Meet Kati Holland; She quit her full-time tech job in San Francisco in favor of purer pursuits — to bring accessible, beautiful health products to the masses.
Starting with adaptogenic superfood butters (remember Pearl Butter? You’ve definitely seen them on Instagram), Holland was ahead of the adaptogen trend. Eventually, she shifted toward an even more intense industry — pioneering ahead of the trends yet again — and landed in the cannabis space.
Enter Not Pot: a direct-to-consumer CBD brand that began as jars of organic dark chocolates in palm-printed jars. But in true SF startup fashion, the young brand “pivoted” a year after launching, and switched from chocolates to CBD gummies in November of 2018 in an effort to hone in on product quality and potency.
Alongside the product overhaul (they’re now strawberry-flavored polar bears in lieu of cacao hearts), Holland enlisted Leslie David, the French graphic designer behind the Glossier pink branding, to create a new look for Not Pot. Think: psychedelic-chic ‘60s bumper stickers, retro California hippie meets muted yet punchy tones. The result is whimsical yet sophisticated, fun and young yet entirely non-millennial pink.
Holland spent the past year and a half testing cannabidiol, agonizing over the pros and cons of different types of sweetener (Beet sugar or stevia? Monk fruit or coconut sugar?), and struggling with payment processor companies that will work with CBD brands, but are still a safe option for her customers — all while her chocolates were selling out — to create the CBD gummies that launched in November. Throughout the process, she learned the challenges of being a businesswoman in an unregulated, stigmatized, male-dominated industry firsthand yet remained steadfastly committed to the end result: a delicious, effective, fashion-forward, de-stigmatized product.
The gummies are vegan, which is on the rarer side for a product of its kind, and each bear has 10mg of full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD. At $40 for a jar of 30 gummies, they’re not a cheap candy, but rather a sophisticated plant-medicine in cutesy packaging (they’re also quite low in sugar, at 2mg per piece — which if you were wondering, comes from organic cane sugar). And the dollars spent on said plant medicine actually contributes to a larger social justice endeavor.
What Holland is most excited about isn’t the clean ingredients or the stylish packaging; it’s the effort her brand is making to reverse some of the damage from the war on drugs. Holland’s project of choice — that is now the brand mission — is to “free plants and people” via The Bail Project. She feels passionate about the racial disparities within the criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to cannabis, and wants her company to be a part of the solution.
To focus on the science of CBD, she’s been working closely with Israel’s “leading cannabis researchers and medical experts.” Israel has been ahead of the rest of us globally when it comes to cannabis research; they’re big on CBD over there. So it makes sense that a pioneer like Holland would go to the organizations who’ve been spearheading CBD research all along.
It’s important to Holland that her brand isn’t just another pretty face or “money-hungry gimmick” in a booming space. Throwing shade at a “CBD mascara” brand (“It only contains hemp seed oil!”) she said she wants to “reclaim the term CBD for science, and make sure that profits from legalization are reinvested in communities most harmed by prohibition.”
Written By: Dominique Michelle Astorino