Monday, February 6, 2017

Two Retirees Create Marijuana Packaging Business in Colorado

The legal marijuana business has created a multibillion-dollar industry, including some interesting side ventures and spinoffs, and even unlikely entrepreneurs have found lucrative niches.

Among them are Deb Baker, a retired high school teacher, and Barb Diner, a former marketing executive, who both live in Denver and have been friends for 27 years. The two had found the relaxed retirement life a bit dull, so they would often bat around ideas that might be interesting to pursue and that could supplement their income.

In 2014, the nascent entrepreneurs saw a niche to be filled — child-resistant marijuana containers that would comply with Colorado’s newly mandated regulation.

On a market-research visit to a dispensary, Ms. Diner and Ms. Baker noticed some of the containers used there were made with chemicals that gave off an unpleasant odor. They thought they had a better idea.

 “We thought consumers would want to store their edibles or medicines in containers that were F.D.A.-approved to store food in,” said Ms. Diner, “so we looked into making them from recycled plastic milk jugs.”

They decided to start Higher Standard Packaging in the spring of that year, and since then, they have sold nearly seven million units of packaging to Colorado cannabis dispensaries and beyond.

The initial set of products consisted of plain white canisters in different sizes with child-resistant caps, made by manufacturing partners in California. To find customers, they cold-called more than 100 businesses, mainly in the Denver area, and visited them with samples and price sheets.

Within the first six months, the company began selling other items: tubes, child-resistant caps and more recently, child-resistant, single-serving barrier bags (made of heavy-duty plastic that requires scissors to open). But their mainstay remains plastic containers for flower — the term for dried marijuana that is ready to smoke.

Their adult children thought the venture was an “amusing” pastime at first. Now, they are proud of their mothers’ success, Ms. Diner said, and have even helped with technology and market research.

Higher Standard Packaging has about 50 clients, including cannabis dispensaries as well as makers of edibles, concentrates and other cannabis products. Most are in Colorado, but plans are in the works to expand around the United States and into Canada as the legalization of marijuana becomes more widespread.



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