Cannabis wasn’t an industry where Lilli Keinaenen expected to land. But she likes to refer to it as a “happy accident.”

Having previously designed packaging for sustainable consumer products and environmental and social justice nonprofits, Keinaenen, a designer with over 20 years of experience, found herself drawn to the California cannabis market in 2016.

Her passion for sustainability combined with her skills created the opportunity for a unique niche market. This is where her business has flourished as she is now the founder of the creative agency Changemaker Creative.

But designing packaging isn’t as simple as some may think. Before any creating begins, Keinaenen first discusses ideas and details with her clients.

“There’s lots of researching, talking, and thinking that goes into the product before you start designing,” she says. When working with her clients, Keinaenen emphasizes figuring out who the ‘target audience’ is in order to establish a customer persona.

Details about “where they shop, what kind of things they like, what they do in their free time” are reminders that at the end of the day, the product being designed is for a real person. Therefore it’s important that the design stands out from other competitors.

Lilli Keinaenen
Brand Designer
Changemaker Creative

One way to achieve this is by getting consumers curious about the product they are seeing, which is generally their first interaction. 

This is especially true for smaller companies, who Keinaenen tends to work with. “An enticing package gets the customer curious enough to try it – what’s inside, and the company story, is what brings them back for more,” she explains.  

With so many different packages available on market shelves, brands wanting to stand out can do so through more ethical and sustainable methods like Keinaenen offers. Nowadays, cause-driven marketing resonates with many consumers, especially younger groups, who are willing to pay more for these types of products. 

Now a co-owner of Green Bee Botanicals as Chief Creative Officer, Keinaenen lends her passion and skills for sustainable cannabis packaging to a company that values clean and safe cannabis-infused beauty products. 

She works with a team that is “women-owned, women-operated, and mostly women-funded.” While companies like this in a predominantly male industry are powerful to see, they are becoming few and far between.

Because funding is such a core component of thriving in the cannabis market, many women struggling to get capital and loans for businesses are finding themselves pushed out of the industry. 

But Keinaenen’s hope is for a shift that sees women passionate about cannabis back at the forefront. “I’d love to see people who are in it for the love of the plant thrive.”

Keinaenen’s advice?

“It’s not all fun and games. Learn about cannabis and appreciate it!”

Jessica Gorman

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