We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel King and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Ahhh risks. Taking risks has taken me far, but also made me get comfortable with anxiety and fear. I like taking educated risks. Risks that I have a chance at succeeding if I work hard and do things right, but still have a little fear in my mind regarding failure. Thoughtful risks truly are my MO. I thrive on them. I live in the slight discomfort and find motivation from the possibility of it not working out. My culinary journey has been marked by milestone risks. I wanted to go to culinary school for a long time. I thought about it for quite a while. We’re talking years of thinking. Then one day I dropped out of Law School. The following Friday I enrolled in culinary school. The Monday after that, I started school. Everyone close to me couldn’t believe it. It seemed like it was a rash, spur of the moment decision to leave the promise of a Law Career and then just dive straight into student debt for a notoriously low paid/high stress career. But, I had mulled it over and knew that I had to take the leap. Fast forward a few years into being a pastry cook. I was loving my career and succeeding as far as gaining new skills and positions, but was financially struggling to pay rent or get groceries. I needed to get a better paying job. I applied to be the pastry chef of a new restaurant opening downtown. I had heard of the chef and had watched him compete on Top Chef. I was slightly intimidated, but wanted it. I applied and after interviews and tastings, got the job as the Pastry Chef for Searsucker. Was I ready for it? No way. I had no idea what a runaway success the restaurant would be. We were doing 200 covers on a slow night and 550 on an average Friday or Saturday. But you know what? I made it happen. It was a risk that I would fail and I would not let that happen. I worked 14 hour days for months and worked for weeks without days off sometimes. But it was a choice. I was not going to fail because of my own lack of effort. I ended up opening 5 restaurants under the Malarkey group, opening a pastry commissary kitchen, and managing 12 people across different locations. In 2015, I decided I needed another change. I chose to co-found Kaneh Co edibles with some partners that had a cannabis background. This was another risk as I was leaving the restaurant world in which I had flourished, to enter another industry that is still not federally legal. I have learned long the way and forced myself to adapt. But here we are, 2020, successfully still operating in CA, and offering our products in OK and MI. If you are ever on the fence about taking a risk and know you will work as hard as possible to rise to the occasion, I would say take the leap. You will never know unless you try.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Kaneh Co, was not what I envisioned my career nor business to be. We are a luxury, high-volume, cannabis edibles brand and manufacturer. I never considered entering the cannabis space until approached about it in 2014. But, I took the leap. We started out in 2015 with three employees and 10 baked good products. 5 years have passed and we now make around 24 SKUS for Kaneh Company and over 50 more for our contract manufacturing clients. We have around 65 employees and are in 3 states. I’m a pastry chef and always will be, but I have had to wear many hats throughout the growth of our business. I’ve moonlighted as strategic planner, office manager, sales rep, product designer, dishwasher, hiring manager, etc. It has been a bumpy ride. Starting any business is going to be a grueling journey. But I must say that growing a business in an emerging, newly regulated space has been quite the rollercoaster. Sometimes it feels like the wild west. I have overcome hurdles with the help of our amazing team and learning to adapt. I’ve learned that every day will have it’s own challenges and that you really have to roll with the punches and be flexible. While adapting though, there are some key elements of your brand that you need to hold on to and resist compromise.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Covid or no Covid?! I guess my answers would be similar either way. I would show them around Balboa Park, Torrey Pines, and hiking out by Ramona or Julian. We would definitely have to spend time Stand Up Paddle boarding at the bay. I am a big fan of the Trust Restaurant Group, so we would have to go to Trust or Fort Oak for dinner. I would also want to take them to Cowboy Star for a quality, memorable dinner. For a more casual meal or sweetsI would go to Crack Shack, Dumpling Inn, Somi Somi, Azucar. And for cocktails I would go to the bar at Juniper and Ivy or Born and Raised. Realistically, we would also spend an an afternoon drinking rose in my backyard.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My friends and family have loved me, pushed me, and shaped who I am. Resilience, self worth, and drive were all instilled by me from a young age through my parents. My husband has also been a pillar of encouragement and support throughout the 12 years we have been together. Sometimes I feel like I have simply gotten lucky with where life has taken me- he also gives me a reality check that I have worked hard to get where I am today. Culinary wise, I took someone from everyone I worked with. Yves Fournier who was my culinary instructor, Amy Simpson who I worked with at Mister A’s, Jack Fisher who I worked with at Nine-Ten, and Jason Knibb who I worked with at Nine-Ten. For Kaneh Co, my business partner Jesse and COO Nicole both support me in areas that I am not strong at and help fill in our weak spots.
Instagram: kanehcompany or rachelevaking