Kaleidoscope opened its doors for business six months ago. After a year of research, development, design, and manufacturing, we welcomed our first real life, living, breathing customers on July 1, 2019. Over the past six months, and really year and a half since I started this ridiculous, wild project, I’ve learned extraordinary things about running a company, manufacturing a consumer product, the way other people interact with consumer products, and less importantly (maybe more importantly?), a lot about myself.
Everyday I feel like the greatest failure in the history of entrepreneurship. I also feel like a champion and complete ruler of the universe. I’m exhausted every moment of every day. Even when I’m not exhausted, I’m still really fucking exhausted. And that’s because of the sheer psychological toll of going from the highest high to the lowest of lows multiple times a day in the blink of an email, the ping of an iMessage, or notification (or, rather, lack thereof) of a large fedex shipment of product.
But then, in between the muck of it all, comes a beam of light. Maybe Jacqueline closed a big, new wholesale account. Maybe Rachel got an ad through on Instagram (which is a big deal in the cannabis world) and planned an amazing event in partnership with another brand we love. Maybe Justin saved our website from falling to pieces and refusing to accept payments for the zillionth time. Maybe Ale coordinated our entire supply chain, redesigned our fulfillment process, and kept the office functioning even before it occurred to me to ask her to do it. And then again, maybe it was an epically shitty day and at 5 o’clock I opened a bottle of wine so we could all commiserate and look up from our computer screens of doom for a minute of unadulterated laughter. Those moments, the rays of light in between the mud, make it all worth it. They make the sleepless nights from crippling anxiety over the mountains of emails I have to answer well worth it.
Stu, the chairman of my board and lifelong mentor, stopped by the office the other day. He asked me, “so do you think this is what you’re meant to do?” I said, “I don’t know. But I’m glad I’m doing it.” Everything about starting a company is excruciating. Nothing goes as planned and the calmness you see on the outside is the most frantic treading water you’ve ever seen below the surface. The put together face you see speaking on panels is far from that at home. She goes from work to sleep to work to sleep and hasn’t had a personal life in literal years. But there’d be something wrong if that weren’t the case. There’d been something wrong if everything was perfect, if life was easy, and if the exact piece of the puzzle you needed turned up in your hand right when you wanted that corner piece. The messiness is nearly validating; when the tales you hear about building a startup match your own experiences you don’t feel like such a disaster.
But enough about me and more about Kaleidoscope. Over the past six months we’ve done many things – some awesome and some utterly stupid. We try to optimize for the former and minimize the latter though. People tell me this is a good strategy.
We did things like build a ski chalet style pop up in the middle of the West Village showcasing Kaleidoscope products alongside some of my other favorite products and brands for “winter wellness.” I went to Delhi to work with our unparalleled R&D team at Dabur Research to develop new formulations combining CBD with Ayurvedic medicine and learned how toxicity and efficacy in vitro testing is performed on our products. We had a vintage Italian ape truck built by the extraordinary Bubbles and Brew so that we could bring the Kaleidoscope brand all over the Hamptons. We listened to our customers and created a “sampler pack” with one week’s supply of each of our five formulations in record speed.
As we look toward 2020 and the second half of our first year “on the market,” we’re excited about a bunch of things coming down the pike. I’ll share a couple, but the top secret stuff you’ll just have to wait and see.
We’re incredibly excited to announce the opening of our Kaleidoscope Showroom. A few months ago we moved into our own office in West Soho and brought fulfillment in-house. In our office we have three sections: fulfillment, office, and retail. The idea behind the Kaleidoscope Showroom is that you, our customers, can come visit our top secret (not so top secret anymore, I guess) showroom, hang out with us, and browse our suite of products and any other brand partners we bring into the space. It’s sort of like a regular old store but a little more secret and a lot more intimate.
Kaleidoscope is a luxury product. We know it isn’t cheap. That’s truly because it’s a really expensive product to manufacture due to the extensive R&D that goes into the product, the number and quality of ingredients we use, and the technology we use to produce our capsules. Over the next year we’re really trying to reduce our cost of production so that we can pass that along to our customers. We make no promises that we’ll be able to do it – but I promise, we’re trying.
And finally, we’re doing some soul searching and product exploration. We’re thinking about other formats and delivery mechanisms we can bring to Kaleidoscope. We believe in science and, more importantly, delivering products that create that incremental difference for people. We want to look beyond the capsule, while always heeding efficacy, and devise new products that can incrementally improve one’s day. Maybe it’s CBD, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s exactly what you’re expecting, and maybe it’s totally different. And in all sincerity, we’d love to hear from you. I started Kaleidoscope because the product I wanted didn’t exist. I built the product for me and hoped it would be the product for you too. So, as we look toward what’s next, we’d love to know: What’s the thing you’re missing? What’s the product you want that doesn’t exist? Who knows, maybe we’ll make it for you.
That wasn’t some trite conclusion with a vague and insincere “we’d love to hear from you.” I mean it. Email me at ARo@kaleidoscopelabs.com.
– Founder & CEO, Ana Rosenstein