Founders of Sonoma County’s Hip Chick Farms start Oregon CBD snacks venture
A fter rocketing to national recognition with their health- and ethics-minded take on nuggets and other frozen chicken items, the founders of Hip Chick Farms have moved out of California and into hemp-infused snacks and a new state of mind.
Jennifer Johnson, 53, and Serafina Palandech, 45, about a year ago sold their controlling interests in the Sebastopol-based company they launched in 2011–2013, and venture capital owners later sold the business to an undisclosed buyer, according to Palandech.
Already having turned over the CEO role to an outside professional hired in May 2018 and moved her family to Oregon, she wrapped her role as president of Hip Chick Farms in February.
Hip Chick Farms was set up as a capital-intensive business because of the certified organic and humanely raised chicken that went into it, Palandech said. That led to over $8 million raised via crowdfunding, small-business loans, microloans, angel investments and two rounds of venture capital, according to her LinkedIn profile.
“I wanted to grow very quickly,” Palandech said. “And we did that, but along with that came the need for to raise a lot of capital to support that very rapid growth.”
Before she left, Hip Chick Farms had grown to be distributed to 18,000 locations in every state, with the biggest sales coming from Kroger stores as well as from the QVC television network, Walmart, Whole Foods Market and Safeway.
Nearly a year ago, after the CEO was hired and a second round of funding was in progress, Johnson, Palandech and their daughter, now 9, moved to a lavender farm they purchased in Boring, Oregon, a southeast suburb of Portland. They went there to be closer to family, especially, Palandech’s mother, she said.
Then came the sale of Hip Chick Farms.
“That wasn’t expected, but that’s what happened,” Palandech said, declining to elaborate because of a nondisclosure agreement. “And so then I was like, ‘What do we do now?’”
Their new home provided fertile soil for the couple’s new venture: A Boring Life, which in July launched its first snacks.
Each is infused with with 25 milligrams of hemp extract per pack and a peppermint-flavored tincture with 1,000 milligrams per dose. The first three snacks are sweet and spicy walnuts, dark chocolate and sea salt almonds, and roasted almonds with lavender. The packs retail for $7.99 each, and the tincture $50.
The key component of the hemp extract is cannabidol, or CBD, a nonhallucinogenic compound from cannabis plants such as hemp and marijuana that has become a popular product additive for medicinal purposes.
Hemp is high in CBD and has negligible THC, the main cannabis compound sought for its psychoactive qualities. Marijuana commonly is high in THC.
The brand name plays on the town’s oft-self-mocked moniker and on their desire to downshift from the anxiety of the last venture.
“I was honestly bored,” Palandech said. “I’m at heart an entrepreneur, and I really didn’t know what to do with myself.”
She began to explore the reasons why she couldn’t enjoy the quiet, and that led her to read articles on the connection between boredom and inspiration, between monotony and innovation.