“When I was a journalist, I was traveling a lot to the developing world. I spent a lot of time in Africa and one of the worst countries I visited for women was the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was at war for dozens of years and women suffered horribly. According to the UN, it was the worst place on Earth to be a woman. So we decided that one of the best ways to make change is to empower women and how do you empower women? Yes getting them through school, which is something that I also dedicated a lot of time to earlier in my career, but that's happening. But now what we need to do is to get women in positions of power in all countries and how you can do that is through putting them through law school. So that's what we pay to do. We fund women's education through law school in the in the Congo and we'd like to grow this eventually to be all over the world,” explained Jones. She’s referring to Cynthia’s Sisters, an organization she co-founded that puts girls through law school in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Suffering of a different kind hit closer to home when a dear friend of Jones’ was diagnosed with cancer. That’s when the idea for Kikoko—cannabis infused tea—was born.
“We launched with cannabis infused herbal teas, low dose for women because we knew women like tea, it’s very healthy. It's a delivery method that women understand and so that was how we got into cannabis women's wellness. Now, we have tinctures, mints and infused honey. It [the industry] was very male driven and high dose too, so it was very hard to find products that wouldn't make you as we say, ‘ride the crazy train.’”
After getting laughed out of dispensaries with their low doses packaged in pretty tins that didn’t scream “I’m a stoner,” Jones and her co-founder Jennifer Chapin moved forward.
“We really knew there are women such as ourselves out there that are looking to replace pharmaceuticals and alcohol and really want to investigate this plant which has incredible healing and soothing capabilities,” said Jones. “So we sallied forth with our low doses and lo and behold, by the time we launched we had a waiting list of dispensaries.”
Indeed, Kikoko has enjoyed success with their flagship tea sachets, an option that stands out to the health-conscious consumer amid a sea of gummies and chocolates.
Kikoko contributes their success to their operating principles and values, which include a focus on equality for women and making an impact.
“I’m a huge believer in the power of women to create change. I think we've been underutilized and unappreciated for too long— it's now our turn. I have two daughters and I cannot tell you how thrilling it is for me to see the environment that you young women are coming into. We didn't have those opportunities, it’s what we fought for and as the women before me fought for. So generations of hard work and fighting has gotten us to this place. And even though we're still not equal, we're getting there and with more money, with more investment, with more ideas, with more confidence, with more education— that's happening."