Exclusive Interview with Garden Society Co-Founders Erin Gore and Karli Warner
Garden Society, a cannabis company focused on women’s health and wellness products, has a small team and big plans for the California market. Right now, the company has a team of nine employees as it gears up for its Series A. Co-founders Erin Gore and Karli Warner spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about the company’s start, its product portfolio, and how they plan to grow Garden Society.
Gore, a chemical engineer by training, spent 10 years working with a CPG company. During her corporate career, she used cannabis for pain relief following surgeries and then as a way to balance the demands in her life. She started doing research and found a lack of cannabis products for women. In 2016, she reached out to Warner and launched Garden Society.
The two co-founders met when Warner helped Gore’s husband launch his wine brand, Tom Gore Vineyards, a joint venture with Constellation Brands. Warner started her career in the wine industry with a small PR agency in Napa. She found herself drawn to the community and fun of the wine industry, aspects she finds in the cannabis space. Warner grew up in a household where the adults consumed cannabis. Later in life, her husband used it while fighting cancer, and she consumed it to move away from pharmaceutical anti-anxiety and depression medications. When Gore reached out to her, she was a stay at home mom, but she decided to become a working mom and help launch Garden Society.
The Garden Society Model
Garden Society is a licensed microbusiness that operates with a blend of vertical integration and partnerships, which gives the company flexibility. The company has a manufacturing license, distribution license and non-storefront retail license, but it also works with a third-party distributor and co-packers. During her time in the CPG space, Gore saw how brands could scale by leveraging the strength of partnerships. This model has allowed the company to initially scale without raising a lot of capital upfront, according to Warner.
In 2019, Gore and Warner are focused on growing Garden Society’s market share in the California market, but strategic partnerships could open the door to other states like Arizona and Nevada.
Partnerships, like the one with BlackbirdGo, which is part of TILT Holdings (CSE: TILT) (OTC: SVVTF), are helping to drive the company’s growth in California. Garden Society has an online store and delivery license. Through the partnership, Garden Society’s products are available for delivery throughout Sonoma County.
Education is another core piece of the Garden Society model. The company hosts in-home parties to help women learn about cannabis. Women can order products at these parties or online following the event. While the company works with its retail partners to sell products wholesale into dispensaries, not all communities have easy access to these dispensaries, according to Warner. In-home education and delivery help the company effectively reach its target consumers.
Edibles and Pre-Rolls
Garden Society’s portfolio includes three types of edibles: a milk chocolate with sea salt, a dark chocolate spiced with cinnamon and chili, and fruit gelées. The milk chocolate edible, which contains 10 milligrams of THC and one milligram of CBD, is designed for sleep and relaxation. The dark chocolate edible and fruit gelées, strawberry or passionfruit, are sativa products with five milligrams of THC each. The sativa products are designed for a brighter, uplifting day, according to Gore.
Garden Society also has three types of pre-rolls, branded as rosettes, including sativa-hybrid pre-rolls, indica-hybrid pre-rolls, and high-CBD pre-rolls.
The company is getting ready to launch single-serve options of its edibles in response to consumer demand and beginning to explore topicals and tinctures.
Funding and Growth in 2019
Gore and Warner bootstrapped Garden Society at the beginning. Last fall, the company did its first seed round and raised $1.3 million in a convertible note. At that time, the two co-founders did a lot of work around corporate governance, and the company was reincorporated into a B corporation.
Now, Garden Society is preparing for its Series A, which could be somewhere between $5 and $10 million. That funding will help the company build its team (right now Garden Society is hiring a wholesale channels manager, VP of operations, and office administrator), build its product portfolio, form partnerships, and scale across California and into other states. Without taking into consideration the Series A, Garden Society is projecting $3.8 million in revenue for 2019, according to Gore.
In addition to its growing footprint, Garden Society is adding to its focus on education with a new podcast featuring interviews with people both within and outside of the cannabis industry.
While Garden Society is facing the normal operational challenges of rapid growth, its founders are confident in the strength of its mission and supply chain.
To learn more, visit the Garden Society website. Listen to the entire interview: