As new sensory-based cannabis line FlowerShop* prepares for its first big flower drop, co-founders Isaac Muwaswes, Gabriel Garcia and Chief Mood Officer Gerald “G-Eazy” Gillum joined us to talk shop.
The formation of the trio itself is a fun tale. How do a popular fashion designer, a famous Oakland rapper, and Twitter’s former head of brand development link up?
“There was a brand called Brooklyn Circus and they had a store in San Francisco, and I was just a huge fan of the brand aesthetic,” G-Eazy told L.A. Weekly. “It was this kind of mid-century collegiate, a very refined gentleman’s brand.”
G-Eazy was hooked. At one point when he was self-funding a music video back in the day, he spent a big chunk of the funds on a jacket from Brooklyn Circus. Muwaswes joined Garcia’s efforts to grow Brooklyn Circus after years in tech.
“We just formed a friendship that was rooted in mutual respect from a mutual appreciation of attention to detail, design and craftsmanship,” G-Eazy said. “From the music side to the visuals within music, to the design that comes along with that and the sensibilities that there were parallels between.”
Roughly seven or eight years ago, G-Eazy’s relationship with Muwaswes and Garcia evolved from patron to collaborator. He found this only opened his eyes wider to the duo’s skill set.
“We eventually started working together on the merch and creative direction side and that gave me the biggest look at how brilliant these guys were in terms of not only just design but production and seeing visions through,” G-Eazy said. “Whether it was creating a jacket, t-shirt, a pair of sweatpants, socks, you know, it just felt like we could do anything.”
G-Eazy spent much of the last decade in collaboration with Muwaswes and Garcia. “In those seven or eight years of touring the world together and creating countless pieces and producing all this stuff and doing popups all over the world, we definitely created a lifelong bond,” he told us. “When you have a bond of trust between friends, and you’ve already accomplished so much, you kind of just leave with that trust when you want to start something new. And you know, when they came to me with this idea it was kind of a no-brainer.”
Muwaswes noted the actual FlowerShop* idea and vision had been kicking around in their heads for about three years prior to the launch. Back then, they asked themselves if they were to do something in cannabis, what would they want it to feel like? And what were the components they would need to accomplish the goal?
“Early on, it was kind of just building out the concept, building out the foundation and all the multi-layers of the brand,” Muwaswes told L.A. Weekly. “And then I would say the last two years has really been getting it to market, finding the right partners on everything from the infrastructure and on the cannabis side, to the right partners from an investment funding perspective, to just building out our entire ecosystem of products and partners and everything else in between.”
While cannabis obviously comes to mind first, Muwaswes said a lot of their efforts are also going into what the brand is doing besides pot. “The kind of lifestyle side, which is everything from accessories to home goods to travel goods to clothes and everything in between,” he explained. “And all of those things take time to develop in the right way and develop the right products.”
We asked the trio what made this effort different from their past collaborating?
“I would say this one is different in the sense that we’re able to take everything that we love and we’re all good at, and apply it to this,” Garcia told L.A. Weekly. “I think through the last 15 years of all of our careers, if we’re honest with each other, it was a learning process and everything sometimes happens through trial and error, sometimes happens just like taking a stab at something and learning from it. And that’s why we felt so good about this brand. We felt like experts in our own lanes and just joining forces, combining all of our expertise, which I think really makes this one a good one.”
Muwaswes added he found the whole process to be both unique and compelling since it was the first time the trio had started something completely from scratch together.
“When we started working with G, he had his career already taking off, and that G-Eazy world was already very much on this kind of rocket ship that he had built,” Muwaswes said. “When Gabe and I started working together on Brooklyn Circus, Gabe had already founded Brooklyn Circus and that was already built and already taking off in that way. So from a conception standpoint, and kind of building something that didn’t exist at all before, that was unique and because of that we were able to go a lot deeper and build that [FlowerShop*] world out in a lot more ways.”
One of the main facets of the brand is it leans heavily on the sensory side of things. Garcia referenced his early dispensary experiences as something that helped inspire something more approachable for the consumer.
“It was always a sensory experience, but I didn’t realize that’s what we were doing. We were just trying to engage with the customer and provide an experience that maybe they were used to at a high-end shop,” Garcia said.
As they built out the brand, they thought about sensory at every touchpoint. From when you first see the box, then feel it, smell it, touch it, and on through enjoying the product.
But there is the catch-22 of the sensory approach. While it makes perfect sense, some of the brands of the past that went in that direction essentially tainted the field for everyone. It got to the point where if it said sleepy or energy on the side of a box, there was a fair chance it was boof. We asked the trio about dealing with the history of other brands that have attempted the approach and its impact on the minds of consumers.
“Yeah, for sure, 100% we knew that,” Muwaswes replied. “We knew first and foremost, going into anything flower-related, it had to be fire, right? We had to make sure that no matter what we did, the product had to be able to speak for itself – aside from the packaging, aside from the design, aside from everything else.”
G-Eazy called Muwaswes’ response the core essence of anything the trio has ever tried to do.
“I think it’s more of even a philosophy and a worldview and the way we approach everything. If you want to do something and do it right, you know the authenticity has to be there,” G-Eazy said. “You can’t talk to the culture you don’t belong to. That’s just a rule of thumb in life. If you got to do something, then stand behind it and do it authentically and do it right and that takes extra time.”
G-Eazy emphasized that it takes time, extra attention to detail, extra work in getting the resources together.
“But at the end of the day, you are what you stand behind in terms of trying to build anything. And that’s the way I’ve approached my music, that’s the way they approached Brooklyn Circus,” G-Eazy said. “I just think that’s core to our fundamental philosophies and identities.”
Muwaswes found the biggest misstep from their predecessors was the lack of actual shine they were putting on the farms growing their product or even attempting to showcase it from a genetics perspective. We found this take very accurate. In the process of giving love to the farmer, they also wanted to find a balance between the highly sterile pharmaceutical model and those filled with the wookery and smoke-filled rooms of yesteryear.
G-Eazy called the quest to keep the jars filled with the heat an essentially continuous process in authenticity.
“It never stops, and it only actually increases as far as what we’re looking at, who we’re working with and our sourcing partners,” G-Eazy said. “The nice part about it is, now that we’re gaining our own kind of reputation and name in this industry, I think it’s finding us to a certain extent now too, as opposed to us seeking it all out.”
Muwaswes added when everyone is excited about what each other are doing it’s easy for the synergy to start. He pointed to their partner Halo’s effort to lay out what their genetics program will look like over the next 12 months on their quest for the heat. While some of the efforts have longer turnarounds, one magic new phenotype can change everything for any brand. FlowerShop* will also be working with Korova who has a ton of experience and shelf space across the state.
While FlowerShop* pre-rolls are already on shelves, the big day circled on the calendar is the forthcoming first flower drop. We had the chance to sample the first batch with Muwaswes and Garcia ahead of our main interview. It was certainly proper San Francisco dessert weed terps and we enjoyed it.
The trio expects to see the Bud Vases drop in six flavors the second week of July. As opposed to the standard eighth jar, the bud vase is meant to be reusable from conception. The silicone cap doubles as an ashtray and incense holder.
As for the pandemic delaying the big launch, Garcia said it got to the point they expected something to go wrong on a daily basis. Especially with all the custom orders they were bringing in from overseas.
“So as much as it’s been super frustrating and expensive, it’s been a learning process and we’ve learned to just expect things to go wrong and prepare ourselves for the worst,” Garcia said. “It’s been a hell of a time for the last few years trying to get this thing going, but we’re here man, we’re talking to you, shit, we’re doing something right.”