges: Fresh in this counter is what you use.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. And that’s what an extract is. It’s a preserve, it’s like a jam, and it keeps that terpene profile, that freshness, the flavor. It actually also makes the joint more smooth, which is amazing. It actually makes it a nicer smoking experience. So, you don’t cough as much. And then when we talk about the high, I mean you get ripped. You get really high.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s a technical term for all our new listeners.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. The tagline is, “You don’t have to cough to get off.” There you go.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. I’ve never thought of that.
Rick Kiley: It’s yours. Use it. We’re in marketing. All right. So, I’m curious. Also, one thing I find interesting is a lot of the folks we talked to are seed-to-sale folks and I think a lot of it, there are a lot of states that sort of mandate that in terms of the production and I think that’s why. I think you’re one of the first folks that we’ve talked to that’s building a brand but isn’t necessarily growing all their own product. So, how do you describe your relationship with the actual plant?
Libby Cooper: So, we very much look at the tech industry. Looking at Apple, it’s designed in Cupertino or somewhere like that, made in China. We obviously don’t make our product in China but we very much think of ourselves as the experts in branding and sales and we rely on people who are experts in cultivation to grow the weed, rely on people who are experts in the supply chain to get our product from point A to point B. And that is why we’re thriving. I mean, I truly believe that’s why we were successful through COVID, that we didn’t have any hiccups because at every touchpoint, if you aren’t the expert and you’re sort of just like figuring it out as you’re going along or maybe your team is the expert in manufacturing, but not distribution, whatever the point is, that’s where it’s going to break when hardship comes. So, we stayed in our little pod, we figured out what we’re good at, and we just work with other experts.
Rick Kiley: Got it. And what’s interesting is that it’s a lot about the people who make brands in the booze business, which is where Jeff and I come from, and a lot of them, some people white label products that are already made just with packaging, in their distribution network. But also, it reminded me, Jeff, I always had this idea like the seller masters that are in cognac where there are farmers that are growing the grapes and making the eau-de-vie and then they’re like buying the best stuff that they want to sort of fit into their bottle. That’s sort of like what it reminds me of.
Libby Cooper: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: I was going to ask a question about that, especially during COVID. So, like Rick mentioned they buy these eau-de-vies on the open market more or less, but they have guys that have to taste it so they’re very artisanal in their approach. They’re not just looking at chemical compounds or alcohol content. They’re really tasting and smelling. They’re exceptional at their job. Their ability to taste is beyond mortal comparison. They really are unique. Is that something you guys use? Does somebody have a job just to go taste weed? And how do you get that job?
Libby Cooper: So, we do have that job and it is sort of wrapped up in the operations role. So, the operations role, at least at Space Coyote is a lot about supply chain, supply chain contracts. So, going to the farm, seeing how they grow the product, a big thing for us is sustainability. So, making sure that they’ve got sustainable practices and it’s the lowest impact on the environment and tasting it is a huge component. So, the R&D of the tasting of the weed is actually something that all of us do at Space Coyote because we then also have to pair it with an extract. And that marrying of two very different flavors and very different components, I don’t think is necessarily a job for just one person. So, we all take on that role. It’s like a team survey.
Rick Kiley: After like two tastes, you don’t have your taste buds anymore.
Jeffrey Boedges: But how did you prepare for that exactly? That seems like a pretty advanced skill just to sort of wing.
Libby Cooper: I think that to fully answer your question, eventually, there’s going to be a dedicated sommelier or person. I don’t know what it would be called in weed, but some sort of terpene expert. That role doesn’t yet exist and that person is going to have to go…
Rick Kiley: The terpeniator.
Libby Cooper: The terpinator, they’re going to have to go to college or some sort of program to hone their skills. At this point, it’s just…
Jeffrey Boedges: Most people learn a lot about pot in college, I’m just saying. That’s where I learned a lot about it.
Rick Kiley: But what if you could actually go to class, I mean, for weed?
Jeffrey Boedges: That would be, yeah, a dream.
Rick Kiley: Well, I mean, it’s funny because we had Keith Villa on and I don’t know if you know who Keith Villa is. He is the guy who created Blue Moon, but he went to, he got like one of the first like doctorates in brewery sciences. And like, I think there’s the potential that there are new educational programs I’m sure that will be put into place as this product becomes more mainstream across the US. I’m curious, what I want to hear about is you obviously have created a lot of great flavor combinations. I’m curious, which ones were not so good. Like, did you try anything that tasted like dirty feet? Like, what’s the bad that comes out of it?
Libby Cooper: Well, you know what’s funny and it’s honestly embarrassing to say out loud, but there was a joint that I didn’t like that we actually produced straight up like I was not a fan. I thought it tasted like barbecue coals. Like it just was not for me. But what was so interesting was that I was the outlier. Out of our Space Coyote team, I was like, “I do not want to produce this. We cannot do this,” and everybody was like, “It’s amazing.”
Jeffrey Boedges: There’s a lot of whiskey and scotch that tastes like barbecue coal so maybe that’s the same taste profile.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. I think so. They were like, “It’s mesquite,” and I was like, “That’s horrible.”
Rick Kiley: Mesquite sucks. Alright.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. I didn’t ever consume that joint and I probably will never tell anybody which joint that was. It’s no longer in production. But we also have had on sort of similar topic, but slightly different, we had a joint that was everybody’s favorite. I mean, like our team, everybody loved it but it was high CBD. And so, when it went into dispensaries, it wasn’t selling well. Because our brand promises like, “You’re going to get blazed like super potent,” and these joints were really potent in CBD, and still had some THC in them. So, they were still very much like cannabis recreational weed but it did not sell well. So, that was a flavor profile that was amazing but it wasn’t the high that people were looking for and it performed really badly. And we had to stop producing it.
Jeffrey Boedges: You have to buy back like they do in wine and spirits? Do you have to take that back in?
Libby Cooper: No. It ultimately sold out but just as an example.
Rick Kiley: Slowly.
Libby Cooper: It was so slow. We will sell a batch and it will sell out really quickly. I’m talking about just last week we produced a new SKU, which was our very first diamond-infused five-pack of joints. It sold out in six days. Amazing.
Rick Kiley: Diamond-infused?
Libby Cooper: Yeah. That’s THCA. From the marketing side, you two will really enjoy this. So, we first called them the THCA-infused joints and THCA is the acid form of THC and it’s stable so actually, it’s a crystal. So, it’s very easy to grind up and put in joints. It has no terpenes. It’s pure. It’s like ever clear. It’s just pure THC, 99% THC. And it didn’t sell well as THCA. So, we had to rebrand it to diamonds and then it flies off the shelves.
Jeffrey Boedges: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
Libby Cooper: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Nice. Guys like them too.
Libby Cooper: But just to loop it back like that sells out in six days. Those CBD joints, it took them 10 months. So, it was just not even…
Jeffrey Boedges: We’ve had some of those clients. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: That’s not right. You learn.
Libby Cooper: But I do like CBD.
Rick Kiley: Well, it’s funny like…
Jeffrey Boedges: In moderation, you know, you catch them.
Rick Kiley: Well, some people want to be a little more mellow. They don’t want to freak out because they add stuff. They have to choose.
Libby Cooper: They don’t want to trip. That’s not a brand promise and so that’s why we just keep doing it.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Our brand promise is you’re going to get blazed. I mean, own it. Cool. So, how’s business doing during the pandemic? And I’m asking because we had a guest on from a data analytics company and one of the things that she was saying was that while flower is always a top seller that pre-rolls were struggling with the onset of COVID because they’re naturally like social people, share them, and then no one wanted to share them. So, seeing that you’re like doing a ton of pre-rolls, I’m curious if COVID affected you or you changed the size?
Jeffrey Boedges: More dog walkers.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. It was actually pretty good timing for us because we were already launching our five pack of half grams. So, we usually produce what we previously produced only a one gram heavily infused joint in various flavors. It may have looked like we pumped it out just because of COVID this five-pack, but those products take a long time to get into production and actually get on shelves. So, it worked out for us but I would say we didn’t see any dip down. I mean, we’ve just been steadily growing the whole way through. Every month is our best month of sales ever and COVID didn’t change any of that.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I mean, the category is doing well in COVID, which is not unsurprising given people’s need to medicate themselves while they are stuck at home. But I was just curious given you’re by yourself and you’re not with a group of friends, having a giant get yourself really blazed joint might be a tough ask.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. Well, I think what we learned from watching our sales not dip down was I don’t know how much you two have talked to people about this but it’s incredibly difficult to get analytics on anything cannabis. There are some services but they’re really not that reliable and it’s really hard to get info from the dispensary. So, we speculated that people were smoking Space Coyotes as a niche product, maybe going to concerts, going to dinner with friends, a very much social thing. But because of COVID, we thought, “Oh, people are just real stoners smoking these by themselves.” Maybe smoking it with a household with roommates, maybe, but it was actually very interesting for us. That was some pretty hard data without having an actual number just to see it didn’t change.
Rick Kiley: And forgive me, I’m not familiar with your pricing but like, are you priced at the top end of the spectrum? Are you at parity with other brands? Because you said like just roommates and when I think of people with roommates, I think of younger people who maybe have less money than older people who don’t live with roommates.
Libby Cooper: Right.
Rick Kiley: Where is your pricing at?
Libby Cooper: So, our pricing is pretty high. I would say we’re mid to high-tier pricing. We’re definitely not budget or mid-tier or even just mid. So, yeah, we’re definitely on the high end.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I mean you got diamond in your name.
Libby Cooper: Right. Yeah. Our joints, I mean, I wonder if your listeners are going to think this is crazy. You guys should tell me if this is crazy but a single joint can be anywhere between $16 to $20 a joint and then the five packs a $45 to $60. And that depends on the dispensary. So, our wholesale price is set. The dispensary chooses that markup. So, one joint for $20, it’s pretty substantial but people keep coming back. I joke it’s because they can’t get high on their old joints anymore.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, and there’s a cost per high. You know what I’m saying? My guess is that there’s one guy hunkering down on a one-gram joint or one person hunkering down on a one-gram joint. That might be two or three comebacks, not just finish the whole thing.
Libby Cooper: It could be as much as four or five.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Well, I was trying to sound like I knew what I was doing but, yeah, it probably took me a week to get through that thing.
Libby Cooper: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: No, but I mean, premiumization has been happening in a lot of categories, and Alcohol Beverage is no different and people will pay more to treat themselves. I mean, Starbucks built this idea on like someone wants a luxury coffee experience and to get a luxury coffee, yeah, they pay $4 instead of $1. But they’ll pay $4 because they can afford $4 even though it’s a luxury treat. So, I think you described $20. It’s not like they’re going out to buy a Lamborghini or something like that like it’s not that big in the grand scheme of things. And also, we’re in like New York adjusted pricing so that sounds perfectly reasonable.
Libby Cooper: Right. Yeah. Well, and you did bring something up about, I went to roommates and I think that that’s more the world that I’m living in. So, that’s my own personal bias but we have found that Space Coyote is purchased by all age groups, which has been pretty cool. We’re not trying to target a specific demographic and one thing that I’ve been very bullish on the whole time is that this is a brand for women just as much as it is for men, so we’re very just agnostic in all ways, but it is nice to see that we do have quite a large older demographic without necessarily targeting them.
Rick Kiley: Right. Cool. And so, you’re in a lot of retailers in California. When you look at the California on your map, it’s like, “Wow.” How did you go about getting your product into retail? Like what was the approach to making that happen? It’s pretty impressive distribution for a company that’s as young as yours is.
Libby Cooper: Thank you. Yeah, I think it really started with Scott and I each individually just going into dispensaries ourselves and selling the product in. We got all our first placements so we would just split it up and just go when the company was just the two of us. And what really helped was a distribution partner who had a contract sales team. We stoked them out. They love Space Coyote and I think when the salesperson has a really easy time selling the product, it means that they love the product themselves. It is an easy sell. There’s pretty much zero education involved with Space Coyote. The only time…
Rick Kiley: The brand promise is clear.
Jeffrey Boedges: Exactly.
Libby Cooper: My product, you light it, you get stoned. But it is really about if we have a competitor at a dispensary, that’s the only time that it’s difficult to get that placement. What’s nice is that because we are a bit more premium than all the competitors, the buyer of that shop just needs to try Space Coyote to be able to make that decision.
Jeffrey Boedges: And they probably make better margin, right?
Libby Cooper: From us?
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, the distributor, or sorry, the distributor and the retailer. In wine and spirits, the worst kept secret in the world is that the higher price for the bottle, the more everybody makes. The margins at every level are better. So, yeah, you see premium brands get a lot more attention from distributor reps because they know they make more money. You see, that’s the same reason people put premium brands on the back bar instead of putting crap brands on the back bar. They want to sell those so I imagine the same kind of thing is true for you.
Libby Cooper: It’s similar, though, and I love learning something new every day. I didn’t actually know that. What’s happening in the cannabis industry right now is a dispensary will choose their markup and do that same markup on every brand. But you’re totally right. So, if we were to go to Green Room which is probably a dispensary because it’s a name but I’m making it up, and they do it.
Rick Kiley: We’ll be tomorrow.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s my favorite place. I love that.
Libby Cooper: It’s my favorite place. They might do a 3X markup on every product but, yes, they’re going to make more money on that 3X on Space Coyote than many of our other competitors, so it does make a lot of sense.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, it’s not just your consumers that are higher. It’s your profits. There’s another one for you.
Libby Cooper: And we have what we’re really proud of at Space Coyote is that we do have a really high margin on our product for ourselves. So, it’s good all around.
Jeffrey Boedges: Oh, yeah. It sounds alright. I would live in Hawaii and make margin on weed for sure. I mean, that sounds nice.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. Come on out.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, I might.
Libby Cooper: All you need is a negative COVID test.
Rick Kiley: I’m sure that it’s just as easy as she’s making it sound, right?
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, my family won’t care. What is that?
Rick Kiley: So, you mentioned that you’re not doing a ton of education. We hear there’s a lot of attention that needs to be paid to the budtenders who work in these retailers. Are you doing anything with your brand specifically aimed at members of the trade? Or is it just brand promise, try it, get them on board, and if they don’t like it, move on? Like what’s your approach?
Libby Cooper: So, all of our marketing dollars pre-COVID used to go to the budtender. Through incredible industry-only events where a budtender would get invited, they would come to the event, and they would leave an evangelist for the brand because we would just blow their minds with such a cool experience and stoke them out. Also, we focused a lot on budtender demo days and education. So, being in the backroom with the budtenders stoking them out there in their own shop, bringing them coffees and snacks. Our entire focus has always been the budtender and I would say that’s been the biggest challenge in COVID that we feel like we’re sort of neglecting everybody.
Jeffrey Boedges: Is stoking them out the same thing as sampling people and things like allowing them to taste the product?
Libby Cooper: So, we can’t let them taste the product because of the regulations but it’s more merch. It’s the paraphernalia around the brand. What happens is a budtender has to use real money to buy the joint. So, we’ll do an incentive program where the budtender will have to buy a Space Coyote for $1 or like a few cents the tax on the product, and then we’re using that cost but unfortunately, we’re not allowed to just hand out joints or even let them try them.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, when you do these events then, so they’re going to bring their own. Let’s assume that they bring their own Space Coyote to the party. Are you then enhancing the experience with watching meteorites from the desert, things like that? Are you enhancing?
Libby Cooper: Things like that. Yeah, things like that.
Jeffrey Boedges: What are you doing?
Libby Cooper: I mean, we’ve had one of my favorite events was we had an event at a really funky museum and there was a closet door that you could open and there was an aerialist hanging from the ceiling in this very small space and she was wearing white and we had a UV light so she was sort of like lifts up and she was just sort of spinning in this. And so, then everybody was going around being like, “You should look in that closet,” things like that.
Jeffrey Boedges: We’re going to steal that so thank you. Let’s pay homage to you.
Rick Kiley: Well, I was going to ask, though, since you have this brand story about how you came up with the name, I’m curious if you’ve pulled together an experience out in Joshua Tree like that seems to be something you might want to do.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. We’ve done company offsites in Joshua Tree, team retreats, but we’ve never done like a public-facing or industry-only event there and it’s actually because there’s a lot of noise ordinances in the desert and a lot of the places that we like… Is it me?
Rick Kiley: No, I’m just saying you got to get everyone headphones.
Libby Cooper: Oh, yeah. We do.
Rick Kiley: Then you don’t have to worry about the noise.
Libby Cooper: If we did silent disco, it would be amazing. It would be so amazing but, yeah, with all the venues, we’ve tried to make sure that they’re 420 friendly venues and good with sound because what we’re doing is so like on the edge of legality. We try and keep it very much in the whitespace and in the legal zone, and it always got a bit complicated. Trust me. I tried like I’m ready, the blueprint for the event is ready. If I can find the right event space in the desert, we’re going to be doing it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. We’re on it.
Rick Kiley: Cool. Awesome. One thing I was curious about, a lot of people I find when they’re getting involved with cannabis and I think this is mostly the people who come probably from more from the wellness or the medical side they’re trying to sort of like find the thing that works for them well, for whatever their need is. So, the right sort of potency, the right sort of intake with the right duration and when they find that thing, that’s the thing that they go back to time and time again. It strikes me that your brand might be different and I’m curious if you’re finding, do the people who are buying your brand and using it, do they stick with the same thing over and over again? Or are they looking forward to your next new creation to sort of like try the new thing that’s like a more discovery-minded approach?
Libby Cooper: Well, yes. The answer is yes. They’re looking for the next new thing and that’s why we’re focused on collaboration. So, we all are constantly iterating on new and exciting strain pairings with new extract brands, but also musicians. So, that’s something that we’ve branched out into recently, making the collaboration not just about the hash or live resin that’s inside but also partnering with someone who has an audience outside of weed. It’s worked really well and it is because the customer that we’re pulling in being that stoner that dabbing the hottest new extracts, they’re strain hunting, they’re following what celebrities are smoking, and they’re trying to buy that strain themselves at the dispensary. And a lot of them if they’re not finding that at the dispensary, they’re going to someone outside of the dispensary, and they’re totally comfortable buying something from the black market, which we’re constantly battling against, but by keeping things exciting, by keeping things high potency as well, that’s how we keep people coming back. It’s consistent. We have to be consistent, yet fresh. So, it is a bit of a dance but, yeah, you’re totally right.
Rick Kiley: It’s interesting. Yeah. That’s cool. I imagine there’s probably not a substitute for your brand and your product on the black market or the gray market or the traditional market. Are you unique enough that people can’t really find your stuff anywhere else or something similar?
Libby Cooper: So, our quality is what makes us unique. We’re using jarrable grade flower and jarrable grade extracts that it’s the same material that someone would be dabbing, buying and dabbing, is what’s going into our joints. You can really taste it and you can also feel it in the high. I’m positive there are a bunch of competitors in that illicit market but they’re going to be using things like trim. They’re going to be using distillate as the extract. And I’ve smoked a few of these joints, and it’s super harsh. Maybe it’s harsh because of the pesticide use. I just needed that experience. I needed to be like, “Okay. What’s out there?” And it’s just not pleasant. So, I would say our form factor is not new. And we didn’t invent that form factor. We just wanted to do it well.
Rick Kiley: Got it. Cool.
Jeffrey Boedges: May I ask like an idiotic question? How do you mix the two things together? Is it like a blender or like if I got one of these things and I wanted to deconstruct it and smoke it in a bowl? Could I do that? Or would it be like I’d have to take a little bit of each side of the joint?
Libby Cooper: So, we have a proprietary method, which I can’t share, but we call it the T-rex method. So, if you can figure that out maybe you’ll know.
Rick Kiley: Is it the band or the dinosaur?
Libby Cooper: The dinosaur.
Rick Kiley: Okay, cool.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. But definitely, it’s something that depending on the materials, I mean, I can easily talk about hash node. It’s very easy to find a fine ground hash, more of that powder hash that you can easily mix, you could smoke it in a bowl, you could roll your own joint. But when it comes to more of those viscous materials like live resin and sauces, yeah, we’ve definitely got a special technique. You could always open a Space Coyote and just smoke it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I’m going to try and check it out but, yeah, I got to get to one, unfortunately.
Rick Kiley: They’re not out here yet.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, I can’t get it yet. Soon.
Rick Kiley: It is in the New York medical program if possible.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, the Jersey Rec Program is going to be online here shortly.
Rick Kiley: Well, that’s true.
Libby Cooper: I think Jersey is where it’s at.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, New York will be right behind. They’re not going to be really happy people driving across the border.
Libby Cooper: That’s true.
Jeffrey Boedges: Especially after the live resin.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. Could you guys give me some intel there? I’ve been told that, and people think that there’s going to be a group of states that will allow some cross-state border travel. Because it’s just too small.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, I mean, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut tend to form this sort of tristate area. And those three, I’m pretty sure we will work together and Massachusetts recreational is already legal. So, I could easily see Massachusetts to New Jersey sort of opening a little corridor.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. For me, I think the decriminalization is going to be universal. So, I don’t think there’s going to be any problem for people bringing their own bud across the border. I think it gets a lot stickier, pardon the pun, when we start talking about doing it from an industrial standpoint, having a grow operation in New York and then selling that product in New Jersey or vice versa. I just think because then you are subject to interstate commerce laws and I think the Fed is, I don’t think the states give a shit but the Fed probably still does. So, I would say, again, as far as like Rick, going across the border someplace and maybe handing a joint accidentally out the window to a cop with his driver’s license, that probably would get him in trouble. The other stuff probably might be a bridge too far, at least in the short term. That’s my personal opinion. I’m not a professional. I’m not a lawyer.
Rick Kiley: But the states are small. There’s a ton of people here and whether or not it’s actually like formalized, the states will follow suit with each other because they don’t want to be on the losing end of the equation. So, I would expect New York to be closed behind New Jersey, and then Connecticut will be sandwiched in the middle and have no choice. I think we’re coming close to the end of our time here. There was one thing I wrote, I’m looking at my notes here. What did I want here? Oh, yes. So, you know a lot about product. Growing practices, indoor versus outdoor. This is evidently a debate. Some people suggest indoor is better. You say sun-grown is better. Can you talk to us about what difference these growing practices make and why? Why sun-grown may be better? I don’t know other than indoor probably offers a ton more control. That’s my impression.
Libby Cooper: Let’s see if I can try and convince you. I love analogies, as you both have learned, but if you’ve ever eaten a tomato from the farmers market, it’s so much better than one of those like bought at Costco picked-too-soon industrial tomatoes. I don’t know. It’s a flavor experience. It’s also probably so much richer in nutrients and it’s better for you. Also, you’re eating it in season versus like eating it year-round, which also has a lot of strange health implications.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, organic experience in general.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. It’s just more organic but you can also, I mean, what I like about the tomato example is, I mean, same with like if you’ve grown tomatoes in your backyard and you eat those, those are the best.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, they’re pretty good.
Libby Cooper: Just like they’re pretty good. So, that really does lend itself to weed. Weed actually tastes better when it’s grown with the sun, when it’s grown in a loving way. And maybe that’s woo-woo but we all, everybody listening understands that concept. There are some things that just are better when it’s done naturally. You can really squeeze potency up with indoor. You can get super frosty, dense nugs. You can have this style that people are craving right now. But to me, it’s legacy. That is straight from the heritage market. It is from a time when we have to hide growing weed. That is why indoor was born in the first place. And then also the weather restrictions, again, from this like legal side like we could be growing weed year-round in southern states and shipping it year-round to the cold states. But because of these regulations, we can’t do that. So, we’re in this strange time when people are obsessed with indoor and a lot of people call it boutique indoor and put all sorts of adjectives on top of it to make it sound even more…
Rick Kiley: Diamond indoor.
Libby Cooper: Diamonds? Well, diamond is just a crazy extraction method so that’s a whole different rabbit hole.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Libby Cooper: At this point with Space Coyote, I’m going to be fully transparent, we’re actually, we’re doing a hybrid approach with mostly buying greenhouse. So, it’s not fully outdoor because it’s enclosed. So, there is some regulation around wind. They’re controlling what is happening to the plant but it’s still getting that sunlight and we’ll always be very hardcore about that because it also relates to the environment. The inauguration just happened. The environment should be at the forefront of what everybody is thinking about and what they’re doing. It’s sort of pointless to be using electricity to grow your weed when the sun is free.
Rick Kiley: True.
Jeffrey Boedges: It is hardly justified. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: True.
Jeffrey Boedges: Unless you have like solar panels providing your light.
Libby Cooper: Yes, but then battery storage is very expensive, and it leaks energy. So, what we’re really talking about here is, can you get super potent weed from the sun? And the answer is yes. We just hunt a little harder for it. We’ve got people who are constantly sourcing great flower. I think sun-grown has a bad rap also for how it looks, but I think we will just have to get used to the fact that weed has variations and just because the bud isn’t super dense doesn’t mean that it’s bad. A lot of land-raised sativa strains are super fluffy and that’s actually what you want in a sativa but, yeah, people have this crazy idea that it has to be this tiny little nug that’s super crystallized but that means the weed was really, really stressed.
Jeffrey Boedges: Remember the Sun-Maid Raisin dancing raisin?
Libby Cooper: Yes.
Jeffrey Boedges: I think we need the dancing buds.
Libby Cooper: We do!
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. That would be a huge sell.
Rick Kiley: Just like the Space Coyote has to hunt for the sun, has to hunt for its weed.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s good too.
Rick Kiley: Cool. We’re just writing taglines here all day. Cool. So, I mean, you brought it up and as we close, we close kind of with the same question every time. You’re in the industry. It’s crystal ball time. We just had a new administration federally coming to power. Do you have a sense of what is your over-under on when federal legalization might occur in this great country of ours?
Libby Cooper: I think it’s definitely in the next four years. So, right now it’s 2021. By 2025, it’s going to be federally legal like it has to be. No excuses, everybody. If it was up to me to really crystal ball it with no real idea, I would say two years. I think we’re 24 months out.
Rick Kiley: Two years. It’s the second time we’ve heard that.
Libby Cooper: I’m very optimistic, though. So, take it with a grain of salt.
Jeffrey Boedges: We heard it from somebody a little less optimistic. Just yesterday. And he was also talking about hunting, by the way, so I guess it’s been a big week for hunting and for two-year legalization plans.
Libby Cooper: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Cool.
Libby Cooper: So, I want to say I have a little Intel about what Hawaii is doing. They have historically been not recreational and pretty anti because of politics, but mainly, it would potentially put the farm subsidies at risk. That they thought that it could make the federal government disgruntled and now Hawaii is talking about going legal within the next one to two years. So, because of that, I feel quite optimistic that they’re getting intel that it’s happening very soon.
Jeffrey Boedges: I always feel like Hawaii follows California’s lead too though to a degree.
Libby Cooper: But they didn’t. That’s what was so crazy.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s weird.
Libby Cooper: But it’s just medical.
Rick Kiley: But dude, macadamia nuts are already so expensive. If all those farmers start growing weed instead of those nuts, it’s going to be like $50 for one of those.
Libby Cooper: I know. And they really want that proprietary strain. That’s a mouthful. Like Maui Wowie to actually be stamped like it’s coming from Maui.
Rick Kiley: Oh, right.
Jeffrey Boedges: And they should. They absolutely should.
Libby Cooper: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: But macadamia might be a good brand name for a weed.
Libby Cooper: Macadamia would be great. I wanted to bring Space Coyote here with a variation that was like Island Coyote and I was just like go real cheesy with it but I’ve decided no. It’s just going to be Space Coyote here.
Rick Kiley: Cool. That’s awesome. Well, Libby, it has been great talking to you today. Before you go, if people want to learn about Space Coyote, where should we send them? Where should they look?
Libby Cooper: So, you can go to our website at SpaceCoyote.org and we have an Instagram at @SpaceCoyote. And this is a little fun fact, Scott and I do a live stream on Facebook every Thursday.
Jeffrey Boedges: I followed you today and I watched your last live stream and it looks like you guys had a lot of fun.
Libby Cooper: Yeah. We do have a lot of fun. We had a recent one get a million views, which was pretty crazy.
Jeffrey Boedges: That may be the whys, huh?
Libby Cooper: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: So, he go to the top.
Jeffrey Boedges: The wire to begin with?
Libby Cooper: It might have been. We were actually in it. We smoked hemp joints. We weren’t even smoking real joints and we talked about how they were Delta 8. People were loving it. They were like, “You should make hemp joints,” and because we had so many views, we thought, “Maybe we should.” I don’t know. It might be like those CBD joints we made.
Jeffrey Boedges: But I also bought the shirt. Because your business partner, yeah, he looked really cool.
Libby Cooper: Thank you.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s cool so I bought a shirt.
Libby Cooper: Thank you for supporting.
Rick Kiley: He didn’t get one for me but that’s okay. That’s fine.
Libby Cooper: Maybe we’ll have to send you one.
Jeffrey Boedges: I got Rick a shirt that I custom-made for him about his university that had to do with pot and he never wears it. So, I always say, “Well, he’s not going to wear that.”
Libby Cooper: Not deserving.
Rick Kiley: I’ve worn it. He just hasn’t seen it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: We’ve been sheltered in place quite a bit.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s true.
Rick Kiley: Cool. Well, Libby, thanks so much for joining today and we look forward to great things for you in the future. Thanks so much.
Libby Cooper: Thank you.
Rick Kiley: Cheers.