Welcome to Intriguing People 2018, our annual celebration of Las Vegas’ cultural trailblazers and social trendsetters. See more from this year’s series here.
In order to succeed in the fast-paced world of business, relentless energy is essential. And for Krista Whitley, a Las Vegas local and founder of several national cannabis brands, she has no problem keeping up.
“I was always the kid who walked fast, talked fast and thought fast—always. [But] what has always been the struggle for me is I thought I stuck out like a sore thumb,” Whitley says. “What’s been really nice about this industry … is, I feel like I’ve found other little misfits that are just like me. We would rather be moving forward than standing still.”
Not only is she sprinting full-speed, she’s helping shape the cannabis landscape. Starting before legalized recreational marijuana touched down in Nevada, her cannabis-focused marketing and advertising agency, Social Media Unicorn, was molding companies such as Jardín (the dispensary, not the restaurant) and Tahoe Hydro into recognizable names. As she leveraged her knowledge and formed strategic partnerships, she was able to put together her pet project, The Weekend Box. The aggregated tool kit features a curated collection of cannabis products—prerolls, flower, infused chocolate bars, a “munchie coupon” to a local restaurant and more—all packaged together to cater to the overwhelming tourist presence in Las Vegas. But that’s just the beginning.
The high-energy mogul, who has become a go-to for both knowledge and collaboration in the burgeoning Nevada cannabis market, has her hand in everything, and her brand continues to grow each month. The Weekend Box launched in July of 2017 and now comes in three types: the standard box, the premium Caviar Gold box and the wellness-focused CBD Box. The items are housed under the Altitude Products umbrella, which also has Whitley at the helm.
Although Whitley may be the queen of cannabis now, that wasn’t always the case. A bad car accident and an aversion to the prescribed opioids helped her realize the plant’s potential.
“I come from a small town in Washington state. I s an active prohibitionist for 30 years. I was a ‘just say no’ girl. I had never tried cannabis and I always thought I’d become a hippy if I tried [it]. I really believed those stereotypes,” she says.But once a friend offered her a joint to help her with sleep, her views changed. “I smoked the joint she gave me and had the best night’s sleep of my life.”
Cannabis’ healthful benefits also inspired a completely different set of products. When her daughter, Bella, struggled with eczema, she created a skin care line mixing natural ingredients with hemp-derived CBD to help treat the condition. Using her muse as the namesake, Bella is now available nationwide.
“I never really believed in work/life balance. For me it’s always been about work/life immersion. My kids and family are really involved in everything I do,” Whitley says.
And as the family business grows, so does their bond. “I try to be out of the office by 2 o’clock every day so I can be home when my girls get out of school. Then it’s off to jiu jitsu—they’re little girl badasses,” she says with a contagious laugh.
Whitley is looking toward a great year. Two new, tailored brands are heading to market in March, each catering to a different demographic. Jack is aimed at the discerning gentleman (or lady) with a collection that includes a CBD-infused lube, while Arthur & Celesto is a British-inspired brand with single-use products for the concertgoer, such as edibles and disposable vapes.
It’s still go, go, go in Whitley’s world, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for self-improvement.
“I’m chatty, I like to talk. [But] I think every day as a leader I’m learning to listen more,” she says. “I would hope someday they’ll say instead of a great speaker that I’m a great listener.”