When product designer Ed Kilduff’s Kickstarter campaign earned him ninety thousand dollars, he asked his supporters what they used the product for. “After coffee and tea, the most popular use was for weed,” says Kilduff. His invention, EVAK—the smell-proof, glass storage container that vacuum seals—was perfect for storing cannabis, and his next idea was born. His mission: make it child-resistant.
An admitted lover of the herb, Kilduff took his talents to the cannabis space. He spent three years developing a line of child-resistant cannabis storage products—EVAK-style jars, “pop-top” containers, and zipper bags. He had everything ASTM-certified, and then launched Pollen Gear to house it all under one brand.
Kilduff is no stranger to the art of invention. He’s been experimenting with design since childhood, when his father passed away, leaving him a garage full of tools and machinery. Kilduff’s early tinkering became a lifelong fascination with all things mechanical. He eventually attended Carnegie Mellon University, studied industrial design, and then went on to consult for brands like Starbucks, Nike, and Reebok.
When he was twenty seven, he co-founded Pollen Design, where he designed the popular Rabbit Corkscrew line of wine accessories. He then co-created Prepara, an upscale kitchen gadget brand that now sells in 35 countries. In 2013, he began tinkering with food storage, which led to his ingenious and wildly popular EVAK products. Over the years, kitchen gadgets treated Kilduff well, and his success bought him some time to reflect. “I was contemplating my next move,” he says. “I was sick and tired of housewares.”
With EVAK’s surprise audience, it was clear he had an untapped market with cannabis storage, and being a cannabis lover himself, Kilduff was excited to have this new focus. “I’m a big fan of the flower and always have been,” he says. “I live in SoHo, Manhattan, a thriving creative community. Most of my friends are artists, engineers, and designers like myself—many of whom love and appreciate marijuana.” So, he went around and got EVAK into headshops and medical dispensaries. People loved the product, but they wanted the containers to be child-proof—and that one tweak pushed Kilduff in a whole new direction.
“There’s a huge market for lower cost, well designed, child-resistant weed containers,” Kilduff says. It was a crossover between counterculture and mainstream, and from a business standpoint, it was a great opportunity. He traveled to Colorado and met with some of the country’s top cannabis lawyers, who helped to pass that state’s recreational cannabis law, Amendment 64. They loved the idea, but like Kilduff’s beta testers, they were concerned about kids.
There were plenty of cannabis storage products already on the market, but none of them were certified child-resistant. “Overnight an industry was born of weed packaging importers.” Kilduff says. “But for the most part, these were all existing products manufactured overseas and rebranded. Nobody said ‘I’m going to create marijuana packaging.’ It was like virgin snow.”
Kilduff spent from 2015–2016 inventing, identifying issues, and improving the product. He finally settled on a design that performed all the functions of EVAK, but with a truly child-resistant lid. “My number one criteria: make it impossible for kids and easy for seniors,” he says. What’s more, he wanted it to be fun to use, so he designed the lid’s air valve to cause an audible pop when opened. And this was the beginning of Pollen Gear.
With such a green light from the cannabis community, Kilduff expanded Pollen Gear to include other child-resistant versions of popular weed storage containers. He now offers smell-proof ”pop-tops” that won’t accidentally open—even if kids stand on them, and heavy-duty zipper bags that “lock” in the closed position.
And there are many other unseen ancillary businesses that help to make modern cannabis what it is today. Master grower and owner of Cascadia Gardens in Washington, Dave Scheibner, says, “We wouldn’t be where we are today without our ancillary partners. From Kush Bottles to the people who do our labels, to Apeks, who makes our extractor, to our HVAC installer. These companies are like the people who sold shovels during the gold rush, and these genius, engineering minds have allowed us to take cannabis to a whole new level.”
Author Bio: Will Kersten is a freelance cannabis writer, based in Bellingham, Washington. He has a knack for attracting and discovering fascinating, driven people who challenge the status quo—not unlike cannabis itself. More than anything, he loves to tell the stories of the daring and inspiring individuals who make the cannabis community thrive. Find out more at www.willkersten.com.