Cookies and Veritas: Bringing a Brand to a New Market
Written by: Owen MacMillan
As cannabis brands expand, partnerships with trusted cultivators is crucial to ensure product consistency in new markets and keeping up with customer demand.
Cookies, the cannabis brand founded by Bay Area rapper and entrepreneur Berner, recently entered a cultivation partnership with Veritas Fine Cannabis, a cannabis cultivator based in Denver. Veritas is the exclusive grower of Cookies cannabis strains in Colorado for at least the next three years, according to a deal signed in October 2019. Cookies products launched in Colorado in July.
Jon Spadafora, head of marketing and sales at Veritas, said expanding can be risky for a company if it doesn’t ensure it is picking responsible partners.
“It was important for Cookies to find someone driven by quality,” Spadafora said. “As you expand one of the biggest concerns you have is maintaining the quality that got you where you are, as you start talking about gardens that you don’t have control over.”
For Cookies’ part, the company had no concerns that Veritas would be an unreliable partner.
“Veritas is one of the kind of gold standard partners and operators, especially in Colorado,” Tori Cole, VP of marketing at Cookies, said. “They have some fire products. When we saw some photos and videos, and saw the test results, we said, ‘Oh my God, this is exactly what our flower should look like.’”
Extensive communication between the companies was crucial to the process of becoming partners, with dozens of phone calls and Cookies sending representatives to tour Veritas’ facility. Feedback and open lines of communication are crucial when one company is trusting another with its genetic library and with creating the products it will put its label on.
Cole talked about entrusting the company’s strains to another company and said that Berner is very passionate about what he puts his name on. Spadafora keeps Berner updated on how the product is coming along, sharing pictures, lab tests and reviews daily to make sure the final product is as it should be. Cookies products first started to be sold in Colorado in May, and are now sold in about 50 dispensaries.“Every grower is very different,” she said. “What we try to do is standardize it so the Gary Payton you smoke in Colorado would be the same Gary Payton experience that you would have in California.”
Gary Payton, named after the NBA all-star who licensed his name to the company, is one of Cookies’ most popular and highly reviewed strains. Cole said learning to grow a new strain is complicated, and that the key to doing it the right way is keeping communication open at every step.
“[Growing a new strain] is like a new relationship, like meeting a new person,” she said. “You have to be introduced to them, learn who they are, what they like, what they don’t like. So, it is always an ongoing conversation that we have with our partners.”
Collaboration expands beyond the interview and production process, as the companies’ marketing departments make joint pushes to advertise new products as they drop.
“We are working in conjunction with the Cookies team in California to make sure that if they are marketing a new strain as it hits the shelf, they probably have that same strain hitting the shelves in multiple states,” Spadafora said. “If you have got Berner rapping about [the strain] and the Cookies team is pushing it hard on the corporate side, it certainly makes our job a lot easier to get a customer to understand and care about it.”
Both Veritas and Cookies repeated that the partnership between them is based on a shared passion and goals, rather than just profit.
“We look to have partners that share the vision of bringing good cannabis to sophisticated connoisseurs, which Colorado is filled with,” Cole said, adding that Cookies has plans to open one of its Cookies branded dispensaries there in the future. “That is why we chose Veritas, and also just what we look for when we choose any partnership.”