It’s easy to take simple things like access to running water for granted. But in fact, there are more than 2.2 million Americans living without modern plumbing.
To help bring positive change to those living in poverty, the co-founders of Goodekind have partnered with DigDeep, a nonprofit organization working to ensure all Americans have access to running water.
A Texas-based company that sells a variety of hemp-derived products, from smokable hemp flower to CBD-infused gummies to Delta 8 THC vape cartridges, Goodekind committed to donating 12.5% of its profits to DigDeep’s mission to bring running water to poor communities in Appalachia and the Navajo Nation.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to raise $10,000 to $15,000 for DigDeep by the end of the year,” says Flip Croft-Caderao, who co-founded Goodekind with his sister-in-law, Kayla Croft.
Croft-Caderao talked with Marijuana Venture about what it means for the self-funded company to be grounded in advocacy, how his background in digital marketing has positioned the brand for success and how Goodekind is responding to the swirling controversy around products with Delta 8 THC.
Marijuana Venture: What inspired you to use Goodekind as a vehicle for advocacy?
Flip Croft-Caderao: It was a combination of a few things. I’ve always been involved in nonprofits and giving back and volunteering, and Kayla has a passion for human rights, so she wanted to do something that was focused not just on making money, but how we could do something that is actually giving back to the world in a significant, meaningful way.
Consumers choose where to spend their money, and I think we’re seeing a daily shift of regular people re-evaluating what it means to participate in this economy and the world.
MV: How did you narrow down the organization that you would donate money to?
FCC: We knew that we were going to be focused on human rights organizations that are serving people domestically. When we talk about the water issue, there are 2.2 million American citizens that don’t have running water or a working well, here in the richest country in the world. That number is so large.
When we started uncovering a little bit of the American underbelly and realized that there are a lot of people here in our own backyard that are not being taken care of and not even being considered anymore, we realized where we wanted to create change.
MV: You launched Goodekind in 2020. How has business gone over the past year?
FCC: At first, it was first super slow. I mean we were just inching by, selling a few products a week. But that’s kind of the name of the game. I knew it was going to take a while.
We had a good December, for us, with Christmas and the holidays. We hit $4,000 (in sales) in December and then $5,500 in January, and then March and April were record months at $22,000 and $24,000.
I love this stage of any business. It’s like, I’m working my ass off and I’m not making any money, but it’s about the hustle. I’m a salesperson at heart and a marketer at heart, so I still get a rush off of closing deals.
But just being able to create these products and hear the feedback that I’m getting from my customers in real time has been amazing. I’ve never been able to do that as directly as this. I know what my customers are thinking because of the way we interact with them. We really take a personal approach with our marketing emails. Every time customers start a conversation with us, we respond, and I think that builds trust.
MV: How has your background in digital marketing played a role in the company?
FCC: What’s interesting is that I was just coming off of working with these huge, Fortune 500 brands — Anheuser-Busch, Pizza Hut, American Express — all these companies with stupid huge media budgets, where we would pay influencers a couple grand to make one post. All the metrics were okay, but not really trackable. Everything was kind of vanity. I couldn’t tell you we sold more beer specifically because we paid this influencer money or because we ran this campaign.
But when it’s my capital and I have a bank account that’s dwindling, I had to plan accordingly and knew I had to go lean. I couldn’t just rest on my big media relationships or any of my big media strategy. I had to get down and dirty.
I looked at it and said, “What does the lean, mean marketing plan look like?” And how do I prepare myself, as an entrepreneur, to go through a year of low sales, and how do you keep going and keep spending money in the face of that?
MV: What advice would you give to somebody in a similar position with regards to digital marketing?
FCC: I think if you boil down a simple digital marketing plan, I’m doing three things. These are the three things that if you don’t have any money, this is what you invest in.
Number one is search engine optimization. All those keywords are up for grabs. We started optimizing a year ago, and we’re just now seeing results. SEO is the best thousand dollars a month I’ve spent and it’s the biggest thing that’s actually generating a return. On our website, 85% of our traffic is coming from search, so I know it’s working.
The second thing is social media. Everyone says that, but it’s something you can control, especially as a small business owner. Especially in the hemp industry, there are a bunch of mom-and-pops out there just trying to make it, so most of the time, the owners and the decision-makers of that company are running the Instagram account. I can’t even tell you how many retail sales I’ve done over Instagram. I’ve got retailers that send direct messages to Goodekind on Instagram to make their orders for the month. So it’s not just utilizing it from a branding perspective and getting the word out there, but also using it for straight, down-and-dirty sales. I’ve been really surprised by that.
And third, we’ve worked with some influencers, as well. I think it’s a good tactic just because you can’t do paid social media as a cannabis company. Some are awesome to work with, some aren’t. Most of them don’t give a shit, so it’s hard to get them to push a product.
MV: Products with Delta 8 THC have become very controversial. More than a dozen states have banned Delta 8. It seems the debate is just beginning and we’re watching it play out in real time. What’s your take on Delta 8 and how is Goodekind approaching these products?
FCC: This Delta 8 thing is nuts, right?
Our Delta 8 products are our top sellers. We’re getting a lot of feedback from our customers about how it’s affecting them and why they’re using it. Some people are using it for pain. Some people are using it for other ailments. Some people are using it recreationally.
We have a few CBD-focused products that sell well — topicals, flower, concentrates — but nothing like this Delta 8 stuff. An unregulated cannabinoid that gets you high? Yeah, sign me up. In so many ways, the lack of regulation allows businesses to jump in.
When we first started this company, we wanted to be a cannabis company. We actually went into hemp because we had limited capital and there was a lot less red tape. Delta 8 kind of gave us a bridge between hemp and cannabis.
We’re trying to play by the rules, but it’s really, really difficult when they keep changing. I get asked all the time, “Hey, what are you going to do when this stuff gets regulated and they don’t allow you to do it anymore?”
We’re going to work through it. If we weren’t ready to dodge the punches, then we shouldn’t have gotten in the business in the first place.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.