Exclusive Interview with Viola Brands CMO Ericka Pittman
Last year, Viola Brands Founder and CEO Al Harrington spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about his company’s footprint and outlook. Now, Chief Marketing Officer Ericka Pittman has touched base to discuss how the company is pursuing new licenses, continuing to hire and supporting social equity in cannabis. The audio of the entire conversation is available at the end of this written summary.
The New CMO
Pittman joined the Viola C-suite in January, bringing with her extensive experience in both advertising and marketing. She spent approximately 15 years in the media space, selling digital, radio and print advertising. Next, she moved onto marketing, working with Combs Enterprises for about a decade. Over the course of her career, she has helped develop brands through strategy, innovation and powerful storytelling.
Pittman is pioneering leadership for women of color in the cannabis space. She has not experienced significant challenges in her new role, rather she is excited about the company’s vision and the opportunity to reshape the cannabis landscape.
Viola also recently added a new COO and President: Adam Wolf. Wolf will be helping execute Harrington’s vision for the company with a focus on infrastructure expansion and supply chain efficiency.
Despite operating in a challenging climate, the company continues to add to its team. Over the past year, Viola has increased its hires by 19 percent, according to Pittman.
The company has grown significantly over the past year, according to Pittman. Viola Brands operates in four states: Colorado, Oregon, California and Michigan. It opened its Michigan dispensary late last year, and it also developed a cultivation facility in the state, according to Pittman.
Viola Brands continued to expand with an emphasis on organic growth strategy. The company has license applications in process in 11 additional states, and it is considering more markets. As recreational programs continue to come online, markets like New York, New Jersey and Georgia are of interest to the company. While M&A opportunities may present themselves down the line, Viola is focused on organic growth in the near future.
The Viola Product Portfolio
Viola’s product portfolio has remained consistent over the past year, according to Pittman. Inhalables, concentrates and flower are at the company’s core, and it is heavily focused on developing those areas as the foundation of its go-to, premium brand. The company is also exploring how it might expand into other areas in the future.
Social Equity in Cannabis
In February, Black History Month, Pittman launched the Viola Cares initiative, which focuses on creating equitable opportunities for people of color. Viola Cares is supported by four pillars: education, entrepreneurship, expungement and incubation. Through this initiative, the company partners with non-profit organizations that work within these four areas.
Adjusting to Business During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, been a challenge for Viola Brands. Given how unpredictable the future is at this point, the company is navigating the current environment one day at a time. Cannabis has a communal culture, which means figuring out how to engage consumers in a time of social distancing has been a challenge, according to Pittman. But, Viola is focused on educating its consumers on ways to safely and responsibly access cannabis products.
The Future of the Brand
Maintaining a macro-level and micro-level view is essential to continued success, according to Pittman. Any multi-state company needs to understand the larger context of the industry, as well as the specifics of each individual market and its consumers. As the company continues to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and changing legislation, it remains committed to serving the market as a premier brand and supporting social equity in an impactful way.
To learn more, visit the Viola Brands website. Listen to the entire interview: