Co-founder Kristi Knoblich Palmer shares how her company became one of California’s most popular edible brands.
When it comes to cannabis, Kiva Sweets co-founder and COO Kristi Knoblich Palmer approaches the subject with infectious enthusiasm. She often uses adjectives like “great” and “great,” making her words sincere. excitement that reflects the passion she has not only for her own brand of edibles, but also for the larger industry.
Founded in 2010 by Knoblich Palmer and her husband Scott, Kiva Confections has established itself as one of the more popular edible brands in California. There was a time when having a ring of frayed fabric on your jeans meant you were probably chewing on tobacco; now the smart money is in the form of a can Kiva Terra Bites creates. Terra Bites, available as espresso beans or blueberries coated in THC infused chocolate, was an early adopter of the current cannabis trend that prioritizes controlled dosing over maximum potency.
“When we started Kiva, edibles were just extremely unprofessional,” explains Knoblich Palmer. “They were not giving consumers the information they needed to make informed choices.”
With Kiva Confections, Knoblich Palmer set out to raise the bar — making one out of chocolate. While the design of Kiva bars — rectangles of chocolate evenly spaced into 20 pieces — may be commonplace today, Kiva’s first product at the time was a change of pace from edibles packaged to the giftware.ls with THC. From there, the Bay Area company proceeded methodically, an approach that has resulted in eight varieties of bars, two varieties of matcha-blended mints, and their ever-popular Terra Bites.
Before Kiva became a household name, Knoblich Palmer and her husband grew cannabis to cope with a collapsed economy. After meeting in school and moving to the Bay Area to pursue a career in photography, the couple realized they needed a new source of income after the 2008 market crash.
“We’ve done what every starving artist couple does,” says Knoblich Palmer. “We started growing weed in our backyard to make ends meet. It seemed logicalng to do at that time. When you’re young and in your twenties and trying to make money and find your place in the world, the risk component isn’t really something you can measure. You think you can do anything, which was really a blessing to us then because it brought us to market.”
Kiva, an Oakland company, was in the industry long before recreational use was legalized for California, leading to their role as an advocate in shaping policies and regulations around cannabis production. Knoblich Palmer currently sits on the board of the California Cannabis Manufacturers Association and suggests that one of its main goals is to educate regulators about the nuances of the cannabis industry.
“They know as much about cannabis as we do about government,” she says, “so we spend a lot of time giving feedback to regulators and advocating for operators both small and large. It’s something I’m extremely passionate about.”
Right now, Knoblich Palmer is also focusing on Kiva’s recently launched new foray into the world of gummies.
Available in four blends, Kiva’s Camino line diverges from edibles that emphasize the roots of the infused THC as a sativa or indica dominant strain, instead highlighting the more complex and diverse terpene profiles that give each flavor a unique give effect. From the “cool” feel of Wild Berry to the “uplifting” sensation of Camino’s Pineapple Habanero, Knoblich Palmer hopes that Kiva’s latest creation will speak to the curious consumers who still hesitate to try an edible product for fear of finding one. taking too large a dose.
NSThe Camino line also introduces Kiva’s first CBD forward product, a Sparkling Pear Prosecco gummy with a three-to-one ratio of CBD to THC. With this latest move and continued strong sales, it looks like Kiva’s status as one of the preeminent edible manufacturers in the state is safe and sound.
As for why the cannabis industry seems to offer women and minorities more opportunities to start, own and run their own businesses compared to neighboring industries like Silicon Valley, Knoblich Palmer points back to the nature of the cannabis market itself.
“I think that’s part of the reason because our industry is starting at a time when our society is starting to pull back against these old-fashioned ways of thinking,” she says. “I also think the cannabis industry naturally goes against the grain, so it supports people who believe in that.”
While it’s certainly not without flaws, it’s clear that for Knoblich Palmer, the industry’s flaws are more than offset by its promise and potential. As Kiva continues to expand its reach in the edibles market, the company’s COO notes that perhaps their biggest challenge is simply making sure they don’t bite more than they can chew.
“The cannabis industry is like a little seedling,” she says, “The growth potential feels infinite right now, which is amazing, but also a little daunting. In the cannabis business right now, the joke is that the ability to say ‘no’ way you grow your businessThere are so many different opportunities to pursue that you might do a hundred different things mediocre, instead of doing one thing amazingly well.”