Address a practical need. This industry is a brand new frontier, and with any new frontier, there’s going to be a lot of genuine innovation and a lot of fads. If you want to build a lasting business, figure out what this industry really needs that doesn’t exist and go tackle it. We spoke to hundreds of women before developing our product, and everything we decided to produce was because there was a genuine need for it.
As part of my series on “5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Run a Successful Cannabis Ancillary Company” I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristina Lopez Adduci. Kristina is the Founder of House of Puff, which is focused on developing well designed, not over-designed, products for women who view smoking as an opportunity to enhance their lifestyle. Quite simply: simple, modern smoking accessories with a feminine touch. Developed from hundreds of stories from girlfriends, we want to set the bar higher. Our Lit Kit is the introductory collection of home accouterments for a more lifted experience for smokers.
She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Art Zealous, an online art zine dedicated to bringing the latest art exhibitions, daily news and developments from galleries, museums and events to the next generation of art collectors.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of what first introduced you into this business or helped you get interested in the business?
I started House of Puff out of necessity. I’ve suffered from a diagnosed anxiety disorder for most of my life, and was tired of the side effects of the pharmaceuticals I was prescribed. A friend suggested I try using cannabis to help and it was a game changer. Unfortunately, most of the smoking accessories on the market are male-centric and unappealing to me. I have a background in the arts and I really appreciate simple, beautiful design, but I couldn’t find anything that, so I decided to create it myself.
House of Puff launched almost a year ago with a mission to address that problem. We’ve begun with our Lit Kit, an introductory set for both seasoned consumer and the novice, both who may not want to be a part of that traditional stoner culture. Each kit contains a two-hitter pink pipe, candle, custom pink rolling papers and a small carrying case for women on the go who want to throw their cannabis accessories in their bag. Each Lit Kit comes with instructions on how to roll a joint and how to use our ‘Le Pipe’. We want to make it super easy for everyone, especially if it’s their first time.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
While I was launching House of Puff I found out I was pregnant…with twins! Twins don’t run in our families, so I was shocked, to say the least. My panic sunk in “how was I going to launch a new company and be a first-time mom?” Then I remembered one of my favorite quotes from Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Done is better than perfect.” I knew I had to keep going and push myself and put my idea out there. I wasn’t going to let being pregnant or becoming a mom stop me from something I really believed in. If anything, I was falling more into the mold of the type of woman we want as our customer. The “do it all, balance the boardroom and the family” type of person.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Our HIGH TIDE candle is one of our most popular products and almost didn’t exist. I thought that I could be a candle maker and decided that instead of hiring a fragrance studio to design our candle, I was going to do it myself. How hard could making a candle be? Well, it turns out really hard! I ended up starting a small kitchen fire in my apartment while working on too many formulas at once! Being a candle maker wasn’t in the cards. There’s a lot of chemistry that goes into creating a fragrance, so we enlisted the help of Joya, a famous chandler based out of Brooklyn to help us out. Lesson learned: sometimes leave it up to the professionals.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We’re launching two new products, which we’re really excited. We reached out to our community and asked what they’d like to see from us. I don’t want to divulge too much right now, but we’ve heard from a lot of our customers that a new take on an ashtray is sorely needed. Many people have started to shy away from traditional smoking, but using cannabis in different forms can still create a bit of a mess sometimes. So we enlisted some really talented designers to create a handmade, one-of-kind piece for us that we think is both practical, and something our customers would be proud to leave on their coffee or dining room table. The other product is very unique and will help our customers to hand roll a joint. You’d be surprised how many people have told us they still have a hard time!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
It has to be my Mom. She’s the role model I look to when I feel overwhelmed or challenged and “wonder how I’m ever going to achieve my goals.” My Mom’s very successful today, but she didn’t get there overnight. After starting out as real estate broker, she decided she wanted to pursue her dream of going into medicine, at the age of ! She balanced medical school and taking care of me and still finished top of her class. If I ever feel like something is too tough to overcome I just think about what she put herself through to achieve her dreams and think if she can push through, so can I.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
One of our goals is to actively challenge the norm in the cannabis industry. What’s interesting in this business, is that the norm is, traditionally speaking, taboo. We want to market to cannabis consumers but CEO’s, mom’s, entrepreneurs, which means for us it’s about normalizing the conversation around cannabis. We share stories on our social media channels that we hope breaks the stereotypes that plague this industry. Brands can benefit from this by taking more of a stand and not being afraid to share personal stories and to challenge people’s perception, even if it’s not popular. For us, it’s also about breaking the typical associations with marijuana marketing. For example, you will never see a cannabis leaf on our products. Not one, not ever.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
The very things that excite me the most are also the ones that most concern me.
The rise in participation and inclusion of women in the cannabis industry, especially minority women like myself. A lot of industries are anchored by the ‘boys club’. This is especially true in the cannabis business. Just look at how the majority of cannabis products are marketed. They look like beer ads. Women are going to become leaders in this business because this market is so much bigger than just ‘the boys’. Cannabis is used in equal rates by both men and women and women’s voices will need to be equally represented.
Legalization in the state of New York. As a New Yorker, the impending legalization in New York naturally excites me, but not in the way you think. I genuinely do think the law is enforced inconsistently and has an outsized effect on people of color and minorities. The social justice aspect is something I can’t wait to see change.
As someone who suffers from anxiety, it’s exciting to see cannabis-derived drugs getting approved by the FDA. Cannabis has been woefully under-researched. There’s a lot of good evidence of some of the medicinal properties of cannabis, but we really need to lift the restrictions on research so we can begin to pinpoint what actually creates beneficial effects for people and what’s malarkey. I also think that crystallizing the positive properties of cannabis with research will help speed of the destigmatization of its use.
Can you share your top “5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Run a Successful Cannabis Ancillary Company”? Please share a story or example for each.
1.Just do it. Even if your idea is fully formed, start it. There’s always someone on your heels. The cannabis industry is fast growing and more entrepreneurs are entering the field and the level of competition is high.
2.Forge genuine relationships in and outside of the cannabis industry. This market is super fractured. With state laws evolving at different rates, local business are in different stages of development. You really need to expand your network to build the best product across the space. We’re always talking to people outside of our industry. It’s not uncommon for us to sit down with someone in the beauty industry or fashion space and pick their brain about how they innovating in their field.
3.Which brings us to #3. Do your research. Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, so make sure comply with your state’s federal rules and regulations. This is going to be one of the toughest hurdles. State laws regarding illegal substances should not be tackled without legal help.
4.Address a practical need. This industry is a brand new frontier, and with any new frontier, there’s going to be a lot of genuine innovation and a lot of fads. If you want to build a lasting business, figure out what this industry really needs that doesn’t exist and go tackle it. We spoke to hundreds of women before developing our Lit Kit, and everything we decided to produce was because there was a genuine need for it.
5.Lastly, be practical but think outside the box. Sure some ideas have a built-in market, but competition is intense and margins can be slim, and honestly, does the world really need another tie-dyed t-shirt with a pot leaf graphic?
Aside from your particular vertical, which other cannabis ancillary industries to you think have very strong potential in the next few years? Can you explain why?
As someone with a design in the arts, I’m fascinated with architects and interior designers who are creating brick and mortar establishments. Long gone are the days of walking into a dark, seedy back room to buy cannabis. The dispensary designs I’ve seen lately are modern, thoughtful, unique and provide a great shopping experience. Decor such as lighting, color and materials is something I pay close attention to and it’s exciting to see cannabis establishments invest in their interiors.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
You have to listen to feedback. No one has ever had the perfect idea the first time. It takes iterations and iterations to refine something until it’s perfect. Never expect to be done, because there’s always going to be something you can do better.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would create a movement about volunteerism in the community — a ‘help your neighbor campaign’ if you will. People think that they have to take on the world to make a difference, they don’t. Someone who needs your help may be right next door. We have switched from front porches when neighbors said hello to each other to back porches and fenced yards where neighbors don’t see each other. It starts with being a good person and lending someone that lives close by to you a hand — like shoveling their sidewalk, buying an extra carton of milk, offer to walk their dog, or water their plants- all things that someone might need. Helping others — also helps you because it reminds you of purpose in life and gives you a sense of personal satisfaction. That translates into happiness, which translates to better health, which translates to better communities, which translates to better cities, states, countries — and eventually the world. Changing the culture of a community takes time, but it also starts small.