Greenway Best of the Industry: Illicit, Brand of the Year
Illicit has become a name synonymous with cannabis and medical marijuana in Missouri. In 2021, the company led Missouri in sales by dollar, with Illicit products accounting for 14% of all medical marijuana sales revenue in the state in Q4. Aside from stellar sales, the company has invested in a brand that bleeds cool and culture, but by definition, Illicit works to push boundaries and consistently draw attention to the disparity between a multi-million dollar legal cannabis market and the social inequalities that leave many who participated in the traditional market prior to legalization behind.
This year Greenway readers chose Illicit as Brand of the Year, with awards for Best Brand Design and Best Packaging Design as well. The company also received recognition as the state’s Best Cultivator and won awards for Best Pre-roll for its Illicit Smokos – Gorilla Pie, Best New Product for Illicit Live Resins, and Best Vape Cartridge for the Illicit Live Resin KC Kush.
Greenway recently spoke to Illicit’s David Craig, VP of Marketing, about creating a brand and products that are supported by consumers and industry alike.
What about your Illicit differentiates the company from others in Missouri, and generally speaking?
There are a lot of great cultivators and manufacturers in the state. We have a great deal of respect for what everyone has done in such a short time and are proud to share the space with them. Our team is constantly looking at our processes, and regularly takes them apart and reassembles them on paper. That process, which we call ‘constructive deconstruction’, allows us to identify where we can improve, and ultimately that evolution allows us to continually tighten up our operation as it expands by quickly identifying inefficiencies.
Illicit won for Brand of the Year, Brand Design, and Packaging Design – what makes Illicit’s brand so special?
Our commitment to innovation in the space keeps us forward-focused. We’re constantly reviewing the latest technology and operational methods, while always working on how we can best tell this brands story. Company ownership has encouraged an environment of creativity and experimentation, which has benefitted all departments, and allowed us build something truly unique. As we build into 2022, we’re incorporating more retrowave design elements to make nostalgia meet modern.
How do you intend to stay competitive as the Missouri market continues to grow?
Quality remains our mantra, and one of our highest priorities is maintaining the rigorous quality standards patients have come to expect in every Illicit product. That means not cutting corners, continuously improving, and consistent R & D. We’re focusing on expanding our product offerings, growing a consistent supply, and strengthening those tight-knit relationships. We want all our partners to feel the same passion towards the brand that our team brings to the table every day.
Can you tell me about some of the employees or leadership that help push your success?
Our team is composed of multiple local Missourians who, in the early days of American cannabis, ventured out to the western states to pursue their passion for the industry. We were able to take all that experience in more mature markets and bring those lessons back home to Missouri upon legalization. We’ve then taken what we’ve learned and trained up an unbelievable team of people in all departments across our facilities. That passion is contagious and it’s a dream come true for us to be able to work in cannabis in Missouri.
Can you tell me about the company’s community involvement?
Illicit’s criminal justice reform initiatives motivate all of what we do. In 2022 we will be launching our Freedom’s campaign, which features in-depth interviews with multiple cannabis POWs in partnership with Last Prisoner Project and Strange Music. Our goal is to raise awareness toward the cause and to shed light on their stories. This will feature donation opportunities to assist with their release and reintegration back into society.
What were some of the biggest highlights or successes for Illicit in 2021?
In 2021 we received Greenway’s Best Facility Design award for the state of Missouri, after 5,000 readers cast their ballots. We additionally were awarded Top Brand in Missouri by LeafLink, the state’s primary wholesale ordering platform. The launch of our new facilities certainly was a huge highlight for us, and we got to see the dream become reality.
What plans are on the horizon for the company?
In a few short months, we will open our new on-site staff cafeteria and lounge, which includes first-class locker rooms with full amenities. We want to keep giving back to our team, and these new facility improvements will further improve upon the Illicit employee experience. During 2022, we will see several expanded initiatives across the state, including more dispensary pop-ups and more local event participation, plus more consistent supply of our most popular strains. We can’t give away all our secrets, but we’ve got a lot of great thing in store for the year and can’t wait to roll them out to our partners and patients.