Flow Kana Brand Interview

Budee at 07-23-2021 07:55 PM

Who is Flow Kana?

Founded by Michael Steinmetz, Flavia Cassani, Adam Steinberg, and Diego Zimet, Flow Cannabis Co. was founded in 2015 to promote the fullest expression of sungrown, sustainably farmed cannabis in its many forms. Its flagship brand, Flow Kana, is California’s best-selling flower brand and remains the first cannabis brand to embrace Northern California’s ecosystem of family run, independent farmers.  By partnering and giving scale to these Emerald Triangle craft farmers - who cultivate under full sun organically, sustainably, and regeneratively - Flow Kana has helped shape a nascent industry with principles rooted in best-in-class environmental standards.

Interview Questions

How has Flow Kana shifted since forming in 2015 to the current cannabis ecosystem?

Though we’ve succeeded in creating an entirely new consumer category - sungrown, craft cannabis from California’s world-renowned Emerald Triangle growing region - we still have so much work to do.  Our ultimate goal is to educate consumers on the impacts that indoor cannabis cultivation has on our environment and on our warming climate as well as to show them that sungrown cannabis is superior in taste, flavor, aroma and effects.  Developing this consumer consciousness is a process, and to that end, Flow Kana spends just as much time putting high quality products on shelves as we do creating compelling content and marketing campaigns that reinforce our message. We are constantly working to meet consumers where they are, which is why we recently launched our new Flow Kana infused pre-roll line. Presently, many consumers are seeking high THC products.  Our infused pre-roll line features Flow Kana craft flowers grown under full sun glazed to perfection with live resin sauce from Flow Cannabis Co.’s premium sungrown extracts and concentrates brand, Caldera. These pre-rolls pack an incredible punch with a more powerful lift than just flower alone.

Northern California landscape
Beautiful Northern California

Tell me about how the founders came together to start Flow Kana. Where did the inspiration come from?

Michael and his wife Flavia were given a tour of the Emerald Triangle that inspired them to come together with Diego and me to launch a business powered by small-scale, independent farmers.  We wanted to help preserve the way of life these farmers and their families have enjoyed for generations while creating a supply chain that would be sustainable in every sense of the word. It began very modestly as a delivery service, with us dropping off mason jars of flowers by Vespa to customers around San Francisco, and grew rapidly from there.

How Many Brands/Farms do you currently support and work with? Flow Kana, Roots, & Caldera, what is the ethos behind these three brands?

There are three brands under the Flow Cannabis Co. umbrella: Flow Kana, Caldera, and Roots. Flow Kana celebrates California’s historical legacy of artisanal, sungrown cannabis in the Emerald Triangle. Caldera harnesses the full goodness of sungrown flower by flash freezing it at harvest and producing live resin extracts in the form of Diamonds, Sauce, and PAX Pods. Roots is our affordably priced line for the customer looking for quality at a great price.

What brands are you a fan of out there?

I have always been a fan of Cann, Bloom Farms, and Space Gem gummies. Willie’s Reserve will always have a special place in my heart as well as Kikoko.

What strains/genetics do Flow Kana growers cultivate?

That changes from year to year, of course, and does in part depend on what consumers are looking for. Recent strains — our farmers are still choosing what to put in the ground for the 2021 harvest — include Grease Bucket, Larry Cake, Purple Punch, GMO Cookies, Chemdawg, and Super Lemon Haze, among many others.

Sungrown cannabis
Sungrown cannabis flower

Why is sungrown farming the preferred method of cultivation?

Like all crops, cannabis is an agricultural product and therefore meant by nature to be grown outdoors in its rightful place under the sun. Sungrown cannabis features a complete bouquet of terpenes and cannabinoids, the critical ingredients that lend to a rich experience. Indoor cannabis is kind of like “naturally flavored” juice.  Or perhaps a better way to put it - would you prefer to drink orange juice from oranges grown indoors or outdoors? I feel that nature knows best.

What has made Humboldt/Northern California such a center of cannabis cultivation & culture?

Long hot sunny days that stretch from early spring well into the fall coupled with rich living soil and Mediterranean microclimates gave Northern California cannabis farmers an ideal and perfect place to start. From there, the craft of the farmers — many of whom work the same land their parents did — honed over years, if not decades, allows them to produce the best cannabis in the world. Northern California’s craft farmers are amazing stewards of the land and know their properties and plants intimately. That allows them to crossbreed and coax the best genetics for their particular parcels, resulting in the unparalleled cannabis that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

How Many Cannabis Farmers are there in Northern California?

I don’t know about all of Northern California, but we’ve estimated that there are some 50,000+ farmers (licensed and unlicensed) in this tri-county area of Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties.

Robert Kolosick, Moonraker Farms | Mendocino County, CA

How many does Flow Kana work with?

We’re fortunate to work with some of the best of the craft farmers. In 2020, we worked with 60+ farmers.  The number changes annually but the quality is always top-notch.

How have consumers reacted to the product?

We are very fortunate that Flow Kana has consistently remained California’s best-selling flower brand, so consumers seem to resonate with Flow Kana’s mission of supporting small-scale farmers who live harmoniously with the land and cultivate with virtually zero carbon footprint.  All of the farmers with whom we partner have stories that are compelling and moving.  What we’ve learned over the past few years is that consumers really love knowing where their cannabis comes from and having a window into the lives of Flow Kana farmers.  

What are the most popular products?

Aside from Flow Kana flower, the Diamonds product line under our Caldera brand has been a big hit. The flavor and potency combination is impressive. Our newest Flow Kana product release, the infused pre-rolls, have received rave reviews thus far as well.

What strains have consumers flocked to?

This is all very changeable, but with the last harvest we found our customers enjoying dessert and fruit strains.

Is there a certain THC level you try to hit with every product?

Because we have purveyed sungrown cannabis for years, we understand that THC is just one small part of the formula for excellence. Overall, we’re trying to offer an experience with all of our products that emphasizes quality and best-in-class cultivation. Some strains might be high in THC while others might be lower in THC but super rich in the terpenes and other cannabinoids that give a fuller entourage effect for the user. In other words, the terpenes and cannabinoids work to increase the effects of the THC while also producing other effects that consumers typically attribute to THC.  There’s really so much more to this plant than just THC, and I think this will come to light the more we focus on consumer education.

Packaging Design is really important for a cannabis brand. How does your packaging reflect your mission and goals?

We’re committed to sustainability in our packaging as well as transparency in our storytelling. We want our customers to feel like they’re part of the farmer story with our packaging, that it can help educate about this unique spot in Northern California lore and culture. Given the constraints that California state law imposes, we universally strive to ensure our packaging waste is as reclaimable as can be.

What are the sustainability goals for Flow Kana?

This is a passion and true north for our company. We put a focus on working with farmers that employ regenerative farming practices. We use recyclable materials whenever possible. We focus on sungrown cannabis because it is the most sustainable form of cannabis that actively helps mitigate the effects of climate change.

How can the cannabis industry become more sustainable? What are practical tips for other companies?

Thinking ahead on packaging waste, using water thoughtfully (through rain catchments) — all of those things matter. But at the end of the day, we are committed to outdoor sungrown agriculture, which has the positive effect of sequestering carbon in the soil, requires little to no electricity, and is a wise way to help cool the planet. As a matter of fact, our farmers will often say that they don’t grow cannabis, they grow soil. That kind of thinking realigns priorities, and we try to apply that lens to all of our efforts. Regarding tips for our peers, we recommend sourcing sustainable materials for packaging and moving away from indoor grows.  

Explain regenerative cultivation and its role with Flow Kana?

Regenerative agricultural practices are ancient and devoted to creating a living system. That system includes the insects, the plants, the microorganisms, the fungi, the farmers, the hedges, the goats — the whole wonderful messy world of a small farm ecosystem. The idea is that the inputs that nourish and build the soil come from the farm itself. Animals eat weeds and produce manure that nurtures the soil. Hedges shelter beneficial insects that provide natural protection to the plants and healthy plants are naturally more insect-resistant. Interplanting different species allows each species to support one another. Everything works together to create a system of health that leaves the land in a better state than when the farmer arrived. This is difficult, daily work and we applaud both the effort and the result.

What has been the consumer response to the Flow Kana Family of Brands?

We’re gratified to be a top-selling brand and a company that provides meaning to our customers.

What was behind the name Change to Flow Cannabis Company?

Actually, we didn’t change the name. We’re been Flow Cannabis Co. from the start but just didn’t message that. We focused instead on Flow Kana as our flagship brand, but Flow Co. has always been there as our overarching company under which all of our brands live.

What is the Flow Cannabis Institute?

Set on the former Fetzer Winery property in Mendocino County’s Redwood Valley, FCI is a home, a retreat center, a manufacturing facility, a white labeling operation, and a stage for world-class cultural events. Our groundbreaking 2019 “Cannabis as a Catalyst for Change” event with such notables as cannabis celebrity Snoop Dog and Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometti, among others, was held here. Our “Flow Talks” program of TED-style talks was born here. We have so many plans for this amazing campus once the pandemic has safely receded and we can again meet one another in health.

How are you helping break the stigma associated with cannabis use?

By spearheading the type of thought leadership we have done with our Flow Films, Flow Talks, and in-person events, we are helping to show how cannabis is an important part of the cultural conversation and that its expression has a place in every part of our lives. We’ve also been extremely active in our local community around food and farming, volunteer fire department needs, and more. We aim to be the best neighbor and show again and again that cannabis is not a menace but rather, a job creator and an economic engine like no other.

How do we manage to balance the original cannabis culture as more traditional investors and businessmen enter the cannabis space?

We’re devoted to helping to preserve the traditional craft farmer legacy of families who raise food, babies, and livestock in tandem with their medicine. That’s why we work with farmers, providing support and a supply chain that allows them to support their operation legally and compliantly in this rapidly changing market. We also strive to help support the cultural side of this legacy through our thought leadership and in-person events. We can’t wait to gather together again in person soon!

How have farmers adapted to changing regulations and the changing industry?

Their cannabis is so clean and healthy and free of mold and toxins that all they need to adjust to is the new legal landscape. All of our farmers are trying to make a go of it in California’s challenging regulated cannabis market. It’s not easy and it’s not simple, but we’re grateful that enough folks see the end goal and are willing to sacrifice in order to get to the other side. Glad to be with them!

Do you have plans to expand outside of California?

We’re excited for interstate commerce to come online so that we can share the world’s best cannabis with the rest of the country legally and compliantly. California’s been providing up to 80% of the nation’s cannabis for decades, so it’s going to be amazing to be able to establish our family of brands on shelves across the nation as that becomes available. We don’t currently anticipate setting up production facilities outside of our Northern California environs.