From Legacy To Legal: Earth Kisses Sky Hits The Market With New Topicals
Everybody loves a legacy-to-legal story with a happy ending. Hamilton-based Earth Kisses Sky (EKS) has a harrowing story of dedication, persistence, and reinvention. EKS is a line of cannabis topicals founded by power couple Ashley Short and Tijen Yalchin. To say these women have a passion for cannabis, education, and infused lotions and potions is an understatement.
It was exciting to see them announce, after years of hustling, that Health Canada had approved their two products; formally Pain and Skin, now named Rise and Shine. The duo took the time and care to develop a product true to their values and find the right partner, in order to bring their dream product to consumers.
Today, EKS is making its debut in Ontario, launching their multi-purpose cream Shine at the OCS. Unlike other products, which can feel like and smell like ditchweed steeped in cheap carrier cream, Shine is a little different. The lotion is made with herbal ingredients specifically formulated for the skin. There are no artificial fragrances or preservatives, just natural additives like vitamin E and calendula. Each jar has 150 milligrams of THC and 300 milligrams of CBD.
Just Add Oil
You may remember Short and Yalchin from their clever ‘just add oil’ approach to compliance. The pair were active in the legacy market prior to legalization but had to rebrand in order to achieve their goal of having EKS available in retail stores. After the Cannabis Act came into effect, the founders removed cannabis from their products and rebranded. It wasn’t a decision they took lightly, having served the grey market for some time.
“We realized that, in order to move forward, we couldn’t keep cannabis in it. So in order to be compliant, we had to pull it out,” says Yalchin. The pair won a Leaf Forward accelerator program in 2018 where they were given seed money and tools for growth. Short shares that this is where the ‘just add oil’ campaign was born, which helped them build brand recognition and keep their products on the market in a compliant capacity.
The goal was always to bring a fully integrated all-in-one cannabis topical to market. Short and Yalchin had the formulations, they just needed the perfect partner to provide the oil. They pitched licensed producers and even went on an unaired episode of Dragons Den. EKS was playing the long game, and it would take them years to find the right partner for the cannabis oil in their lotion and salve formulations.
In February, they announced a partnership with Peak Processing Solutions. “It felt like it took a long time to get to market. But we had to stay true to ourselves and our brand. We weren’t going to settle for any less than our standards,” says Yalchin. “After we signed the papers [with Peak Processing] it was like, ‘so are we married? Like, what’s happening? Are we going on our honeymoon?’”
Yalchin explained that trust was crucial to finding the right producers. And they found a true partner in Peak Processing: “We [thought], ‘wow this company really has it together.’ They listened to us, were very professional, and let us take the reins regarding the product. We were able to keep… the same herbal formulas from before, now including cannabis.”
No Pink Packaging
Despite the two being female founders in skincare, you won’t find any pink packaging here, and that was intentional. They took care to make gender-neutral packaging, as well as ingredients. “Yes, it absolutely was deliberate,” says Yalchin. “In our lifestyle, we’re not super femme. I am more gender-fluid. So I think it wasn’t done because of marketing strategy, it was more organically decided. It’s what we like!”
Short shares that Shine is scented with botanical ingredients instead of essential oils for that very reason. Consumers can add their own fragrances, allowing them to control the scent if they so choose.
It isn’t that pink doesn’t have its place, however EKS doesn’t feel that place is on their product packaging.
“We really liked the neutral colours and a very clean structure. Black, grey, white, and so on. I think personally, if I went into a store, I’m definitely not going for that pink item,” says Short.
“It’s hard to get past the stigma. We want to make people feel like EKS is for them,” she says. “Our products aren’t super flowery or feminine because products really have no gender.”
Fans of the product will also recognize the jars Shine and Rise are packaged in, which are the same ones as their non-infused products. EKS creams come in a tinted glass jar, which protects against UV rays, preserving cannabinoids and botanicals. Even though it does mean the creams are a little more expensive to produce, Short and Yalchin wanted to ensure customers didn’t get another plastic jar. The glass glass jars are easily recycled or repurposed into stash jars.
For Earth Kisses Sky, Community and Collaboration are Key
The dynamic duo are not afraid to hit the pavement and get themselves out there. For the EKS team, it isn’t just about getting shelf space. The pair enjoys meeting retail store owners and making that personal connection.
“We love collaborating. Community support and involvement has always been important to EKS as a brand,” says Yalchin. “We ask them questions like, ‘what do you need? What do you customers ask for? And how we can help?’”
“What we’re doing now is walking in and introducing ourselves and offering to do education, pop-ups, and teach budtenders about our product. The feedback is incredible, and they appreciate the personal touch.”
For others who might be pursuing a similar path to legal products, the team has this advice to offer:
“Success is not being afraid of problems that arise. Instead, focus on your end goal or dream. It doesn’t matter how you’re going to get there, the how is not the important part. Just focus on that big dream and trust the universe that you will get there.”