CMA Member Spotlight: Lilli Keinaenen,
Sustainable Branding and
Packaging Designer, Changemaker Creative
What is the nature of your day-to-day job?
Working with cannabis companies with a soul – helping them discover their brand story so they can attract a cult following of customers. Day to day, I am coming up with big ideas, sketching logos, designing and ordering sustainably minded packaging solutions for product brands.
What brought you to the cannabis industry?
Just sheer luck. I had been working with environmental and social justice nonprofit organizations for a decade, and was ready for something new. An opportunity to jump onto a new challenge came when a former colleague called me in 2016 and told me she had been to a new event called New West Summit and that we should start working in branding cannabis. Without a second thought, I said yes, and jumped in both feet. Did my due diligence, learned everything I could about the industry, the plant, the science, and the people. And here I am.
What do you bring to the cannabis marketing community?
I’ve run my own business for so long, that I can do a bit of everything. I feel like that is such a useful thing for the cannabis industry, with a varying level of budgets and resources with the range of cannabis clients we all work with. I love coming up with messaging and dream up big ideas for small companies, and to really connect with the consumer.
What do you want your peers to know about you?
I’m a big nerd at heart, so my background working with sustainable product brands and environmental conservation comes in handy in this moment in time – cannabis is uniquely positioned between being a luxury consumer product, and also has the power of bringing some real change. My goal in life is to be the “sustainable packaging expert” for cannabis. Sustainability is such a big buzzword, but most find it so confusing. Apathy is not an option, so my goal is to educate and inspire people, and companies, to make better choices – choices, that don’t need to be difficult.
Tell us a bit about your personal relationship with cannabis. How do you use it?
I’m a late bloomer. Tried cannabis in college, absolutely hated how it made me feel, my baby lungs coughed up weed phlegm and had a sore throat every time. So I thought it wasn’t for me. Then after moving to California rediscovered cannabis, and realized the immense healing powers, and how many different ways of consumption there were. Cannabis makes me a better human. I’m just nicer, calmer, more creative, and just… happier.
How has your job changed since cannabis was deemed essential? What does cannabis being deemed essential mean to you?
The continuing wave of legalization in the USA, and the essential status both gave the final stamp of complete legitimacy. I’m so proud to be part of this community. Additionally, working on the uphill challenge of cannabis decriminalization in my native Finland reminds me how far we’ve come in the USA. Public opinion in Finland is still Just Say No era – where only hoodlums use cannabis, and that it’s seen as a gateway drug to ruin. Work remains. But we’ve come so far.
Why did you join CMA?
I’ve been a CMA member from the very beginning. It’s been a great ride, been so happy growing alongside CMA and Lisa’s amazing work.
What is your favorite part of being a CMA member?
The educational content is stellar. I’m more of a designer than a marketer, but the webinars are so useful, I’m constantly learning more.
CMA’s mission is to bring a positive perception to, and authentic understanding of, cannabis and its consumers around the world. How are you working to bring a positive perception to cannabis and its consumers?
Cannabis is for everyone. It’s both a consumer product, and can be totally part of everyday life. But it’s additionally also a special occasion treat. I want to work on my end to create brands that people can feel speak to them and that can connect with consumers of all ages and needs. Cannabis is great. We’re ending the stigma.
Connect with Lilli Keinaenen on LinkedIn!
To read more member content, view CMA’s Blog here.