Food+Travel

Inside California's leading pot chocolate factory - Kiva Confections

October 9, 2017

It's the American dream: start a business in your home kitchen and grow it to become a leader in the Golden State.

Today, Kiva Confections co-founder Kristi Knoblich Palmer and husband Scott Palmer are living that dream. She says has 'pinch me' moments "like 150 times a day."

"I haven't slept in eight years," said Knoblich who studied photography at the now-closed Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara where she met her now-husband.

Founded in 2010 in Knoblich's childhood San Leandro home, the 85-employee Kiva now handcrafts 15,000 cannabis-infused chocolate units per day in their factory in Oakland, California to serve roughly 1,000 retail outlets across California. Kiva has also licensed its intellectual property to offshoot Kiva companies in Arizona, Nevada and Illinois.

With modern legal marijuana regulations, Kiva's journey cannot be replicated.

"It's both good and bad. It's unfortunate you need millions and millions [of dollars] to get started, but it's a good thing to get product safety standards and people operating above board," Knoblich said.

Growth has been so torrid, Kiva has run out of space. And due to high local taxes in Oakland, Kiva has also begun looking to relocate for recreational sales.