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Etain

Painless packaging for a female-owned cannabis company.

Founded in 2015 in Upstate New York, Etain produces carefully formulated CBD and THC products for medical and recreational cannabis users. They offer an innovative and accessible product line—from flower and capsules to lotions and lozenges—out of their four dispensaries located throughout the state. With recreational legalization on the horizon, Etain reached out to Zenpack for new packaging to match their rebrand. The relationship bloomed into a multi-year partnership when Zenpack started sourcing secondary packaging and improving operations, helping Etain present cannabis in a new light.

The Problem

After updating their logo, colors, and brand identity, Etain was looking for a new packaging provider. Their partner agency created distinct packaging concepts, but they didn’t specialize in structural design—these concepts had a long way to go before production. With a variety of products requiring various boxes and components, and new offerings on the way, Etain needed to quickly transform their concepts into reality.

The Outcome

The company’s philosophy and slogan, Take a Moment, powered our packaging journey. We took our time to develop and prototype sound structural engineering to complement the new branding, and then consolidated operations to source additional parts and materials at affordable prices. The resulting packaging strategy combines premium materials and thoughtful details just in time for the wellness brand to support a rapidly growing community.

Challenges

After medical legalization in 2014, the Peckham family founded Etain while researching medical cannabis during their grandmother’s battle with ALS. They were amazed with marijuana’s myriad benefits and offered their first cannabis products, a line of healing tinctures. Seeing recreational legalization on the horizon, they continued perfecting their formulas to create new products that would serve a variety of customer needs. From 2018 to 2021, New York lawmakers attempted to pass a recreational cannabis bill, but the process stalled due to minor disagreements over tax revenue. Etain continued serving the medical cannabis community, realizing that while introducing new products, they were due for a rebrand to coincide with the impending full legalization.

With new branding and logos came fresh packaging designs. The concepts were bold and uplifting, but needed some structural engineering support. A sound structure requires concept analysis, rapid prototyping, testing, and modifications. Before starting this process with us, Etain emphasized their focus on sustainability while maintaining textures and colors across different containers and materials.

After tinctures, Etain developed a comprehensive product range, including capsules, flower, lotion, powder, lozenges, spray, and a vaporizer with replaceable cartridges. Such a wide variety of products requires multiple container materials as well as packaging structures and substrates. Etain had to find suppliers who could fulfill their diverse packaging needs without adding unnecessary costs and supply chain management.

It was 2019—a vibrant rebrand, innovative new products, and recreational legalization right around the corner. Etain was poised to introduce cannabis therapeutics to a whole new audience; they just needed a structural design and operations partner who could translate their vision into a streamlined packaging strategy.

Solution

Zenpack analyzed the full line of products, taking note of structural design needs and sustainability goals, eventually choosing SBS paperboard as the primary material for most of the products and wrapped rigid board for the vape pens and batteries. Sturdy and durable, both materials are perfect for high-quality lithographic printing, resulting in crisp lines and colors. SBS takes just seconds to assemble and ships flat to save on transit costs. In addition to SBS packaging, we designed a custom rigid box and cardboard insert for their line of rechargeable vaporizers.

To protect the glass jars and bottles inside the boxes, we needed to design interior structures that would prevent vertical movement. Simple solutions include foam or plastic pieces, but customers can’t throw these in curbside recycling; they also don’t align with the brand. SBS was the clear choice as it would allow us to extend brand colors to the inside, print in the same run as the boxes, and keep Etain’s carbon footprint to a minimum. After many prototypes, the structural engineering team created a 2-piece system. The top section secures the bottle dropper while the bottom section creates just enough space between the outer box and bottle underside to prevent breakage. Four center cuts fold down to form a plus sign, like an upside-down castle turret fortifying the bottle from exterior impact.

In addition to outer packaging, Etain needed glass containers for their cannabis products. Rather than coordinating between multiple packaging providers, we combined operations to source glass bottles, droppers, caps, labels, and even metal spoons. Each container and component presented a unique challenge. The dropper caps came black, so we custom painted them with a Pantone silver. We spray painted the glass bottle with opaque white to protect contents from UV rays and match brand colors. Working with Etain to forecast their future releases and sales, we consolidated jar and bottle quantities to allow for a flexible and inexpensive lithographic label printing system. We even custom printed the metal spoons with the Etain logo.

From bottle to box, a matte finish unifies the materials, reminding customers that they’ve chosen a high-quality product designed to improve their health. Our quality control managers maintain details like these across all packaging and operations. Every print finish, structure, and material illustrates the same precision and quality Etain puts into their cannabis formulations.

Result

What started as a request for a few boxes became an extended partnership. We modified the structural design, sourced hard-to-find components, and simplified packaging fulfillment with respect to Etain’s mission. Recreational cannabis was officially legalized in New York State on March 30, 2021, just in time for Etain to stock their store shelves with new products sealed in vibrant packaging. Now with five locations throughout the state, they’ve grown from supplying high-quality medical cannabis to staking their claim in the wellness industry.

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