Kikoko, a cannabis wellness brand for women, are ending their year on a high note after closing an $8 million round of Series A funding led by Bengal Capital. FlowKana, Kikoko's distributor and supply chain partner, also participated in the round, which brings Kikoko's total funding to $14 million to date.
The new funding will go toward a research, development and marketing. “Everything we do is based on clinical research,” Kikoko’s co-founder told NutraIngredients-USA. Amanda Jones, who has a degree in neuroscience, launched the
business in 2015 with tech entrepreneur Jennifer Chapin.
“Jen and I never thought we’d get into the cannabis industry, we were occasional users but not heavy users by any stretch of the imagination. We had a friend with cancer, a very clever woman, marketer and product developer by trade. She was using cannabis to help her with side-effects of the chemo, stress of having cancer, nausea, lack of appetite, the pain... but everything at that time was too high in THC for women.”
Women and weed: a whitespace in the market
“She is the one who said ‘look there needs to be a brand that is professionally and beautifully packaged for women that is titrated appropriately, that every time you take it you’re not going to ride the crazy train, and that is low enough in THC that women can take it safely.”
Jones said additionally, she had several other girlfriends who were looking to replace their alcohol and pills with something more natural.
“The more research we did into the cannabinoids and the wellness benefits, we became incredibly convinced that we needed to bring these back into the mainstream. So people can start to substitute their nightly 3 glasses of wine to get to sleep with a half a dropper of a tincture that will keep them asleep all night and they wake up rested and not groggy.”
The two 50-somethings got to work, quickly realizing that producing a tasty, water-soluble cannabis-infused tea formulation is no easy feat. “So we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into to be honest. But we figured it out.”
Two and a half years and 3 science teams later, Kikoko Tea was born. There are four organically-grown, quadruple lab tested, cannabis-infused teas. Covering all bases, the herbal teas are for mood, anxiety, sleep, pain, sex and party.
“We really want to be at the forefront of this movement back toward organics and plant medicines.”
Partnering with a supplier that sources organic herbs from all over the world, the upscale offerings contain ingredients from places such as New Zealand, Japan, Australia, and the US whenever possible.
Jones said their most popular offering is Tranquili-tea to encourage sleep, which is made with peppermint, valerian root, chamomile and CBN (cannabinoid that acts as a sedative). Sympa-tea is for pain and anxiety. It contains CBD as well as anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective ingredients like ginger, turmeric and black peppercorn (which helps with turmeric bioavailability). Sensuali-tea is a libido booster, formulated with antioxidant hibiscus, rose petals and orange peel. Positivi-tea is a
mood and creativity enhancer, and the only tea that contains caffeine. It also has the highest amount of THC (10mg) in the lineup. The green tea is made with CBD, peppermint and spearmint to enhance mood and creativity.
Kikoko just launched their mint line, which have very low doses of THC. Jones told NutraIngredients-USA that one of her favorites is the Focus Mint, which contains vitamins B6, B12, hibiscus, orange flavonoids,1 mg of THC, and 3 mg of cbd. “It just takes the edge off. You can dial in your own dose with those. We’re big believers in this microdose movement, and we’re big believers in combing our cannabinoids with plant wellness.”
The wellness brand for women also offers New Zealand Manuka and Kanuka honey shots, which are infused with cannabis.
Kikoko is slated to release a duo of tinctures in January, one for daytime and one for the evening.
The brand can be found online and in more than 300 dispensaries around California.
Self-care: the new recreational drug
According to data from Eaze, an on-demand delivery of cannabis products in California and Oregon, the number of female cannabis consumers nearly doubled in 2018.
At this rate, women are outpacing men and on track to be half of the cannabis market by 2022. Female baby boomers grew by nearly a quarter between 2017 and 2018.
Eaze’s annual State of Cannabis data report said, “Baby Boomers and women continue to demonstrate remarkable market share growth and consumers are increasingly turning to cannabis as a wellness tool, with CBD the breakout star of the year.”
Indeed, Kikoko doesn’t market to any specific age demographic. “We are definitely for all ages. We like to say we’re from 21-101. I think our average consumer is in their mid-40s,” said Jones, who added, “We have something for everyone, that’s really the message. We just truly believe that this plant can help people in a much safer way than a lot of pharmaceuticals and alcohol.”