You guys, it’s happening. One of the best things legalization has brought us is an explosion of boutique cannabusinesses that are designing smoking accouterments that actually fit into our lives — not tucked away in a shoebox (or in my case in college, a Grateful Dead lunchbox).
The result is a head shop revolution, which is moving from brick-and-mortar to the web, with many making names for themselves on Instagram. It helps too, that we’ve seen an evolution of thoughtful, high-end design concepts in dispensaries across legalized states.
Smoker Supply Kits
Head shops have long operated on the fringe of cannabis commerce during prohibition, and for that we’re thankful, but… shopping for supplies at a seedy neighborhood shop isn’t exactly pleasant. Usually manned by an overly stoned dude, always one-too-many incense sticks burning, tie-dye tapestries covering the walls, an endless sea of random glass in fluorescent-lit cases, with the one you finally decide on not even making you feel that enthused.
But now, you can skip the errand altogether and browse online through curated collections of ceramic stoneware, limited-edition artist pieces, vintage lighters, pure hemp rolling papers, aromatherapy products and more. Here, we round up our favorites (in alpha order) to have popped up on our newsfeed and on shows like “High Maintenance” so far. And all but one are women-owned!
So when you have some chill time, sit back, spark one and start scrolling to step up your smoking style — stat.
This Austin, Texas-based “progressive general store hinging on all things smoke related” was founded in 2015 by Amanda Farris of Sister Coffee and Laura Uhlir of clothing boutique Olive. Already successful entrepreneurs, the friends joined forces to open both a retail and web store. They say it best on their site: “We saw a serious hole in the recreational market. Head shops are, more often than not, dingy wastelands that are pretty tough to enjoy — particularly for us ladies. Boy’s club comes to mind. After being given the ‘are you sure you’re not lost, miss’ look far too many times, after feeling ‘meh’ at best with the generic selection, after shelling out way too much for sub-par pieces we decided enough is enough.” Fresh off of a pop-up at Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love in Marfa this summer, more special events and collaborations are in the works.
Must have: Tsubota Pearl Queue Stick Lighter, $34
Before moving to Brooklyn six years ago, Jennifer Levy was a budtender at a medical dispensary in Boulder. “I really felt like I was a part of something important,” she tells The Cannabist. “We were treating various illnesses with marijuana, and the government was using the tax money towards improving our community.” But when she landed in New York, she says, “I was surprised at how negative marijuana was perceived. I had to worry about getting drug tested when I was applying to jobs. It was hard to find marijuana and it didn’t feel safe purchasing it. Marijuana wasn’t medicine here, it was a drug.” But as she noticed the culture starting to shift and more people talking openly about cannabis, she decided to pop-up shop, launching Grey Horse earlier this year. “It makes me proud to be a part of the movement again. Grey Horse is cool, comfortable, and accessible. These are smoking accessories that can be left out, rather than hidden in a drawer somewhere. Our products are individual pieces of handmade art that the modern stoner can be proud to use.”
Must have: AYK Poppy Combo Chillum, $30
Mister Green Life Store
Los Angeles-based founder, Ariel Stark-Benz, left his post in product development at the Ace Hotel group for pot in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. The one-man-show’s cannabis lifestyle brand focuses on apparel and accessories that are carried in indie shops like Union in L.A. and Kinfolk in Brooklyn. “Beyond our own label, our online Mister Green Life Store specializes in design-forward items for the cannabis enthusiast … good-natured people who appreciate beautiful things with a good sense of humor,” Star-Benz tells The Cannabist of his direction. A new clothing collection has just launched, along with a first fragrance called “Hippie Shit” ($89) — a blend of soft wood, neroli, musk, smoke and leather produced in collaboration with Portland, Ore.-based apothecary Maak Lab.
Must have: Eunbi for Mister Green Ashtray, $100
With backgrounds in retail visuals and art direction respectively, Luren Jenison and Lydia Okrent started Sweetflag due to the “significant lack of female-driven retail experiences for smoke accessories.” Stocked with products designed by mostly-female artisans, the site is ritual-based and divided into offerings for each stage of the smoking experience: before, during and after. “All our favorite brands and boutiques have a real feeling of a whole lifestyle that you want to live in and vibe with, so we wanted to bring that to the pipe-shop experience and design a space for women,” Jenison tells The Cannabist. “But we’re reaching everyone. It’s really just an alternative to what’s out there. We are not making any rules for capital-W women, and in fact are pretty over binary gender, but our approach is feminine and I think that comes through. You don’t have to smoke out of some hand-me-down swirly glass spoon if you don’t want to!”
Must have: Purple Haze Rolling Tray, $48 with Intention Rolling Papers by Bull Horn Press, $12
Tetra tipped the head shop sophistication trend in 2015, with a trio of founders — Monica Khemsurov, Eviana Hartman and Su Wu — who brought their backgrounds in design, journalism, and fashion together to create a space that “elevates the aesthetics of the smoking experience.” The site now stocks sophisticated smoking objects from nearly 50 independent designers, whose behind-the-scenes stories are shared on their blog, “The Chronicle.” You can also pick up a Pax while you’re there.
Must have: Tetra Balance Pipe, $65
Van der Pop
Seattle’s style-savvy set might already know the name April Pride — the eponymous label of Van der Pop’s founder and CEO, who was approached to develop a luxury cannabis lifestyle brand in 2015. The collection of stash jars, cases, rolling papers, grinders and greeting cards is rooted in her signature style, which while geared toward women, is minimalistic and discreet for all. “The cannabis industry is lacking sophisticated products for female connoisseurs, and current solutions are dominated by products inspired by gadgets intended for men,” Pride tells The Cannabist. “Little of today’s cannabis-related merchandise reflect a woman’s elevated attitude, so the style and safety of our products are intended to better the lives of those who use them.” In addition to the shop, Pride also pens an advice column and is soon launching a new pilot program called Session (think Tupperware meets 420) where cannabis connoisseurs can purchase lifestyle products at parties across the country and heightened in recreationally legal states with smokables and edibles.
Must have: The Joint Card, $29