Libby Cooper 0:01
And so for me, the real joy comes from walking into a dispensary and seeing a space piracy, or hearing about someone buying a space piracy, and then them connecting the dots when they meet me. I’ve had people say, Wait, your co founders face. I bought so many of your joints, like it’s the only thing I buy. For me, that’s where the greatest pleasure comes from. And then through the actual creation of the brand, I get this huge rush when I’m designing something, or even writing copy, and I’m just like, holy shit, this is good. I love this. And yeah, I think I think that does translate out into the world. And that’s why we’ve had so many people just naturally evangelize the brand. Everything that we’ve experienced through success has been word of mouth.
You’re listening to To be blunt, be podcast for cannabis marketers. Were your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here’s your host Shayda Torabi.
Shayda Torabi 1:24
Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of The To be blunt Podcast. I am your host Shayda Torabi and holy shit. We are in December, can’t believe we made it to the last month of 2020. Obviously, nobody predicted this dumpster fire every year. But y’all we survived. And if I’m being a little honest, we’re kind of thriving, we’ve learned how to adapt. We are pivoting. I think there have been a lot of big wins for cannabis this year, despite everything else that’s been going on. So there are some good things coming out of 2020. With that said, I appreciate every single one of you for listening. I really truly couldn’t be doing this show without the support of the listeners. So for everybody who tunes in has subscribed has shared the podcast, all my guests. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you sharing your expertise. And this week’s guest is cream of the crop. She’s one of the coolest girls in cannabis. I’ve been a little bit of a fan girl I’m not gonna lie. I came across Libby Cooper, the co founder and CEO of space Coyote. A couple months ago, I think I came across her brand and I found her Instagram and I just thought this girl knows her shit. She’s creative. She seems like such a fun, creative, smart person to just be operating a cannabis brand. And I was like, I have to talk to her I have to pick her brain. So luckily got a connection was able to invite her on the show. And I really think you’re gonna get a kick out of this episode. Space coyote is just barely, you know, two and a half, three year old brand coming out of California. Wow. If you know anything about cannabis in California, it’s not easy to start a brand up. So this episode definitely dives into some of the juice. And behind the scenes of what it was like for Libby to start space Coyote. And yeah, we just rocked out a really fun combo. I’m gonna stop talking, we’re gonna let Libby join the show. Thanks again. And welcome, Libby.
Libby Cooper 3:19
I might even name is Libby Cooper, and I am the co founder and CTO of space piracy. And I’ve had, you know, a few years in the cannabis industry now. And it’s really just been a total dream. This is my absolute passion. And I cut my teeth in the cannabis industry as the creative director of these for a couple years. So no lunch so much about different brands, consumer behavior, I was exposed to so much data, and that was able to inform me on starting my own company.
Shayda Torabi 3:53
That was a very humble introduction. But I want to dive a little bit deeper. I was reading your bio Of course, and like I mentioned before we started recording have been just following you. I mean, you didn’t just build a brand space coyote, like you’ve built a very disruptive female empowerment, just cannabis empowerment. I mean, the content you’re creating on your platforms is very pro smoking. I know that you’re really big advocate for more women to be smoking, especially with your history with ease. I mean, helping launch some some pretty successful brands through your time there really helped me understand you know, how did you go from I’m working in this industry to I want to have a brand in this industry that you then burrs this beautiful brand that is face, coyote?
Libby Cooper 4:38
Well, that’s a great question. And while I was at us, I was also doing a lot of consulting work. So on top of building their own white label line of products, I was really working with clients as well. And my history you know, in previous company was always as a designer, so I have been a UX designer, I had worked as an art director on video sets. And, you know, I very much thought of myself as a creative person. But what I was actually able to realize was I also was very business minded. And growing up my parents, I swear, they groomed me for this, they would always say you’re, you’ve got the personality type to be a CEO. And both of them have amazing businesses in Silicon Valley. And I grew up going to high school in Palo Alto, originally from London, but I really did grow up in the Bay Area. And so I was exposed to so many different people with so much innovation. And I resisted, you know, I really didn’t want to be a founder, I even hated the word founder, and co founder, I would like boys rolling my eyes. And it really did take a number of years for me to realize, I had what it took, I had an amazing idea. And I actually had a really fantastic co founder, to be able to start space cozy. And my true drive came from seeing, you know, big gap in the market. At ease, I realized that the customer is really driven by this price to THC ratio, you know, they want high THC for low price point. And a lot of companies were doing the race to the bottom method of, let’s make barely any margin, let’s just get the customer a shit ton of money. And maybe that’s a very Silicon Valley mentality to like, oh, we’ll just figure out how to monetize this in the future. But I wanted to follow something that was more aligned with the world of CPG, which is how the healthy margin, always try and have that margin be 40%. That is your gold star. And that meant building a business around a product that had, you know, high potency, great margin and a lot of brand loyalty. So you could have that velocity of sell through.
Shayda Torabi 7:07
That’s actually a really smart way of thinking about it. And I appreciate you taking the time to walk us through it that way. Because, again, when you look at your brand, it’s obviously very beautiful and put together. And so I hope everybody who’s listening immediately goes to Instagram or to your website right now, which is space coyote, right? Just at Space coyote and.com,
Libby Cooper 7:28
it’s actually.org o.org. Is
Shayda Torabi 7:30
there a story for that
Libby Cooper 7:32
this story is I would love to have the.com space koshi.com, but it’s currently an office, who’s based in Canada. And she is an amazing Illustrator. And I’ve reached out to her a number of times. And she says that her website is priceless. And she’s never going to sell it. And I’ve literally reached out, you know, at all these different stages of our business, you know, before it was a business before we incorporated the business. Once reincorporation once we are a year in, you know, I’ve reached out this year. So now two years in, and the dollar amount, just keep going up. And she’s like, it’s priceless. Wait, that’s
Shayda Torabi 8:11
kind of amazing, because I can imagine people listening to I mean, when you think about creating a brand, we founded our own CBD brand here in Austin. And our name is not unique, either. We’re called restart CBD. And so you know, people who I think are hopefully in the position that you and I once were, we started our businesses, similarly, about two and a half years ago, you’re looking around as a marketer, you’re taught you need to get the.com, you need to make sure you get the Instagram, you do get all the social profiles. And so, you know, it’s kind of one of those things that sounds like despite not having the.com you still chose the name, have there been any other, I guess, maybe foreseen or even unforeseen roadblocks when you use a name like space coyote, that is? It’s not, I would say, like, so popular that everybody says it right? Or that it’s taken, or maybe all these platforms, but it’s also not a unique name. Like it’s not like Nike, right? Like they’re words that exist, right? So how do you navigate kind of that aspect of the brand?
Libby Cooper 9:07
Well, you know, Nike is a mythological God. So that wasn’t even, you know, necessarily like unique, like a made up name itself. But the origin story of space cozy was, we had gathered a bunch, my co founder and I gathered a bunch of friends in Joshua Tree to watch a meteor shower during the new moon, and it was like the perfect, you know, viewing conditions. And we drank some mushroom tea. And there were coyotes zipping in the background, and we truly felt like us was off spaceship. So we became space coyotes. And it wasn’t until quite a bit later that you know, we discovered that space piracy is a term that the Simpsons superfans use to describe one episode. Well, homelessness. And eats a chili pepper. And it has a trip. And this coyote basically like, materializes in front of him, and takes them on a spiritual journey. And nowhere throughout the episode is the word space Kairos he mentioned in the episode itself is not called space piracy. And yet all of these super fans call it the space piracy episode because this, you know, coyote from the stars, materializes. And so of course, you know, through starting a company, we went through a lot of legality being like, wait is this, you know, have the Simpsons trademarked this? And no, it’s like, it’s pure. And fiction. And this, this office is illustration in Canada. Does Simpson fantasy Wait, that’s kind of a cool, it’s a cool story like like, it’s so if you such space coyote on Instagram, and online, for many, many months, we didn’t have enough SEO as a cannabis company. So all of this Simpsons fan would come up first. And there are a bunch of people on Instagram, who basically just post like Simpson, Simpson means under space clarity, and there’s literally no one else using it. So it’s just like us versus all of these fans. And we finally have gained more SEO. So it’s like, a huge win for the brand. But also, I sort of love this origin story, because actually, I grew up watching The Simpsons, not that obsessed level. But I’m a huge fan of cartoons that have a lot of double entendre, and I’m more focused for the adult audience. It’s a funny story, I’ve actually never told that story to people. So
Shayda Torabi 11:48
I appreciate you sharing that story. Because I think those are some of those behind the scenes. Maybe thoughts or actions or experiences like you’re describing, you know, this personal experience you and your friends had at Joshua Tree is what inspired you to even have this name come to fruition for you. And then obviously, as a marketing function, you do want to try to see does this exist name? Does it have legs? Is there potential legal implications for using it should I go ahead and pull the trigger, you know, and so it is really cool just to hear you express that. And I also have to admit, I’m a huge Simpsons fan myself, not to the extent that you’re describing of this, this fanfare that exists for the space coyote episode, but I do think it’s a very sweet kind of, you know, bow tie for, for the brand that you’re building. And so it’s just a cool, obviously doesn’t always end up that way. I have heard some horror stories of brands who have good intentions, they pick a name, and then something else comes up. And so I just I appreciated your story. It sounds like it’s obviously working out to your benefit, and congrats on SEO kind of overachieving and out beating that other content. Yep. I want to also talk to you about now knowing your creative background, specifically, as a creative director and applying kind of from that artistic perspective, the way that you market your brand through partnerships, and also through the visualization, kind of walk us through that, why did you decide to I mean, obviously, the name is like, you’re explaining kind of that feeling. And so I guess, again, when I look at your brand, I feel the way that you are intending but that’s obviously much harder than it looks. And so I know that there’s a lot of process that goes behind it, what was creating the actual brand like for you? Well,
Libby Cooper 13:40
I will start by saying, it’s been a real joy, creating a brand for myself. Up until this point, I’d always been working on someone else’s vision, or having a client that was, you know, paying me some sort of monthly retainer or project fee to work on that brand. All of those brands felt like my own, you know, it’s like, you’re still birthing a baby out into the world. And my, my background, you know, when I was five, I wrote down in kindergarten, I think all of us had to have this exercise, you know, when I grow up, I’m going to be fill in the blank. And I wrote autist, and, again, sort of, like relating it back to my parents, you know, they really wanted to make sure that I was going to be able to make money and, and, you know, thrive in the capitalist society that we live in. And so I actually ended up going towards design because it was this like form and function meeting, you know, an obvious way of getting paid, you’re not struggling as an artist. It was space piracy. I actually feel like I can be a true artist again, which is so nice. It’s, you know, I have some crazy idea and I’m able to To execute it, because I’m not referring to some brand guidelines, you know, I’m not on someone else’s budget. And obviously, I have my co founder Scott and my CFO aviar Roy’s like, so it’s a good idea. But it’s, um, it’s such a joy to be able to work on something that is truly my own. And just experiment. And what we’re doing with space piracy is the exploration of the psychedelic side of weed. And I think that that has so much room for fun and playfulness, and optimism. And that can just come out in different photoshoots or illustrations or pieces of apparel, even sponsoring up and coming office, which is a big pillar throughout brands, just paying it forward to the community at large.
Shayda Torabi 15:53
Do you do all the creative yourself?
Libby Cooper 15:56
I do. Yeah. Yeah, it’s me, which is fun. Yeah, I
Shayda Torabi 16:00
mean, again, I think people listening, there’s always a choice to be made, right? Do you have that personal skill, like, for me, I love branding, I’m gravitated towards that, which is why I fell in love with your brand. When I first thought I was like, Ooh, this girl, this brand, they know what they’re doing. From a consumer perspective. It’s just, it’s, it’s engaging, but I’m not a creative. You know, in actuality, I’m painting with my imaginary paintbrush, for those of you listening, like, I’m not actually creative, I can use tools very well, but me putting it on paper. And so to kind of have that thought process from you coming again, to have like, this is what you’re passionate about, you obviously have the business side you have maybe it’s through you, the team, your previous experience, but really being able to say I have this idea, I think this is gonna work, let me just go execute and not really having to check in with somebody else or have to explain yourself to a designer or creative, it’s you so you know, best what you’re obviously thinking. And so it’s really cool when you get to sit in a position of building a brand and actually being the brand. So I can imagine it’s really liberating to get to watch what you’re doing kind of go out on social media and take off like that.
Libby Cooper 17:13
coarsely. And I think even more than social media, because we’ve been pretty conservative, with social media, just because I have seen so many brands get taken down. I’ve seen so many different people, you know, individuals have their accounts, you know, shut down, as well. And so for me, the real joy comes from walking into a dispensary and seeing a space cozy, or hearing about someone buying a space coyote, and then them connecting the dots when they meet me. I’ve had people say, Wait, your co founders face. I’ve bought so many of your joints, like it’s the only thing I buy. For me, that’s where the greatest pleasure comes from. And then through the actual creation of the brand, I get this huge rush when I’m designing something, or even writing copy. And I’m just like, holy shit, this is good. I love this. And yeah, I think I think that does translate out into the world. And that’s why we’ve had so many people just naturally evangelize the brand. Everything that we’ve experienced through success has been word of mouth. This entire year on marketing budget was zero. And I think a lot of people have that story through COVID. But, you know, we we focused very much on events in the past. And you know, in 2019, and we just had to turn that off. And we didn’t, we didn’t put that budget somewhere else. And you know, month after month, we keep having the best month of sales ever. So it’s just been fun. It’s having the foundation of an amazing product that has the consistency of flavor, and having that high potency that people can trust. And they know that they’re going to have a guaranteed good time. And then that fun brand on top. That’s what creates a lifestyle brand. That’s what gets people coming back.
Shayda Torabi 19:15
Now you said so many things. I’m just like, where do I start to ask more follow up questions like one kind of a leading one just because I was on your social media before we were recording this and you’re talking about not really, it sounds like you’re not scared but cautious. Right. And I think we share a similar you know, rightful caution when it comes to social media when it comes to what you want to post and to what extent but you post a lot of you smoking pot on the gram. Yeah. Yeah. Do you feel that that is risky? Do you feel that it’s risky and you don’t care because you’re the brand you get to make that call versus maybe an agency who’s advising you to do or not do something like I personally post myself also consuming mostly CBD because I’m in Texas, but I posted myself smoking out of devices or joints or things like that, taking the risk on because I for me, I use it as a as an opportunity, I was given this platform to work in this industry and to be an advocate of this plant, I want to help shine a light on it, you know, if you can go to happy hour and post a picture with your friends, I should be able to post me smoking and join on a Friday afternoon or whenever. And so knowing that I’ve watched your content very similarly, you know, created like that, where’s the where’s the risk that you’re, you know, kind of existing in?
Libby Cooper 20:38
Yeah, I think it’s huge risk. And it’s the ultimate form of non attachment. And this year, I’ve had a number of different things in my personal life and with business where I’ve just been like, I just don’t care. Yeah, it’s like, I don’t give a flying fuck, what’s gonna happen, as long as I’m putting it out there. And if, if something happens, you can always rebuild it. I was actually this is this gets personal. But I was actually very nervous before to ever post that I was living in Hawaii, because it was this. No, like, people gonna take me seriously, if people going to want to invest in space coyote, will customers think are just, you know, kind of fucked up to live somewhere and have a business in another state, but just because of the legality of everything. And I think once I fully embraced who I was, which included smoking weed, which included being in Hawaii, and included, you know, sometimes having a nude photo as well, you know, smoking and, and being nude in a photo was it was this like ultimate empowering moment of just saying it doesn’t matter. If an account on social media gets taken down, it really doesn’t matter. Because at the end of the day, what I’m focused on is that my business is successful, and that we’re having, you know, good sales and delivering a product that is actually part of the brand promise. And so I think once I once I removed this like preciousness of, Oh, no, like something could get taken down. It just becomes fun. And that’s just what it is. And I think that’s, you know, when people see the brand, it’s like, this is just, it’s fun. And we just shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously. There are definitely aspects of the space county business that we have to take really seriously like regulations and the Bureau of cannabis control. And we’ve got a team of three lawyers. And so why not have the rest of the business be playful? No, I
Shayda Torabi 22:50
I’m so inspired by what you said. Because it’s just it’s relatable. I think so many of us want to enjoy these things specific to cannabis that we love that bring us peace that bring us you know, medicine, it’s a part of my everyday life. I couldn’t imagine my life without cannabis. And so to have to think about creating content differently as a result of it is always something that’s been in the back of my mind. But I similarly to you kind of had a moment, kind of around the sort of COVID I mean, again, to be a little personal, I went through a pretty intense breakup. And basically my ex had acknowledged to me, you know, at one moment, you smoke a lot. And I was like I do, and he was like you
Unknown Speaker 23:36
I don’t like when you put
Shayda Torabi 23:38
it on the internet. And I had at that point not really put it on the internet. I I live in Texas, he was in California, so I would only post about it when I was in legal states, you know. And after the breakup, I was kind of like, wait, that’s like one of my favorite things about me is like not that I smoke but that I love cannabis that I really care about this plant that I’m curious about why smoking is the best way to consume it. Why? If you don’t like smoking, here’s alternatives, you know, what is the ratio of CBD to THC? What is the quality of all these different things? Let’s talk about terpenes that can have annoyed like, I realized through that experience, that I really did love this side of me. And so that is what encouraged me to and I love what you kind of framed it with this attachment or this dis attachment. What the fuck was I holding on to because it’s like, if this is who I am in everyday life, I like to be more honest than not on social media. It’s like I want to live that truth on social media too. And so again, for people listening, obviously everybody has their own threshold of discretion. I mean, for me, my family does know and support what I do. So I have a very open relationship to cannabis in my family that for me, it’s like this is just me being able to live my truth. And so why the fuck not?
Libby Cooper 24:47
Yes. Yeah. One another area of sort of non attachment that I’ve learned to practice was I’m positive Community Living property, which is is something that I always really wanted to build, and I had the opportunity to build it, which is amazing. So Scott, and I, you know, as we’re building space, Casey, we also want to build community property. So, you know, we have this epic piece of land on the washer, and multiple houses. So Scott lives in one house, I live in another house. And we’ve, you know, got a lot of our friends to move into the property as well. But when you’re living with a lot of people, I haven’t actually had roommates for many, many years until, you know, starting a, it’s not a commune, but we call it the compound. It just doesn’t have enough rules, and it certainly doesn’t have any religion. When you’re living with a lot of people, your stuff starts to get to use gets used, and like maybe some bowls get shipped. And, you know, it’s not as clean as you want. Or maybe it’s cleaner than you want. And you just, you don’t really have this control of your life when you used to be living, you know, in a little apartment, and I used to live in an apartment of eight 800 square foot apartments in San Francisco. And yeah, it was like my little zone. And, you know, when you live with a bunch of people, there’s a lot of turnover as well. And you’re just like, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t, you know, material, things don’t matter. If I don’t sleep in my bed for a night. I’m like, hey, do you want to, you can sleep in my bed, it’s just sort of this, like, ultimate sharing. And it really changed me as a person. Because I think I used to buy lots of clothes. You know, I loved online shopping, I loved new things. I love nice things. And I don’t think, you know, humans can sort of live like that anymore. You know, with the advent of climate change is like here, and we thought seven years to turn it around. We all have to realize like, maybe we should share some more. And maybe we don’t need nice new things. And we can put our money that we’ve worked so hard towards the areas and life we don’t have to just consume consume consume all the time, a
Shayda Torabi 27:18
quick break to say thank you to restart CBD for sponsoring this podcast, restart. CBD is a brand my sisters and I founded in our hometown in Austin, Texas, we operate a retail location as well as an e commerce store. And you can browse our wide range of CBD products at restart CBD calm again, thank you to restart for allowing me the time and resources to put on to be blunt, I hope you’ll check them out for your CBD needs. Let’s go back to the episode. I think it’s a really beautiful thought that you’re expressing because I think COVID on top of it has forced a lot more people probably into that belief than not like it sounds like you were kind of more willing to kind of go into that, like decluttering of everything, or just maybe it’s like, you know, stop resisting, just let it happen. And I think probably for a lot of people listening, you know, they’re still struggling with that because it is a I have to keep up especially when it comes to building a business building a brand. I mean, you sit at a really interesting position where it’s, you know, you obviously care about the business, but there is still this. I just want to have fun, I want to help people connect to this plant in a more meaningful way that is effective for them from a price point perspective that it tastes good. It’s It feels good, it’s something they can rally behind. And I think you mentioned it earlier to kind of come back around to that thought to, you know, again, I can acknowledge it because I feel like I live it, breathe it, eat it. But it is a really powerful thing when you can build a brand and spend little to nothing on marketing and have other people help advocate for you. And I think that for me is a sweet spot especially in this industry because the US in the eyes of the world who go on Instagram and post ourselves smoking joints and you much more glamorous Lee in a beautiful backdrop like Hawaii, I’m like damn girl, my joint smoking is like in my closet over here and yours is like with the beach in the background. But knowing that in our unique way, I think helps inspire other people to have the conversation because again, you and I are are maybe positioned as an influencer in the space but I really believe that it’s it’s everybody as an influencer in the space. Every single person who purchases your product, every person who walks or dispenser every person who you know, chooses to have a hard conversation about cannabis with their parents, their friends, their peers, somebody who considers cannabis over prescription pills, somebody who decides to, you know, just talk openly about it for the first time in their life. I think those are really powerful moments that I’m excited because I’m seeing more and more happen especially for us having that read Tell space. Every day I see somebody come through who you can tell they’re very skeptical. They’re very cautious. They don’t know if especially for us if CBD is gonna work or not, you know. And so being able to, it’s like you did the work, you put the brand together, you know, you came up with the creative, you’re building it, you’re putting it on the dispensary shelf. And then at that point, it’s I hope it’s like it’s your birthing babies. It’s like I hope that people take care of the baby. I hope they enjoy it. I hope they have fun with it. And it’s just a very subtle t thing that I think most people think it just happens, right? Like, Oh, I just I hope people walk away and want to tell their friends. But obviously, it’s it’s all of these things that you’ve just been explaining that it’s kind of weaving together this narrative of Yeah, when someone smells my product, when someone touches my product, when someone goes to social media, when they go to an event? What is this coyote feel like? And how does that make someone feel to then go want to spread the brand. So I want to kind of go back to a little bit of, you know, you being in dispensary’s, you obviously saw THC products, so you can’t be direct to consumer. What is that like running a business, especially you mentioned in Hawaii to California where, like, for me, I think I can work remotely to some extent because because I can sell CBD anywhere. I don’t have to legally be in a particular state to operate my business. But you sell a product licensed to California you cannot sell online. you’re limited to dispensaries? How do you navigate that part of the business.
Libby Cooper 31:34
So it’s all about having great partnerships. So we have an amazing distributor, we have an amazing contract sales team. And what our team internally does, is about managing these external teams, and making sure that there’s a direct line of communication. And we’re fulfilling each other’s needs constantly. So our head of sales, he’s internal. And then he manages these external sales teams, the sales reps, were constantly out in the field, selling space coach. And that keeps our internal team very lean, it means that our head of sales can be anywhere that he wants to be. And those sales reps who are, you know, not passive teams face piracy are actually out in the field. You know, if there’s a need. So this is an example that just happened. We were setting up a new manufacturing facility because we’ve grown and we just this is the third facility that we needed to set up none of those manufacturing facilities on Team space prior to that full contract manufacturing. And you can think of that, like anytime you buy an Apple product, it says designed in California, I think it does it it says like Cupertino, I think it says Cupertino. Yeah, you know, designs in the States. And it’s made in China. So when you look at consumer electronics, when you look at consumer packaged goods, these companies don’t actually manufacture their own product. They have, you know, an extensive spec sheet, they have people who manage that manufacturing process. But what’s happening is there are experts out there who specialize in one thing, you know, this there is an expert in Rolling Papers and we use roll Rolling Papers because I personally think that the best we’re not going to start a business where we’re going to make our own Rolling Papers and you know, brand them and we’re not going to have a business where we’re cultivating the own pot, you know, our own weed and growing it. But you do actually see a lot of cannabis businesses being vertically integrated. And I think that that is the downfall of a lot of companies, especially during COVID that they haven’t recognized that they cannot be the experts at every level of the business. Some some cannabis companies even have their own distribution license, and that’s self distributing. And I it just blows my mind. I mean, and I’m not trying to throw anybody under the bus but it it does blow my mind because I know I’m good at branding. I’m a creative person. And I wouldn’t be able to run space KFC without my co founder Scott I’ll CFO of Yahoo. And I’ll head of sales, Nick those those are like my key people because each of us has a very specialized skill. Scott is all about, you know, products and operations. And he is you know, in it, obviously is a financial wizard because so good at sales, and each of us then have our teams that branch out We don’t need to hire, you know, a company of 150 people. But that is what we would be doing if we were vertically integrated.
Shayda Torabi 35:08
Yeah, you painted an interesting picture just because again, I think what I bring to the table is I try to sit at a national understanding versus most people just operate in the state that they’re existing in. What I find is crucial for me is to absorb kind of all the opportunities and possibilities, because like you said, I think there’s certain ways that maybe it was historically done. Or if you look at certain state to state like, you can kind of see maybe what Colorado has done versus California. But I think what you’re doing is almost like the future of it. I think, people realizing that you don’t have to be vertically integrated. I think the past couple years vertical integration was it was almost like a badge. It was like, Oh, we do everything in house like right, put all this? Yeah, exactly. I’m looking at we did it. And I’m like, Okay, good for you. I didn’t do that. And I also don’t have to, and I’m not X amount of money out. I’m not, you know, my team isn’t three or four x, which is, again, they’re not bad things like you said not to dog those people who have gone after that. But I think another complexity to that. Essentially, when I talk to people from operating businesses in California, everybody shares a similar sentiment of, it’s just as challenging. And I think, understanding, not so much, you know, this isn’t like, Oh, you got California versus Colorado. But it’s like you obviously operate a business in California, you need to think through this is the state that I’m operating in. This is what makes the most sense for my business. This is where I’m really skilled at this is where my team is skilled at, this is the best course of action for me to move forward. And that’s what I want people who are listening to, to really understand I always try to emphasize, you know, obviously listen to what Libby is saying, like, learn from her. But the reality of someone doing exactly what you’re doing is impossible, because nobody’s you right? And so that’s why I try to encourage this freedom of conversation, because the reality is people can try to achieve what you’re doing. And I really encourage them to try Like, seriously dig your feet into the ground and try. But it’s more than that, right? Because it’s having the understanding of you can go this way, you can go that way. And then you get to this next level, like you said, you talked about three different manufacturers, like, that’s not, it’s just like there’s not a playbook, you know, you don’t go out and you’re like, Okay, and this is how my business is going to grow. Especially being in cannabis being so disruptive. So I just appreciate the the transparency, kind of walking through the choices you’ve made for your brand. contrast it with kind of what’s happening in the industry. But are there any kind of thoughts or plans? Because I think your model, and why I think it’s a good model for kind of future growth and stuff is because that model to me is how people can kind of jump across state lines and sort of businesses. So are there plans for space coyote to be in other legal markets?
Libby Cooper 37:57
Yeah, huge plans. We’re definitely going multi state. And you’re totally right. This is scalable. You know, it’s, it’s interesting, we just finished a fundraise. So we did our first priced round, and closed, which was amazing. I think it took us five weeks, which I think during this time, we were all shocked, but proud of ourselves as well. And we had so many investors ask, Well, why aren’t you vertically integrated? Well, we just covered that question. But then we also have this whole question of, you know, are you going multistate? And for me? The answer is obviously Yes. But you know, it’s the how that becomes interesting. And when you have a business setup like this, it is easy. And I’m putting easy in air quotes, it’s easy to move into another state and set it up again, the challenge is finding these partners that you can fully rely on and trust. And I think that’s the advantage we have right now in California. California is the biggest cannabis market in the world. And it’s, you know, it’s the fifth largest economy in the world. So we’ve got some huge numbers to work with, we’ve got a lot of buying behavior. And that actually attracts business owners to set up in California. So our distributor comes from the east coast and moved a lot of people, a lot of executives from gap, a lot of executives from the food supply company that actually supplies Whole Foods to start this cannabis distributor. So, you know, it’s a team of all stars. Are we going to be able to find that when we move into smaller states, maybe, but it’s less of a given. So as we move into other states, it’s about the research. So it’s about, you know, essentially interviewing a lot of different providers and seeing Okay, you know, this is interesting. So we could trust. This is a group of sales contract sales people that are going to, you know, really nail it on the first try. But you do you just have to pick your team really wisely.
Shayda Torabi 40:12
Yeah, I think that’s so well said and obviously doing it in one state first and kind of executing it and getting it. I don’t want to say perfect, perfected or perfect, but like, you know, you’re you’re learning kind of what you need. So that while it might not be the same in every state, obviously, the laws will be varied and the teams will be varied. But you know, for better or worse, kind of like what you need to go after, versus maybe somebody who, you know, I think people have ideas of, I just think people don’t know what they don’t know and not so I really love having conversations in cannabis. I mean, I keep kind of using this example. But obviously with the election, a lot of states went wreck. And so I got a lot of texts from people that were Okay, let’s start a dispensary and X, Y or Z state. And I’m like, that’s not how this works. I, Texas I know, you know, other states, I don’t know this state and BIA what are their laws? And how do you just go open a dispensary? You know, it’s not just that that easy. And so I guess maybe a follow up question I have to you because I a couple episodes prior to this episode airing, I’m going to have Andrew DeAngelo on and he obviously pioneer from California. And I feel like I can say because he said he’s like it’s very fucking hard to get into cannabis in California. With that said, I think when you’re going after a licensed right to grow, talking about vertical integration, you’re going after a license to dispense. You’ve kind of skirted around all those necessities, and just have a brand that you can now go and kind of plug into partners. Mm hmm. Obviously, that’s not easy, either. But I’m curious what that experience was like, I mean, you’re from California. So you and worked in cannabis. So you knew the market to some extent, but it seems very overwhelming. Like as somebody who’s familiar with the cannabis market, to some extent, I’m like, I don’t I’m surprised when new brands come to market and to see and hear your brand in two years has really had this much impact. Obviously, it’s a testimony to you. But was it like, I have an idea we’re launching tomorrow, you know, two months, three months? Was it a year long thing that you’re trying to find all these partners in place, I’m just kind of curious how you get up and running in, in cannabis kind of in these late, you know, later years closely?
Libby Cooper 42:29
Well, I think I owe a lot of it to the connections that I had made in the cannabis space. And you know, just that resume, I’d been exposed to a lot of different founders, a lot of also individual contributors who had worked in all these different brands, I’d had, you know, so many email correspondences with different people. And I just love going into dispensary. So one of the main ways that I launched space piracy was physically going into shops, you know, Scott and I were just a team of two at the beginning. And we would just go into shops, we’d go into shops together, or we’d go into shops alone. And we just got placements, you know, walking in full space, ktrc apparel, like, you know, hats, and I would wear my like big chunky boots with a four inch heel and just like, make myself look as big as possible. And, um, and just work just you have to really just believe that your product is good, and then you convince the buyer of that dispensary. And it wasn’t easy, but I also don’t think it was that challenging, because I knew that we weren’t going to fail. I didn’t actually have the vision of how much we would succeed, but I just knew that we wouldn’t fail. And I think that belief did, you know not not on its own carry us but I think that belief infused itself in the design work in the actual product. So we we built a product that we wanted to be smoking and consuming. And that’s why other people actually want to that as well. But I did want to just bring up you know, we we did kind of want to have a business without a cannabis license. And very quickly discovered that it was going to be almost impossible to operate in terms of the exchange of money. So I am actually on a cannabis license me as a as an individual and as an individual around a cannabis license. But we don’t operate under that, you know, we’re not using the license, we just have the license and that gave us so much freedom. So if if anybody’s listening right now who’s curious about how to start a cannabis business and and doesn’t really know where to begin. do advise you getting on to a cannabis license, and you can share it with multiple people. And that that’s really cool. And just by having your name on the license means you can receive money, you can pay people for money. Otherwise, you have to have all of your partner’s paying each other. And then it gets really convoluted on how you receive the money at the end. And you can do it. A lot of brands do do it. But it did it gave us this added level of freedom to actually be license holders.
Shayda Torabi 45:34
such valuable information. I mean, seriously, I appreciate you sharing that because it is it’s stuff that, obviously, it’s it’s some quick words, there’s more work that takes place to get you to those levels. So I definitely commend you for just that grit and that hustle, because I love what you said. It’s like, yeah, it’s hard. But it also wasn’t that hard. And I think that I share that same kind of experience of people like, well, how did you get there? How did you do it, it’s like, I just woke up one day and decided I was going to do it. And then I just started putting one foot in front of the other. And I wasn’t really sure where the path was, but I believed that it was going to be successful. And I really think passion plays a big role in this. So whether it’s passionate about the advocacy part or passionate about the price point for consumers passionate about the plant from a legal perspective, it’s just like, find something that you’re passionate about and like make that be the foundation for your brand to really be growing from but this was such a great conversation is there anything that you want to leave the listeners with perhaps maybe your favorite dispensary that space coyote is dispensed from.
Libby Cooper 46:40
So my favorite dispensary has got to be this tiny little shop in the mission in San Francisco, just because it’s just because I used to live next to it. It used to be called the Love Shack. And it was this privately owned little dispensary. And it’s since become I was purchased by Spark, which is a, you know, much bigger chain of dispensary’s. And I really hope that it’s still running during COVID, I haven’t checked in on it. So after this I’m gonna I’m gonna go to talk is running spark is an amazing partner of ours. I really love working with them. I love working with every single shop that were positive, but this one location, it used to be called the Love Shack. And it couldn’t have been more than 100 square feet, like maybe not even like a little box of a room, you enter it from the street and boom, you’re immediately in this tiny little box, half of the room is cut because there’s a counter. And there are two people working behind the counter. And this is a security guard on the other side, this tiny little space with three people and there’s really no other room for anybody else to be in. And even as I’m saying I’m wondering, like, probably doesn’t work, social distancing. So maybe that’s why it’s anytime a business is acquired, I always I hope that the founders of that original business got what was owed to them. And I really, in this case, you know, I really hope that the Love Shack founders, you know, made some money because they they had the best little shop and spark carries space piracy. But I used to go to the Love Shack before I had a brand. And before I ever work that is, once you work at cannabis companies, you do end up getting a loss of product because you then have so many friends that work in the industry. And it’s just like adult gifting back and forth, which is fun. But it’s the selja
Shayda Torabi 48:55
was that a cool conversation? Or what? I mean, seriously, if you haven’t by now gone and followed space coyote on Instagram, I encourage you to do so. I know personally, I cannot wait to travel to California so I can try some of these products for myself. But with that said, I think that there was a lot for us to learn from what Libby shared how she launched and navigates space coyote, especially running her brand from out of the state. I think that, you know, for better or worse, the pandemic has created a lot of opportunity for us to succeed in the industry in other ways. I think it’s definitely push technology forward. It’s also allowed us to be a little bit more flexible in how we navigate this industry. So clearly Libby is one of the most flexible gals in the space. She is bobbin and weavin. She is rocking it and I’m just super happy to have had a conversation with her. I’m really just looking forward to where her brain is going to continue to grow. If you loved this episode, I’m going to point you towards iTunes. could use your reviews reviews help validate the work that I’m doing. It helps validate the guests that I’m bringing on and it ultimately helps someone else make a decision to press play. So if you liked this episode, you could do me a huge favor by going and leaving a five star review. That’s all I need. That’s all I ask. Thanks again and we’ll be back next Monday with another episode.
Unknown Speaker 50:25
Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit the Shayda Torabi comm slash to be blind for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays and for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi
Transcribed by https://otter.ai