To Be Blunt: The Professional Cannabis Business Podcast

098 Contemporary Cannabis Branding and Ecommerce Designed by Women Who Smoke Weed with Hayley and Lana of Sackville & Co.

May 02, 2022 Shayda Torabi Season 3 Episode 98
To Be Blunt: The Professional Cannabis Business Podcast
098 Contemporary Cannabis Branding and Ecommerce Designed by Women Who Smoke Weed with Hayley and Lana of Sackville & Co.
Show Notes Transcript

“We immediately got pigeonholed into this wellness thing which I think cannabis places women in so if you're a woman or you're a female-run brand or something, you can only really have this aesthetic of wellness…  We just happen to be women who are running this brand and, designing and producing these pieces, but it's meant for anyone.” - Lana Van Brunt

Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Hayley Dineen and Lana Van Brunt of Sackville and Co., a lifestyle brand made by women who like to smoke weed. They talk about how they approach design in the cannabis space and how they are bringing cannabis into the mainstream through their design-forward products and collaborations with other artists and brands. They also discuss their vision for the future and the need for more women entrepreneurs in the industry.

[00:01 – 04:50] Shayda shares her podcasting journey

[04:51 – 25:34] Creating A Brand for the Connoisseurs and the Curious

[25:35 – 29:43] Lessons Learned from An Acquisition Gone Wrong

[35:57- 35:21] Breathing Life to Brands through Collaborations

[35:22 - 57:19] The Future is Female In the Cannabis Industry

[57:20 – 58:56] Food for thought: What do you think about Hayley and Lana’s fight to get their business back?


Lana Van Brunt and Hayley Dineen are the Brooklyn-based duo behind Sackville & Co., a design-focused contemporary cannabis lifestyle brand, and Sackville Studios, the first multidisciplinary cannabis design and production studio creating brands from the ground up for both cannabis industry leaders and newcomers alike. Dineen cut her teeth at the world-renowned arts & design college Central St. Martin’s in London, going on to design for high-end brands including Yeezy, OVO, Vivienne Westwood, and more. Van Brunt employs her marketing and branding genius to the Sackville brand from her time as a Director at VICE Media and ATTN: Media. 

Connect with Hayley and Lana!

Check out their brand and products at the Sackville & Co. website. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

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:

“We are women who run this brand, but we really wanted it to be approachable to anyone and not really segment out part of our audience and be like, ‘This is only for women.’ It's like this is for anyone who loves design, who wants to approach cannabis in a new way.” - Hayley Dineen

SPONSORSHIP is brought to you by Restart CBD. Check them out for your CBD needs

LEAVE A REVIEW + help someone who wants to join me for episodes featuring some serious cannabis industry by sharing this episode or click here to listen to past episodes

RESTART CBD is an education first CBD wellness brand shipping nationwide.

Lana Van Brunt  0:00  
We actually always had that in mind. So the end CCO of Sackville is kind of that if you see on collabs, we pull out in terms of the actual design of the brand we pull out the end code or actual logo lockup is the big word Mark Sackville, and then the ENCODE tucked kind of in the middle, so that gets removed and there'll be a bit the brand with it. So it's always meant to be this end kind of company and collaboration piece. We always felt that so early days, we actually started the brand with a different logo. And really, really quickly we did a rebrand because we immediately got pigeonholed into this wellness thing which I think cannabis places women in so if you're a woman or you're a female run brand or something, you can only really have this aesthetic of wellness and we wanted to like we just happen to be women that are running this brand that are designing and producing these pieces, but it's meant for anyone

Announcer  1:05  
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  1:29  
Hello, and welcome back to a new episode of The to be blunt podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, cannabis business owner and brand marketer, and I cannot believe we are inching closer and closer to my 100th episode. Launching to be blunt has been one of the most exciting and challenging endeavors to date. And it's absolutely been a fun journey, learning something new and pushing myself out of my comfort zone week after week. And while my 100th episode is coming up in May, I also cannot believe my two year anniversary of the show will be in June. Honestly, when I started this podcast, I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting myself into. I mean, I had never done a podcast before. So navigating all the tools and equipment and the right platform was such a learning curve. And Sincerely speaking, I'm still learning as I go, which is half the fun because I do believe if you aren't learning you aren't growing. So I mostly welcome the uncomfortability with open arms. But I remember early on after just a couple of episodes of self editing, I quickly realized that I didn't have the attention span or the time to edit and made the decision to hire a podcast production team, which shout out to streamline podcasts for helping bring these episodes to your airwaves every week. But one of the owners and I had a conversation as I was onboarding and he kind of jokingly said you aren't a podcaster until you've hit 100 episodes, which puzzled me at the time because depending on how you approach it 100 episodes seems daunting and overwhelming. And also, if you think about it does that mean I'm not a podcaster because I was launching a podcast and I certainly was putting myself in a position to be called a podcaster. But I think where he was coming from is trying to instill in me practice of consistency and routine and not just starting something but actually following through with something. So after doing some quick math on how long it would take for me to hit 100 episodes, if I was releasing a new episode every week, which I have been every Monday for the past pretty much two years, it meant that I had to be consistent at something for years plus, and so to be so close to hitting that milestone has me feeling really proud of the investment that I've been making week after week to deliver these episodes to you. And I just hope you know that I really put my heart into each and every guest opportunity conversation and consideration for where this industry is growing and how to best help inspire you and guide you in navigating the regulated cannabis market. So certainly more to come all my episodes and guests bring so much value to not only you all but selfishly and especially me so I really appreciate everyone who has been on the show so far over these years. But these next three episodes are extra special to me as we continue to make progress towards hitting this magical milestone. Also, I couldn't do without you. My listener, thank you. Thank you Thank you for the time that you spend soaking up these words and for being a champion of cannabis and your community. It is together that we are professionalizing this industry and normalizing the cannabis consumer experience. So to transition now into today's episode I am about to introduce you to two fabulous entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry they are Bay based in Brooklyn, New York and I am joined today by the cofounders of Sackville and CO, which is a contemporary cannabis brand designed by women who liked to smoke weed. Me too. Right. And those women are Lana Van Brunt and Haley Dineen Lana employs her marketing and branding genius to the Sackville brand. From her time as director at VICE media and attention media and Haley cut her teeth at the world renowned Arts and Design College Central Saint Martin's in London going on to design for high end brands, including Yeezy, ovo, Vivienne Westwood and more. In addition to running their own cannabis brand and e commerce Store. They've also launched Sackville studios, in addition to running their own cannabis brand and ecommerce store. They've also launched Sackville studios as a multidisciplinary cannabis design and production studio who has worked with clients like Playboy select and Miss Jones to name a few. Clearly some badass women which we love to see, and so much creativity flowing lessons learned from how they navigate the design of their products to actually getting those products into production, hiring and building out there team going after investments in securing funding and building a brand with the spirit of collaboration. I can't wait for you to listen to the episode. So without further ado, let's get straight to it. Please join me by lighting one up and let's welcome Lana and Haley to the show.

Unknown Speaker  6:29  
I'm Lana Rembrandt. I am one of the two people founding Sackville, unco. And I am originally Canadian. Hayley and I met in Toronto. And there's so many actual details to how this baby became but we you know, over some wine nights and some What the fuck is happening in cannabis. And why are there nothing that we want to buy out there, we ended up coming up with our first product, which is the Fortier signature grinder, we started with that one little grinder and ran with it from there.

Hayley Dineen  7:04  
Yeah, and I'm Haley I'm the other half a bit of I guess I'll tell you a bit of my background of how I got into it. So I actually come from a design background, I worked in fashion and studied fashion and worked at a bunch of high luxury brands and street wear brands. So I was at sipping Westwood for a while I was a design director and ovo I worked at easy for a bit. And that kind of informed a lot of the decision making of how we wanted to, you know, approach design in the cannabis space because like Lana was saying, we just didn't see anything on the market that actually fit what we would want to use or what we would want to have in our house or, or on our coffee table or shelf or anything like that. So we started really ideating about what cannabis would look like in our perfect world. And you know, sackful was born out of that. And then, you know, Lana has an incredible background in branding and marketing. So the two of us kind of took both of our skill sets and created this new world, which became Sacco and CO to sort of introduce other people to the way we thought Canvas could be seen. I

Shayda Torabi  8:05  
am so excited to have you both on the podcast because kind of for your we're starting to record and certainly my listeners I'm sure are familiar with you and or running to their phones or computers to go look up your website, your Instagram and can see just visually the intention and quality of the way that you've brought sacral and CO to life. And so especially understanding you both kind of come from branding, products, marketing, creative, I know you also have Sackville Studios, which is your design arm agency. And so there's a lot that I want to get into but kind of at a high level, I would love to learn a little bit more about what like why Sackville as a name, what is the significance of the brand and maybe a little bit of, you know, how do you go from an idea to actually making a product and ultimately then putting it for sale? Like what does that look like? Because I sometimes I'm like, oh, you know, I have an idea to do something but me with the idea to me actually taking the step can take weeks, months, years sometimes. And so I'm just curious, what was that timeline for y'all? And what was that process? Like?

Unknown Speaker  9:08  
Yeah, it's interesting. I'm starting with the end of that sentence, which is not right. But it is interesting that you pointed out the actual lifecycle of developing something is a long time. I think if you want to put something out with integrity, and quality and all of that, like you know, a lot of our products take years to develop. So you know, the crystal ball pipe took two years the cannabis that we just launched in California took over two years to develop and produce the grinders took a couple of years like it's I think you see this sense of this culture of like a weekly draw up and you know, everyone's kind of waiting for the next thing but good things do still take time. So yeah, if that's the end of that sentence, but it is not talked about enough that it doesn't just come out of nowhere. So if you're taking time doing something we all are and it's not like compete Even with the lifecycle of Instagram of like you working behind the scenes and feeling like you're not getting anything done, we're all actually doing that.

Unknown Speaker  10:07  
Yeah, it's like not the sexy part of running a business, though, like back and forth of sampling and, you know, sketching out different ideas, getting them back and being like, actually, I hate this. You know, a lot of that happens. And no one ever sees that part of building a brand or a business, but we all go through it. So we feel anyone in that process. And the front part

Unknown Speaker  10:27  
of we cycle has a meaning to Haley and I, but it was something that we decided in early days, this was like 2017, I guess, when we started chatting this all through. And it was a very different world. You know, Vogue wasn't reading about weed all of this year, over year, every six months, or honestly, every quarter, there's a whole new wave of interest in cannabis. And as you know, even like four years ago, was not the same world as now. So it meant something to us to have a brand had no connotation to anything, or any ones that you could kind of just put your own. You know, it was important to us, because we're for our tagline is for the connoisseurs and the curious. So if you're a curious person, and you're just stepping into cannabis to get a package on your doorstep that had a big pot leaf or something would have maybe been too intimidating to participate with. And like, again, that was four years ago. And now maybe we wouldn't have felt the same. Maybe if we were starting now it would have been like wrap the whole thing. People are much more like intrigued. Yeah, for sure. But at that point, it was something that wanted to be really elevated, you know, look beautiful, but have no sense of weed connotation, and no connotation that someone you know, there was already a sense of what that word meant. So that's kind of where where we landed there.

Unknown Speaker  11:44  
And I think as well, like we really wanted to approach like, we are women who run this brand, but we really wanted it to be approachable to anyone and not really segment out part of our audience and be like, this is only for women. It's like this is for anyone who loves design, who wants to approach cannabis in a new way. And so it was important to us to really have that name be something that people could, you know, feel like they could attach their own ideas to Yeah,

Shayda Torabi  12:11  
no, that makes so much sense. And I think you position it in such a way that I really want to kind of re emphasize for the listeners, right? There is not I think, personally at least a right or wrong way to approach like getting in the cannabis industry. I read so many articles, reports, you know, commentary around, you know, like the Rastafari in like, you know, red, yellow and green is out like it's dead don't use it anymore. And I'm like, but there's still people who like really resonate with that and that is you know, part of cannabis culture, especially if you're looking at like legacy things. But it is opening the door to this new cannabis consumer. And also I loved what you said Lana about Vogue wasn't writing about cannabis, you know, a couple years ago and seeing that transition into now they are writing about cannabis, they're writing about your brand and to see perhaps maybe they're writing about it because I'm not using your brand as you know, exclusive explicit but your brand is the example of you can have something that is not blatantly cannabis branded, and be a cannabis brand, which is sometimes I think lost when people are wanting to go to market with cannabis brands. They think, oh, I have to use these colors, I have to have a pot leave it has to say green plant or whatever in the name for someone to get it. And so I just want to re emphasize that, you know, nuanced that you were really smart on breathing life into your brand in a way that makes it applicable and accessible to the non cannabis person, which is I think, where we can see cannabis continuing to drive into these non cannabis traditional but very much mainstream conversations. So kind of going into that conversation. I did want to get a little bit more of an understanding to have you know, what is the process like from you're starting a brand and your E commerce is like predominantly your go to market strategy. You're also sold in certain dispensaries, you recently launched a partnership with a California cannabis brand. And so how do you kind of take the idea that is Sackville and CO you're making specifically originally it sounds like two accessories. Now you've you know, advanced into apparel and even doing more like collaborations and other types of products. How does that unfold in terms of you know, we want to be digital, we want to be in brick and mortars. We want to go to wholesale opportunities. I guess, like from my perspective, people ask me a lot, you know, what's the best way to go to market? Should I be direct to consumer? Should I go through commerce? And really, what can we get away with doing being a cannabis business? And so did you intentionally make these choices? Or did it kind of just fall into you know, the path that you were walking along and I was like, Okay, this makes sense. We'll take this next step.

Unknown Speaker  14:45  
I feel like cannabis is such a unique opportunity in terms of like finding those business paths because things change all the time and you know, year by year, but like month by month, week by week, things are changing. And so as much as we knew we wanted to build, you know, this behemoth brand and really take this to a global scale, we had to recognize that, you know, legalities are changing across the state across the province across the world constantly. And so it took more of a thoughtful strategy in terms of how we approach those things. And we definitely had a very specific strategy with wholesale with I'm sure Linda will get into because she oversees a lot of that. But ecommerce was a really big play for us too, in terms of just getting in front of people and allowing them to see the brand through our eyes, because you have full control over your E commerce, which you don't have, when you put your products on a shelf, you don't get to decide who you're beside a lot of the time, or what you know, the merchandising looks like. So ecommerce was a really big opportunity for us to paint the picture in the world of Sackville for people who, you know, were new to the industry.

Unknown Speaker  15:53  
Yeah. And just in addition to that, like there are with the change of regulations like you do, we're a bootstrap business, we had a little interesting story in the middle of that, which I'm sure we'll get to with the acquisition gone wrong. But we're still fully private, we were fully bootstrapped, self funded in a world that is, you know, when we're moving into the US markets, like not federally legal, your hands are tied in almost every way you turn, whether you know, we didn't have funding, so therefore the decisions you're making are just what you can do. So you know, like, Haley's saying, ecommerce, you can dictate your entire store, you can communicate with your audience, and you can kind of like, get what you put into it. So if you're willing to be present and engaging with the audience, you can kind of get some of that audience back into your sales and with wholesale opportunities came up. But we're still, we're very, very intentional with where we wholesale, because ultimately, even as a small brand, when we started, I think it's important to make these decisions like you can't be everywhere. And the decisions you make early on are the decisions that will dictate your opportunity for future growth. So we did you know, we had from the onset, our dream doors that we would want to be in in terms of retail, and that goes from collabs, to what online sales look like to our wholesale partners. And so we made strategic decisions at the beginning to turn down potential like quick money that would have, you know, maybe cannibalized our business and our opportunity for growth into larger markets or larger retailers. So we are still really specific on that we approve, like, we approve the two of us every single wholesale door that we're in. And that's purposeful, because ultimately, we look at the business with that very end goal in mind constantly. So although sometimes when you're making those decisions, like oh, no, I don't think that this is necessarily the right fit for the brand, or we have too many doors in this location. And we don't want to impact some of the partners that we have there or whatever, it seems silly at the time, because you're like, well, we don't have that many wholesale accounts like we should be taking this in. But I think if you keep that end vision in mind, you very quickly step into the space where those decisions are meaningful, because you're now getting an opportunity with the you know, top tier dispensaries, the designer boutiques, because you didn't take placements in the ones that are, you know, a diamond eyes and kind of thing.

Shayda Torabi  18:25  
I really love and appreciate the transparency and that answer from both of y'all. Because I do think when you are obviously like starting a brand, you want to grow it and you want to be successful with it. And sometimes it can feel and I think I'll probably equate it to like fear of missing out, right, you get the first email comes in and says, Hey, we want to put your brand in our store. And it's like, oh, my god, somebody is paying attention. Somebody found me they want my business, they want my brand, but then having to go through that, I guess, you know, brand vision that you've set out, which is, you know, people listen to the podcast, there's plenty of episodes where we go into defining your brand vision, your y, you know, understanding kind of like building out your plan. And yes, the plan can deviate and evolve, but having some sort of gauge against, I'm going to say no to something so that I can say yes to the right things or bigger opportunities that don't dilute ultimately that brand value at the end of the day. So again, I just appreciate the transparency. And it's not that that is the right or wrong answer for everyone listening and I always try to stress to my listeners, you know, hear these stories with the intention that your business is uniquely your business. And maybe it makes sense to go into wholesale operations and maybe it makes sense to be direct to consumer, certainly depending on what products you are selling. If you are you know state specific because you're selling a cannabis regulated product, you have to be a little bit more mindful of you know, the boundaries are specific to what business you're actually going to market with. So I just thought it was a really important note to kind of call out and then Haley you mentioned something to around ecommerce and owning your website. I can't stress that enough for you Pull, I think they always dismiss, you know, kind of like your digital web presence, because there are other platforms that are, you know, maybe more from an acquisition perspective. Okay, well, I can go fishing when I'm on tick tock, Instagram, LinkedIn, whatever, and get new people versus my website, how do I drive people to my website, but having that perspective to have the website is where you get to create the world for your brand. And that is your own real estate, and you can do with it, what you want is really powerful. And so I definitely want to get into to just the creativity behind it. Because I'm curious, you both obviously have creative backgrounds, how big is the team? And how do you operate and manage like updating your website and taking brand photos and kind of breathing the creative life into the products and things that you're building? This might

Unknown Speaker  20:52  
be a shocker to anyone listening, it's actually just Haley. And I, I think that this is something we grapple with all the time in terms of financially what decisions you make in terms of long term overhead so that you can grow, you know, with ease, I guess, and not putting yourself in risky positions. Because as you're growing a business, you know, you don't always have a clear line of sight on where your revenue is coming from. And especially when you're building a product based brand, you're developing your own kind of historic analytics. And in cannabis, there's not a ton of historics on anything. So in terms of product life cycles, growth cycles, revenue growth, there's nothing really that you have to kind of base that off of, and then the industry itself is so young, that it has had these little bubbles, but we've seen them bursts, we've seen all this stuff. So basically pay me and I hire freelancers, so we have some consultants or freelancers on board, and we kind of prop up and down as projects come through, we have in the past had full time employees. And it's just a decision that we made that was during our acquisition, and we no longer have full time employees. But every part of the business we touch, so we are 100%, from website, wholesale platforms, design, branding, design, anything you see on social media, all aspects of production, every single thing, all customer if you have emailed customer service, you're talking to us every single piece we do and I think really it comes from the place that we have some you know we right now we have a couple of people who are on freelance, because we're at a place where our projects are large enough, enough to kind of account for that. But we care very much about every aspect of the business. And we both really believe that no one's ever going to care as much as you do. And so that goes for the way you communicate with your customer, every part of our social media, where you know, we have someone who's helping us out day to day now, but we're still so involved in the scope of what that looks like. Because no one is ever going to care about the things we care about. And it just means that we have to set the tone and we have to also know how to do everything. So especially if you're starting a small business, trust me, there's things that I we both like don't fucking like to do, or it's not our skill set. And we'll have someone hired in for support or something. But ultimately, at the end of the day, we can do absolutely everything across our business no matter what. So we're never going to be in a position where we can't continue to progress no matter what a situation comes up. Because we've educated ourselves in every platform, every system, every part of the business. And I think that that's like important. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  23:37  
and I think being a generalist is a huge win, because it allows you to also communicate with your team when you are bringing on freelancers or contractors or if you're moving into full time hires, which again, building a team takes a really long time to find the right people because you need someone who was a brand fit who you know, has a personality fit all of those things are really really vital and startup vibes are very Yeah, and being in a startup is completely different than working in you know, a corporate position so it's a really unique thing and I think having general knowledge across the board just allows you to also communicate the things that you don't know where you're like I noticed this thing that I'd love to be better how can you as an expert in this field help us with XY and Z or it just allows conversations to flow a little better so try everything you're not gonna be good at everything but it'll allow you to know where you really need to yeah get help or get support and what that could look like yeah, you

Shayda Torabi  24:30  
guys are just fucking badass is like I'm just gonna say it and I just have so much respect for the hustle and grind and you know, I'll share your transparently too I feel people don't really view so what we mentioned we're recording on a CBD brand to my listeners know that restart CBD. We are a small family brand and we have taken a very similar approach we do most everything we have a brick and mortar dispensary. So we have had to hire some staff to help us manage retail but everything you're touching on it's kind of one of those things. If you don't Don't care, like, no one's gonna care more than you care. And so you really have to roll up your sleeves and sometimes do things that are uncomfortable or challenging, or at least try to put the energy and effort into doing that. And then I think the flip side of that, too, is, you know, sometimes the perception of customers, they think, Oh, my gosh, I'm dealing with a customer service person, it's like, no, it's me, you know, the CEO of the company was like, responding to like, customer concerns. And, and it just is part of, you know, again, not good or bad, just the growing scaling of a company and making decisions that can empower you and also protect you when you are trying to navigate growth and scale. And so I know you kind of mentioned a little bit the acquisition, I did want to just like open that up, because I think, obviously share as much as you want to share about it. But I think that people look at business ownership for many different outcomes, right? There are some people who are very passionate about the products that they're creating the industry the value that they're able to offer to their community, their clients, their customers, but then there's also people who are looking at it for you know, the payout, okay, well, how do I grow my company to this size, but I can be acquired I can, acquisitions look different, right? Sometimes acquisitions are, we're going to require your business, we're going to take over your business, and you're no longer part of the business. Here's your big fat check. Bye bye now. And then some acquisitions are we're gonna retain you on the team, and you're going to be a part of the company, but we're just going to give you inject some, you know, investment into it, so to speak. So I'm curious, really, what was the path for y'all to decide, hey, let's approach acquisition as a conversation. And then how you got out of that to now come on the other side and continue to build such a successful and well accepted brand in the cannabis industry?

Unknown Speaker  26:37  
Yeah, I do think this is an important conversation, especially for female entrepreneurs within cannabis, because or, in general, female entrepreneurs do not have access to capital the same way that men do. And I don't know that there's like this coming up. And there's podcasts and stuff like that. But it's important that we get information out I think, so that women like feel that they have a space to understand what even options are available. So our story is basically, we were what I guess, like maybe two years in and we were at a point in terms of scaling that we needed investment in order to continue to grow. So we even in the simplest form of meeting inventory, work demands, we needed some capital to invest in inventory to grow in terms of the revenue that we were taking on and stuff like that, and a ton of other things, hiring all the stuff that we want to do. So we were not looking for an acquisition. We were looking for investment we went through it took us we probably did it for maybe maybe a year, maybe year and a half. We're going conversation Yeah, going through different two different investments papered in terms of term sheets, and both fell through at different times for different reasons. And that's ultimately because Haley and I and this happened with the acquisition as well in terms of our negotiations, but are very, very, very dead set on the vision of Sackville. So at no point like we, there's things that we are not willing to compromise on. And that's the in terms of the vision of Sackville. So we those fell apart, because we weren't able to give up some things in terms of the company for to take on investment. And then the acquisition came, the opportunity came. And it was not something we were looking for, but we were really really aligned with the people at the time. So it was with a female CEO who was I don't know that there was even another female seven it

Unknown Speaker  28:19  
was very rare at that time. I think she was like the only CEO of a public company at that. Time and 20 teen

Unknown Speaker  28:27  
time. Yeah. That was dependent. For COVID Yeah, whatever that was, and we so it came through a bunch of conversations and they pitched us basically on an acquisition and we were just so aligned, I think with the vision and yeah, we did spend a lot of time in negotiating what that would look like and we did stay on so it was an aqua hire so we had an urn out as well. So we were much smaller company than we are now even but we did acquisition and then within five months there was a change of control with the company that bought us and like your contracts are everything do not concede on anything that you want in a contract we were absolutely kind of you know, I would even say to the point of bullied in terms of our contract negotiations just being like you know at risk of you're gonna risk this deal and all this stuff but we were firm on what we wanted in the contract they ended up giving it to us that came to light five months later so those pieces in the contract that we fought for were the only pieces that we were able to basically take legal action against the company but what happened is there was a change of control they did not prioritize brand. The vision was a complete mismatch for the new CEO and they actually attempted to close down Sacco so completely just wash it off their books and so we you know, we call it like the fight of our life because we ended up you know, taking a few months and taking legal action to fight to get the company back and it was a very like, you know, we joke sometimes that we kind of got an MBA in those few months because first of all negotiating acquisition, and then yeah, taking legal action to get out of an acquisition. It's incredibly rare to get your company back after an acquisition. But it was like, We're different people like the intelligence that comes out of kind of those experiences. But we got the company back. And it was during COVID. It was a peak of COVID. So we were on notice on March 9, I believe that this was all happening. And March 13, was the full full shutdown, at least in New York, where we were Yeah. And so then we began, like, from home, just fighting to get the company back for a few months, which we did. And we're beyond happy with and out of that, like many things have come. And I think the way that we look at investment in the business is very different. And you know, out of that period grew Sackville studios. So we had a period of time where we had a ton of interest before just based on some of our design accolades of wanting people to help with branding and product design for their companies, whether it was a dispensary that was wanting to build their own brand of accessories, or brands that were not in the industry at all, like we've been able to design and produce all the products were a canvas long for Playboy and you know, a ton of other brands. But so there's consumer brands as well that were looking and we kind of just at the time, didn't have time, like we were very focused on Sackville. And then during that we were able to prop up studios because Sackville was kind of in a place where it was frozen. Yeah, minute, no one, even from that, like, no consumer would know that, like, we worked very hard to keep up business to the point of where our hands were tied, which was like, gave us an inch to work within that people, you know, didn't feel the impact of that, whether it was direct consumers or our wholesalers or anything like that. So we kind of, you know, took some risks to make sure that people were comfortable in it all. But that's what that acquisition story is. And out of it, like we could not be happier that company went on to slowly basically collapse. So like, you know, we're Yeah, I

Unknown Speaker  32:06  
think we definitely came out of it, like so much stronger, so much better. Like Lana was saying, it led to the launch of studios, which has been such an incredible business for us. And like, so exciting for us, like we really are designing and ideating about what the future of cannabis can look like in terms of a product and branding sense. And that's something that we're just like, absolutely thrilled to be part of. So it's definitely like, sometimes the worst times end up being the best outcomes. So yeah, you just kind of have to hold tight and like stay with your vision.

Unknown Speaker  32:38  
Yeah. And now we're with studios, we are, as Haley said, We're the kind of the little secret behind a lot of the brands that you would see in dispensaries or online from consumer goods. Like we said Playboy's and stuff like that. But you know, we work with Cresco labs curaleaf, we work with Miss grass, old pal design products, we work with a couple of really high end fashion designers who are launching their own brands that we are excited to talk about once they launch. Yeah, we have a ton of clients that you may wouldn't know. But we're kind of the hind from behind come to life, which again, is like we talked about now it's such a thrill to have that because Sackville has become this portfolio piece for us where we get to design with our aesthetic and vision and all of that, but you still like anything, like you go to a store, or you listen to a song or something. And you're like, like, I get why this is good, but maybe it's not a fit for me or like I love this, if only I had a different like, I wish I could wear these, like platforms or whatever it is that you're like, is not that's kind of how we're able to do with studios where we're like, this is so cool, but it wouldn't be on site. It's

Unknown Speaker  33:44  
not exactly yeah, that is a

Shayda Torabi  33:46  
very cool journey. I know it was a painful journey at times. But like y'all have articulated it made you stronger, and certainly opened up doors in terms of studios and being able to really help breathe life into other people's brands. And you answered it. Lana, when you were talking about the timeline of when things were happening, and kind of presenting to your consumers, your wholesale partners, obviously business as usual. And so I was curious if there was any kind of lapse of service or products being you know, brought to market or and what that kind of like timeline was so I can only imagine the physical period of time for which all this was happening. And it's like everybody's, you know, on your Instagram on your social media on your website. It's like, oh, you know, they're posting everything looks good. And like behind the scenes, you're kind of navigating this very integral thing for the survival of your business. And so again, I really appreciate you sharing so openly because I do think people look at acquisitions and really investment for many different you know, reasons and purposes, and it's very difficult to go after investment in the cannabis industry. And so it's, you know, unfortunate sometimes it comes in the shape of acquisition versus true investment. And obviously partnerships can go many different ways, but all that to say you're on the other side now and it seems like Getting a lot of really good successful notes

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. You mentioned Playboy you mentioned curaleaf These are some really remarkable brands both in the cannabis industry and out of the cannabis industry. I would love to hear how the design kind of process goes for y'all. Do you feel like you approach every because I know collaborations and partnerships whether it's for Sackville, I know y'all partnered with some I don't wanna say local artists, but specific artists that have I don't know if they have particular interests for y'all from a you know, visual or musical perspective and what has kind of like encouraged those collaborations or partnerships, but kind of the topic is partnerships and collaborations. I think that it is so important in the cannabis industry, but especially for brands right and like being able to extend your brand into a new audience. And in your case a little bit with studios, you're able to kind of play and help someone else think creatively brand without having to like really be the brand that's selling those products. But what is that process like for let's say, you're sitting down with XYZ company, and they're like, hey, we want you to design something for us. What does it look like? Do you have go to processes that you run through every client with like, let's get into like the creative side, like what is creativity to y'all? And how do you approach it for your projects?

Unknown Speaker  37:05  
Yeah, I think it's definitely two distinct processes for collaborations with Sackville, where it's like, you know, we really want to bring art fashion design music into cannabis with Sackville. And that's our sort of playground for that and collaborations. And then with studios Studios is much more we partner with somebody and they have a brand vision, or at least in those examples that you mentioned, like Playboy or curaleaf, or Cresco. They have these incredible brands built and it's about bringing touch points to the consumer that are exciting and tell a bit more of a story about the brand. Because really what we've seen in the past through merchandise with a lot of corporate companies are really throwaway items with like, you know, a logo on them. And people think somehow that's going to tell a story, or you know, really excited customer, which unfortunately does the exact opposite, it ends up in the trash and ends up being this thing that cheapens your brand and makes it look, you know, really not the vision that you're kind of setting out. So the way we approach things is really trying to figure out how the brands that we're working with what their cannabis story is, because each one of those brands has an ideal consumer and wants to tell a story about what consumption looks like for that consumer. And so with that, we tried to take away and design a real story around what that consumption process looks like. Like Are they someone who wants to go hiking and smoke a joint in the woods with friends? Is this you know, someone who wants to use cannabis as a way to relax, decompress at home, and it's much more of a self care ritual? And how can we build products around that brand that allow that experience to kind of come full circle and come to light and elevate the cannabis product, but through these other touch points? Yeah. And

Unknown Speaker  38:49  
with that being said, we basically they are different processes, but we have kind of transitioned. And that's just because of that's the way we think like, hey, we said like, we believe that every single piece of your brand has to have a purpose. And that's for our brand or someone else's brand. So if you have a keychain, why, and what are you doing with it? And why is someone getting it? And what is it made from? And, you know, where is it being made, and all those pieces, and they're all all of those requirements are different for each brand. But ultimately, we have been able to transition our kind of custom mindset and this individually designed mindset for Sackville into studios. So we actually make these custom programs. So it's not a like pick off a sheet like here's the sweaters and here's the pipes and here's the whatever. So each brand has a custom program, we kind of call it but it's the same process and every brand is looked at as Haley said with that mindset of who's the consumer, what are they trying to get out of this? where's this going to be seen? What is the timeline to produce? What can we do that we believe in and we produce so everything is technically still custom in that sense that it's not a big sheet of here's what's available, we make everything in mind for each brand that we're working with. Yeah, we

Unknown Speaker  40:04  
really line plan out everything for those unique brand needs to because some brands, you know, have an audience that's willing to spend $500 on a rolling tray, and some have an audience where that's, you know, way out of budget, but they still want to have this really exciting brand experience at, you know, a $20 price point. And we can approach those things with the same mindset. They just, you know, go down different paths.

Shayda Torabi  40:28  
Yeah, I think you mentioned something to Haley just around. And it resonated with me, because I come from an event background and an extension of events is, you know, tchotchkes or branded items, and even just like extrapolating that out into just a brand itself, you know, you want to have at least in my opinion, some sort of merchandise, some sort of swag that is reflective of the brand. And I do think that we get kind of two sides of that coin, right, in the traditional sense of branded swag and things like that. There's keychains, and koozies, and pens and hats and just kind of like generic things. And then on the cannabis side, everybody's like, Okay, well, I got to do a grinder, I got to do a rolling tray. You know, they're very specific things within the industry, people kind of gravitate towards and it's, again, not that those are like off the table, kind of like you're articulating, it's just how do you kind of infuse intention, and specifically that brand's voice and vision into the creation? And from my observation, the story that Brian is trying to tell through these like branded items. And so I just, you know, want people that are resonate with that thought of like, yes, you can go and make T shirts with your company logo on them, but are people going to actually wear them is that the best investment that you could be making versus maybe partnering with someone like Sackville studios who is going to bring some you know, creativity to it, and maybe partner with another creative artists who's going to do an interesting design, that's just so much more than Yeah, putting your logo on a t shirt.

Unknown Speaker  41:54  
I feel like also like swag as such, or merchandise is also such an incredible opportunity to tell your story, like, get out there and tell your story. Do you want to highlight graphic designers or artists that you love? Do you want to really tell an outdoorsy story? Do you want to tell a self care story? Like these are things that I think everyone should really think about in terms of when they're building out a brand in terms of physical products? Like what? Why are you doing physical products? Like what is that actually bringing to the experience in cannabis, the consumption experience? What is that telling people? And how is that introducing cannabis to them in a new way or a way that hasn't been done before?

Shayda Torabi  42:34  
You guys also mentioned from the Sackville co side the partnerships, specifically music and arts. How did you start to like breathe life into that because when you originally launched the brand, it seemed like obviously, y'all were the ones designing things. At what point did you decide, hey, now we're going to invite someone in to collaborate with our brand. And what are you looking for from a like someone else's brand from a creative perspective that you're like, that is great, that's an aesthetic, they're speaking to my vision, my passion, you know, anything that's kind of overlapping that you decide, hey, I want to bring this in and do a collaboration for my brand.

Unknown Speaker  43:13  
We actually always had that in mind. So the and CO of Sackville is kind of that if you see on collabs, we pull out in terms of the actual design of the brand, we pull out the end code or actual logo lockup is the big word Mark Sackville, and then the ENCODE tucked kind of in the middle, so that gets removed, and there'll be a bit the brand with it. So it's always meant to be this end kind of company and collaboration piece, we always felt that so early days, we actually started the brand with a different logo. And really, really quickly we did a rebrand because we immediately got pigeonholed into this wellness thing, which I think cannabis places women in so if you're a woman, or you're a female run brand or something, you can only really have this aesthetic of wellness. And we wanted to like we just happen to be women that are running this brand that are designing and producing these pieces. But it's meant for anyone like Haley Sadler, kind of at the top of this that is interested in art and design and you know, kind of these architectural objects and what that looks like in your home or your life. It's not meant to be something that's only for women. And so collaborations was always a piece of that. And we started out as I guess anyone would leveraging our own contacts. So I came from marketing and branding, as Haley said, but also I was the experiential marketing director and head talent buyer for Vice media for quite a while and I was able to have a lot of contacts through music buying. So that's kind of where we came through with our Wu Tang collaboration with TJ's as we were able to work with him on that and then with artists so Haley's studied at Central Saint Martins in London and has a very rooted background in fashion and art and we both kind of live in that space of the interim of the both of those was or, you know, graphic design and illustrators and that stuff. So we do have a couple other big music collabs coming out, which we're really excited about. And yeah, that is like beyond excited to be living in the world, but we didn't want the brand to be. So first of all serious I think that that wellness thing locks people into a space locks women into a space of it was a new stereotype for women. It used to be if you're, you know, used to your stoner or whatever. And that's from our experience. And then now it was like, oh, but you have to use it for wellness only, like your period cramps or your Yeah, whatever. Like you can't just use it for fun or whatever in. So basically, it's always been a piece of the brand. It's always been something we've wanted to do. And we approach them first through connections. And then from there, we were able to create a little bit of interest or notoriety or whatever the right word would be where we were able to access artists who we thought we're changing the game in their own right. So for example, Kristen Gonzalez, who is the designer behind Mavis Karsan, which we just did a collab, we basically handed over the brand a little bit where he even reimagined our logo, and we did a shirt, he's kind of done. He's been become very well known for his work in design and mental health. So his entire kind of mission he has this when I first came to him, he had an art that says, boys, boys cry, or like boys do cry or something. I'm going to quote her what it was, but it's he basically built up this interjection of talking about mental health, through design, that was something we thought was really like beautiful and important. And it opens the doors for conversation without it being like, so serious and nothing needs to be that serious. We sell drugs. So you know, ultimately, we're not it's not the end of the world. And you know, same with our more sex more weak collaboration with jasmine, I forgot her last name in this moment. But another incredible

Unknown Speaker  46:50  
Yeah, I'm not gonna pronounce it right. An incredible designer and typography Yeah, I work with to create a product that again, it's like, looks really cool. It says more sex more weed on it in this beautiful type. It's if you've never seen anything else from that it's a fun piece to like have in your home. But ultimately, it's a collab that allows us to talk about something without throwing it into people's face. So we brought in the introduction between sex work and cannabis and kind of the criminalization of both and how that destroys people in communities. And we worked with the partnered with a charity, the social justice programs, sex workers program, if that's the first word wrong, I think but anyway, we have injustice urban, just Yeah, I think. And, yeah, so we use collabs, both to just elevate cannabis and allow it back into the mainstream and not have it something like it's a consumer good. Ultimately, this shouldn't be something that has to sit on the sidelines, like it should be in all stores, it should be something that you can access in terms of at least the accessory side, like why not have it at where you buy your wine glasses, and why not have it you know, the clothing where you're buying your clothes, like it's the same, that's the way that we think of it. So music, art fashion, those things just continue to destigmatize cannabis, which is our original goal. And then the other collaborations are pieces where we're trying to have a voice without standing on our soapbox, like just trying to make something that people want. And they may not even know that they're doing something good. Like all of those collaborations, we give 100% of the profits to the charity we're working with, but they may not even know but ultimately, those collabs allow us to move forward conversations again, to eliminate the stigmatization of cannabis for a many different Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  48:36  
and just like Lana was saying, like with the mu changes a project, all of the profits from that went to the last prisoners project. So it really is something that we feel like is an important way for us to be able to touch on these things that we think are important parts of the industry that really need highlighting and change, but in a way where someone gets something that they actually really want, and they like and they're really excited to you know, purchase this. And also it's helping a cause that we believe in.

Shayda Torabi  49:01  
It's so organic, the way that you approach your business and your brand. And it's just a testament to obviously the history of just your personal lives. The schooling, you went through the experiences you had the careers that you were a part of before you got into running your own business. And I think that for me, that's the most exciting thing, especially when I get to hear stories like this because people sometimes I think are afraid of imitation or you know, my ideas the best idea and someone's going to come steal and I think you know with a marketing background my perception is no idea is new. They've all been recreated under the sun, but it's like you know, how do you add your pizzazz to it how do you add your flair how do you add your voice your story to it and it's just so cool to hear everything that you're able to be a part of, but it really is reflective of just who you are as women and as business owners and just the timing and the you know, geographical location and just even your experiences coming from these worlds and just making it a conversation for a story that you're able to tell anyone reflecting on what we were talking about earlier with like Vogue, and some of these bigger non cannabis, but very well acknowledged publications, magazines, voices, you are able to have conversations in places that maybe other cannabis brands might not be able to have those conversations just simply because of the way that you've built your brand and business to have that platform. And so I just think it's very cool to get to hear the behind the scenes, that's where I just geek out sometimes getting to have people like you both on podcasts where it's like, wow, that's fucking amazing and brilliant and cool. And it's very inspirational to be able to, again, like, give a voice to cannabis, but use that platform then to give a voice to so many other topics and conversations and really just have have fun with it. Like you were saying we're selling drugs. We're selling cannabis, like don't take it seriously the end of the day. And so it was just Yeah, very cool to obviously to you probably, maybe y'all would say you would, but I'm thinking you know, when you're first launching your brand, maybe you're not making as much risk early on, because you're trying to establish yourselves, but as you continue to establish yourself, it's okay, well, now I'm here, what am I going to do with all these people who are looking to me for influence and voice and things like that? So very, very, very cool. Last kind of question I want to turn the conversation towards and you were touching on a little bit throughout the whole discussion already. But I started asking my guests to, you know, kind of think through what is the future of cannabis look like from your lens, from your perspective, whether that's influencing your own brand, Sackville and CO, whether it's the type of collaborations and partnerships you'll be able to take on in the future, the types of, you know, recognition to causes and voices that need to be heard in the industry, or also really just, you know, what you're going to be able to do with things opening up from legalization perspective. So feel free to take that question any direction that you know, you feel called to take it, but I always love to learn what am I guess think of the future of cannabis. From your perspective?

Unknown Speaker  51:50  
Yeah, I think we'll both answer because we probably have both ideas, because there's so much that can happen, right? Yeah, I think I'm excited to see the growth of new brands and new stories being told from different perspectives. I think the way that cannabis has been the story of cannabis has been told, especially in terms of product and brand has been very one sided. It's either like super corporate and political, or it's very targeted to like a young teenage boy, or something like that. And it's like, we want to hear the diverse stories of how people came into cannabis, where that started, why how they use it, like there's so many cool brands that are coming out, I can't remember the name off the top of my head. But there's an amazing THC hot sauce company that's like, just so cool. And like, that's a really great step into cannabis that I haven't seen before. The branding is amazing. It's like, there's all of these really interesting things that are starting to happen. And I'm really excited to see that growth and to see way more brands come on to come out that just really have a voice and a perspective.

Unknown Speaker  52:53  
Yes, to all of that. Definitely. I think like it is just on what Haley said it is sometimes you feel like especially when you're working in it, you feel behind almost or I don't know things move so quickly. But we're at such an early stage in the industry, like there is room for so many more brands and so many more perspectives, and you know, we can all still carve out our piece of the market and succeed wildly without, you know, everyone can kind of exist, if you look at any other industry, whether it's like beauty, alcohol, you know, a million different industries, there's tons of brands, and they'll continue to be development and continue to be needs met that we maybe didn't even know were needs at the time, as we all figure out what cannabis use legally looks like and what this market looks like. I think that being in cannabis is a unique space to be because of the legalization, you know, there's still a lot of movement to do on the legal side. And not just in terms of allowing brands to exist, like allowing us to advertise or to accept credit cards without you know, insane fees. You know, we couldn't you know, get a bank account, get a credit card. Like there's all these things that continue to hold down cannabis companies. So for us, it's like, we're just so eager to play at the same level as what other brands are able to play at. Because of those restrictions. Were not able to but at the same time being in these early stages of industry, and especially with the history of the criminalization of it, like there's a lot of equity changes that need to happen. And I think as we see those come on board and as things start to become more equitable and companies, you know, take that seriously. I think that the industry itself is going to be so exciting. And that is what will allow for the voices that Haley's talking about is where we can build a space that everyone you know, there's no way that we're going to create we can create something that meets everyone's needs, and nor should we so everyone really will have an opportunity to create brands for their audience. And you know, their image, their style, their goals, their use needs all of that. But it is really exciting. I cannot wait to be able to just advertise like a normal person it is a consumer good ultimately, like we all you know, we're all tied right now and it is a difficult industry to navigate because of that, like everyone is expecting brands to grow and you know, participate in all these things, but at the same time, like your content is pulled down all the time, you can't put paid advertising were banned from selling on Instagram shop. Like there's so many things that you just can't do. And even you know, the littlest forms for women the change in the industry like we were chatting earlier. It's still dispensaries, stores, cannabis brands, like everyone at this time. It is shocking how many conversations we and other female founders have that there's only room for one female brand in a dispensary like they'll already have their kind of lady brand and therefore we couldn't be sold in the same space like it's shocking for women in the industry that we are still not only are we kind of tied between what the whole industry is receiving in terms of that advertising bans and those things but on top of it we don't even get to exist in the same spaces because if God forbid there's already a brand that speaks to women, then they don't need another and those are real words conversation so you know I think that as the industry grows and it's also I've almost just gone on a tangent not this question my new tangent is women buy from the brands you want to see because if you need to say what you want to see in stores, brands like us, you know, we still receive the push back that there's already a brand that speaks to women so we can't have another we can't sell another you know, we can't

Unknown Speaker  56:56  
across the board that markets tab so tell

Unknown Speaker  57:00  
demand this from your dispensaries you know shop from the people you want to see continue to grow because you know that mindset is like shocking that it still exists in 2022. But it's what we're kind of dealing with. So do it please

Shayda Torabi  57:24  
some seriously wise words for some women who have walked the journey and fought for their place in the conversation. I think the biggest takeaway for me of this episode is reminding myself and now you that there are a million ways to do things and success is not a matter of if it's a matter of when, what and how are you going to take the next best step to get there. I really appreciated Lana and Haley's transparency bringing us into a bit of their experience going after funding for Sackville Winco. And how they turn that around because that is a major reality facing the cannabis industry facing women, especially in the cannabis industry. And just in general trying to value your worth and scale a business is not an easy feat. So for all of you out there trying to do the same remember that the journey is part of the ride. So buckle up. As always thank you so much for keeping it blunt with me. I will be back next week with a another episode of The to be blunt podcast every Monday and encourage you in the meantime to please keep championing cannabis in your community. Thanks y'all have a great one. Talk to you next week.

Announcer  58:30  
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

Transcribed by