Join us in Episode #23 as we dive into the world of cannabis with special guest Josh Hirschey, President of Timeless Refinery. Josh shares his journey of bringing high-quality cannabis products to the market, focusing on community engagement, culture, and legacy.
He discusses the challenges and opportunities faced by cannabis brands, the impact of changing consumer behavior, and the strategic approach Timeless Refinery takes when entering new markets.
Learn how this pioneering brand has thrived in the evolving cannabis industry and adapted to market dynamics while maintaining a commitment to quality and authenticity.
Eric & Isaac delve into the complexities of building a brand in a rapidly growing, yet highly regulated industry. Josh shares insights on supply chain management, marketing restrictions, and the importance of building authentic connections with local artists and communities.
Tune in to gain valuable knowledge about navigating the cannabis business landscape.
Hey, Josh, how we doing today? Thanks for joining us.
Good, Eric. Thanks Jeff for having me. Doing great. Absolutely,
Absolutely. Um, it was, uh, it was great catching up with you at Benzinga and, and super excited to have you on here on the Roots to Risk podcast, where we really try to bring, you know, a wide variety of different operators, ancillary companies into the cannabis space, learn a little bit more about their background, how they got into the industry and, and what they’re currently working on. Um, so we’d love to, you know, obviously we’re, we’re familiar with Timeless Vapes, but maybe the, uh, the viewers aren’t as much, so if you could provide some background on timeless as well as, uh, how you got into this space, that would be a great place to start.
Yeah, absolutely. Uh, well thank you again for having me, Erica. Definitely have checked out some of your guys’ other guests, and you guys do a great job of the podcast, so I appreciate you having me on. Um, yeah, so Timeless originally, uh, two of my business partners started Timeless originally back in 2010, um, not in cannabis. It was, uh, started originally as like a lifestyle streetwear, clothing brand. So they were doing screen printing for other clothing brands. They had a shop, uh, here in Arizona where we’re based, um, doing screen printing for other brands. And they had their own brand called Timeless that they were making, um, different lifestyle clothing for, and also had a shop down in, in Tempe, like over by where a s u is on Mill Avenue.
Um, that was called Timeless. And it was really early, like reselling Supreme and Vape and some of the brands that are huge today, and people resale on, you know, places like StockX and all that.
They didn’t have any of that back then. So it was like one of the first really resale shops of, of kind of high-end streetwear in the country. Um, and so, you know, we we’re, we’re heavy in that lifestyle streetwear background in 2012. Uh, we went medically legal out here in Arizona, uh, and we had known some people that were doing really early extraction up in the Pacific Northwest, like Oregon, uh, and Washington, you know, kind of where everything got started and came out and showed, showed our partners, my or my business partners, how to do that. So it was very rudimentary, you know, like open blasting and, and, and, and, um, really crude oil.
And they were opening up e-cigarettes and putting the oil in the e-cigarettes. Uh, so very kind of crude and rudimentary to what, what a vape looks like today. But, but back, you know, in 20 12, 20 13 when we officially launched on the market was revolutionary.
Nobody had ever really even seen vape. We, you know, we believe we were one of the first, you know, second or third vapes in the country, uh, on the market. So even, even though maybe the, the product would only hit at like one every 10 hits, it was like mind blowing when it worked. And so people really got excited about it. Um, so started really getting the product out in the market in 2013. So we’re celebrating our 10 year, 10 year anniversary in cannabis this year, which, you know, we’re very proud of. We like to say cannabis is like dog gear, so it’s like 70 year anniversary for us <laugh>. Um, but uh, yeah, so that’s no doubt. Yeah.
So, you know, over the next number of years, you know, we learned how to do distillation very early on, um, got introduced to C Cell.
We were one of C Cell’s first customers, so we continue to improve the quality of the product. Um, ’cause we, you know, we always say you can’t have a good, a great brand without a, without a great quality, quality product. Um, but at the same time, even from the early days because of that streetwear kind of lifestyle back background, always had that vision to say, Hey, how do we, you know, let’s engage with the consumer in an authentic way. Um, let’s really be part of the culture in the community. And we, we we’re, we are involved in, or we’re, we are, you know, multiple communities, but really kind of connect locally and feel like that local cool brand that people wanna smoke.
And that way when it becomes competitive, you know, we’ve built that customer loyalty through, through years of kind of being that brand that they know they can trust, that they love being a part of, that they really feel bonded to, you know, like these top street wear and, and, and brands that we, you know, grew up kind of, um, working with and, and, and looking at and, and selling.
So that really early on always kind of stuck that being like, how do we do the different collage with local artists? How do we work with local restaurants? How do we be at the cool local venues, throwing parties, all that stuff that kind of ties you to the community and how do we work with the local charities and give back to the community? So we build that, that community engagement and that cultural engagement. Um, and when, you know, when we were first started doing that, you know, back in the early days of the business, the, the customers were like, Hey, you can’t even get us enough product to sell. Why are you wasting your time and money on marketing? Um, but we always felt like, hey, you know, it takes time to build a real brand. It takes time to build brand loyalty, and at some point it’s, there’s gonna be pretty plenty of product out there, and then it’s gonna be the consumer can decide and we wanna build that early.
So we were fortunate, um, you know, worked that model really well out here in Arizona and built that top brand out here, uh, in az and then took that same kind of playbook and started launching another markets over the last number of years. So we we’re now in five markets, including Arizona, um, and take that same playbook, like, hey, how do we engage locally? How do we be part of the culture and the community in each market we’re in? And, um, you know, feel very local. So, you know, we really go out and say, Hey, we got this playbook that we know that works. We know these levers that work. Let’s good find great local talent in each market and give them the playbook and give them the resources to bring the brand to life, you know, in a very local way and support them.
And, and, um, but really that local, those our local teams are, you know, we find great talented guys and and gals and they, they make the brand feel local. So we really are, you know, focused on how do we build a national brand, but in each market, make it feel like it’s the local cool brand that’s part of that culture and community and Missouri and in California and in, you know, Arizona and Ohio and Oklahoma and the other markets we’re gonna continue to expand into.
No, that’s, that’s really cool. And I think, um, you know, one of the things I wanted to ask you about, because we work with, uh, a few of the other, you know, vape companies in the industry as well. So I always think it’s interesting getting, uh, everyone’s thought on this, like, one of the things that vape companies are always associated with, even still is the whole vape crisis thing that happened, which was a little bit more on the, the e-cigarette side. So I’m, I’m just curious at what that time was like for you guys and you know, how that brand building and that local feel really helped kind of support through it. ’cause I know for a lot of companies it was, uh, there was some issues going on back then with all that stuff going on.
Yeah, I mean, definitely it was, you know, scary at the time when it first started happening because it was like everybody, you know, people are gonna the hospital and getting sick and unfortunately some, some even dying from it. So of course, when that first happened, I think that created a lot of, um, you know, concern in the market and concern for us. I think ultimately though it was a big benefit to, to the, to the legal vape market. Yeah. Because as the information started coming out, it really was prone, you know, really shining a light on the people that were getting sick and having these issues were from illegal and black market vaping.
Um, so I think, you know, though, in the beginning it was scary. The longer term tale of it was like, this is why you should be going in into illegal dispensary and paying maybe a premium and paying taxes, which is always, you know, not fun for anybody.
Um, but there’s reasons you do that and, and ha and being able to get a good quality tested product that you know, that you know is not gonna make you sick, um, really kind of was the long tailwind of the whole thing, you know? So it started out kind of a headwind like, oh man, look at this. People are getting sick from vaping. You shouldn’t vape. And then it was like, wait, no, the people are getting sick ’cause they’re buying illegal vapes. This is why you should be going in and buying, you know, products from trusted suppliers like us that have been around a long time and are absolutely follow the rules. And um, you know, and if they’ve done things right. And, you know, we always have in our deck, like, uh, you know, we sell over a million and a half to 2 million cartridges a year and have never had any kind of quality issues or recalls.
And you guys obviously know this well, you’re an insurance group. You know, we’ve had, we were one of the original guys that in, at least in our market, to start out and really started offering product liability insurance when nobody else was doing that. And it was a big premium for us, but we felt it was the right thing to do. But we always give our insurance teams like, you guys a hard time ’cause we pay all that money for it. We’ve never had to use it, which is a good thing. Um, but I think that vape crisis kind of showed like, Hey, if you, if you buy a good quality product and you pay for it, um, you’re not gonna get sick. If you try to, you know, skirt the system and buy something that’s made illegally without any testing, then you’re gonna kind of, you know, get what you get.
No, definitely. I think, um, you know, given some of the things going on in certain markets in the, you know, legal cannabis industry now, um, it’s definitely something that the consumer and everyone else should like point to as a, Hey, this is why this is a problem and why you need to be working with companies who go through the rigorous testing and quality controls like, like timeless does. Um, so no, I just always have thought that’s interesting. ’cause I agree. I think in the long run it’s been more of a benefit than, um, you know, an issue.
Um, but still like that stigma out in the public, you know, early on probably caused some problems. So just wanted to get your thoughts on that. <laugh>.
No, definitely did. And one of the other kinda out things that came out of it too is there was a real kind of coming together of the, of the vape brands during that too, which, you know, was, was great to see because obviously it affected all of us and all of us that were doing it the right way and doing it legally, you know, came together. I think there was, um, like a letter that we put together to kind of, because obviously a lot of it was taking place in California, right? Was where the, the lion’s share of the issues were happening, which is also where they have the worst illicit market. Right. Um, but, uh, I think, I think, you know, one of the things that also came outta it, like I said, was this coming together in industry.
I wanna say that there, they said, we, we, uh, this group formed and we were part of a, of a lot of different vape companies and they, we put this letter together to kind of issue to the state of California, and I think there was 30 or 60 signator on it. So it was really great to see everybody come together and say, Hey, we might compete day to day for consumers, but like, we’re all in this together and we’re all doing things the right way and let’s make sure we, our voice is heard in a powerful way that, that, you know, it’s not us that’s the problem, it’s the illicit guys, it’s the problem.
And I think, I think that’s one of the cooler things just about the industry in general is like, there’s always competition on day to day, but there is this like higher purpose and and connection that, you know, bans everybody together, right. Um, especially in those instances. So that’s, that’s cool to hear. And you know, from, from your description of how timeless started in Arizona and then expanded into other markets, seems like you guys have a, a very strategic approach to the markets that you enter.
Why, and, and can you walk through a little bit of, you know, some of the strategy or thoughts that you evaluate when looking at a potential market fit for timeless?
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So we, we have a unique model. Like we’re in, we don’t, um, own licenses per se, but we do what we call kind of like a licensing or sublicensing model where, you know, we find operators that have licenses in the state that are, that are, um, you know, good operators. Uh, and then we, you know, come in and kind of, um, do management services agreement where we operate under their licenses, right? And, and, um, gives us the flexibility. We, we, that was something that was pretty common out here in az, uh, or is pretty common in kind of how we started. Um, and so it was always like, Hey, it’s our team.
We, we manage the team and our license holder who we’ve gone through a few out here, um, you know, makes an annuity off of us and better monetizes an asset they already have.
So it’s kind of like Lisa Space and Lisa’s use of the license, and we gotta make sure we’re, you know, compliantly operating under their license, which we’re very, you know, diligent at. Um, and so, you know, it’s a unique model. So I think one of the first things we look for, you know, Eric is, is is a good partner, right? And a partner that, you know, belie understands the model and is comfortable with the model and comfortable with us and comfortable with our vision. Um, because, you know, if culturally we’re not a fit with our licensed partner, then, you know, it’s all kind of a waste. Like, you know, you’re, we’re both gonna spend a lot of time and effort and capital to get into a new market and make sure we have a significant share in that market.
If we’re fighting within six months to a year, then that, that’s a lot of wasted time and energy.
Um, so, so strategically when we look at markets, that’s always the first thing that we look at. Is there a good partner that we can team up with in that market that, you know, we can be, um, you know, work well with and have a good dynamic and a good relationship to support each other and grow together, uh, in this model that’s maybe a little bit different than some of the traditional kind of licensing models that brands were doing, you know, before we’re still doing today. But that, that’s kind of the first thing. Second thing is, you know, obviously if a market’s big, there’s positives to that. There’s also negatives, obviously if a market’s medical and you know, and, and then when is it gonna go to rec?
Those are all things that we factor into. Um, and, and you know, can we, and, and also because we’re not a low-cost brand and we’re not trying to be a low cost brand, we’re trying to build a brill, you know, lifestyle brand, we want to, we really look at markets like that we’re going into and say, you know, what is the dynamic of the buyers in that market?
Is the brands that are doing really well there, the higher end kind of lifestyley brands? Or are there ones that are really, you know, is it just a low cost market? You know? But typically in any market, like, you know, just like in life, right? People have aspirational brands and people are willing to pay a premium for something that they feel very strongly about. Um, so, you know, we’ve seen good success in going into markets like we did here in Arizona and like we did in Missouri where we went there really early, even Oklahoma, which is a very, you know, a dynamic market today. But we were very early there. Interesting market <laugh>. It’s, it’s, you know, what, if we were going in today, I don’t know that we would choose that market, but we were there right when the program started.
Like we were in Missouri and we, we really worked hard to build that consumer loyalty and engage locally and all that stuff I talked about earlier.
And it’s built a very nice market for us. Um, Missouri absolutely was like that. We got there really early. We understood that, hey, it’s gonna be medical for a few years. We lived through that in Arizona, you know, it’s, that means it’s not gonna be huge. We can be a top brand out there. We were the number two vape brand in the market last year. It was a, a small market. So that doesn’t mean a lot from a, like a revenue standpoint. I mean, it’s fine, but it’s nothing amazing. But then when you have that loyalty and you go rec, like we did in, and I think, you know, Missouri’s obviously the talk of the industry this year when you go rec like it did in February, and we see that huge explosion, you know, we built that loyalty and we’re continuing to be the number two vape brand in a much larger market, right?
So we’re excited to do those kind of deals. We feel like Ohio is absolutely another one of those for us where, um, you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a medical market, but it’s a huge state and we’re building that loyalty. So hopefully when it goes wreck maybe this year, which, you know, we’re all working hard to get the signatures to get that done, you know, or even if it doesn’t, when it does go wreck, you know, we have built that good consumer loyalty and we get to really rise with, with, you know, with all the, with all the ships when the tide rises. And, uh, so I think that those are important for us. But, uh, we’re also happy to go into big established markets.
We’re looking at launching in, you know, Illinois and Massachusetts this year, which are already big and established and have it very unique dynamics. But we think, you know, if you have a good brand and you activate it locally and you stay consistent and authentic, you can cut through, you know, in in any market for that matter.
Have you looked into, like, obviously, you know, timeless vapes, is your guys’ core competencies? Have you looked into other SKUs or thoughts or are you guys just super laser focused on, you know, just staying in the lane and, and continuing to build out that brand?
No, we, we do have, uh, some other product lines that, so our kind of strategically how we look at how we want to grow is that, you know, launching into new markets and we use kind of timeless as our tip of the spear. You know, it’s the most well established brand and the one that you know, is our bread and butter and, you know, becoming more and more well known nationally as we scaled. Um, so we’ll as we enter new market, we’ll always enter with timeless first, and then we have additional skews and timeless, we have like our botanical line, we have noir, which is our live resin terpene line. We’re launching a Solventless line this year, uh, this summer when, you know, we kinda look at where is the maturity of the supply chain and when we should be launching those things.
Um, and then we incubate other brands out here in Arizona where we have this great loyalty and this great, you know, distribution, uh, and great partners, uh, you know, dispensary partners.
So we’ve launched a number of other brands that are out here. The one I think we’re most focused on outside of timeless is called Tumble, tumble by Timeless. It’s our infused pre-roll. We launched it out here January of last year, so we’re coming up on about a year and a half of the product. It’s been very successful. We’re really excited about it. So it’s a, you know, a one gram and then a, um, infused pre-roll and then a traveler as we call ’em, which is a three pack a half grams. And it’s, you know, high quality flour, no, no trim, you know, um, tumbled in our distillate. So if you love our fun flavors, we have a bunch of unique flavors that, uh, of our vapes that people really love and kind of follow, like our Lemon Fader eight, or our cactus chiller or our cherry icy, we tumble the, the, the flour in that and then we, um, uh, dust it with diamonds.
And so it’s a high potency pre-roll with a great taste and great quality again. But, uh, yeah, we, we definitely, you know, are uh, look at other SKUs and other product lines, but we wanna make sure that we can put the muscle behind them. We don’t want to be everything to everybody. We wanna really build, you know, the brand so it can stand up and be a strong brand and a quality brand, but also really put the marketing behind it. ’cause that’s what we’ve been so successful at with timeless. So we definitely, you know, have, we’ve done a number of different brands, but we’ve kind of narrowed on those two as being the ones that are gonna be our horses that we wanna put a lot of effort behind and, and really make successful.
And we we’re, we’ve always believed like, you need to be focused.
Uh, you know, we were, you know, fortunately or unfortunately or lucky or whatever it was, you know, we didn’t win vertical licenses, which they are here in Arizona. And so we built this brand position, and though we’ve, over the years, people have, you know, tempted us with cultivation or, you know, dispensaries, we’ve always come back and said, Hey, we, we’d rather focus on being the best we can be at one thing, which is building a high quality brand and, you know, being manufacturing that and making a quality, but also really putting the marketing dollars behind it and making sure that we’re focused on that. And I would say, you know, from that same lessons, we’ve also learned that lesson in the product side too, is, hey, instead of rolling out a whole bunch of different things, we’d be better off rolling out a couple and trying to be the best we can at those things
Now. And, um, that’s extremely interesting. I think, you know, one of the things, um, that you kind of alluded to is, you know, the brands that you guys are gonna put your, your horsepower behind. So I, I wanted to say, because you guys have been in the industry for so long, like how has consumer behavior over the last 10 years really changed and how has that dictated, you know, where you guys are, you know, centering your focus, um, because it seems like it’s very much in play, uh, and it could be market to market.
Yeah, definitely. There’s the market dynamics for sure, and how you position in that market. I mean, like I mentioned earlier, we, we absolutely, you know, do not wanna be the low cost guy in any market we’re in. That’s not what we’re building the brand around. We wanna be the premium product, uh, you know, that we invest the marketing dollars behind to get people excited to pay that premium, to, to be a part of the lifestyle, not just the product. But, and obviously like I mentioned earlier, you have to have a quality product to do that. Um, we also wanna be, you know, fair too, we’re not, we want to be competitive in the market and make sure we’re competitive from a, you know, fairly price for what we’re offering.
Um, but I, I think in general, like yeah, each market is different and has its own dynamics and obviously the supply chain.
I think one of the hard parts in cannabis for the local consumer to understand is that the supply chain is different in each market because we can’t go across state lines. So, you know, in normal C P G, we would have one price that you could buy. You know, if, if you sold into Walmart, you’d buy the, you know, red Bull and Walmart is the same price in every state, right? That’s not, you know, that’s not practical or can’t happen in, in cannabis because the supply chain and the cost of the supply chain is different from market to market. But I think in general, we, we wanna offer, you know, a high quality product with a good lifestyle and all the fun stuff behind it at, you know, at a, at a good price point, but, um, on the higher end of the market price.
And so making sure that, you know, we find that dynamic. I mean, I think in the last 10 years, I mean, I think the big talk, obviously the last couple years as more supply has come on is like, you know, the com the price compression, uh, that they’re seeing in the market. And look, we’re all, nobody’s immune to that. And I think as supply chain comes down, you know, the pricing should normalize. And at some point, you know, we as an industry are gonna figure out what’s the right amount of supply chain in each state, and then when federal legality comes around, like, what’s the right amount of supply chain for the market? And I think everybody’s trying to figure out what that dynamic is and, and makes it harder when you can’t cross state lines.
But, um, in general, I think we’ve worked really hard to build a brand that doesn’t, you know, isn’t so susceptive to the price compression.
You know, we absolutely, if things are coming down, we gotta be competitive, but we also, um, wanna make sure that, you know, I think if you have a really quality brand, you know, you’re, you have more stamina and you’re not so affected by the price compression as you do if you’re just a wholesale flower manufacturer, and then you’re kind of riding, you know, what the market pricing is. And I, that’s not any different than any other commodity, right? If you’re in a commodity business, whether you’re growing oranges, that’s why they, that’s why most commodities have commodity markets, right? To try to stabilize the pricing. Nobody, you know, again, because of the federal stuff, you can’t really have that in cannabis.
So everybody kind of gets stuck in these crunches as, as things come on and off. But I think there’s a huge difference between the commodity side of the business and the branded side of the business, and people are trying to figure out what that really means.
No, for sure. I actually think that, um, some of the aversion to calling cannabis a commodity, um, is gonna do more long-term harm than good. Because to your point, if there is eventually a cannabis commodity market, it will help keep the prices stabilized. Um, ’cause it’s literally how every other, you know, kind of commodity industry works. So I think long term would be a good thing
For sure. I mean, that’s how you manage supply and demand, and I think obviously those other markets are so much more mature than we are, so, right. We kind of know what the demand levels are and people build their supply to that. Whereas I think in cannabis, because we’re shifting what is a huge, what was a huge, you know, illegal market to legal people are trying to figure out like ev and it’s state to state, like what is their actual appetite in the state? And you don’t, you’re building capacity without knowing what that is. And then at some point you hit the, the demand limit and the capacity, you’ve already overbuilt it without even knowing it. And then you kind of, sadly, you know, people have to kind of go under or fall back to try to come up with what it is.
Because, you know, we launched rec here, we were a huge medical market.
We were quasi medical, right? We were, you know, a billion dollar medical market. ’cause I think there was quite a bit of medical patients reselling to their friends and whatnot. And you know, we went rec and there was all these discussions about, you know, we’re gonna be two or three or 4 billion and what is the number, you know? And I think we, last year we did 1,000,000,004 and we’re gonna slowly grow, you know, steadily grow from there. But this idea that every market is just unlimited demand is ridiculous. And when people build their supply chain with that in mind, that’s when you see kind of the pain of the price compression versus, you know, then it starts neutralizing and people stop planning when they realize, Hey, there’s nobody to buy this, you know, this amount of weed.
And, and Josh, you know, obviously people always say, you know, and I do think that eventually brands will win. Um, and, and you know, building a brand as we know though is, is very challenging in cannabis due to, you know, a lot of dynamics that you mentioned. Um, you know, not having consistent supply chains in each state, um, not being able to cross state lines, all those things. Are there any, are there any other things when building a brand in cannabis that are also like extremely ch like make it very challenging that aren’t often talked about?
Or, you know, maybe some hurdles that you, you know, had to overcome in order to continue to build the, the equity of timeless and other brands in your portfolio?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I mean, I don’t know if they’re not talked about enough or not, but I mean, obviously the, like you’re building a brand and brand is very marketing folk, you know, heavy to make sure you’re engaging that consumer. And, you know, we do lots of fun stuff, lots of off-premise events and cultural type things in the market. ’cause we, we kind of try to lead as like, hey, we want to be part of, like I said, the culture, like the sports, the fashion, the, you know, the food, all the different things that are great in each market and have cannabis be a part of it versus like every event we do just be cannabis focused. Um, so we’re really big on that. We’re really big on creating content. Getting that content in front of people is way harder in cannabis than it is in traditional C P G, right?
Like who I, we constantly are trying to, you know, add people to our newsletters and to our Instagram channels and our fit, you know, social media channels. And nobody knows that I’ve ever met, like what the do’s and don’ts are. They just, you know, penalize you without understanding what you did wrong on those channels, you know? And um, so I think how, how do you get that content you’re creating as a, as a brand out in front of the consumer is something we’re constantly, you know, working on trying to figure out when it’s more limited than like a traditional C P G company where I could go buy, you know, ad space on any channel or I go post anything I want on Instagram or social media with no restrictions.
Um, that’s definitely, you know, something that, that we are, you know, trying to figure out all the time.
Um, I mean, you mentioned the supply chain stuff. I, I think, you know, if you’re a good operator operator, you’ll, you can come through those, you know, and make the right deals. And we have great partners, you know, in, in lots of the states that really we’ve fostered relationships with to make sure our supply chain is positioned well. But yeah, I just think all the legality stuff makes building a brand harder, right? Whether that’s the state line thing, whether that’s the limited ability to market in all the different channels you would normally as a C P G, um, make it challenging, but it also makes it a great opportunity, right? ’cause we can build brands in this, in this rapidly growing large, you know, industry without maybe getting run over.
Like, like, like if you’re trying to start an alcohol brand today, you know, and you’re going up against, you know, Budweiser and Diageo and all those guys, that’s a very, very tall order to to, to manage because they can just buy all that space.
Like we’re trying to be gorilla with how we get people, uh, the content of our stuff in front of people, but they’re at, you know, they’ll just out buy you, they’ll out spind you, you’re never gonna be able to compete with them from an ad spin standpoint. And people figure out a way to gorilla around them too. You know, Titos started out small and took a huge amount of share, but it’s definitely, you know, in here there’s challenges, but there’s also great opportunities ’cause we’re, you know, building the industry from the ground up right now.
Can you talk a little bit about, I, I think it’s really cool what you do with like local artists, um, in terms of the, for your packaging on specific products?
Yeah. Yeah. So we, we, we do these, uh, lemme see if I can find one here. We do these cases, um, that, uh, we work with different, so for years we, we kind of, we love our, you know, over here and we love engaging with the community. And we also, again, coming from that street wear side, you know, we love all the stuff that Supreme used does and used to do, you know, working with local artists and collaborating and having all the supreme skate decks and all that stuff. So when we started doing this, we got approached a number of years ago, I wanna say 2016 or 2017, um, with the opportunity to do these cases.
And they’re, they’re like these little plastic cases, um, you know, and we do ’em in our standard colors as well, like yellow, green and purple, uh, and black.
But, um, we got approached with these and, and we like the case, it’s got a great functionality. Like it keeps your, you know, it comes with the battery as well and it keeps your pin, you know, so you put the, put the cart on it and put it in here, keeps the pen stored clean, you know, make sure you don’t break it doesn’t get lin in it. So it’s got good practical use. Um, it’s got a fun auditory click, like a zippo. We actually pay a license on that. Um, so it’s fun to hang out with kind of like addicting, like a fidget spinner, you know, you can click it on and off
What we really loved about it is that we could use it as a canvas that like, like, you know, Supreme did with the skateboards, right? Uh, to collaborate with artists and feature them on here. So we started doing this in 20 17, 20 18. We started collaborating with lots of local and national artists and musicians. We did something with Wu-Tang and two Chains. Um, and people started loving these and collecting them, and it became a real calling card for us. We call ’em our flip case combos. Uh, and, and so in 2020 we had a a, we got introduced to a really, we have a, a, a guy named Josh who runs our artist program for us.
And he’s an artist himself, and he goes out to, to like our Basel and Thinkspace and all these art events. And you know, we always wanted it to be authentic, like meet these artists in local places, seed them the product.
If they like the product and they like what we’re doing, then we could start working on, you know, do we do a collaboration together. Um, so he was able to meet a guy named Ricky Powell, uh, who was a street a, a very famous, uh, photographer in the eighties and nineties that traveled like run D M C and Beastie Boys. Um, and, you know, took all these iconic photos of that time period. And, um, we, he had offered, uh, he loved what we were doing and offered us, you know, any of his photographs to feature on the case. And we found a great one of Eazy East rolling a joint, which was super iconic. Um, and, and with that one we really were like saving it.
Like how do we make this a really big deal? And that’s when we launched what we call our artist legacy program.
And the idea being that let’s really have the case, but also spend a lot of time and effort telling the story of the artist. Um, so like with Ricky, he had such a cool story traveling around with all these bands as they got going, you know, and these, these rap groups and stuff in the early days. Um, and so everybody knew Eazy-e story. You can, you know, rent a movie on Ezzy and hear about, you know, his great life story. And, and, and also the tragedy as well. But n not as many people knew about Ricky. So we put the Ezzy case out there, we put, we, we came up with an idea to feature it in pedestals in the store. We went out and filmed him and had him tell his life story, featured that on a QR code, had him create a list.
Um, and it really took off, you know, and people really loved the program. So we, we put a formal kind of pattern around it where we said, Hey, we’re, let’s do, you know, a minimum of four these a year, one a quarter, let’s partner with a local artist. Let’s get their, like, really tell their story, you know, film them. Um, let’s create a fun merch item, uh, that goes with them, uh, and then, and then put it out into our network. So these people, so there’s a reason that we, people wanna come and dri you know, it’s featured at our, our top partners in the pedestals that I mentioned earlier that are in their stores. So people are like, Hey, I want to come in and get the timeless new artist Slip gates drives people into the store, which is a benefit to our dispensary partners.
Um, our consumers love it ’cause they could collect them. And then our art partner, collaboration partners, you know, we’re telling their story and building their brand and they’re helping tell our story and build our brand. So it’s really a win-win for all of us. Um, so this is the one that we did. Last one we did in Q one. Her name is Tati. She’s a, uh, an artist out of Miami, a female artist. So we did it for, um, woman’s Month in March, we launched. It really came out beautiful, beautiful case. Um, and then she, we, like I said, we let each artist pick a fun item to go with their collaboration. So, you know, we’ve had Skinner, who’s aright artist, uh, I have somewhere here, did a, like a, a scary mask.
And she, we asked her what she wanted to do and she said she wanted to do a machete.
So she, uh, we made this machete and we ar laser art, laser etched her art into the machete, which we thought was super cool and people went crazy for this one. But, uh, yeah, it’s just a really fun program. And, and again, it’s like back to our d n a of, you know, doing fun local, doing good local collaborations or national collaborations with, with people in, in, in the culture scene and, and really telling their story and building our brands together and doing it in authentic way. You know, we’re not putting ads in papers and saying, Hey, we need an artist. We’re really going out into the art scene and, and engaging with them and finding art artists that, you know, love the product and love cannabis.
And that’s a lot of part of it too in the interviews is like, Hey, how’d you get into art? How does cannabis play into your art? And so, um, really wanna do it in an authentic way, but it’s been a fun, a fun kind of program that we have that people really love to collect and, and, and showcase.
Very cool. Yeah, I think it’s like, it, I think that’s like a perfect culmination of, of what you’ve talked about and how you’re trying to build timeless, right? It’s like building local community, uplifting the community and allowing that to provide benefit for the, the nationwide brand, right? And how that all culminates together. I think that’s, that’s really cool. Um, and before, before we hop off here, Josh, it has been, it has been awesome. I think it’s really great to get insight on how you’ve had success, challenges that you’ve faced as well, you know, similar to a lot of different cannabis operators and, and how you’ve been able to, to persevere and build a successful brand.
Um, my, uh, my colleague here, Isaac’s got a, a few fun ones for you, uh, non-cannabis or, or work related. And then we’ll wrap things up.
Yeah. So, uh, you know, talked a lot about music and art and culture. So, uh, you know, what’s the go-to pump up song? You have a, a big meeting, pre-workout, you know, what’s the go-to pump up song at the top of the playlist?
Oh, man, that’s a good question. That’s a good question. Well, I have young kids, so like a lot of the pumping up that we do is when they were heading sports games. Pretty <laugh>. Yeah. Like they, they’re, they’re heavy. Uh, our weekends consist of lots and lots of sports games, uh, you know, flag football and soccer, and they’re the ones that always get to pick the pump up songs and not me <laugh>. Um, so they’ve really been into like, not the ones that I’m not super into, but they love is like, I feel Good by Pit Bull, I think is one of their favorites right now, and astronauts in the ocean. So I, I think it, whether I like it or not, the music tastes in our house and, and what I listen to changed because they’ve taken over so much of that.
Uh, so Isaac, I, I don’t know, for me, like when we get pumped up, it’s getting them pumped up and they’re picking and it’s those type of songs, maybe not,
Hey, it counts. I mean,
I’m trying to show ’em like the old pump up songs like, uh, you know, the Eye of the Tiger from Rocky, but that’s, that doesn’t stick as well with them as, uh, as Pit Bull. That’s
A change because that’s still the greatest pump up song of all time. It’s <laugh>. But next one. Um, you know, what’s a book that you found a lot of value from and that you would recommend everyone look into?
Yeah, that’s a great question. There’s a number one of books I like and I actually love to get with our teams out here and give them book recommendations. And, you know, some of ’em read ’em and some of ’em don’t. But one that I, I consistently kind of referenced to our team is called Innovator Innovator’s Dilemma. Um, it’s by a pretty famous business, uh, author named Clayton Christensen. And, and the idea of the book is that, you know, when when companies are at their most successful, you, you tend to kind of stay with what you’re doing because you believe it. It’s what’s creating your success.
And then the next people come around and innovate around you and take the success away. And so the companies that have consistently been successful over the long term are the ones that are able to, while they’re at their peak and they’re doing their best to sit back and say, Hey, we need to destroy everything we’re doing and do something totally different to stay at the lead of the pack.
And as hard as that is, like mentally to get your head around like, why would I need to do anything different? We’re doing, we’re the best. Why do I need to change what we’re doing? If you don’t do that, then you’re gonna get lapped quickly. And so I think, you know, it, they have lots of different industries they reference in that book, but I think that’s true of anything that we talk about all the time out here is like, we have to be the most innovative brand, otherwise, you know, people are gonna copy us or we’re pass us. Um, so we’ve, even though we might feel like we’re doing everything right, um, we’ve gotta be able to take a step back and say, Hey, how do we tear all this down and, and kind of rebuild, uh, from scratch again, even though it seems like it’s a very daunting and even more daunting when it’s working.
No, I love that. I think, uh, a lot of people need to do that. You know, just be, you can’t get comfortable. You always have to be moving outta your comfort zone and pushing the limits on things. So I think that’s a really good book recommendation. Um, last one, what’s, uh, what’s your favorite restaurant? Or you can do the local go-to? I’ve had to give people options ’cause the favorite restaurant could be a little bit tough for people to narrow down.
Yeah, well, there’s a lot and we’re, like I said, we, like, we do everything around of our, like our cul like our pillars of culture, community, and legacy. And I’m one and our in culture, it’s like how do we, like what is the food and the fashion and the sports. But food is a big part of like the cultural stuff we do. So we partner with a lot of great restaurants and do a lot of fun things, you know, with local restaurants in every market we’re in, you know, I think out here in az, um, where we’re based and so all of our markets, like we, we are doing a fun thing for the summer. We call our field guide where we’re, it’s like timeless recommends in each market that we’re in the fun places to go, the fun fashion places to go, and the fun restaurants to go to that we believe in.
Um, so each market has their own great ones and they, and when we go out to visit our other markets, they do a great job of showing us all the great food. You know, Kansas City, there’s barbecue everywhere and you get to try all the best barbecue. But, you know, being a little biased here in Arizona where we also have a lot of great restaurants and a really emerging food scene, um, there’s a local restaurateur who, uh, we’ve gotten to be close with and he is a great friend of the brand and we’ve done some collaborations with him. He, during the Phoenix Open, which is a big event, we, we have a big party out here and he came out and, um, cooked for us. And so I being biased with him because he’s kind of the hottest guy in Arizona right now, he is the hardest, uh, reservation to get, if you look up nationally, the hardest reservations to get, he he’s on there.
Um, it’s a, a local chef named Renee, uh, who owns a, a restaurant called Bcca Nora as well, a few others. But Bcca Nora’s kind of exploding right now and everybody in Arizona wants to get into it. And, and the food is incredible. The scene and the culture there is incredible. And he’s been a great friend of the brand and is always supporting us and doing fun stuff with us. So, uh, I, I would say Bcca nor if you come to Arizona, you know, definitely try to get in. It’s very hard, you know, if we can help or happy to help. But, uh, it’s an amazing place and he’s an amazing guy.
No, that’s awesome. Awesome. We’ll definitely add that to my list. I actually make it to Arizona a decent amount ’cause I’m from Colorado, so I have friends down there. Uh, so good, good one to add for me.
Yeah. Ask ’em about Bakan. No, I’m sure they’ve heard of it. It’s amazing.
Alright, cool. Well really appreciate your time, Josh, this has been, uh, this has been really fun and, and great to, you know, reconnect and, and hear more about your story and, and how you guys have built such a successful brand. But I think one thing that’s really cool that you kind of just mentioned in the, you know, the, the last part of this is not resting on your laurels, like continue to push, continue to innovate. Um, and I think, you know, that’s why you guys have had success over the past 10 years and, you know, we’ll continue to. So really appreciate your time Josh, and uh, this has been awesome.
Thank you guys. Appreciate it Eric. Appreciate Isaac, appreciate uh, you guys having me on the show. It was a lot of fun.
Of course, Josh, thank you. Welcome.
What’s going on Iby? How we feeling today? How we doing?
I’m good man. Lot of noise going on outside my apartment today, so I apologize if you, if you hear some construction,
It’s all good, man. That’s part of, uh, living in New York City. I think that’s, and that’s added onto the rent actually.
Yeah, I mean you pay extra additional
Ambiance. You pay extra for it. Yeah. I’m really gonna miss this, you know, middle of the day. I
Had one time when I was looking for a place, the realtor was like, oh, the, you know, on 23rd Street, it’s not, it’s not too bad. <laugh>. And he like, literally I was like, listen, I’m sorry, but I can’t. Anyways, um, excited for, for this one. Um, you know, Josh Hershey, uh, one of the, the co-founders of Timeless, um, they’ve built an unbelievable brand, like unbelievable product skew, you know, their most well known I would say for Timeless Vapes. Um, and operating in five different markets.
They have a lot of different products and I think their approach is, you know, really unique and authentic. Right? And I think they take their time to build the brand. I think with any, with any brand that’s had success and been able to, you know, withstand the challenges that come with operating a brand in the cannabis industry. It takes time and, and continuing effort and innovation.
No, for sure. And I think one of the things we talk a lot about, not only on Facebook in general and with people in the industry, it’s just how to build a brand and what the brand’s role is gonna be long term. So, um, to your point, they have a pretty unique way of going about it. So definitely excited to hear more about, you know, timeless and how they’ve gone about building out their brand and uh, doing the things locally and all the markets they’re in.
Yeah. And also just how they operate too, right? Um, being more asset light and the advantages that, that come along with it. So I’m excited to hear, you know, and, and get his perspective as to, you know, the why they go about certain things and, and what their thesis is.
Let’s bring ’em in. Alright, another one in the books. Um, interesting, uh, interesting one with timeless and, and hearing their approach. I think it was, you know, very cool to hear their story of how they started, you know, almost a decade. He said that they were celebrating 10 years in cannabis. I think that’s crazy
I mean there’s not really, I mean, there’s probably a handful of people that no are actually doing that right? That have been able to, to last this long in a really challenging industry. He was making the joke that it’s like dog years, um, which, which it can definitely feel that way. And, um, really cool to, to hear their story and, and what they’re building and how they just continue to innovate and what they do with local communities. I think, um, you know, that that, uh, collaboration that they do with local artists is like a perfect microcosm of how they’ve built success over the past 10 years and, and finding in innovative, cool ways to, uh, to build that brand loyalty.
A hundred percent. I think that’s, uh, I don’t know if too many brands or companies in general that do those type of things. So it’s really cool that, um, they’re providing a more national platform for some of these local artists, which is great. The machete was sick. I, uh, <laugh> like crazy that they’re selling that along with, uh, their products or if that’s a <crosstalk>, maybe I could
Use one of those on Schneider Shack. What do you think?
I don’t think you should go anywhere near a machete. <laugh> <laugh>,
One of my buddies actually got,
Mike, you might cliff my
Hand hand guard because I had so many knife cuts. Yeah.
Um, no, we’ll, uh, we’ll keep that, we’ll keep that separate.
Okay. No machetes for you. But, um, that was, uh, that was a really awesome one and, and excited for the next one. I think, uh, really unique approach in how they’ve been able to have a lot of success too with the, the asset light model. Um, ’cause I feel like most, I feel like most vape companies that have had success own, uh, a part of the supply chain and infrastructure. So it’s interesting to see how they’ve had success with without that and just doing MSAs.
Yeah, no, I think, um, I think they have a really cool business model and I like the way that they focus on, um, building a national brand but also making it very local feel. Um, ’cause I do think, you know, as Josh pointed out, given the the local rules and regulations and state by state nature of the business, it’s, it’s kind of the only way you can build a brand right now. ’cause you can’t have price consistency across the board. So, um, you know, providing something a little bit different in each place you’re in is Yeah, great idea.
And also like a big thing too. I, I don’t have a cannabis brand by any means, but like, stick to who you are. Right. You know, I think he, he kept reiterating, he’s like, we are, you know, a a premium brand. We stick to our ethos. Like they’re very consistent in, in every market that they go into. And I think that’s super important as well as just being authentic and, and sticking to what your core values are, regardless of what market you operate in.
A hundred percent.
Awesome. Well excited for the next one, ib and, uh, appreciate you, uh, joining me today, <laugh>, although it is our show, so
It is our show. I don’t know why you’re saying I, you
Appreciate, I appreciate your time. I value I appreciate you joining me. I value your time. How about I
Appreciate you joining me. This isn’t your show. This is our show, <laugh>.
That is true. It is our show. I know you, you haven’t said you appreciate me joining, Sean. You know,
I appreciate you.
Alright. Alright. Bye.