The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly changed the course forward for the cannabis industry. Regardless, many of the market’s most glaring problems were established prior to today’s ongoing public health crisis.
In 2019, the women-led firm Vangst published data on 166 cannabis businesses in 17 states. According to Vangst’s findings, 38.5 percent of employees questioned self-identified as females. Conversely, only 17.6 percent of women surveyed reported holding a role as a director or executive. Things work a little differently at Garden Society.
Founded in 2016, Garden Society is the brainchild of Karli Warner and Erin Gore. Offering two variations of gourmet chocolate as well as a line of pre-rolls, the company serves Northern California’s wine country (namely Napa and Sonoma). They also run a delivery service. In part, their goal is to ensure local customers not living near a dispensary — a common situation given the region’s numerous pockets of residential sprawl — can still access the medicine they need.
The coronavirus pandemic has naturally led to business closures and fewer opportunities for small-market brands to distribute their products. In response, Gore and Warner decided to eschew the business practices that suggest all cannabis companies must be in competition with one another. Instead, they invited five other local, women-focused cannabis brands to utilize Garden Society’s delivery commerce platform.
The move was also made with Garden Society’s patients in mind.
“When already in the midst of a health crisis,” explains Garden Society founder and CEO Erin Gore, “it would have been detrimental to send these patients back out to the illicit market to get their medicine.”
Gore cites a philosophy of “all ships rise with the tide” in explaining the decision to invite the brands Kikoko, House of Saka, Juna, Sonder, and Sweet Releaf to sell their goods on Garden Society’s platform. Gore says the move also represented a great opportunity for Garden Society’ to fill in some gaps in their usual delivery menu that had resulted from COVID-19-related issues.
“With delivery being the most critical aspect of the cannabis industry during the quarantine and for the foreseeable future,” Salarizadeh says, “having the team at Garden Society leading a charge to get our products onto the doorsteps of our consumers was key to our Northern California strategy. House of Saka cannot think of a better partner in the industry than that of Garden Society.”
For customers, the work is as simple as visiting Garden Society’s site and placing an order for delivery. Options on the Garden Society menu include most consumable formats of cannabis (including tinctures and drinks) as well as low-dose options and vapes.
While their services currently only cover residents in Napa and Sonoma, Warner doesn’t want the work Garden Society has done to serve merely as a temporary solution. On the contrary, she hopes the onus of her company’s present efforts gives way to something that lasts far longer.
“We are excited to begin to realize our dream of working with some of the best women-owned cannabis brands in California,” Warner says. “We are looking forward to seeing how we all work together and understanding what our customers are looking for with the hope of continuing to grow and build this unique program.”