The following is written by Kristi Knoblich Palmer and Scott Palmer, Co-Founders, Kiva Confections.
Silva Yaacoubian is a pioneer. But not the sort you are thinking of.
When we met Silva, almost two years ago, she had just joined the Research and Development team at Kiva Confections, the cannabis infused edibles company that we started in 2010. When Silva came on board, it had only been weeks since we shipped our first products for recreational use and our company was feeling the strain of demand and unpredictable regulations. Amid all this, it was her job to supervise the creation of the products that would take our company into this brand-new future.
Our cannabis company was born in the Bay Area and we are proud of the intertwined history of cannabis and LGBTQ+ activism in our backyard. The first major pushes for cannabis legalization came nearly 30 years ago amid the AIDS Crisis in San Francisco when it was found to treat symptoms of the disease. As a result, members of the LGBTQ community in the Bay Area helped push Proposition 215, the law that first permitted medicinal cannabis in the state.
Now, in 2019, as the legal cannabis industry stabilizes, we are committed to leading by example, pursuing inclusion and diversity in our workplace and in our product line. This is where Silva comes back in and where she helped build a passion project at Kiva.
For the past several months, Silva, a scientist, has been working closely with two unconventional collaborators, legendary drag queens Peaches Christ and Heklina to celebrate one of the many diverse facets of the LGBTQ community. Together, the three of them have consulted on the flavor profile, packaging, color, and even the body type of the drag queen that strikes a pose on the front of the bag. The newest edition to our Camino line of gummies is proud and fabulous with a dash of tropical punch, and it’s something that we are delighted to put our name on.
Much like any other holiday, companies will be lining up to participate in Pride Month, rolling out new products and branding them in bright colors that catch the eye of the savvy consumer. However, this one is different, this is not just a holiday, Pride is a celebration and a rallying cry. This year especially, on the fiftieth anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn, it is a reminder of the pioneers of the LGBTQ+ community and of their suffering -- both physical and mental. It is a call to action, to never allow the stigmas that cause our coworkers, neighbors, siblings, sons or daughters, to hide who they are for fear of violence or isolation.
With this in mind, we call on all members of the cannabis industry and the business community at large, to stand up for inclusion and diversity in and out of the workplace. Together we can lead by holding ourselves accountable, maintaining a safe and rewarding workplace, supporting the communities that we live in and, importantly, by not seizing the banner of a holiday that is not ours for the sake of profit. We should strive to be better than that, as an industry, a community and as individuals.
After careful consideration and together with Heklina, Peaches Christ, and Laganja Estranga, Kiva has made donations to the GLBT Historical Society, Harvey Milk Center for the Arts, and Los Angeles LGBT Center to support the important work of continuing to make strides towards equality. This is about more than designing fun and colorful packaging, this is about investing in the communities in which we do business.
The celebrations for Pride Month will soon be over, but the sentiments behind the festivities must persist long after the glitter is swept from the gutters of Santa Monica Boulevard and Market Street. As the Pride movement remembers Stonewall, Kiva is honored to stand behind the pioneers who have helped shape the LGBTQ community. Together we will continue to fight for equality and we invite you to join us.
That, is something that Silva, Peaches, Laganja, and Heklina can really take Pride in.
About the Authors: Scott Palmer is Co-Founder and CEO of Kiva Confections, Kristi Knoblich Palmer is the Co-Founder of Kiva Confections.
Since its founding in 2010, Kiva’s goal has been to create an edible that redefines what a cannabis confection can be. Through Kiva’s artisanal approach to making chocolates and inventive take on gummies, Kiva has dedicated itself to crafting delicious, trustworthy, and premium edibles that consumers can feel good about eating. Kiva’s cofounder Kristi Knoblich Palmer serves as Board President of the California Cannabis Industry Association and Kiva is a member of the California Cannabis Manufacturer’s Association, Cannabis Distributor’s Association, National Cannabis Roundtable, and National Cannabis Industry Association.