Little Saints recently celebrated their one year anniversary. Since launching at the Movement Music Festival in Detroit last May, the brand has expanded into California, Illinois, and, just last week, New York. It comes as no surprise that Little Saints is thriving; the beverage and edibles brand has a stylish look, thoughtfully healthful formulas, and a charismatic founder, Megan Klein, whose playful aesthetic and passion for plant medicine make her formulas stand out.
In addition to launching with RNDC distributors and announcing an equity partnership with BPCM Cannabis, Little Saints will debut two new mocktails this summer: Spicy Margarita and Mimosa. Both drinks are sweetened with low calorie monk fruit and contain reishi mushroom extract, vegetable-based color, sparkling water, and fast-acting CBD. Klein plans to launch THC gummies in New York next year.
For Klein, founding a cannabis brand was an organic decision that stemmed from her professional and personal trajectories. She smoked weed in high school but had some bad experiences with edibles in college and didn’t get back into it again until her 30s when she began using it to treat gastritis and other stomach issues. By then she’d launched a successful plant-based foods company, Field + Farmer, and had plenty of experience in product development and brand building. To learn a little more about how she applies her grocery CPG background to cannabis, we asked Klein our five key questions.
How did you get the idea for Little Saints?
MK: Like everyone, I was drinking way too much when COVID hit, and I didn’t want to do that. So I looked around to see what was out there. And I’m a big label reader, right? I went to the dispensary and I was looking at all the gummies,and I was like, “Oh my gosh…First of all, they’re all too high of a dose for me–they’re all ten milligrams at least. And second of all, they’re all corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.” I didn’t want to eat any of that. I remember I got some blueberry gummies and I woke up the next day with a blue tongue and I was like, “This is so gross!”
So I had the idea to create a functional wellness gummy with some THC in it. I knew I wanted to create something that was a microdose that had added benefits, with a nod to fashionable cocktail culture.
There’s this beautiful book called The Rebel’s Apothecary. It’s written by a medical professional [Jenny Sansouci] in New York. And she talks about how we can all use cannabis, whether it’s THC or CBD, and mushrooms—psychedelic and non psychedelics—together to have a really great effect on our health, and our focus, and on our consciousness. And so that’s kind of what I do all the time. I had been using microdoses of cannabis and I have all these mushroom potions that I put in my coffee and I really wanted to bring those together in a cannabis product. And there was nothing like that out there.
How did you develop your brand’s distinct aesthetic?
The original intention for Little Saints was simple – we wanted to create a cannabis brand that was chic, feminine, and cool, with a bit of irreverent nod toward religion (our religion is plant spirituality). I knew that I wanted to use mint because of its positive emotional associations.
The branding process was a collaborative effort between not only me and my designer, but also hundreds of people in their 30s and 40s who were not cannabis users at the time. (Many of them were part of my Kellogg MBA class.) We did three rounds of brand updates, and we sent out surveys to our network with each iteration. For example, I wanted terpene fairies to be a part of the logo, but the surveys showed us that the crest resonated with more people.
How does your background inform your work as the founder of Little Saints?
MK: My whole life I’ve been really passionate about sourcing ingredients consciously in a way that takes into account their effect on the environment and the ingredients’ effect on our health, and really trying to be a part of a holistic supply chain.
With Field + Farmer, we were special because we were the first CPG company to take local produce ingredients and put them into a packaged product.
I’ll give you an example. Take an Italian salad dressing with basil in it — most companies are sourcing frozen basil from, like, wherever. But we wanted to cut out the miles and support local communities. So we sourced our basil from farmers that we knew and trusted in Momence, Illinois, which was only an hour and a half away. And then we spent the last eight or nine years really focusing on having a transparent, authentic sustainable supply chain for ingredients and then using them in a way that creates the cleanest and most effective formula possible.
In my old life as a food and beverage founder, we were always trying to push the limits to create the cleanest product possible. So I took all that passion for really sustainable sourcing and really clean label food formulation and brought that over to the cannabis world.
How did you go about the formulation process?
MK: I knew that I wanted this to be all natural flavor extract, with the lowest sugar possible, no GMO ingredients, plant-based, and with reishi mushroom extract. And I wanted them to be fast-acting. And that was a lot. I tried a couple of formulators and everyone had no idea what the heck I was talking about. And then I found this super brilliant food scientist who specializes in adaptogens. On the gummy front, it took a lot of trial and error to get the formula right because we formulated with a nano THC emulsion. It’s like a liquid, you know, and trying to get that to be a good texture in gummy form—it was hard. So lots and lots of back and forth with my food scientist is the short answer.
What achievement are you most proud of?
MK: I just love every Instagram message I get. I screenshot them all and I keep them. When people are like, “I’m so happy, I’ve been trying not to drink and I’ve tried your CBD mocktail and I’m hooked. And now I’ve been drinking these every night and I haven’t been having wine.” Every time I get that, I’m just like, “Oh, this is all worth it.”