OUR VALUES & US
The story begins with Shana, and a love of plants, candy, the earth.
Shana was a chocolatier for a few years at our mother-business, Lagusta’s Luscious, and she was just such a joy. Smart and big-hearted and hard working and FUNNY. In time a wanderlust and love of a special plant led her to Denver. We had a goodbye party at the trampoline gym. Shana found a job in the confectionery realm related to this special plant, deepening her skills in both arenas. I missed working with her. Good people are why we exist and when one leaves a big part of my heart always goes with them, too.
When I started hearing about this plant becoming legal here in New York I thought about Shana. Everyone told me we should branch out into the chocolate-special plant business but I wasn’t that interested. But my boyfriend was, and I knew he and Shana would get along well. Good people are why we exist. And I love plants, and the earth, and candy. Why not? I texted Shana. The three of us started writing business plans.
A few months later Shana moved back East, LL’s Marketing Director Ericka miraculously came on board to help with marketing, and here we are. Right now we’re focusing on locally-grown, full-spectrum CBD caramels covered in dark chocolate.
In time we hope to add THC production as well.
Softer Power Sweets is borne of the idea, gleaned from Noam Chomsky, of soft power.
As feminists we’ve been trained to see the world according to power dynamics. But what do we do with power, how do we use it / repudiate it / remake it? How can we reweave the world according to values of tolerance, equality, respect for the earth and its inhabitants?
Soft power to us is about keeping these ideas at the forefront of our consciousness.
We are committed to never losing sight of the fact that our key ingredient is a plant, cannabis, whose misunderstood powers have led to destruction, massive inequality, and the loss of so much. A portion of each purchase goes to Last Prisoner Project, who work to ensure that no one remains incarcerated for cannabis offenses, and we’re continually working to find more ways to move forward using this plant in a more fair and equitable way.
Our other major ingredient, chocolate, has been a site of oppression, racism, environmental degradation and colonialist mentalities for hundreds of years. By using only Republica del Cacao chocolate, we’re proud to be buying Latin American chocolate with the highest ethical and quality standards (it tastes really good, too).Just like over at Lagusta’s Luscious, we’re real concerned with sourcing and packaging as well. We want to buy fair, high-quality ingredients, use eco packaging and everything will always be vegan.It’s been a challenge to stick to our ethics in this new sphere — there’s a lot of talk about “green” in the cannabis world but an awful lot of crappy plastic packaging, non-mission-driven businesses, and low-quality ingredients. I get it! It’s really expensive to do things the way we want to do things, and we’re trying to avoid the luxury market while building a supply chain that’s ethical up and down.We’re still learning, looking forward to using this new baby-biz as a vehicle for good as much as we can, imperfectly, while growing and making mistakes.
This is our work. Follow us on social media to hear more about how we’re juggling it all, and to learn more about our ingredients and our processes.
Social Equity and Company Culture
We believe that we have a responsibility to do a small part to ensure that people from communities unfairly negatively affected by the war on drugs actively benefit from the legal economy.
We expect to begin hiring for outside labor (outside of our four founders) by 2023 or so. We will be actively working with the Ulster County Career Center (run by the Department of Labor) and the NYS CEED (Cannabis Employment, Education, and Development) program to hire formerly incarcerated people as our primary applicant pool.
$1 from every box we sell is donated to the Last Prisoner Project, who work to end incarceration for cannabis offenses.
As part of our commitment to involving as many people as possible in the running of the business, we practice open book finance. All our meetings are open and we make quarterly presentations about our financial health to the entire staff. We pay yearly bonuses and will provide profit-sharing when we have profits.
We want to create a setting in which all employees can positively contribute to the success of our entire organization and where every employee understands the business. Open book finance allows everyone the information they need to work for that success.
Our commitment to fairness and equality means using ingredients we know are sourced equitably and sustainably – our work of determining what these terms mean and what ingredients fit these standards is a constant, long-term practice.
We strive to balance four things:
— Paying a fair wage to employees.
— Using ingredients and products we feel good about (see above).
— Keeping the business profitable by bringing in more than enough money to cover expenses. A profitable business means we can implement more of our values such as increasing employee wages and benefits, donations, sponsorships, mentor programs, etc etc.
— Valuing a social equity commitment and our key values as much as profit.
We work hard to ensure a company culture of safety, respect, and valuing our staff deeply.
Our owners (and eventual managers) practice servant leadership in which we give up control and power in favor of leadership, collaboration, and respect. As Ari Weinzweig says, “Servant Leadership is about the belief that service to the organization is the key to pretty much everything; that when we do it well, we bring out the best in everyone…to really build a great business requires real respect, collaboration, and communication across all lines, initiative from every area, and accountability by everyone.”