Friday, September 29, 2023
Killin’ it - with Kindness

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Killin’ it - with Kindness

When you walk into All Kind for the first time, the first thing you notice is the warm, earthy smile from Claire Stretch who always greets her clients personally and ensures they feel welcome. She quickly becomes more than a purveyor of cannabis products; she becomes the friend you didn’t realize you needed. 

Prior to creating All Kind, she spent more than a decade coming up in Portland’s food scene, helping turn restaurateurs into rock stars. Cannabis has always been part of her life, but as the medical industry began to emerge, she recognized an opportunity to put her restaurant experience to work bringing cannabis to people who had not traditionally consumed it.

In addition to flower, her shop is filled with chocolate bars, tinctures, rosin, dabs, and even CBD or THC honey from beehives she and her husband raise on their small hemp and cannabis farm. (Hint: Try the Boda Bar…)

“Our motivation was to make accurately dosed edibles. We wanted to fix some of the problems people were having in the marketplace. Edibles can be wildly unpredictable,” she said in a recent interview. “When done correctly, they can be just the thing to make your day better. I was very fortunate to graduate from the University of Montana and live on the west coast when some of the cannabis strains were coming of age. Lot’s of They poured out of Seattle I-90 from the Pacific Northwest, before I moved to Maine.”

It didn’t all begin in the food industry, though. In fact, Claire came to Maine to become a wooden boat builder. 

“After I finished the apprentice program at The Carpenter’s Boatshop, I found myself living in the Maine woods with a bunch of dudes. With winter coming, I realized I should move to Portland and find some female friends, so that’s what I did. I thought I’d break into the boat building scene and work for a boat builder. But, it’s an old boys' network, and they didn’t want anything to do with a young 24-year-old woman. So, I moved to Portland and became a waitress.”

After working the lunch counter at Norm’s for some time, she became friends with a guy who came in daily, Dave, having no idea he was a boat builder. 

“He finally wore his shirt, and I found he was Bullhouse Boat Works, a former instructor at the Landing School, and a specialist in Fish Class wooden boats. He said he should hire me. It took him a year to call me back. He called me back and asked if I could start the next day, and so I did!” 

It turns out, he was the only boat builder certified by the MIT Herreshoff Museum. For 10 years, she expanded  her craft, building Herreshoff designs and doing wooden boat restoration. She would build boats and do varnish work by day in Kennebunkport and then drive to Portland to bartend at night. 

In 2015, Claire became a registered caregiver. “Our flagship product is the dark chocolate bar,” she said. “We created it because we had a patient that needed accurately dosed edibles to help with his cancer. He was the longest survivor that Maine Med had ever seen with his diagnosis, living four years longer than he should have.”

In 2017, she and her husband, Jay, left their jobs to build All Kind full time. “We could cultivate and grow somewhere in a safe place and extract enough for our chocolate,” she explained. It was a slow operation and very grassroots. We try to make products that are real with nothing added or unnecessary. It’s simple but complicated.” 

At the end of the day, Claire’s focus has been on building a sustainable company she can be proud of — from high quality product, grown by All Kind or from caregivers she trusts, to a strong cadre of women employees who keep the operation running

“We provide a full line of meds including boutique flower strains. We produce a full line of edibles in our commercial kitchen, including chocolate, honey, caramels, and jams. We started with the chocolate line and expanded into infusions. Infusions really grab at a new demographic of patients who don’t know cannabis. They don’t want to smoke and are searching for something that isn’t going to be complicated. Being a caregiver is really about being able to provide a full line of meds, including extracts. We have a full menu, including concentrated cannabis forms like shatter, diamonds, and a variety of sauce strains.”

Claire books cannabinoid therapy sessions for people looking for better care, providing treatment plans tailored to individual needs and offering opportunities to ask questions about the wide world of weed. Variety is the spice of life, and you’ll definitely find it at All Kind. True to its name, you’ll also find a warm, welcoming environment where you can ask any question without judgment and find the CBD or THC products that fit your needs.