Co-founder Christina DiPaci says the cannabis producer will soon be expanding its product line to include edibles and topicals.

DiPaci, originally from New York, says she has always been interested in plants. Inspired by this fascination, she moved to California in 2010 with Paradiso Gardens’ other co-founders — Emiliano Acevedo and Zachary Burnham — to begin cultivating cannabis in Humboldt County.

After completing a course at Oaksterdam University, the trio decided to launch a medical marijuana delivery service out of Berkeley in 2013. This was followed by moving their operations to Salinas, where they were able to secure 80,000 square feet of greenhouse space, in 2016.

“Those were good learning years,” DiPaci says of the trio’s early ventures. “They gave us a really good understanding of the brands that were being developed at that time, how the supply chain works, and how to package things and get them to consumers.”

After years of bootstrapping and reinvesting profits into the company, Paradiso Gardens has grown to occupy 210,000 square feet of greenhouse space and produce between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds of cannabis per year. Products include 13 ever-evolving varieties of cannabis flower and an assortment of pre-rolls under the Paradiso and Dovetail brand names.

“We pride ourselves in our strain hunting abilities,” DiPaci continues. “The breeders we work with are constantly trialing new strains and bringing them up to production. We do runs for maybe six to 12 months and then change them out.”

Available throughout the state of California, DiPaci notes that Paradiso Eighths are the company’s best seller. “We have very aggressive quality control measures for those eighths,” she explains. “They’re choice cuts from the farm that are all beautiful buds — there are no smalls in there at all — with color to them. They’re different shades of purple, very crystallite, with really high THC levels.”

Buds that don’t make it into premium eighths or B-grade quarters find their way into pre-rolls or wind up as pre-ground flower. Between the two brands, “We offer different levels so consumers can find the right price point and the right product,” Dipaci says. “We’re very approachable for newcomers but also the connoisseurs because of our thoughtfulness and quality.”

While 2020 was a rough year for companies in many industries thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, DiPaci says that the cannabis industry — and Paradiso Gardens — fared quite well.

“We were considered essential, so we were able to continue all of our operations,” she explains. “And the demand was there. We grew by about 20 percent without taking on more square footage or more licensing or anything like that. Instead, we focused on efficiency. We were able to create that growth by streamlining processes and adding a few machines. We now have potting machines, and we use trim machines and conveyors in our processing warehouse.”

Photos courtesy Emily Eizen and Paradiso Gardens

Challenges: DiPaci says that 2021 saw an oversupply of flower in the market, causing prices to drop. “It’s just more competitive being a cultivator and a brand at this point,” she adds.

Finding the right methods to communicate with consumers is also difficult. “We don’t have any retail licenses,” she explains. “It’s a challenge that we’re taking pretty seriously. We have a bunch of fun marketing ideas to kind of bridge that gap and make it easier for consumers to know about our product, our brand, and weed in general.”

Opportunities: “Our biggest opportunities are upward growth of our brands and product diversification,” says DiPaci. “We’re launching a few more pre-roll SKUs in the spring, and then we’re moving into edibles and topicals. We’re really excited about that.”

Needs: “The entire cannabis industry needs banking services that include access to credit cards, small business loans, and financing options,” DiPaci states.