The Collaborator

As ripe as the cannabis industry is with opportunities, it is not for everyone
February 9, 2022

How Kary Radestock and her collective are reaching new heights in the Cannabis Industry

By Kary Radestock

“Come back when you have better packaging.”

Those are not the words you want to hear from one of the biggest domestic merchandise retail chains in the country. And yet, that’s what Bed Bath & Beyond told Canna Bath after the manufacturer presented its line of natural bath and body products featuring cannabis-fused, holistic healing benefits.

Love the product, hate the packaging.

While the truth behind a problem can be painful, it is how you approach finding the solution that tests your mettle. So, when Canna Bath came to us and asked for help redesigning the entire scope of its brand and packaging, we stepped up. We are problem solvers. Hippo Premium Packaging was created for moments like this—to take a client’s problem and turn it into a success story.

When we finished working with the Canna Bath team, they went back to the Bed Bath & Beyond buyers to show off their new packaging. Not only were the products immediately accepted and put into the Bed Bath & Beyond store network, but nearly one year to the day after they were rejected, Canna Bath reported that its sales had doubled.

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Pride. Passion. Professionalism. When I draw up the tenets that define who we are as a company, those are the characteristics every member of our team possesses. It takes exercising every one of those principles, every day, to thrive in today’s extraordinarily competitive cannabis landscape. We at Hippo Premium Packaging are the premium child-resistant cannabis packaging experts—a collective of award-winning in-house designers, compliance experts, and printing and production professionals committed to being “the” choice for today’s growing cannabis or CBD brands.

How committed are we? After six years in business, we already are one of the senior packaging companies in the marketplace, offering a wide variety of packaging options, including folding cartons, rigid and flexible containers, glass jars and labels. We also handle graphic design, branding and production.

Hippo was formed to serve only the cannabis industry—an ever-evolving, complex legal landscape that continues to grow dramatically in response to expanding legalization, and a flood of capital from venture capital firms and other investors. An industry that as of Dec. 2021, still only has 18 out of 50 states fully legalized for marijuana use. A segment that sports global sales expected to reach $33.6 billion by 2025.

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To stake a claim in this community, we have continued to acquire the breadth of knowledge it takes to navigate the landscape. Unlike other consumer packaged goods, the cannabis industry is regulated by numerous federal, state and local entities, each with their own layers of rules that affect packaging. We have become experts in these regulations, providing the kind of expertise our clients need to succeed.

“To stake a claim in this community, we have continued to acquire the breadth of knowledge it takes to navigate the landscape.”

Interestingly, as ripe as the cannabis industry is with opportunities, it is not for everyone. Many print companies working in mainstream printing and packaging too often find that their methods do not work well in the cannabis industry. Coming from a mainstream packaging background, I was raised on the idea that we needed to sell the solutions we had available in-house or with a few strategic partners. But in the cannabis industry, you must sell what your client needs, not necessarily what’s in your product portfolio.

Our success is a direct result of the virtual agency team we have strategically placed at every stop in the process. We have curated the “best of the best” — including our award-winning lead designer, our Southern California production team, and our dedicated sales team sprinkled throughout regions with large numbers of cannabis companies. I am incredibly proud of each of them and how they have learned to become experts in the nuances of child-resistant packaging, state-specific regulations and local ordinances. It isn’t easy, but they did it—and continue to do so.

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Pivoting amid the chaos

In the spirit of our company’s pride, passion and professionalism, perhaps nowhere is their dedication more evident than in how they handled the past two-plus years. Among the hardest our company has faced since we opened for business, the pandemic challenged each of us individually—and collectively.

From securing the safety of our staff, partners and clients, to dealing with supply chain issues that forced everyone to plan ahead, we found the strength and perseverance to push on. Amid this crazy environment, we were blessed enough to see some really good things happen. I was elected to chair the Marketing and Advertising Committee at the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), working alongside some of the industry’s greatest minds to develop fantastic educational programs that will benefit the entire industry.

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And, for the second year in a row, I was able to serve as a judge for the PAC Global Awards, where Hippo, in conjunction with Duallok, was the first cannabis packaging system to win this coveted award. I also recently served as a juror for the Cannabis Clio Awards, where I was privy to some of the industry’s most incredible displays of creativity. It all makes me so very optimistic about the future of the cannabis industry.

“Our success is a direct result of the virtual agency team we have strategically placed at every stop in the process.”

The lessons—all of them—have been inspiring. I learned the importance of doing what’s best for your clients. I learned that retreating or worrying too much about your own issues takes your eyes off the ball. The key to success is always to remain steadfast in helping your clients succeed.

When they succeed, you succeed.

Heading into a new year means exploring new strategic partnerships—ones that will allow us to bring even more products and services to our clients in a timely and affordable manner. It means continuing to build our domestic sourcing, and evaluating new technologies that can enhance our productivity, lower our costs and provide our clients with greater value.

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More than anything else, Hippo Premium Packaging will continue to serve an industry we love, which not only means giving our clients what they need, but also giving something back to the industry at large. You cannot really be in an industry if you are watching from the outside. Get involved. Make your voice heard.

As we say every day, our success is when we can help our clients succeed.

Kary Radestock is founder and CEO of Hippo Premium Packaging, a boutique agency focusing on the unique needs of the emerging cannabis market. With more than 25 years of award-winning print and packaging experience, she has worked with some of the top brands in the world. She launched Hippo to bring a higher level of craftmanship along with professional-level packaging and brand-building solutions to the emerging cannabis industry. Recently, Radestock was named Chair of the NCIA Marketing & Advertising Committee, and selected as a judge for both the PAC Global Awards and Clio Cannabis Awards.