Nikki Kujawski, Brand Manager at Ripple, on Marketing Barriers and Food Agreements in Cannabis
Nikki Kujawski is the Senior Brand Director for Ripple by Stillwater Brands, an expanding line of soluble cannabinoid products. Nikki develops consumer research-driven marketing initiatives, sets long-term goals for media awareness and elevation of brand awareness, oversees the execution of campaigns and ensures that all lines of products contain consistent messages that correspond to the values of the company.
Nikki’s stewardship role includes Ripple’s original calorie-free, flavorless cannabinoid powder packets that consumers can add to any hot or cold food or drink, gummy supplements, and QuickSticks designed to be ingested on their own. Since 2016, she has helped drive Ripple’s growth in the THC and CBD product sectors, elevating the brand to a tier 1 sales leader in the Colorado adult market.
Previously, Nikki ran a video production company in New York City that developed content for national media and brands such as Food Network, Unilever, Tabasco, and Bon Appetit. When she’s not at work, you’ll find her outside. She loves camping and exploring nature trails with her partner and their two dogs.
We spoke with Nikki for our Superior call series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.
Nikki, tell us …
Where you grew up and where you live now.
I grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, and currently live in Denver. I spent about seven years in New York City before I moved to Denver, and I haven’t looked back.
Your current role in the cannabis industry and where you are based.
I’m the Senior Brand Director at Stillwater Brands, creator of Ripple, and lead our marketing initiatives. We are based in Commerce City, just outside of Denver.
Your first memory of cannabis.
I used cannabis for the first time with a friend in a homemade bong with orange juice. We have come a long way in the world of cannabis. In Colorado, my first dispensary experience was in Aspen, and I couldn’t believe it was real.
A story about the positive impact of cannabis on your life.
I use cannabis to relax. As a very high intensity person, it can be difficult to turn off my “working brain” at the end of the day – to get out, relax, or even sleep. Since moving to Denver I have really focused on managing my body and giving it what it needs. Cannabis helped me take the time I needed.
A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.
I’m a huge flower fan, and right now I’m really in the line Green crack. Personally, I like to smoke flowers because I feel the effects immediately and can manage my dose well after years of learning and journaling. When discretion is advised or I am unable to smoke, I will always turn to Ripple for the same quick effect. I like to use forms of cannabis that I am sure I can control.
The biggest challenge facing cannabis marketers today.
We’re still in a world where regulations prevent us from truly marketing, in the traditional sense. Unfortunately, we are still working on a large scale education about cannabis and how it should be treated in a legalized setting. I am constantly inspired by my colleagues in the marketing space and the new products that are emerging.
Something that you are currently passionate about in the field of cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.
I’m really excited about the regulatory clarification between advertising and branding that took place in early 2020. It has allowed cannabis companies to explore so many more marketing tactics and strategies. I am always proud to see one of the many cannabis billboards in the Denver area by the way; it means we are moving towards better education and breaking down stigma.
A cannabis trade / social justice organization that you support.
I am a big fan of the team of Kind Colorado, Kelly and Courtney. They are absolute warriors and amazing women who do a really important job in the industry. They’ve done some really amazing projects with cannabis companies in addition to fully launching corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in some big companies. They continue to be pioneers and leaders in space, and they are amazing humans too.
A recent project that you are proud of.
Ripple recently in partnership with local artist Tony Ortega to create unique, limited edition Día de los Muertos labels to raise funds for arts education. We donated 5% of sales to RedLine Contemporary Arts Center, a non-profit organization that promotes education and engagement among artists and communities to create positive social change. Ripple was one of the first companies to create such distinctive, limited-edition labels, and I’m delighted that this partnership went the way it did.