New York's Women-Owned Cannabis Business: What Is Etain Health?
Etain is New York’s only women- and family-owned cannabis entity, run by CEO Amy Peckham and her daughters Hillary, the Chief Operations Officer, and Keeley, the Chief Horticultural Officer. Hillary says the work is “a labor of love,” a project that began when the whole family started researching medical cannabis as a treatment for her grandmother’s ALS (a degenerative neurological disease). The Peckhams’ longevity in the cannabis industry is as legendary as their brand’s sterling reputation; they were awarded one of the first five licenses New York issued for medical cannabis businesses and launched in 2015, shortly after the Compassionate Care Act passed to allow registered patients access to cannabinoid oils.
Seven years on, with the state gearing up for adult-use retail, Etain’s horizons are expanding but its core ethos remains the same. Etain is named for a sun goddess in Irish mythology who transforms and is associated with rebirth; and so the Peckhams resolve to shine light on the healing benefits of cannabis, along the way radiantly uplifting other women-owned brands and helping their community revive.
What Are Etain's Plans for New York's Adult-Use Cannabis Market?
As New Yorkers prepare for a recreational market, the women of Etain are building out more land for cultivation, offering new product lines and exclusive items, and even looking beyond the Empire State’s borders to its neighbor for the next phase of evolution.
As Hillary describes it, daily operations teem with excitement: “A lot of our focus is on ‘how do we scale’ and ‘how can we continue to provide the quality products that we do today,’ but… in appealing ways for the adult-use market. Right now we’re in expansion and growth mode. We are under construction at our manufacturing and cultivation facility. We’re looking at different layouts for our stores… and doing a lot of research and development on new products.”
The Etain Brand Refresh
These large build outs come on the heels of Etain’s relatively recent brand refresh, starting in 2020, which featured a reimagined logo and store redesign for more space and increased ability for consumer traffic. “When we had done the refresh,” Hillary recalls, “adult-use had been proposed in New York [but hadn’t passed yet]. We were thinking, ‘Okay, we know adult-use is coming; what’s the type of consumer that we’re looking for?’ Our mission has always been high-quality, easily accessible and easy to understand cannabis products that people can trust… And when we think about the adult-use consumer, many people who are buying in the recreational setting are actually purchasing for medical reasons. They might buy a balm because they want to treat sore muscles [or] because they want to sleep better, and they’re trying to manage it themselves. Just because they’re not a medical patient doesn’t mean that they’re not using this in a medicinal way.”
New and Favorite Products: Etain Health CBD, Water-Soluble Powder, Motif Magnetic Vape Pen and More
The brand refresh became a pathway for the Peckhams to view preparation for the recreational market as an unlimited opportunity for innovation. They’ve launched a brand-new CBD line showcasing products for a mainstream market that are made to medicinal standards, including tinctures and lotions. Hillary comments, “The way that we’ve approached product development is supposed to be inviting and comfortable. We have capsules and our water-soluble powder that you can bake with or mix into a beverage. That to me is much more appealing for someone who doesn't know cannabis or isn’t comfortable smoking or rolling a joint. You can explore the options there. For us, it’s really about educating customers that [there are options].”
Hillary has a definite soft spot for the water-soluble powder, a favorite product that she mentions provided a unique solution to New York’s initial ban on edibles. “We were trying to find a way that we could still give people access to create that kind of product,” she notes. “A powder that could be mixed with liquid was a way of entering into the edible space within the limitations of New York regulation [during that time]. It spun off from there – now we’re looking at creating more iterations of it… It’s so easy for people to understand and it’s super popular right now because it’s very multifaceted.”
Since the refresh, Etain has not only reintroduced their water-soluble powder to the general public, but stocked their shelves with unique items at every turn. The hit Motif Magnetic Vape Pen, created exclusively for Etain, is another multifaceted invention, one that elevates using the device to the sensation of a mini spa visit with its pure oil and precise dosing. Additional strains for the vape pen pods and further accessories will be forthcoming to enhance the experience. For those who prefer a modern twist on a classic smoke session, there’s the Omura dry herb vaporizer made in collaboration with House of Puff. A revolution in vaping, the device uses heat-not-burn technology to gently warm House of Puff flowersticks in a luxurious designer casing. It’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s meets Star Trek – and only available at Etain locations.
Etain Supports Women-Owned Cannabis Brands
In fact, everything in Etain’s stores originates from women-owned companies. Some of the brands spotlighted in Etain include Potli, Ananda Farms, NSNT Spray, Sackville & Co., Barbari, TribeTokes, Gron, NFZD Beauty, Piecework Puzzles and more. “We try to do as much collaboration with and promotion of other women in the cannabis industry [as possible],” Hillary explains. “There’s a big opportunity for women to enter this industry… One of our biggest collaborations is with Buy Weed From Women, [founded by] Jasmine Mans, a poet in Newark. We have a huge shelf section dedicated to her. We have multiple categories of products that compliment our medicinal products: CBD, chocolate, gummies, room sprays, books, and designer and textile merchandise. It’s a whole experience.”
What matters to the Peckham family, Hillary continues, is supporting diversity in all its forms throughout the cannabis industry. Women and minority-owned businesses historically have restricted access to funding compared to their white male counterparts, and that capital is particularly lacking in the cannabis space. Understanding that struggle is what inspires Etain to keep uplifting fellow women-owned brands and making it possible for small businesses to succeed in New York’s competitive market.
Hillary especially expresses gratitude for the collaborative relationship between Etain and these brand partners. “The benefit of working with smaller companies is there’s a lot of flexibility. All of the brands we carry in our stores… they go out, they really try to assist on social media and support us [too]. They’re helpful with sales and products, they’re helpful with our staff. Promoting each other’s businesses has been very wholesome and wonderful to see and experience.”
Etain New Jersey and Greater New York Cultivation
That’s part of the process that the Peckhams intend to continue in their New Jersey venture. Etain applied for a vertical cannabis license in New Jersey in 2019, and in the fall of 2021 was announced as one of the first fourteen businesses awarded a license in the state. Just like with New York, they will be able to cultivate, create products, and sell retail in the Garden State, and they look forward to giving local women-owned businesses a place on their shelves.
At the same time, Etain’s cultivation facility in upstate New York will add another 50,000 square feet of land. Keeley Peckham as Chief Horticultural Officer is concentrating on developing thirty new strains specifically for the adult-use market to be released over the next few years. More exciting updates are yet to come, but fans of the company should stay tuned for events to be hosted in their Manhattan store.
Manage Your Health
For Hillary, though, all the enthusiasm stems from one crucial idea: Giving people the choice to heal as they wish to be healed. “People want to be able to manage their own health and quality of life and have control over that,” she asserts. “And I think cannabis is a really great way to do that. There’s a big stigma about people who use cannabis recreationally [but] there are so many different opportunities for people to use the plant that haven’t been recognized or accepted. That’s what we’re trying to change.”
And as Etain evolves to meet the growing needs of diverse cannabis consumers, Hillary can’t help reflecting on the impact the company has made on her own life. “The first time we applied, we didn’t get a license but I got engaged,” she laughs. “The second time we applied, I got married. And when we got the license in New Jersey, I had my baby. So it’s been every milestone in doing this with my family… and we love working together.”
What Comes Next? RIV Capital and Etain's New Horizons
The Peckham family has new horizons ahead of them for Etain's next move. In late March, it was announced that the Toronto-based investment firm RIV Capital, funded by The Hawthorne Collective (a subsidiary of lawn and garden giant Scotts Miracle-Gro), had signed an agreement to buy Etain for $247 million. It's allegedly the largest transaction involving a women-owned cannabis business in the history of the cannabis industry.
Where will the Peckhams be as the deal goes forward? According to the family, they will remain as close as ever and continue working toward their goal of a world powered by plants and diversity. In Etain's press release following the announcement, Amy, Hillary and Keeley will be integrated into the RIV partnership as "core leaders in the future of the Etain brand." Rightfully so.
“While the Peckham family will be stepping back from control of the company, we will be actively partnered with RIV Capital on preserving the ethos of the Etain brand and utilizing our combined efforts to continually find and make new spaces for women in cannabis,” Hillary stated in the release.
Women united and growing. That’s the essence of what Etain is and will always be. As we look onward to a more fully-legal East Coast, we must cheer, “Well done, sister Puffragettes.”
For more information about Etain, visit etainhealth.com.
Featured image: Etain founders: CEO Amy Peckham, Chief Horticultural Officer Keeley Peckham, and COO Hillary Peckham. (C) Etain
Find Out More on Social
A version of this article first appeared in Honeysuckle's 420 print edition, featuring Lil Wayne and Young Money. Get your copy now.