To Be Blunt

097 Together We Cann, Making an American Glass Company with Chris Piazza of CannaDevices

April 25, 2022 Shayda Torabi Season 3 Episode 97
To Be Blunt
097 Together We Cann, Making an American Glass Company with Chris Piazza of CannaDevices
Show Notes Transcript

“If you're going to have good cannabis, why don't you have good glass, right? I mean, it just kind of goes hand in hand.” - Chris Piazza

Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes CannaDevices CEO Chris Piazza to discuss the art of glass blowing and how it serves the cannabis industry. Chris believes in the need to educate consumers about ingesting cannabis in a different way and enhancing the experience with a high-quality product. As a glass blower himself, he also highlights the importance of supporting local artisans and giving them opportunities to thrive.

[00:01 – 10:37] The Intersection of Glass Blowing and Cannabis Consumption

[10:38 – 16:42] How the Glass Blowing Industry Adapts to the Legalization of Cannabis

[16:43 – 29:43] Educating Consumers about Good Glass Devices

[29:44 - 35:21] Bridging the Gap Between Art and Business

[35:22 - 53:36] Marketing an Ancillary Brand in their Own Way

[53:37 – 56:03] Food for thought: What do you think about Chris and his team’s approach to branding and business?

Chris has managed the growth of CannaDevices which services many of the largest dispensaries in the US. In just two years CannaDevices now consistently supplies 10 publicly traded cannabis companies along with numerous other operators. Throughout this growth, Chris has never wavered from his dedication to support American artists and independent small businesses. Even during the course of a global pandemic, Chris was dedicated to ensuring that each artist and team member of CannaDevices could count on the company with absolute certainty, despite the uncertain times. At any given time, CannaDevices provides full-time work for 50 artisans and their businesses and plans to double that number by early 2022. Additionally, if a new partnered artist is hitting roadblocks in their production, Chris helps the artist by teaching the skill of glass blowing and production, while simultaneously providing a source of income.

Connect with Chris

Visit the CannaDevices website and follow them on Instagram.

Shayda Torabi has been called one of the most influential Women in WordPress and now she’s one of the women leading the cannabis reformation conversation building one of Texas’ premier CBD brands. She's currently the CEO and Co-Founder of RESTART CBD, a female-run education first CBD wellness brand. And has formerly held marketing positions at WP Engine and WebDevStudios. Shayda is the host of a podcast for cannabis marketers called To Be Blunt, where she interviews top cannabis brands on their most successful marketing initiatives. When Shayda's not building her cannabiz in Texas, you can find her on the road exploring the best hikes and spots for vegan ice cream. Follow Shayda at @theshaydatorabi

Key Quote:

“When we're sitting around, talking, there's a little bit of 'Of course, I know about that,’ right? And that's fine when we're around peers. But when we're not around peers, we need to realize that this information that we have is second nature. It’s not second nature to other people and that we need to provide.” - Chris Piazza


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Chris Piazza  0:00  
There have been a lot of these strange laws, at least in my opinion about non combustion, right Ohio, New York, Florida was sort of non combustion for a while and then they were combustion but they couldn't move but a dispensary couldn't sell glass and now every product that they sell in Florida has to be individually accepted. What I mean by that is a clear spoon of a hand pipe clear pipe, or a colored one are considered two different items. So you need to get each one individually approved. It is a pain to get through all that stuff. So we are still seeing incredible hurdles.

Announcer  0:47  
You're listening to to be blunt, be podcast for cannabis marketers, where your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here's your host Shayda Torabi.

Shayda Torabi  1:10  
Hello and welcome back to a new episode of The to be blonde podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, cannabis business owner and brand marketer. Jumping straight into the episode today I wanted to briefly set the stage for the conversation. My guest shared really openly and humbly about his experiences navigating the industry from his unique perspective. For reference, his business is ancillary, so they do not touch the plant. But you and I both know that glass is meant to be used for smoking and combustion, so they really do go hand in hand. But for Canada vices co founder and CEO, Chris Piazza, the journey has been wonderful of lessons learned and adjusting as they go. And I think it's been an honest expression of his story, and how he's really approached the cannabis industry and built the brand that we are going to dive into discussing today. And I just really encourage you to tap into his energy because there is a lot to learn from what Chris shares. So much of this industry is going to be glamorized. And there are going to be a million people telling you how to get it done, how to run your business and how to grow your business. And at the end of the day, you ultimately have to do what is right for you, what is best for you and build a business that makes sense to you. A little bit more about Chris. He's been in the cannabis industry since 2008. He's a native of Chicago, and he humbly began as a glassblower himself selling his pipes at headshops and at concerts in Colorado. He returned to Chicago in 2011, where he continued to blow glass and then discovered another passion which was teaching and mentoring other glass blowers. In 2018, Chris was presented with an opportunity to partner with another local artist and Headshop owner to start a glass distribution company and from there Ken devices began. Since the inception of Canada vices Chris has managed the growth, which services many of the largest dispensaries in the United States. And in just two years, Canada vice is now consistently supplies 10 publicly traded cannabis companies along with numerous other operators. Throughout this growth, Chris has never wavered from his dedication to support American artists and independent small businesses. At any given time. Canada devices provides full time work for 50 artisans and their businesses and plans to double that number by early 2022. Very cool stuff. Again, really great conversation, Chris spoke truthfully from his heart. And that's what I always ask of my guests and really appreciate when they can tap into some of that heartache. Some of that pain, some of that lessons learned. So hope you guys are excited for this episode. And with that said, let's get straight to the episode. Please join me by lighting one up. And let's welcome Chris to the show.

Unknown Speaker  3:54  
Chris Piazza. I'm CEO and co owner, co founder of canon devices. So you know how I got started in the industry. Prior to a while, obviously, I had some of my own time and enjoying the plant itself prior to business. But then I got an opportunity to be an apprentice glass floor out in Colorado, I was living out there and had the opportunity to learn the trade. And so I did that for some time. And I then ended up getting into the scientific glass world as well. Once I got into glass, it became a passion and followed it through. Over time I had a studio where I had some apprentices, I had a school for glass and things like that. Then about three years ago, a friend of mine, we had an idea of starting can devices. And so what candidates is is is a distribution company for American glass artists and we work with dispensaries virtually exclusively. About 2% of our customers are not dispensaries. But we started to work with artists around the country to help them have the opportunity to have consistent recurring work, you know the starving artists once he's lost First start working with us. They don't have to be that anymore. So cannabis has started that way about three years ago. And we've now evolved a little to start offering other products. So we now have basically, if a dispensary was just getting started, they could come to us, and we could have every product that they would need to get started. And that's kind of where we are today. So I, you know, I had the artistic side. And then I moved more into the business side. And I think this is a better role for myself at least.

Shayda Torabi  5:27  
Yeah, that's wonderful. I'm so excited to talk to you today. Because I think the topic of you know, to use the name of your business Canada devices, people don't often think sometimes, well, how am I going to consume this product, and especially in a day and age where you're being bombarded with new, you know, quote, unquote, technologies, whether it's edibles or consumption, you know, beverages and things like that, but the data shows that people love to smoke they love to any cannabis. And I think when you're looking at it from, I'll say, a medical perspective to right, you know, the inhalation is one of the fastest ways to experience the benefits and the effects of cannabis. So you certainly represent a very integral part of the industry, I can't imagine smoking cannabis going away in any capacity of the cannabis initiating, it's always going to be relevant. And so to kind of begin our journey, especially with your personal history, going through being a glassblower yourself to obviously running a school, teaching other people the art of glassblowing, and pipe making and everything else that kind of encompasses it to ultimately now being the CEO of canon devices and helping empower other creative artists who are interested in the glassblowing techniques, kind of like let's step back, you know, big picture, from your knowledge and understanding what is the history of glassblowing? Like, I'm curious if you know, when did it kind of converge maybe from? Because obviously, we use class for so many things plate where drinkware I mean, just artistic, just sculptures, and then there's pipes, right, or bongs. So when did that really kind of open up? And how long has that side of you know, the industry been operating? I guess if that's fair to say, and what is that industry really look like from a glassblowing perspective.

Unknown Speaker  7:11  
I love how you're describing how, you know, it's union Yang with growers, right glassblowers can grow and growers have been two sides of the same coin for a very long time. So you know, from my understanding was a lot of in depth lot, you know, in the 70s. And things like that glass was starting to get used for consumption, Bob Snodgrass is sort of seem to be the pioneer. He was one that started what's called a fuming technique. And we started having color changing glass and things like that, a great movie for any of your listeners to check out his degenerative art. And it really is a wonderful documentary on last industry, you know, we have had our own our own individual struggles with the law and things like that, you know, and sort of we just kind of grown alongside you know, and the glass floor and pipes in general has really been a sort of a secret partner along the way, right. So once cannabis started to get legalized, growing in the plant itself is much more scalable from a corporate standpoint, right. And so all of the money and the backing and everything went that direction. And a lot of us is glassboard sort of got lost in the mix, you know. And then we started having import glass become such a big part of what was available in the open market. And so these dispensaries really chose to go that route because it was cheap. Nobody knew how to choose a pipe, a large percentage of the dispensary purchasers don't have a lot of experience in cannabis. Right, they have experience in purchasing. And that's great. You know it, we need professionals in the industry, but there's a lack of translation of sort of what devices can be used and why certain devices should be used rather than others. And that's sort of where we stepped in and seeing that there was this lack of vegetation. You know, we were talking about education before we started, and then there's just a lack of it. And that's where we tried to help our dispensary partners. But as far as the history goes, if you knew a grower, you knew a glass floor, if you knew a glass floor, you knew a grower, right? I mean, it was that's just how it always used to be. Yeah, so I think that the two have just sort of grown from the same place.

Shayda Torabi  9:13  
You mentioned so many things that are talking points, I like having my notes that I want to like jump off on so I'm gonna try to like formalize it in my brain and kind of, you know, standardize like, where are we gonna go first, but I think what I want to pick apart next is you kind of were talking about, you know, the industry of where cannabis was becoming legalized and how it kind of was bringing more, I guess, attention to the glassblowing industry, but it is one of those things, at least from my experience and to kind of, you know, maybe like show a little bit of my colors, right? I was that kid who like grew up going to, let's say a smoke shop and we know what the smoke shop is selling. I'm not allowed to call it or you know, address the bond as a bond. For example, I have to be like the waterpipe that I'm going to put tobacco in you know, wink, wink, whatever. And now you're seeing obviously that becoming more accessible, you're seeing I don't want to say like smoke shops, because I think smoke shops are still smoke shops. And there's a market for that. And I'm sure there's customer set for that as well. I mean, there's so one around the corner from you know, my neighborhood that I grew up going to that I'm familiar with, if I need, you know, to grab this, that or the other, but then you're talking about, you know, the education side of it too, and kind of going to now almost like the art of cannabis consumption, because there's so many different types of devices, right? Like, there's different ways to when you're dealing with glass, it's not just a pipe, it's not just like a water pipe or a water bomb. There's different outcomes and different effects for it. But really kind of wanting to focus, the first question that I'm going to ask you more on what has it been like as cannabis has gotten more, I guess, legal, and how has that hurt or helped that conversation of I want to buy a bomb versus I want to buy a water pipe from your perspective that you've seen, maybe it's through the dispensaries that you work with or just from being in the industry in general, because from my understanding, and we were talking about this a little bit too before we were recording ancillary businesses, I guess the meat of the question is do you feel like now that cannabis is going legal that you have more, I guess, adoption in a more legal manner for cannabis devices and bongs and pipes and glass pieces? Or do you still feel like even though you're ancillary, and you're not directly selling, you know, the weed you are associated to it, and therefore, selling cannabis devices is still a really complex challenge in the cannabis industry at large,

Unknown Speaker  11:27  
you just hit on a lot of points. So you know, the first thing I just hit, and I can't speak for all the states, but when Illinois went recreational, the word Bong wasn't really worried about in smoke shops anymore, you know, we started being able to use speak a little more openly. What's really interesting about being so close to the plant, but not touching it, we are still extremely restricted in a lot of ways. I probably shouldn't say this on a recorded line, but our LLC is C devices, because we're in a bank, right. And if we had Canada devices there, we would get shut down, right. And so we still have to play those same games that the dispensaries do in a lot of ways. And as states have allowed for legalization, there's been a lot of these strange laws, at least in my opinion, about non combustion, right, Ohio, New York, Florida was sort of non combustion for a while, and then they were combustion, but they couldn't. But a dispensary couldn't sell glass. And now every product that they sell in Florida has to be individually accepted. What I mean by that is a clear spoon of a hand pipe, clear pipe or a colored one are considered two different items. So you need to get each one individually approved, it is a pain to get through all that stuff. So we are still seeing incredible hurdles, payroll companies, large payroll companies won't talk to us, because more than 50% of our customers are dispensaries. So being an ancillary product, we have more leniency. But we're still restricted in a lot of ways. I don't know, that sums up sort of what we

Shayda Torabi  13:01  
know it does. I think it's always fascinating. And I appreciate you kind of highlighting it and just to kind of like, you know, peppered in there for you, too, as you're thinking through our discussion. I think anything that can add value, certainly of those nuances that you reflect on, like state to state wise, I think is so that's at least like we're I get really excited about these conversations. I know my listeners get really excited because it just like is so crazy to me, when you start to uncover some of these state to state laws and unless you are dealing in that state directly, you don't really hear about it. And so I think from hearing what you were just sharing about combustion laws, I'm going to you know, kind of further prod a little bit when you say combustion laws. It means the state legalized cannabis in some capacity, but they didn't legalize smoking cannabis.

Unknown Speaker  13:45  
That's exactly it. So you can vape it in Ohio, but you can't smoke it and you can't sell any devices that are used with a lighter

Shayda Torabi  13:56  
like associated to if you would be combusting it right.

Unknown Speaker  13:59  
And it here I'll go I'll give you one that's even crazier. So New York, they started selling shake from the dispensary. Well, you're not supposed to smoke the shake. Like it's only for edibles, like really. And then or you can also vape shake, but you can't smoke it. But that's

Shayda Torabi  14:15  
like on their like labeling their marketing, they can sell it as long as they're selling it for this reason. So that is interesting. And I'll kind of share this with you from like my perspective as a Texan. So Texas is currently in the middle of a smokable hemp ban situation has been going on since I think really we legalized in 2019. I mean pretty early on, obviously like halfway through the year of our first hemp legalization. The state was like, Whoa, we legalized CBD. We did not legalize you crazy. He's like putting it in a pipe and smoking it and we're like, Well, that's what you do with cannabis again just like going into it is one of the most bioavailable ways to experience the plant. It's convenient. It's like you know, kind of the association the stigma of like I'm gonna smoke some cannabis like that's what you Do with it. And so there were a couple of companies that sued the state of Texas, the state of Texas, I guess I'm like, you know, shortening kind of like the back and forth, but it's gone back and forth like three or four times. Now, we thought we won the case with these people suing the state it finally wrapped up and of last year. And then I guess the state appealed the case, it's now being taken to the Supreme Court. We should know something in March of this year, but we have another lawsuit out in the state that got pushed from February to March. So I anticipate the smokeable headband will get pushed potentially further into the year. But it's the same approach. It's like, well, we legalized hemp and CBD but we didn't legalize it for smoking. And that's even reflected in our I'm gonna use air quotes for listeners, we have a very, very rudimentary medical marijuana program here in Texas. And our medical marijuana program only really allows for edibles and tinctures and topicals and does not allow for smokeable. And that's partially because of the percentage that is kept for our MediCal program, which is 1%. So because you can't have the THC less than that percent in the flower, like that's not how it's grown. And so it just creates more I think, contention points and kind of to what you were saying to its, we at least were able to still sell pre rolls. As long as we said it was not for smoking, you know what I mean? As long as you could like associate it did not have an association to like combustion or like being used with flames or light. So I think we were selling pre rolls as like tea sticks for a couple of months. And we had a couple customers who were like, I bought a pre roll. Why is this labeled as a hemp stick? And I'm like, okay, come on, Karen, like get on board, like we have to do we have to do you know, to get around these laws? So I think yeah, it was really helpful just to understand kind of some of the things that you're observing, from your perspective. Now to kind of transition a little bit into the education component, you know, what does that look like when you are trying to educate someone. And so maybe that's the exercise here, if you are trying to educate someone on Canna devices, and you're like, hey, this is what we sell, and you're trying to go into a dispensary. That is maybe in a new state, there are people who maybe don't come from cannabis, but they saw the green opportunity, and they're rushing into the industry to get a license. They know they need you, but what are you selling to them? And how are you selling it to them? Is it like I sell bongs and pipes. This is what a bong is, this is what a pipe is like, we know that there's more depth to it. But so how does that conversation go? How do you explain and educate people on what it is that you're selling ultimately,

Unknown Speaker  17:24  
you know, we're in a recreational state at this point. But we do pop ups at dispensaries, there's kind of two ways of talking about this one is the retail facing the retail customer facing like the patient facing. And then there's one of the corporate facing and the buyer, right. And so the first one I'd like to address would be the consumer side. And we'll do these pop ups. And it was interesting at first, I hate to say it this way, like I kind of laughed at it at first of like people didn't know how to pack a pipe. And then I realized that after I'd had a couple of those conversations that these were generally like a little bit on the elderly side. And they had been opened up and introduced through consumption of edibles, and it worked for them. Or maybe it was a little too intense for them. And they heard that smoking was going to be a better option because it's a little more controllable, if you will, rather than oh wow, this edible hit me two hours later type of experience, right. And so it's been an eye opening experience, and really, really hard touching that how many people are getting exposed to this that really have no idea. You know, when we were all the head shop kids or smoke shop kids, you know, we were cool, because we knew how to use this. And there was you know, a little bit of ego involved as a younger kid, right? Like, especially when the new guy was gonna sit down. Like,

Shayda Torabi  18:36  
I would agree with that, like, being able to show your friends like this is how I use a bong and this is the type of rip that I can take. You know, it is like definitely like an ego thing. But I can imagine in your head, consumers like especially like the person you're identifying, you know, like these, perhaps maybe like older people who are getting exposed to can, especially from a medical perspective, and they're like, whoa, you want me to do what I feel like I've got a crack pipe in front of me, essentially. Oh, yeah,

Unknown Speaker  19:00  
exactly. I've now started to love having those conversations. You know, at first it was a little awkward, but now I love doing it because I know how much that person is going to get to experience and how much better their life is going to be as a result of having this new opportunity to ingest in a different way, right, because every one of these different types of tincture, edible smoking vaping. They're all different experiences. While it's the same plant. It's completely different. Right. So that was that's one part of the education that we definitely are a lot involved in as far as the buyers and the corporate side. Most of the time, the conversation isn't necessarily about how why they need to last because somebody around them is saying, Hey, you're in charge of buying ancillary products right? And so they know that they need something for smoking. The big education comes around the quality of glass, right? So we have a little sticker that floats around your friends. Don't let friends buy gas station glass, you know, what we really try to do and relating to the CBD side. You know, there's gas station CBD Yeah, right, and it's probably 1% actual CBD, most of its dirt, or something worse. And the same thing with last right, there's quality glass, you know, you can drop our pipe a couple times, and it's not going to just shatter, it's not a light bulb, and some of these important products have paint in them. In order to get colors, it's just not safe, right. And so we have to really do a lot of education around the quality. You know, there's definitely some, I don't want to say there's no good import products, I don't want to go that far. But there's, you definitely have to know what you're getting. And so the safest thing is to go with a domestic product that's made by artists here. And your experience from a well made pipe is going to be different than one that is just cheaply made. And aside from the durability, but if the bolt hole is too big or too small, or too small, it's going to clog after a hit, and you're going to try to clear it out and you could break it, if it's too big, you're just going to be sucking a whole bunch of non combusted product through right, if the car pole is really small, then you're going to have stale smoke and every single hit that you're ever going to take because the card hole needs to be bigger than the bolt hole because it needs more air to be coming in. That's fresh, then there's that is combusting, right. And so all of these things play into what seems like hey, it's just a pipe. Well, sort of. But there's more to it. And so we really tried to educate on the experience that can be provided by a quality product. And then, you know, just like if you're going to have good cannabis, why don't you have good glass? Right? I mean, it just kind of goes hand in hand. So yeah, that's kind of the overarching education that we do

Shayda Torabi  21:34  
know that is so fascinating. And I appreciate you kind of going into that detail because like now I'm just like teeming with like, follow up questions in terms of you were talking about earlier in your intro scientific glass, you're obviously talking about imported glass versus glass, you know, stateside, I regret, you know, as a cannabis consumer for many, many years, I don't think I fully understand the nuances. And maybe that's partially because it is such an emerging aspect of the industry, or at least kind of like you're talking about, you know, like, if you're one of those, like smoke shop kids, like, you know, but at the time, though, I don't think I was really caring about the quality of the glass, I was caring about how cool my pipe or my bunk looks, you know, I wasn't like, oh, is this made by like an artist? Or is this like important that someone you know, mass manufactured in China, like, I don't know, I don't care. I'm too young to care. Age is not a factor. But at least for me, I'm gonna you know, fall on that sword. It was I just, I didn't know any better. And so now that I'm getting into the industry and able to obviously have conversations like this with experts, like yourself, I'm like, let me take advantage of this conversation. And like, really pick your brain. So I hope the listeners are like, Oh my gosh, I had no idea about this, even though I've been smoking cannabis for like, you know, a decade. So getting into these different types of glass, you're talking about the safety, I know that there are, I don't wanna say healthier ways, but like probably cleaner ways, like more true ways of getting color in glass. I know, just from some of my knowledge, there is potentially a shortage on certain colors of glass, like amber glass, I think is like really difficult to find in some capacities. And so kind of help expand on that, for us the world of glass, why, you know, not not just obviously, it's better to be made in the States, you understand more of who's actually creating it, but maybe the quality of the glass, how things are actually made in is all imported glass kind of mass made? And what is mass made glass, I guess, like how was mass made glass made? Because you know how, like, watch videos of people glassblowing like, it's a very intensive process, like one piece at a time. So sometimes I go to like the smoke shows like champs and you see tables of pieces, and you're like one person made all of those, like hidden? How long does it take you to make a single piece, you know, so if you can just unpack all that, that I just you know, presented to you, I'd be really curious what your thoughts are, when asked

Unknown Speaker  23:43  
how you get color into glasses with other glass that's color. So you start with something clear, and you add color to it.

Shayda Torabi  23:49  
So all glass starts clear. There's no making actually colored

Unknown Speaker  23:53  
glass, and then there's clear glass and you put them together. So sometimes you start with a colored glass too, but it's still colored with glass. What a lot of ways that we see imported products sort of make things less labor intensive for themselves is they will actually use paint some bright colors, we're getting a lot brighter than we used to be we glasses evolved, we used only have like blue and red. And now we have a nice array. But if you see something that's like an electric green or electric pink, a lot of times you might have to look a little closer. It might not be glass, we have brighter colors. Now, that was more true statement a couple of years ago, but it's still I can see it at least you know. And as far as like the mass production, you know, honestly, there are some in this is almost taboo to say but there are some amazing artists that are overseas. And so I wanted to say that but what sucks about about their working conditions overseas want to talk about just terrible conditions and what they're being put through. It's just it's a horrible thing. It's more of That sign for a lot of it too. So I'm a production artist from my history. So I can make a lot of pipes in a day, because I've built my method to be very efficient, you know, sort of like Henry Ford model of production, you know, you do all of this. And then you do all of this, and you do all of this. And then you have a bunch of done. And that's what a lot of our artists geared towards, we really focus on lower priced items that are more dispensary focused. So you mentioned a little bit ago about, there's probably still a space for headshops and smoke shops, and they're they're 100% is we see that dispensaries really like products that are, you know, under the $50, retail price point, right. And then, if you want something that's $1,000, or $500, or multiple 1000, that's where you go to the smoke shop for it right, there's still that opportunity for the higher end products to be found. But dispensaries are really more focused on, let's get some function with a little bit of color, a little bit of creativity more than what you'd see at a smoke shop where you get a lot bigger variety and things like that.

Shayda Torabi  26:05  
No, that makes a lot of sense. And just like even you saying it and thinking about it, you do see I guess like the different breakdown of kind of like where you see different pieces kind of ending up. And that was, I think a big realization when I started going to some of these smoke shows like champs where we'd like to be really honest, I've only ever really got a chance I don't know, I go to all the smoke shows I go to champs like just you know, but you're seeing these artists sometimes like doing like, sometimes like they have like live glassblowing. So you're watching like the process happen. And then you're obviously seeing the creative artistic work like display, like on their tables, but then there is the more kind of like functional pieces. And so like you're saying they all kind of have a place, especially for the cannabis consumer who might be new and being introduced or coming into dispensary. There's obviously like that introduction point. But it is one of those things like you're talking about in the beginning, you know, cannabis or grass and pipes, like they go very hand in hand. So it's like you need to have them in that relationship of accessibility for that end person to know, hey, like, this is like how I'm going to use this. And so obviously carrying the education is so important for your brand. It's like this is how we're going to use what we believe is high quality and produce products that are going to help that person who is perhaps, you know, at that stage or that interval of their experience with cannabis. I did want to ask you to help elaborate a little bit too, because I've heard of the term scientific glass, but like, what does that differentiate versus traditional? I mean, like, are there other types of glass that people should be buying or

Unknown Speaker  27:33  
when I referenced scientific, I should have clarified a little bit I was actually working in the science field. So non cannabis for a while I was making x ray tubes for X ray machines for dental X rays. I also did a little work for the DOD. So there's that it's that scientific glass in one form. And then there's the scientific glass where a lot of times that sort of your clear, and it's more about elaborate function, you know, I can't even explain half of the different types of perks that are out there that at this point, but some will make the water spin some will make the smoke cooler, by the time it is inhaled. There's just so many different functions. So it's more about the function side than the prettiness side. Now all of them end up being absolutely beautiful to me, at least because it's how can you even do that with glass right as a glass bar I'm still wondering how that gets done. But so the scientific side is more about function. And then there's your creative side it's more about the aesthetics

Shayda Torabi  28:30  
gotta know that helps clarify it because I have seen that term kind of pop up in certain cannabis glass channels, so to speak. And so I'm always like, what does that mean? Like yes, I'm familiar with like beakers and test tubes like how does that translate into this pipe that you know now smoking cannabis out of so I was really curious as I appreciate that explanation from you.

Hello, just want to take a quick moment to thank my sponsor and full disclosure, my company restart CBD, restart. CBD is a brand that I built with my sister. So we are family owned and women owned, we do operate a brick and mortar in Austin. So if you ever find yourself in Central Texas, we'd love for you to come say hi. But we also ship nationwide and we carry a wide range of CBD products. We really care about this plant, we really care about educating our customers, this show would not be possible without their support. So please go check us out at restart and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks and let's go back to the show. I want to turn it a little bit into you know understanding your production channel perhaps and how you work with these different glass blowers and what kind of that looks like for Canon devices in terms of what you're delivering to the market. So you were kind of highlighting, you know, y'all are not focused so much on the elaborate type of designs, it is more on the functional side of things. And so what does that look like? Like? How do you, you know, kind of like build a business around candidate? I know, you mentioned your glassblower I know your partner and other founder is a glassblower. So I'm sure between the two of you, you can supply probably a good foundation for launching a business but scaling that how do you bring new people on? How do you teach them your, you know, design preferences and quality preferences? Does everybody work in Illinois, where the company is based? Or are they distributed? And so kind of what does that process look like, from a business side? You're like, I'm gonna start a business. Now, how do I started in scale it,

Unknown Speaker  30:43  
Robert bank was is my partner, I mentioned that earlier. And in the beginning, I was pretty much making all the product. And that definitely was not scalable, like you said. So what we've done though, is we have individual artists all over the country. So it's not just Illinois, currently, we have about 50, full time artists with us, it's honestly the hardest part of our business, you know, we are trying to be a bridge of the gap between your artists who and I have no problem with it, but we'd like to work for three hours and then go on a hike and disappear into the woods for you know, the rest of the day. And you have that and then you have the corporate side where it's, you know, corporatized. And so we have to be this bridging the gap between the two, right. And we have been able to tap a reasonably big network that my partner and I have been a part of, for so long, right? You know, as a production artist, I've tried to give back as much as I can in groups that we are a part of. And I've had a little bit of a reputation of being someone not making fancy things, but making a lot of items. And so I had that reputation coming into this getting 10 devices started. And so people knew that, hey, you know, I can definitely trust him, I can work with him. He has been in the industry for a long time. And so I had that social credibility to get those first few artists, as we've scaled, these artists that have been working with us are advocates now and helping us to find more people that work with us. And what we tried to do and we will hold to this mission is be different than other distributors in our industry. There's, as an artist, I would get a I'd be at a show like champs that wasn't champs, but I was at a different show like it, I get these huge orders for $20,000 orders. And I owe you just got to give me this really good price, I'd give him the best price I possibly could I make it all I'd send it and wouldn't hear from him for two years. Right. And so you know, any business owner knows, recurring businesses, the only way to build a business, if you can only have a one and done, it doesn't work, right. And so one of the big missions that we have at candidates is is offering consistency. So we give weekly orders, we are distributed, we do need a good price on products, but what you get with us is consistent work time and time again. And there's been a lot of those types of promises, given over the years to artists. And so we've had to really work beyond that and build trust. And it's definitely been the hardest hurdle for us. But I think we're doing a pretty good job. So yeah,

Shayda Torabi  33:10  
no, I appreciate you sharing so openly about it, I you know, it's I mean, it's just like the pains of like business ownership, right? Like you kind of can be as prepared as you can be. And then there's going to be things that are in your control and out of your control. And just kind of reflecting on what you were sharing earlier to which I feel like doesn't really get talked about a lot in the cannabis industry. And maybe that's, you know, a challenge. But obviously supply chain and pursuing, you know, buying things overseas. Maybe it was more cost effective at the time. But yeah, what are those working conditions of those people that are producing these things that are, you know, devices that we're using to enjoy our cannabis products, and then also, as a business owner, reflecting back on your experience, like I want to be able to not just like control that from a safety perspective, you know, maybe cost perspective, but being able to give people opportunity to work in the industry and to make a living off of being an artist in the cannabis, you know, ancillary businesses through production of pipes and other cannabis devices. And so it's just a really beautiful, you know, kind of narrative that you're weaving and helping empower people. And I just don't think that this conversation really gets highlighted that much. Again, I think people are just like, I need to buy a pipe like done, you just smoke something out, but they don't really think through that aspect of the industry. So I'm really glad that we're having this conversation because I've really seen it on the micro level where you're maybe going like I used to I will say this I used to and I don't smoke as much anymore, just because I'm getting older and you know, I need to change up my consumption methods and maybe use more water pipes instead of just pure pipes that have no filter or anything on them. But I loved traveling and like trying to find local smoke shops or local artists and buying you know, local pieces. And so that was kind of like my commemorative thing as I was traveling across the United States and like, like I even remember I have a chillum from London, UK A I remember going and like finding it and literally like some random like tourists shop. I was like, Oh, I don't know if this is locally made, but it's from London. So like How cool. So, you know, it certainly has that component of just like, you know, appreciation as a cannabis consumer. But again, like the understanding of, it's like people don't really understand how it gets made, you know, how does it end up in front of me? How does it end up in a store? So I appreciate that for sure. I wanted to ask you a little bit more on the business vein. So you're talking a little bit about to like trade shows. And I've seen you guys at trade shows. I know y'all right. mjbizcon? How do you kind of approach marketing, especially if your customer is more on the seems like you're selling business to business more predominantly than like business to consumer? And so what is your marketing kind of mix? What is important to you? And kind of how do you guys pursue bringing Canada vices to more people to continue to deliver on consistency, because I think that is a big component, which to finish the thought I was making earlier, which I didn't really finish with the supply chain, I imagine that overseas is really, you know, complex sometimes and creates issues. And I know that we've been impacted by it with, you know, just packaging in general. So I'm sure you've a lot of clients who are like, oh, I need glass for my dispensary. And I can't wait for it to come in. So, you know, how do you find those people continue to deliver what you're delivering to those people and ultimately market Canada vices?

Unknown Speaker  36:24  
Yeah, definitely. We were very fortunate in the beginning to my business partner was in the cannabis space as a b2b sales of flour. And he worked for a cultivator that was selling to other dispensaries. And so the connections that we had to get started, we were extremely fortunate, those are things that you just can't buy, right. As a result of that we were able to provide a service and a consistent product that really, this industry feels big, but it's really not, you know, and so we've gone from just getting started three years ago to now being in 12, public companies and being the last supplier for all of them, there's really not any other glass products on those shelves, we were very fortunate to get really plugged in and have just an incredible network on that side to marketing in the cannabis space is, as everybody on this call probably knows it's next to impossible. You know, Instagram is getting even more strict as of the last couple of weeks, they've just been knocking everything down. It's crazy. Going back to 2015. They're pulling boasts like, you know, you're getting in such a new school world. It's such old school marketing, right, it's person to person marketing, and LinkedIn and having conversations with other people. And I'll just be honest, we're not that great at big brand building and wide net style. We are, you know, not to toot my own horn, but we are really good at that person to person. Because that's where we are. That's our strategy is more on that level. But we do have products that are marketing products, we do like branded glass and things like that. And so we'll use those as tools to help show Hey, you can use this, we can brand with your name on it and help with that. So we do use some of our own products for our marketing. That's a pretty cool strategy. And those are really the main things that we're working on. We're looking to expand and learn but social media, and that's where everybody is, you know, we were talking about restrictions a little bit ago, actually. And I was talking to our marketing department and we were talking about sending out boxes, branded boxes, we have to really look at the laws about that the federal laws of you're not supposed to promote illicit substances through USPS. So Canna devices, sounds illicit, so we have to be very careful. You know, my dad, he never was supportive about any of this stuff until recently. Now he's like, all about it and everything. And he's Why are you doing mailers? Because I don't want to get arrested. You know, so we find that person a person is really the best for us. That's kind of our strategy.

Shayda Torabi  39:01  
No, that's very obviously in line with Yeah, I think a lot of the listeners are not new to hearing that. And I don't mean it in a you know, like negative way. It's just like the reality of it. And like, I hope what the listeners take away is just don't feel good. I feel like I stress on this podcast all the time. I just like I worked professionally as a marketer. And so like, I'm like, oh, I want to use all the tips and tricks in the book. I want to like turn on all the dials, I want to like you know, send all the things out. And then you kind of get confronted really early on like, oh, I can't do all those things. But so like, what can I do and so I think it's just kind of reminding people constantly which is what I really appreciate all the podcasts and getting to have all my guests kind of state in their own words is obviously what works for you but also realizing what works for you might not work for the next person. We all have different backgrounds and skills which I always love to just like reiterate to but it is about showing up and being consistent. I think those are really unfortunately low hanging fruit kind of like strategies, but it's like so effective like people really don't understand how effective it is when you can just like build a relationship, like one to one and like really own that relationship, and how that relationship can help blossom and bring your brand into new opportunity. So I think that it's very spot on.

Unknown Speaker  40:13  
I'd like to just add to that a little bit that because the industry is so small and growing so fast, one thing that happened with us was, we were working with a buyer from a small, very small chain. Well, she was headhunted by a big one of the biggest, and we had such a good relationship, I get told that she's going on to this other company, and we're now with her at the new company. So, I mean, it's all about those relationships. So if you are just getting started, the mom and pop shop is definitely where to start those relationships, get that experience, and then you never know where it's gonna go from there. Word travels very quickly, good and bad. I've seen some people make some really bad mistakes on a golf course. And within 24 hours, that person had been sort of cut out of a lot of potential business. So there is that side. So we all need to be more aware of that. But the reverse is true, too. That's just been what's worked for us the best.

Shayda Torabi  41:14  
Yeah, no, I think that is a fair point to highlight as well. It's just, he just I feel like I keep saying it. But it's so important. You guys, like really listen to this conversation, listen to all the conversations, right? You can't put lipstick on a pig. And so you have to have a good product, you have to have good business acumen, you have to have integrity when you're operating in this industry. And I don't discredit the hustle, right? I think there has to be hustle when you're dealing with cannabis just because, you know, I'm a big believer too, just because the door says that it's close, I'm going to try to jiggle the door, like I'm going to try to open it, you know, so there are certain regulations and laws that I think, you know, what is the law, but meant to be challenged and broken. And if we don't challenge the law, well, we'll never change. And so that's kind of where I approach it sometimes. But it doesn't discredit the, again, the professionalization or the professional side of the industry. And so you can't just like build these relationships and be like, Oh, I know everybody, and then have a crap product. Because if people buy your product, once, kind of to the story that you were sharing earlier, you know, you made a big sale, but then you didn't see from the person for two years. Will is that really helping your business grow? Or did it just, you know, float money into your pocket and kind of like a one time transaction? Which, again, I don't think it's right or wrong. It's just how do you take that experience? And how do you grow from it. So I thought that what you're sharing is just really spot on. I did want to kind of point out though, in that same vein, your blog, I think, is a really cool tool that you have. And so I again, kind of in the vein of its, I'm gonna just like say, I don't think the content that you're posting is like so radical, right? It's not like world changing, no events, but very functional, it is very, Hey, did you ever wonder how this you know, type of pipe is made, this is what it's called, this is the name of the pipe, like I keep seeing, I think it's like a fruit, a fruit pipe. I've heard that name like many, many times, but like, I don't know what a fruit pipe is. And then I'm like doing research for the episode. And I'm like, oh, like, let me just, like, read their blog. And then I saw a blog post that you had explaining what it is, and very, you know, nice D read, you know, plain terms, and then a picture of the pipe. And so I'm curious to learn a little bit more. I don't know, if you're very active with your blog, I can see that the topics are very evergreen, so it's good just for like searchability. But does your marketing team like think of like, Oh, what is the next you know, topic that we can write about? And or kind of what has been maybe the most popular? I guess frequently asked question like, What are some of the top frequently asked questions that you feel like people are coming to you or discovering your brand, that you're then helping educate them and arm them? Is it you know, really about what type of pipe is this or like, I was reading one about like a joint crutch almost. And it was like, if you're somebody who has a hard time holding, you know, the joint, the little like, you know, attributes on the joint holder can actually make it easier for you to hold them thinking, Oh, my God, what a great selling point if you have an older customer demographic at your dispensary, and you're trying to sell them this product. So all that to say I thought it was really a smart way of utilizing your website to help educate people on your topic of products. And so I'm just curious kind of what has been popular for you guys, how has it been performing? And how does your team think of content and blog content?

Unknown Speaker  44:23  
I love the idea of a joint holder. It's you know, so many people have shakes that I have a medical condition. Right. And that was the premise behind that one. So the last question about that relationship building right? So the whole idea of that blog about all the different pipes was there's been more than a handful of buyers that got a new job as a buyer and we're asking me a bunch of questions. What's a hand pipe or what's a spoon or why is somebody saying spoon and somebody saying hand pipe or you know all sorts of chill them and hitter and all sorts of different things. Right? And so the idea behind that was actually to be a support tool to these New people in the industry, right. And so whenever a new buyer comes on, I send them that link, I say, Hey, here's your full education on everything, glass wise. And then also bud tenders, too. So we're actually one of these large MSO public companies, we're actually a part of their training for new bud tenders. And they go to that blog, and they're supposed to read it. And so they get education. And so that was the idea behind that. We also don't have the news events stuff. We've been growing so fast, our blog writer has now been busy working on other things, so we haven't really been keeping up on it. So

Shayda Torabi  45:36  
you're always gonna like light a little bit of the, you know, like fire under the ass, right?

Unknown Speaker  45:40  
Yeah, I'm gonna mention it to her. So you were trying to the SEO with the new stuff, right? When you'd mentioned that you were in marketing. Before we started, I was like, Hey, I would actually love to pick your brain about it. Because it's definitely something we need to do better at. And I think, you know, we are talking about business and entrepreneurs, right. And I want to just be open and honest here that our marketing is not as good as it could be. But that doesn't mean that we can't build a business, right? So many people get stuck on what they're not good at, and therefore don't do anything. Don't we'll figure out the parachute on our way down, you know, it's like, just jump and go for it. So that's what we're doing.

Shayda Torabi  46:14  
I respect that so much. I think that is such a beautiful, honestly, nobody's ever said on the podcast, and I want to kind of like, make more space for that conversation, right? Because I think people do look at maybe the topic of marketing, maybe they look at me, for example, as someone who's like, I'm a cannabis marketer, and it's like, Oh, I've got to be, I've got to do all these things. You see some of these big brands, and they have a lot of budget, and they therefore have a lot of capital to invest in resources and people and trialing and error. And I don't want to discredit that, yes, you can do that. And it also can have a lot of loss as well, you know, just because you try to take ads out, it's not impossible, it can be done. It's just Is that where you want to invest and spend your time. And so I do appreciate, and I'm sure the listeners feel like a like sigh of relief of like, oh my god, somebody like me, which should really be you know, the point of every conversation, there should be some sort of like relatability. But I think you probably just touched so many people by being you and sharing that because that is absolutely it. To me, as a marketer, I don't think that there's ever a alive arrived, I've made it, there's always something I could be doing more of always something I could be, you know, tweaking or adjusting, but I really resonate with sometimes, you know, we're doing the best we can and this is what we've tried, this is what's worked. And I love that the blog has multiple functions, right? So it's SEO, it's helping generate traffic for your own brand and business thought leadership, because you're writing about these topics that again, maybe are rudimentary or low hanging fruit, but those are the frequently asked questions which I'll kind of highlight in this regard. You know, when we were first launching our CBD business, we are more marketers. So I'm like, Oh, I know how to like make a video. Let me make a video, but nothing fancy. Right? So again, I think people think, Oh, I gotta buy the camera. I gotta have the production team. I got to do all the stuff. No, we took our iPhone and we shot a video of me. How do you smoke a joint? And how do you put a joint out because we were experiencing a lot of first time cannabis consumers coming into our dispensary, especially here in Texas where they didn't really grow up smoking joints, and they were maybe not introduced that. So anyways, it was a simple video, five minutes how to smoke a joint 17,000 views. Maybe even more than that I probably like bluffing. I think it's like 70,000 or 100,000, something astronomical, like more than like 1000. And I was like, I thought that it was like a basic, you know, how do you smoke a joint people have surely done that before. But it's putting content out there doesn't have to be fancy seeing what resonates. And then kind of iterating growing from there. But again, just I really think that the humility of there's always more that we can be doing and also recognizing there's different seasons to kind of lean into some of these different topics. And obviously your business has continued to grow and be successful through other avenues that it's like, you know, maybe this is some encouragement to like, revisit the blog and like do some more content. But I thought it was so brilliant just because again, I think that those are frequently asked questions, perhaps it sounds like are really coming up consistently. And so you're working smarter to hey, I get asked this question all the time, why don't I just make a blog post about it. And that way, I can just send it out to people. So you know, reemphasizing, free tip alert. People are asking you a question over and over and over again. Think of what you can do to make it easier on yourself to not have to continue answering that question. And you kind of touched on it a little bit. But I did want to ask because I was reading on your website. What are these bud tender guides. I saw that you know you're shipping boxes out you're doing in person live glass demos, you're there to help educate their staff. And so then you're sending out these bud tender guides. So what is in the bud tender guide is it you know a bit of a regurgitation of what maybe is in the blog posts and things like that, and then just kind of like how did that come up as like, oh, I should be sending this to the bud tenders,

Unknown Speaker  49:56  
a little bit of a regurgitation of the blog and a little bit about who we are Right. So it's not only the blog, it has a couple pages where it talks about different pipes and different color methods and things to the other business owners are starting to get a business going, we want to have our advocates, the bud tenders that are standing, you know, talking to the consumer, we want them to feel comfortable with our product, otherwise, you're not going to sell our products, right. And so that was part of the thinking behind it was that we want to make sure that our dispensary partners, those bud tenders are our team members, we want to make sure they have all the tools that they need to be able to feel comfortable in suggesting our product. So that's part of it. The other part is just a little description about us, because we've talked about it a couple of times here that, you know, these are artists that are hand making every pipe and people don't think that that's actually what's going on. So we noticed that we were working with some of these dispensaries for long periods of time, and their bud tenders still didn't know that these were American made, that these were made by artists. And so we're how do we get this in front of them, you know, we can suggest to read a blog. And like I said, one company is actually it's part of their onboarding process. But that's not everywhere. And so we started putting them in in the boxes. So that the idea is in the dispensary world, you know, and I don't know as much as I should, about terpenes. And about all these other things, right. That's where all the education is, though. That's, that's what's in all the break rooms. I've been in the break rooms of dispensaries, there is so much publication about all of the actual plant related products, or related items, nothing on devices, nothing on consumption. And so that was the idea behind it too. So we can put our mark in the flag there that this is also something that everybody needs to be educated on.

Shayda Torabi  51:43  
Yeah, super smart and effective. And again, just something that might seem so simple, but obviously it has so much benefit and repeatability. And I think that is kind of where my marketing brain goes. Sometimes it's how do I do things that can be repeatable without exerting more energy. And so you make the brand guide, you know, once and then you're able to print as many copies as you want and distribute it out. And it helps reinforce that professionalization of your brand. And also reinforces that value of education, which you're observing, you know, other types of businesses in the cannabis industry are especially taking over that idea of the break room for these bud tenders, but also arming them with that information of hey, you are in the driver's seat, helping drive people to their destination of what products to purchase, and ultimately add to cart and so anything that you can do to kind of be top of mind thoughtful, made to be available for them to feel like oh, I didn't just I'm not just selling something, I'm actually educating people. I think that's the discernment. When we're

Unknown Speaker  52:39  
sitting around talking, there's a little bit of a, of course, I know about that, right? Of course, I know about terpenes, or this or that. And that's fine when we're around peers. But when we're not around peers, we need to realize that this information that we have is second nature is not second nature to other people, and that we need to provide. And you know, most of us could probably write a book on half of this stuff. So turn it into something then you can give to your customer so they can be educated. Right? I mean, it's

Shayda Torabi  53:09  
Yeah, I agree with it. 110% I think this is such a impactful episode for people to be tuning into, because I think you're just you're sharing really transparently, you know, it's not that not every guest here is transparently just everybody's different, right, everybody's degree to share and kind of, you know, go into the depths of their business is is variable. So I think what you're sharing is really spot on and really resonating, at least with me that I'm already like, oh, what can I be doing more of that is helping, you know, move the needle for my business. But Okay, final question. I've started asking my guests this. And I think that it's been a really fun question to ask, which is, what does the future of cannabis look like to you and your business?

Unknown Speaker  53:46  
I'm gonna say this, and I hope it's heard how I mean it, I feel like we can look at the alcohol industry a lot, right? So what I mean by that is, you're gonna have your Budweiser, your, you're gonna have your big brands, and we can fight it all we want. But the flip side is, if we didn't have these big corporate entities, we probably wouldn't be nearly as far along as we are, right. And then we're gonna have our crafts, just like the craft beer, we're gonna have our craft grows. And I think it's going to be a beautiful relationship of those two things. Because these large dispensaries cannot produce the cannabis at the scale and at the quality, they can do scale, they can't do the quality of the craft growth, right. And so I think we're going to see a very similar thing to that. As far as cannabis is goes, we're really hoping to solve some more problems with the largest dispensaries we have. We have some things on the docket to really start to try to be a more integral service, not just providing product but providing more support to their ancillary side of their businesses, because it's only 2% of their business. They're not really caring about it. But if we were to help a little bit more, with some plans that we have, we should be able to help them get a little bit more out of that 2%.

Shayda Torabi  54:58  
I think the best businesses come from Finding a need for a solution. And Chris is clearly the kind of entrepreneur who wants to deliver quality products to the market and to the end consumer. But he also wants to do it in a way that enables and empowers the artists in small business, which isn't always important to every business owner. But getting to learn how Chris and his team have navigated bring their brands and products to market was insightful and inspiring for me and I hope it was for you as well. As always, thanks for keeping it blunt with me. I will be back next week with another episode every Monday and encourage you to keep championing cannabis in your community. Thanks y'all. See you later.

Announcer  55:36  
Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit the Shayda be blind for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays. And for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi