Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

At Leaf411, we love sharing our supporting members’ stories. We really do believe that our members are the best in the cannabis industry, and hope that you’ll consider supporting them when shopping.

The Stillwater Ripple brand was inspired by one of the co-founder’s grandmothers who was looking for alternatives to help with pain, but was scared by the available options at the time

From that need, Ripple was born. Ripple is a water-soluble, dissolvable powder that can be added to beverages or foods, providing a consistent, easily-adjusted dose of cannabis compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as cannabidiol (CBD).

Headshot of Coree Schmitz smiling, wearing glasses and a green dress shirt

We recently chatted via Zoom with Coree Schmitz, General Manager, about what makes Ripple products different, new products they’re rolling out, and how they’re maintaining safe operations during COVID-19. Nikki Kujawski, Senior Brand Manager, also tagged along virtually.

But before we got into the specifics of Coree’s work at Ripple, we couldn’t resist asking about one particular past job on her resume—cheesemonger!

From Startups to Cheesemonger to Cannabis

We’re always impressed by past experiences that people bring to their roles in cannabis, and Coree is no exception. 

“I had joined the startup community, and unfortunately the company I worked at went under. I was just like everybody else. You wallow in self-pity for about 24 hours, and then you realize that time is one of the better gifts you can ever have,” Coree said about the opportunity the layoff provided.

Peering inside a well-stocked cheese shop with various cheese wheels and signs showing cheese name and price.

“I literally showed up at the cheese shop closest to my house in Denver and said ‘I want to learn how to be a cheesemonger. Will you let me come in here and do this?’”

“I worked at the cheese shop for four to five days a week for about six months while I was job searching. Most damn fun I’ve ever had working. I mean cannabis is really fun. But slinging cheese is a great career path if you can make it work,” she said.

“I still buy from that cheese shop every week. Right now, everybody’s worried about their local small businesses and making sure that those small businesses are still supported. And so I decided to start doing a ‘Cheeses of Quarantine’ social media push. I’ve spent way more time in quarantine talking about cheese than almost anything else,” Coree said, laughing.

Solo kayaker navigating rapids, representing the effort and skill needed to navigate the cannabis industry.

Navigating the Rapidly Changing Cannabis Industry

It was Coree’s experience in the startup community, though, that has translated to success in the cannabis industry.

“Being able to keep your head in times of chaos and prioritize what the business needs in order to succeed is really beneficial. We all know that cannabis is very typical of a startup industry. But because it is cannabis, there are quickly moving changes in legislation and expansions. My background prepared me to be able to pivot very quickly, communicate quickly to the team on what we need to be successful, and prioritize those things to make sure we’re keeping up with the market and growing.”

Maintaining a Steady Hand During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The typical chaos of working in an evolving industry like cannabis is magnified by the current uncertainties brought about by COVID-19. We asked Coree how the pandemic-related restrictions were impacting operations at Ripple.

“Literally every industry has been shaken down to their core operations, asking how we are going to stay successful while also keeping everybody safe. The safety of your employees and your consumers are forever number one and always paramount. As an essential business, we’re very fortunate that we were given the opportunity to follow the guidelines issued by the CDC, the WHO and the governor, and still allow people to come to work,” Coree said.

She went on to describe precautions that Stillwater Ripple has put in place, including requiring employees who are able to work remotely to do so, along with six foot social distancing, masks and other operational changes to keep employees safe.

“What I am most proud of from the company founders is that we voluntarily opted to offer catastrophe pay to our hourly team. It can be a challenging decision whether or not to come in and make your hourly rate or stay home when you’re ill. We really wanted to make sure that our team members, regardless of their position, were empowered to stay home if they felt like they had symptoms or even if they were worried they had been exposed even at second and third levels. Or if their kiddos were at home and there wasn’t a childcare option. We made sure that people were financially sound enough that they could stay home. That’s been one of our biggest modifications of our regular process,” Coree said.

Hands covered by disposable blue nitrile gloves making a heart, in recognition of cannabis essential workers during COVID-19

Acknowledging Ripple’s Essential Workers

Many of our Leaf411 supporting members talk about their employees like family, and Ripple is no different. 

In fact, Ripple has been running an uplifting “Ripple Hero” series mixed in with their regular posts on Facebook and Instagram featuring staff from the production side of Ripple’s operations. If you’ve ever been curious about the types of people who work in the cannabis industry, it’s worth checking out. 

During our interview, Coree shared that, “Like any industry, right now our staff are nervous. They’re nervous about the economic impact of jobs lost. They’re nervous about the economic impact on small businesses. The best we can do is meet people where they’re at and share our plan for keeping our team employed. At this time, we see no reason why we would need to lay off or furlough any of our employees. It’s very important to us that we keep everybody safe. It’s also very important to us that we provide a right to livelihood.”

What Makes Ripple Cannabis Products Different

When we asked Coree what makes Ripple different, product consistency, dependability and versatility were all at the top of her mind.

“I’m never going to be the person who tells you how cannabis is going to affect you. But what I can tell you is you can count on Stillwater to give you that same experience every time.” 

Coree explained that when it comes to pharmaceuticals, beverages or other products, people expect a consistent experience. This expectation drives Ripple products as well.

“We want to offer the same level of consistency and dependability within the cannabis space. We believe that’s what really truly differentiates us,” she said.

While many cannabis edible products on the market are developed to be the stars of their own show (think chocolates, gummies and beverages), Ripple’s main product is a water-soluble powder that can easily be added to foods and beverages. Ripple is designed to absorb very quickly, with effects felt within 15 to 30 minutes.

“Since the beginning, both consistency and testing of our own assumptions have been core to what made this company special and what keeps us pushing forward to offer what we believe is the most versatile product that you can get on the edibles market,” Coree said.

Coree explained that, “Our products allow consumers to incorporate cannabis into their daily routine in the way that they want at the dose that they want.”

“We were one of the first companies to offer microdosing somewhat before microdosing was a term or concept,” Coree said.

Microdosing is based on emerging cannabis research showing that often people need only a very small dose of THC (less than 5 mg) to gain needed benefits or relief. Dr. Dave Gordon talked about the benefits of starting with a low dose in his interview with Leaf411 last year. Our Leaf Library also has an entire section dedicated to microdosing at this link.

Ripple products: Relief high-CBD with a green label; Pure THC-only with a blue label; and Balanced 1:1 ratio with a purple label

Coree said, “From the beginning of Ripple, there have been multiple doses so people can choose their right dose. For some people, a 10 milligram dose is a casual dose that they use to go to bed. For other people like me, 10 milligrams is going to make me incapable of doing whatever else I was going to do that day. Our product’s versatility allows people to have the dosages to use appropriately.”

“Also, Ripple is a water-soluble, relatively tasteless, odorless powder. We’ve heard from people who pour it straight on their tongue all the way up to people who make precisely dosed muffins with it. We heard from people who make their own mocktails with it. We have people who mix our Ripple Relief, which is almost all CBD, into their coffee in the morning,” she said.

“You don’t have to have bongwater-flavored coffee to incorporate cannabis into your routine. You can have regular coffee that you put a little bit of water-soluble powder in, the same as you would put your collagen in or whatever else makes up your morning routine,” Coree explained.

Cannabis Innovation: Ripple’s New QuickSticks

“We had a lot of consumer feedback that people were just dropping Ripple on their tongues because it was the easiest way to use it. We really wanted to make a product that would be easier for folks,” Coree said.

“Our new QuickSticks are made with Ripple but consist of a dissolvable that you drop directly on your tongue. Ripple is already a fast-acting product, but this will probably be the quickest acting product that’s going to be on the market. It’s water soluble, which means that you’re going to feel the effects a lot quicker,” Coree said.

Ripple QuickSticks: Blueberry Pom flavored Pure; Gingerberry flavored Balanced 1:1 ratio; and Mint Chocolate flavored high-CBD Relief

Coree described the three different QuickSticks flavors that Ripple is rolling out: Pure (the THC product) will be available in blueberry pom; the 1:1 THC:CBD Balance in gingerberry; and the CBD-dominant Relief in chocolate mint.

“We are hoping to soft launch the new products around May. We’ll be leaning on a lot of online tools during the launch as well. It’s challenging us to really switch gears and think outside the box,” Coree said.

Hands holding phone and laptop showing different online cannabis education options--webinar, eLearning, online education

Providing Online Cannabis Consumer and Budtender Education

COVID-19 restrictions have made existing in-person education strategies difficult, if not outright impossible.

Ripple is adapting to the new landscape by transitioning online training options, since their company representatives can no longer meet with budtenders in person to share product information. 

Coree also talked about the value that their partnership with Leaf411 provides, especially when it comes to consumer questions.

“At Ripple, what we’re trying to do is provide the information we feel qualified to provide and to also point people towards sources of information that we believe to be true. We have partnerships with people like Leaf411 where we will always point medical questions. In no universe, will I ever answer a medical question because I don’t believe myself to be qualified to do so,” she said.

You can check out an example of Ripple’s new education initiative at this link, which features product information, budtender insights and even our own Leaf411 CEO Katherine Golden, RN

Two hands holding paper with word “Community” reflecting how the cannabis community is working together

How Cannabis is Different: Supporting Others Across the Industry

Recently, Stillwater Ripple hosted a “Cannabis Safety During Corona” featuring Leaf411 CEO Katherine Golden, RN, along with Shannon Fender, Director of Public Affairs at Native Roots; Bob Eschino, Co-Founder and President of Medically Correct; and Nikki Kujawski, Senior Brand Manager of Ripple.

Nikki, who played a lead role in the webinar, was hanging out during our Zoom interview with Coree.

As we talked about the webinar, Nikki noted that, “Cannabis is an industry that’s always been different. Historically, Ripple and Medically Correct’s incredibles brand would be competitors. But we’re both over the moon about working together. We’ve been able to make sure everyone is supporting each other right now. I’m really excited to see how companies are stepping up and showing people that they matter.”

Green neon cross outside of a medical marijuana dispensary, indicating that cannabis is an essential need and is open for business.

Cannabis as an Essential Business in Colorado and Beyond

Colorado, like most other states with legal cannabis, deemed both medical and adult-use (recreational) dispensaries as essential businesses that were allowed to remain open during stay at home restrictions.

However, at first the City of Denver said that adult-use dispensaries and liquor stores would not qualify as essential, prompting three hours of panic-buying before Denver’s mayor reversed course.

Looking back on that day, Coree said, “When Denver County attempted to delineate medical versus recreational, consumers did a very clear job of communicating how they feel about cannabis. Cannabis is very much considered a critical and essential piece of people’s daily lives. For those that maybe don’t understand cannabis as well, perhaps they will realize that there are a fair amount of medical patients that still shop recreational dispensaries which have different products.”

There’s also a belief that the cannabis industry in Colorado is primarily tourist-driven, though the recent travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders are proving a strong local market exists as well.

“I’m optimistic that we will be able to show how many local consumers we have—that cannabis isn’t just a tourism industry in Colorado. There is not any tourism happening right now, which means the cannabis industry will have a chance to really speak to the strength of the local market,” Coree said.

Hand holding smart phone with dialog bubbles coming out representing Leaf411’s online chat option.

The Need for Cannabis Consumer Education Continues

Many manufacturers, dispensaries and CBD hemp retailers are rolling out online education via webinars, eLearning modules or even online chats. At Leaf411, we’re encouraged to see these companies recognize that product education is an important part of the overall customer experience.

However, very few–if any–of those resources have the clinical training to answer your specific health questions about cannabis. 

Our fully-licensed Leaf411 hotline nurses do have that training! Our non-profit hotline provides free information and guidance on using CBD hemp and legal marijuana for wellness and relief. Whether you are concerned about potential medication interactions with cannabis, or just wondering where to start, we can help. 

Call 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) at no cost to have your questions answered by one of our fully-licensed RNs. We’re also available via online chat. Look for the chat feature on the bottom of our website home page.

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.