More Americans are going to the route of clean eating and now the cannabis industry is jumping onto the clean and natural train with solventless live concentrates and edibles. äkta, a cannabis extract brand dedicated to authenticity and sustainability, proudly sources Hava Gardens’ living soil-grown flower to make their premium quality hash products.
We had the chance to do an interview with Blair Kralick, Chief Operations of äkta. He discusses his background before working for äkta and healthier solventless live rosin processes for edibles and concentrates. He also talks more about äkta, its history and the R&D process and cultivation for developing its product. Read on below to know more…
Ganjly: What’s your personal cannabis background and what did you do before you worked at äkta?
Blair Kralick: I have been working in the cannabis industry since late 2013, everything from cultivation and retail to wholesale and business development; the last few years I’ve focused on operations management. Prior to joining äkta, I was the Director of Production for FarmaceuticalRX, a medical cannabis company in western Pennsylvania, and before that, I was with Colorado-based Verde Natural and Dablogic for about three years. I also did consulting with companies in the Ohio market.
When was äkta first imagined? How did it come about and what is its mission?
Blair Kralick: äkta was first envisioned in the fall of 2019. I had come out to Colorado to visit Renée Grossman, our CEO, to discuss strategies and look at facilities to see how we could bring this idea to life. The company’s mission is to not only make very high-quality cannabis extract products using a solventless process and time-tested methods for making hash but to truly not cut any corners and run this business with absolute transparency and integrity, which we felt was lacking in our industry. What’s most important to me is that we sought to create a company that values its employees for their hard work and initiative. We wanted to pay above market average for their positions, give them benefits and a comp package that was rare in this space, and allow them a voice in our decision-making as a company.
What makes your products stand out from the other cannabis companies?
Blair Kralick: The simple reason äkta products stand out is that live rosin is unique among cannabis concentrates—there’s no way to hide or mask inferior quality. Because we are deeply committed to traditional hash-making methods that capture the flavor and singular effects of a strain, we simply cannot use subpar cannabis, unlike other manufacturers that buy wholesale trim as cheaply as they can.
What have consumers’ reactions been like so far?
Blair Kralick: We couldn’t have asked for a better reaction to the äkta brand from the customers and stores that carry our live rosin products. It’s fantastic.
Could you describe the R&D process and cultivation for developing your products?
Blair Kralick: The R&D process is a lengthy one for us. We start with concepts for new products, then create a roadmap on how to take an idea and bring it to market in a finished form. We start making very small R&D batches to see how things work and to see how the product will turn out. After a new product has been tested to meet regulatory requirements, we send it to our parent company’s retail division of HighQ dispensaries and get feedback from store staff, as well as our manufacturer of infused products (MIP) division. This whole process is about collecting data to see if this product is right for the market and to see if we are able to create it at scale without losing any quality.
As for the source of the cannabis used in äkta products, all of the flowers we use is cultivated by our sister company, Hava Gardens. At the Hava Gardens greenhouse facility in western Colorado, everything is grown organically in living soil with a carefully maintained natural biome and no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The plants and soil biome are maintained with compost teas made in-house and organic amendments applied to the soil.
What’s the biggest obstacle you face or have overcome as a commercial cannabis hash producer?
Blair Kralick: Producing high-quality products at a commercial scale will always be our biggest challenge in this industry. At äkta, we feel we have figured out the ways of large-scale concentrate production while staying true to the centuries-old traditions of hash making, but we have very exacting quality-control standards that come first; those standards will never be bent or broken.
What do you hope the future holds for both äkta as a company and the cannabis space as a booming new industry?
Blair Kralick: The future is very bright for äkta. We have a lot of exciting things in the works that we can’t share just yet, but ultimately we want to make äkta available in a multitude of legal markets across the country.
We are so young as an industry and it is only going to keep growing and growing. It is very exciting to be in this space and see where it goes. We are just going to buckle up as a company and enjoy the ride.