All photos courtesy of House of Puff
There's a certain breed of stylish, sophisticated, upwardly mobile woman — the type of girl who's a regular at Sephora and hits Equinox twice a week and occasionally drops $300 at a sample sale because she believes in treating herself — that the cannabis world has, until recently, kind of ignored. Maybe it's because people assume she and her high-achieving, high-heeled sisters don't smoke, or if they do, it's just socially. Maybe it's because cannabis is still, like so many areas of culture, largely male-dominated and thus sometimes blind to the needs and desires of women. Whatever the reason, entrepreneur Kristina Adduci is determined to bridge the gap between these women and weed with House of Puff, a New York-based company specializing in discreet, decidedly-feminine smoking accessories.
House of Puff's signature product, the Lit Kit — a cheeky play on Kylie Jenner's ubiquitous Lip Kit — launched earlier this month and contains an artist-designed ceramic one-hitter, rolling papers, matches, crutches, a pocket-sized silicone herb container, and a custom-blended candle made using local materials. The accessories come in a carrying case about the size of a makeup bag that says "High Functioning" on the outside — a jab, Adduci says, at those who still equate 'pot smoker' with 'shiftless burnout.'
Adduci, who is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the arts and culture publication Art Zealous, began smoking weed in adulthood to treat her anxiety. While she loved the chill it gave her after a long day at the office, she was less than impressed with the offerings when it came to paraphernalia. To be fair, she's hardly alone in her complaint that the majority of smoking accessories are weirdly phallic, of poor quality, or are just plain ugly. House of Puff has competitors like Sweetflag, another female-owned outfit touting accoutrements attractive enough to double as coffee table decor, as well as Jane West, Hmblt, Tera, and Huxton — not to mention the number of independent artisans hawking their high-quality weed wares through sites like Etsy.
But Adduci saw a hole in the market for a pretty, giftable, all-in-one experience that would fit the needs of newbie and experienced smokers alike. Despite the fact that she has no prior experience in the cannabis biz, she decided to go for it, relying on art world connections, her own research, and occasionally just some good old fashioned trial-and-error. For example, convinced she could save money by crafting her own candles for the kits, she ordered some essential oils and took a candle-making seminar before realizing that some things — like the ones that can potentially result in an apartment fire — are best left to the professionals.
Customers in House of Puff's target demographic are likely to notice that the brand shares the same pastel-hued, vaguely-minimalist aesthetic as beloved millennial-helmed beauty brand Glossier, another company that also launched with a highly-edited, highly-stylized selection of products. At $79, the Lit Kit is the kind of thing a girl can envision sending to her cool mom after she expresses an interest in checking out the new dispensary in town, or that a bride might pass out to her bridesmaids during a bachelorette party. It's currently House of Puff's sole offering, and Adduci says she wants to work on marketing it before adding anything else to the brand's offerings. Down the line, however, Adduci says she may tap some of the artists in her circle to create limited-edition pieces, like matchbooks, for the line. After all, every girl's gotta start her art collection somewhere. MERRY JANE caught up with Adduci to learn more about the Lit Kit and why female-focused cannabis experiences are so important.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity
Above, Kristina Adduci, founder of House of Puff
MERRY JANE: What inspired you to start House of Puff?
Kristina Adduci: I started House of Puff out of necessity. I've suffered from a diagnosed anxiety disorder for most of my life, and was tired of the pharmaceuticals I was prescribed. A friend suggested I try smoking cannabis and I've never looked back. The problem at the time was that the things I was smoking out of were quite masculine and unappealing to me. I realized there was a lack of options for females and because of my background in the arts, I really appreciate beautiful objects and simple design. I ordered a bunch of pipes from different sites, and I still wasn't happy with the products, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and create it.
I knew I wanted to create a kit, an introductory set for both seasoned consumer and the novice, both who may not want to be a part of that traditional stoner culture. We created custom pink rolling papers and a small carrying case for women on the go who want to throw their cannabis accessories in their bag. Each Lit Kit comes with instructions on how to roll a joint and how to use our Le Pipe. We want to make it super easy for everyone, especially if it's their first time.
How did you go about finding the artisans to work with to make the products in the kit?
I looked towards my friends in the arts to see if they knew any porcelain artists. After going through a handful, I decided to work with a talented female ceramicist based in Maine and she understood my vision. I wanted a small pink pipe that could fit in my back pocket or handbag. I also wanted something that if you left it on the kitchen table, people would wonder if it was a pipe or a design piece.
The last step of this was creating a candle. The candle was a crucial piece of the puzzle because it brought everything together. It was part of my own ritual and wellness routine, and I knew that women would appreciate that, in particular. I tried to be a candle maker and figured, I can do this. I order 50-plus essential oils of all the scents me and my friends loved. I bought every type of wax, wick, you name it. I even took a candle class in Brooklyn. Turns out, making candles is extremely arduous. I have a whole new appreciation for candle makers; they're basically scientists. I actually almost set my apartment on fire!
I went to meet my husband at the Blind Barber, where he gets his haircut. I remember walking in and thinking "what is that incredible smell?!" I bought it, took it home and turned over the candle to read Joya. I was on a mission to find out who they were and if they could help me. They've worked with Kith, Cool Hunting, and Thomas Keller so I knew they had perfected the art of custom candles. After months of testing and coming up with scents, the High Tide candle was born.
How would you describe your ultimate imaginary customer — the type of person you envision connecting with House of Puff?
The idea for House of Puff was inspired by me and the women I know. We're not stoners. We're career-focused innovators, CEOs, creators, and explorers. We appreciate beautiful, modern, feminine pieces. Our ultimate customer believes in wellness rituals. Whether it's taking a hot bath or rolling a joint after a long day of work, they believe in self-care and self-awareness, and cannabis can be a tool for that. They are women who are hard working and smart that don't fit the stoner stereotype. They will use our products to disconnect, sleep, cure anxiety, or go out with friends and have meaningful, productive conversations. That, to me, is the ultimate House of Puff customer.
Why do you think it's important to have female-focused experiences out there around something like pot, which a lot of women obviously partake in but also has a sort of masculine energy surrounding it?
For me, it almost felt exclusionary. I'll never forget a time when I was out at an event, and a group of men were outside smoking. I knew one of them, so I approached them and asked what strain they were smoking. The answer I got will stay with me forever: "You're a chick, you wouldn't know the difference."
I was floored. It was as though cannabis was something women weren't partaking in. I think there are stereotypical cannabis clichés and a traditional stoner culture that has, for the most part, been geared towards men. There are few products marketed and branded towards women. We're just starting to see brands take note and include women in the modern cannabis narrative. It's paramount to us that women feel comfortable talking about their cannabis use. We hope they find our products not only easy to use, but also consider them a stepping stone into having an open dialogue [about cannabis] with those around them.
In terms of your experience as the creator of this brand, what kind of story are you trying to tell?
The story of women, or anyone for that matter, who can be successful, focused, and strong — and also use cannabis. I was tired of letting other people decide what it meant to be a woman who smokes. The story of House of Puff starts with stylish women who wanted more options. I spoke to women that I admired to create a brand that celebrates and facilitates positive conversations that help destigmatize the cannabis industry. I created something that I wanted to use and knew other people might be interested in the same. Women view smoking as an opportunity to enhance their lifestyle; they have more going on than just smoking cannabis. We're getting shit done.
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