A colleague and I were talking the other day, ruminating over the differences between mainstream and cannabis communities. She said, “The cannabis industry as a whole…they’re just so grateful, as opposed to the entitlement we encounter when working with clients in the mainstream world.” Yep, I totally agree, grateful.

Last year, I quit my job of 20 years to start Hippo and officially entered the cannabis industry –  and with it a whole new world. A world where people are happy, connected, optimistic and thriving. Never seen anything like it—and now I am a part of it. I continually want to pinch myself!

Some have asked, “To what do you attribute this happiness? Is it because everyone smokes weed?” I laugh and say “No, I think it’s more than that. I think people are happy because they finally have a chance to reach for and achieve their dream of building a successful business by combining their particular skill set and their love of cannabis.”

2016 was an epic year for our industry. We were already set on a path of tremendous growth, but with the passage of Prop 64 (and the other six bills that legalized cannabis in one form or another) we are now set to, well…explode! It was an epic year for me personally, as well. My baby Hippo was born and has grown faster than I could have imagined. I’ve had to keep running (and hiring folks) just in order to keep up.

So, here we are welcoming in a New Year. From many I’ve talked to, 2017 is met with equal parts of trepidation and optimism. In recreational markets, we are sure to see a sharp increase of well-funded conglomerates entering the industry. These companies will be going head-to-head with our community of canna-businesses. Our businesses must be prepared if they are going to survive. I’ve seen a shift in priorities with more focus on brand development and positioning, which is vital. Lackluster packaging and an Instagram account will no longer be enough to sustain a successful canna-business. It’s time to get serious…so that in a year from now you’re ready to ring in 2018 and be prepared for all that will come with that.

2017 will be another big year for Hippo. We’ll be working on securing funding in order to build our technology tool and grow our agency to span across the Western States. Our primary focus will be on our clients’ successes by developing and refreshing brands, elevating packaging and the retail experience and guiding them with marketing strategy to put them in a position to realize their dreams. We will also focus our energies on educating our community – brand development, printing terms and techniques and packaging best practices.

But first, I look back on last year with gratitude. I’m grateful for Hippo’s clients, vendors and employees. Grateful for the opportunity to make a difference. Grateful to be in the green industry in which all of you are part of my community.

Wishing you and yours a very happy, connected, prosperous and joyful New Year!

Kary Radestock, CEO

Hippo Premium Packaging