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Real Cannabis Stories

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Meet Kaiya: CEO @ Utopia Farms

1. Past: What is your professional background? Why did you decide to look into the industry?
I was focused on Social Psychological research with a plan to teach at the university level before entering the cannabis space. I entered the cannabis industry after being disillusioned with the options available. I’m a “clean-label” guy and hated that I couldn’t validate where a product came from, how it was made or what the chain of custody was. I knew enough about analytics testing to know that the market was contaminated with solvents, pesticides and microbiological contaminants and I wanted to find products I’d be comfortable using. This commitment to product integrity motivated Emily, Jesse and myself to start Utopia.
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2. Present: How did you get involved? how has the transition and overall experience been?
Nothing could have prepared me for the cannabis space. This industry is so rapidly evolving that flexibility is key. Its been great to watch California cannabis adapt into a market that supports Utopia’s philosophy – a commitment to transparency and quality and I feel blessed everyday to be a part of it. We work way too hard but at the end of the day we’re always proud of what we’re doing and even on our hardest day we’re cognizant enough to know we’re blessed to have this opportunity. One of the greatest benefits of founding Utopia is the breadth of skills I’ve had to acquire to keep the company moving forward. There’s not many industries where you have the opportunity to become proficient in tasks from plumbing to marketing to zoning laws.
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3. Future: Do you see yourself working in the industry long term? Why? 
I’ll consider myself blessed to be involved in the cannabis industry in 10 years. As long as the industry continues to foster community, ethical responsibility and innovation, I’ll be a part of it. We often hear fears of cannabis mirroring big-ag, big-tobacco, big-alcohol and big-pharma. At Utopia, we’re committed to keeping the industry pure and a reflection of our consumers. If money and power overtakes that commitment, it will be hard to find the same pleasure coming to work each day.
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4. Do you have any advice you’d give to someone looking into making a career change into the industry?
Bring flexibility, patience and a commitment to your values. The industry is so young and constantly changing that you will be forced to adapt what you were doing yesterday to fit with tomorrow’s innovations. Embrace that opportunity for growth – if you want stability you’re in the wrong place.
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Did you ever feel stigmatized by the industry?

All the time. Its improved with time, but the stigma reaches all aspects (from banking to family relations).

How did you get your first cannabis job?

Started our own company.

Have you been promoted or worked for different companies in the industry?

Nope.

 Has it been difficult?

Amazingly so.

Any advice to someone looking to get involved in the industry with no cannabis experience?

I don’t feel that you need cannabis experience to enter this industry. It parallels so many other spaces (CPGs, marketing, agriculture, manufacturing) that you can take your expertise and adapt it to match cannabis. Furthermore, the space is so new that there are few experts and constant innovation and change.

What do you think the future looks like for the industry?

Depends on my mood :-).

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Here’s Kaiya at the last Bloom Farms job fair!! 

Utopia Farms is the cannabis brand committed to providing highly desirable, quality products. Specializing in artisan flowers, refined extracts, and nutritious edibles, Utopia Farms supports the cannabis community with variety, quality, and transparency.

History:

When Kaiya Bercow, Jesse Bower, and Emily Bercow set out to create their cannabis brand, they were imagining a state of things in which everything was perfect. Hailing from the same hometown, they entered the industry as cultivators, perfecting their craft over years of study and work. Disheartened by the industry’s lack of quality, clean-tested products, they set out to develop a branded alternative to the unlabeled, un-tested products filling dispensaries shelves. Their commitment to consumers has resulted in a line of products focused on health, higher business ethics and unparalleled quality.

Products:

Utopia Farms knows that one size doesn’t fit all, and the beauty of medicating is in choice. That’s why they provide flower, extracts, and edibles. Utopia Farms’ signature flower is the C. Banana, a phenotype they’ve been cultivating for nearly a decade. With THC tests as high as 35%, this Sativa-dominant Hybrid is renowned for its powerful effects and fresh banana aromas. Utopia also cultivates Lambsbread, Taffy, and a variety of other strains. Their extracts are potent and pure with unique terpene and cannabinoid profiles and are available as processed trim, cured resin, and live resin grades. Utopia Farms’ macaroons (available in four flavors) are health-conscious and are made with raw, gluten-free, vegan, kosher-friendly, paleo-friendly and organic ingredients. Blended with their in-house extracts, these edibles take you higher!

Lab Testing:

Utopia’s products are lab tested with SC Labs, every batch, every time. Total transparency is one of the cornerstones of Utopia Farms practice and with that comes batch-testing to ensure purity, safety, and consistency. After undergoing full-spectrum testing, each product package is labeled with a batch number that is linked to a publicly available lab result, allowing you to know the potency, terpene pesticide, residual solvent, and microbiological test results. Utopia Farms works hard to provide trusted products and is at the forefront of California’s pesticide-free movement. Clean growing, clean ingredients, and a company that cares – #ThisIsUtopia.

 

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