How Jody Hall went from cupcakes to cannabis treats
If anyone was the perfect person to launch a cannabis edibles company, it’s Jody Hall. Having climbed the ladder at Starbucks — she started as a barista in the early ‘90s before reaching the ranks of corporate marketing — she went on to found Seattle-based Cupcake Royale in 2003, making it the first cupcake shop launched outside of New York.
All that sweet success made for a natural fit when Washington passed I-502 in 2014, opening the doors to pot legalization. Hall got to work on The Goodship, lending her expertise to the new cannabis market with carefully-crafted treats and a playful, upscale culture. Now, her sights are set on set on California (where a new facility is currently being outfitted), Canada, and beyond.
Here, Hall and The Goodship’s Brand Manager, Eileen Namanny, talk about perfecting their product and fighting the stigma around cannabis.
What inspires The Goodship?
Hall: We built The Goodship with a mission is to inspire creativity, connection, wonder, and joy. We really believe that cannabis allows us to be profoundly engaged and present, which is something I think we’re starving for as a society. Our whole approach and branding is meant to be very fun and whimsical, and not defined by pot past but creating a new pot future of how we connect under the lens of cannabis. We would love for you to bring a box of Goodship cookies to a dinner party instead of a great wine, and just see how that party goes. Have dessert first and bring some topics for discussion.
What sets you apart from the other edible brands on the market?
Hall: We focus on delivering on an incredible product that’s super delicious and consistent. We come from a baking background and worked with at least 50 recipes to get the products right using all-natural ingredients. Most people are playing a product game that’s like, “We grow the best pot. We give the best high,” but we care deeply about premium ingredients with an ingredient list that could go straight into Whole Foods. Our head of product development is a trained pastry chef (she’s worked in France and other big foodie markets) and we’ve partnered with food scientists to help us understand how we can build shelf life without sacrificing quality.
In addition to your products, how are you cultivating a culture around “pot future”?
Namanny: We’re probably most known for our Goodship Higher Education event, which is a lecture series that we coined as “heady ideas under heady influence.” It’s not necessarily cannabis education, but more like what you love talking about when you’re stoned, or as we say “on the Goodship.” What might have once been a blazed basement conversation — because it’s fun to talk about aliens or A.I. or witchcraft when you’re high, all of which we’ve done sessions on — is brought into a room with 200 people led by an expert in the field. The only way to do it is to “pre-board” before you come, because you can’t legally consume cannabis at a public-facing event. Then, instead of you and your best friend trying to figure out what infinity means, we’ll have someone who studies infinity come talk about that.
How have you developed your product line over time?
Namanny: We ended up going into three key products categories: baked goods, chocolate, and confection. We’re so excited to launch confection because candies are that much easier on the go, and it’s easy to do micro-dosing. So we have pastilles, fruit jellies, and peppermint patties. Chocolate bars in our chocolate category. Cookies and brownies in our baked goods. We just launched our line of Tokens, chocolates in a 100mg pack size with flavors like Malted Milkshake and Quinoa Crunch. We’ve also launched a double chocolate cookie, including a version with a 1:1 CBD ratio. It wasn’t until mid-last year that we started doing CBD.
What’s it like being a female entrepreneur in this industry? And how are you catering to female consumers, if at all?
Hall: I think in any industry women are underrepresented, but there’s been a lot of talk that cannabis could help revolutionize a new industry that has more women at the helm. So, yeah, there are a lot of amazing women out there, but we’re a small proportion of founders or leaders in this space. I encourage more women to get involved.
Namanny: It’s about 30/70 female-to-male consumers in the market buying cannabis, so we’re already looking at something that skews male in terms of who is purchasing. We try to keep Goodship gender neutral and whimsical and fun, but honestly we think that we strike an inclusive balance from a design, copy, and brand perspective. We’ve managed to be about 50/50 in our audience, which, relative to the industry, is more female. We really do want Goodship to be the every person’s “better brand.” Not the cheapest but, not so premium that you only buy it every once in a while.
Story by Amanda Zurita