Interview with Jennifer Chapin, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Kikoko

One of the biggest growth industries over the past few years has been cannabis, thanks to greater legalisation and awareness of the health benefits. And in particular there are more and more women in cannabis.

In this article we interview Jennifer Chapin, Co-founder and Co-CEO of cannabis brand Kikoko about what it takes to be an entrepreneur. You can read the whole interview on AskGrowers website here.

What do you need to start a business?

If you want to become an entrepreneur then I think you need plenty of passion, a good idea, perseverance, motivation and a plan.

You need to embrace the idea that no two days will be the same, and be good at solving problems, because there are plenty of ups and downs in entrepreneurship! This also means you need to be prepared for things to go wring, and be comfortable with working in chaos. A good friend of mine says you need to plan for chaos before clarity.

Can you start a business alone?

Yes of course it’s possible to start a business on your own, but it can be hard and lonely road. So if you can find someone to work with, that is better. You’ll also have someone who may have skills you lack, and you can bounce Idas off each other.

It’s exhausting starting and running your own business and it’s reassuring to know you’ve got someone to rely on when times get tough… as they will! I am so grateful that I co-founded Kikoko with my friend Amanda Jones. We’re just as close today as we were when we first launched the business.

Why did you decide to start a business in the cannabis industry?

I was inspired to start a business in the cannabis industry after a friend died of cancer. When she was sick, she wanted a cannabis product that she could trust and didn’t involve smoking. Too many of our friends were also reliant on, or addicted to pharmaceuticals and alcohol for sleep, pain, stress and anxiety, libido and mood.

Amanda Jones, my business partner and I left our professional careers and started to create cannabis products that would serve as alternatives to pharmaceuticals and alcohol.

What personality traits you think leaders need?

I think that leaders need to be resilient and positive. They should also enjoy being in service to others, both internally and externally. When you run your own business you need to set others up for success and be manically focused on both your customer and your employee needs.

What challenges did you face when accessing funding?

Unfortunately less than 2.4% of business funding goes to female entrepreneurs, so it’s a huge barrier to overcome. The next hurdle we faced was being in a federally regulated industry, and as a result we don’t have as many funding options available to us.

What trends do you see in the cannabis industry?

I’m pleased to see cannabis becoming being normal and accepted in society. To the extent that in the near future, I hope we may live in a society where people won’t judge the use of it.

How did you cope with failure?

We are all human and make mistakes, so failure is part of business and life. As a result, I don’t dwell it but see failure as a chance to grow. I try to learn from a situation and ask myself how I can apply the lesson I have learned in future.

I advocate applying the learning, grow and move forward model. Getting stuck on “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” won’t help you succeed – or be happy.

What’s the best advice you have been given?

The best advice I have ever been given is to not expect to always have an answer, and instead be happy saying “I don’t know” and to then go and find the answer.

Do you think more female business owners and growers will join the cannabis industry?

Yes I do! You can already see an explosion of new cannabis businesses with female founders.

How did you pivot your business during the pandemic?

Luckily we already had the approach of staying calm and positive, whatever the circumstances, so we weren’t caught off guard when the pandemic hit. Instead, we worked at keeping Kikoko stable and continuing our path of building on our success.

Find out more about Kikoko.