By Gregory Daurer | Aug 03, 2021
Hoffman calls her food products "unique and different" -- not just within the cannabis market, but compared with what's sold in supermarkets as well. "I think that's why our company has been really successful," she adds.
According to recent data from Headset, Craft Elixirs' gummies fill the top three slots in terms of edible sales in Washington state. They're sold under the brand name, Pioneer Squares (a play on Seattle's landmark-filled Pioneer Square neighborhood). And, according to Hoffman, they -- and her company's other products -- are a "really awesome culinary experience."
For instance, take one of those initial gummies -- which the company terms a Fruit Nom ("like 'nom nom nom' . . . like 'yummy yummy,'" says Hoffman) -- made by Craft Elixirs: its Lemon-Mandarin. The company places slices of mandarin oranges into its gummy molds. Then it pours cannabis-infused lemon-flavored pectin over them. As self-described foodies, Hoffman and her employees seek to balance both sweetness and bitterness on the tongue. "There's the bitterness of the rind of the orange, the sweetness of the candy gummy. There's a little tartness when the citric acid hits your tongue," says Hoffman. "And then, when you swallow, there's like a little aftertaste of cannabis."
Rather than using dried ingredients, the company utilizes fresh Washington fruit, like cherries and blueberries, which it then candies over a two-day period. "It's just sweeter, softer, juicier," says Hoffman of the candied versions. And then there's the local, pesticide-free cannabis, which the company infuses within "organic sugar cane ethanol. It's an expensive product to work with, but it's clean and I know there's nothing else in it: I know there's no additives, I know its gluten-free, I know it's non-GMO, I know it's kosher." (Craft Elixirs has also received kosher certification -- the blessings of a rabbi -- for its kitchen: "Being kosher's important to me, because it just has a level of cleanliness," says Hoffman, before adding, "It's important all-around.") Other Fruit Nom flavors include Pineapple Crush, Ruby Grapefruit, and Watermelon Kiwi.
The company also manufactures its Dank brand chocolate syrup -- made with organic sugar, local chocolatier Theo's bittersweet chocolate, organic vanilla, and ground vanilla bean -- and Lori's Potato Chips. Hoffman says, "The Roasted Garlic is made with an organic extra virgin olive oil that's been infused with garlic -- and you can't find a potato chip like that anywhere in the commercial market." Or take the Sweet Potato version: "It's not your typical sweet potato that you have on Thanksgiving. It's white on the inside. It's really sweet. When you fry it, it does get orangey. It just has a beautiful flavor, a beautiful skin. Tossing it with a little sea salt and brown sugar and cinnamon, it's just a beautiful combination of sweet and savory." (Hoffman won't reveal exactly how the cannabis infusion takes place on or within the chips.)
Who's the "Lori" in the name of the chips? "There is no Lori," says Hoffman. "I have a marketing background and I think it sounded cute, just to be really honest. I don't think I'm going to call anything 'Jamie.' It seems too braggy."
But Hoffman's already accomplished plenty. After Washington voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2012, she moved from Chicago to Seattle, determined to get into the cannabis business and put her business acumen to work in a new field. Hoffman chose Washington over Colorado to avoid competing against businesses that had already existed under the latter state's medical marijuana laws. "In Washington, they made everybody start from scratch [to do business within the recreational market]," she explains.
Craft Elixirs initially made simple syrups infused with cannabis, but they've been discontinued. Not all products have been successful, Hoffman admits. There have been vape cartridges and infused dried fruit, as well. But Hoffman hit on a winning formula with her Fruit Nom line as soon as it came out.
Hoffman estimates her products are in around 300 dispensaries in Washington -- just over half of the total. And as the dispensary chains she works with have opened additional shops, they've uplifted the sales for Craft Elixirs, as well. Hoffman says, "I started with just one employee and now we're at 30 -- which is great, but I am really hoping that I can hire another 10 people before the year's over to help us with the growth." The edibles are presently made in two separate facilities -- totaling more than 7,000 square feet -- because one just isn't big enough to handle the volume.
Hoffman says of her unique, adult-oriented delicacies, "It's really fun to come up with products that you can't find at the grocery store, and people are excited about it -- and they love it."
Challenges: "Keeping up with production," says Hoffman. "Our products have been really successful. And we try to make as much as we can. But it seems like we're always out of stock of one or two flavors. We can never keep up with the demand."
Opportunities: "We have some amazing products in our pipeline," says Hoffman, who's not quite ready to divulge details. "These are going to be products that haven't been done before by anyone in the cannabis industry -- and I just can't wait to launch them."
Needs: Besides more employees, Craft Elixirs needs "more space to do the things we want to do," says Hoffman, noting the situation is complicated by state law regarding where cannabis businesses can locate. "I can't just move into another building. I can't just add another building on. I have to go through the state and an approval process."