Learn from CRATIV’s founder Bill “Stitch” Ludlow on how CRATIV Packaging became a premium marijuana packaging supplier, why child-resistant packaging became the focus, and CRATIV’s mission to support and grow the cannabis industry.
What Inspired Me to Develop Child-Resistant Packaging for Cannabis?
On Monday, December 1st, 2014, I arrived in Denver, Colorado, for a temporary work assignment as a Plant Manager at a medical device manufacturing facility in Englewood, Colorado. On Friday, December 5th, I went to my first cannabis dispensary. At that time, I didn’t even know that there were different types of cannabis like Sativa / indica and everything in between. At checkout, the budtender had 3 small ziplock bags for each strain of flower and put them all inside a plastic bottle of which I’d never seen before. It was strange, and I wondered why I’d never seen cannabis packaging like this before. Of course, I soon learned that it was called a “Pop Top” container and was child-resistant as required by Colorado law for marijuana products. I went back to my apartment and started thinking…
How could I support the safe and effective maturation of the cannabis industry? I drew on parallels to all I had learned about operating in the highly regulated industry of medical devices. As I spoke with some individuals with experience in the cannabis industry, I learned that marijuana packaging had been a significant challenge. Colorado has always been a thought leader in regard to cannabis legalization and regulatory control. In the 2013 timeframe, certified child-resistant packaging requirements were introduced into cannabis regulations in Colorado. Most of the certified child-resistant cannabis packaging available at that time was designed for pills. Hence began what will be the most innovative time in history as it relates to the development of child-resistant packaging. You see, there are now all types of new form factors (flower, edibles, vapes, pre-rolls, concentrates, etc.) for which a typical pill bottle does not provide effective branding and retail shelf presence.
Innovation Is In Our Blood
The drive to create child-resistant packaging that’s still easy for adults to open is very similar to a challenge some of my ancestors surmounted.
Travis Sewell Whitsel, also known as “Red,” graduated from Purdue University in 1911 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. His daughter (Ruth Whitsel / Westphal) and her husband Norman E. Westphal also graduated from Purdue University in the early ’30s. Norman got his degree in Chemical Engineering and Ruth in Home Economics. Ruth and Norm were my grandparents. Travis was my great grandfather and established a very successful career selling sewing machines. I remember a story of him waiting in the office of Joseph Haggar (founder of Haggar clothing) for hours in Dallas, TX. Eventually, Red became so angry that he stormed into his office demanding to be seen. Eventually, Travis and Mr. Haggar became long-standing business partners and good friends. In 1940, Haggar created the first pre-cuffed pants. During World War II, the J.M. Haggar company kept factories running 24 hours a day to continuously supply clothing for the U.S. military. By the end of the war, more than 10 million garments had been produced in Haggar factories, and by the end of the decade, Haggar had become the largest producer and marketer of slacks in the world.
Whitsel/Westphal/Ludlow family lore holds that Travis, my great grandfather, was instrumental in working with Mr. Haggar in the development of the feed bag stitch. The stitch has some unique properties. If you understand how it works, the feed bag opens with ease. But if you don’t, it frustrates the hell out of you. Family lore also holds that the stitch was developed for both the Army and the Navy, one of which wanted something easy to open and the other something difficult to open.
Something easy to open yet something difficult to open. Could it be that the development of something new to meet an easy to open / hard to open design challenge was in my blood? A new “Stitch”? I decided to further investigate if a need might exist for child-resistant packaging for the cannabis industry. I journeyed to The Giving Tree Dispensary on 38th Avenue in Denver.
I purchased about $500 worth of marijuana edibles, took them home, measured each piece, and counted the number of pieces in each package. That basic information became my design inputs for size. Other important design inputs were large flat surfaces for regulatory information and branding. Finally, my new cannabis packaging had to pass the child-resistant testing requirements. I researched them thoroughly to understand how to get that done and what the requirements were.
After many hours of brainstorming and business strategy sessions, we settled on an Altoids tin configuration and ended up specifying a size that would fit a full pack of 12 Starburst candies.
I soon realized that the CRATIV OG could be used for so much more and started putting all kinds of stuff in it and brainstorming on what else could fit.
In November of 2015, we kicked off building our first plastic injection mold, and in February of 2016, we passed the child-resistant certification test protocol. We launched CRATIV in a warehouse at the Cultivated Synergy Budtender Appreciation Night in March of 2016.
Why Cannabis Packaging?
Ultimately I founded CRATIV because I believe in the positives of cannabis. I knew that I could use my experience in the regulated medical device industry to help the safe and effective maturation of the cannabis industry. I believe that cannabis truly has medicinal benefits and that we will soon see medical research to prove this (some of which already exists). And I believe that cannabis as a recreational substance has less potential for harm than alcohol. I wanted to lead a company and team to support the end of a prohibition. I am grateful to be alive during a time in history where I can truly make a positive difference for the future of people’s lives when there is so much uncertainty today in many other facets of humanity and planet earth as we know it.
The Giving Tree: A Book that Inspires Our Marijuana Packaging Business
I remember “The Giving Tree” being one of my favorite childhood books that my parents used to read to me. I cannot claim that this all came to me at the time, but find it interesting to draw from it as it relates to the CRATIV’s Platform (what we stand for) – “Environmentally Conscious, Child Safe, and Champions for Cannabis”
Environmentally Conscious – Environmental Interpretation of the Book
Some people believe that the tree represents Mother Nature and the boy represents humanity. The book has been used to teach children environmental ethics. An educational resource for children describes the book as an “allegory about the responsibilities a human being has for living organisms in the environment,” …“some curricula use the book as a what-not-to-do role model.”
CRATIV will be friendly to our environment.
Child Safe – Parent–child interpretations of the Book
A common interpretation of the book is that the tree and the boy have a parent–child relationship.
CRATIV will keep kids safe
Champions for Cannabis – Positive or Negative? – Overall Interpretation of the Book
This book has been described as “one of the most divisive books in children’s literature”; the controversy stems from whether the relationship between the main characters (a boy and the tree) should be interpreted as positive (i.e., the tree gives the boy selfless love) or negative (i.e., the boy and the tree have an abusive relationship).
CRATIV will promote the positive of cannabis
We Listen – We are experts at marijuana packaging, packaging regulations, and packaging solutions for the cannabis industry. We will listen to the needs of our customers.
We Innovate – We were born from innovation. Our innovations are rooted in supporting the cannabis industry. We will strive to always be one step ahead of our competition with new innovative cannabis packaging solutions.
We Partner – We are true partners with our customers, suppliers, distributors, and others to support the success of our businesses together.
We Win Together – If we listen, innovate, and partner…. WE WILL WIN TOGETHER! Win. Win. Win.
Where are we? In 2014 I began to expect to be a part of the cannabis industry. In 2021 we have innovative, premium cannabis packaging solutions to support the industry. Our manufacturing capacity is in place. Our global supply chain is well established in multiple countries! Our mission is defined. We have a solid team in place. We are ready to partner with you to provide sustainable child-resistant packaging solutions.
Where are we going? CRATIV continues to focus on providing child-resistant packaging for our growing industry. Our team of engineers is working hard to identify and implement sustainable materials to make our packaging and accessories from. Our team will continue to get loud in the cannabis space and look to partner with manufacturers to supply sustainable, premium, cannabis packaging.