Is Social-Dosing the New Microdosing?
When Scott Campbell and his partner Clement Kwan founded Beboe in 2017, their mission was to create cannabis products that were dosed to go with certain, sophisticated social settings: weddings, afternoon tea parties, and fancy dinners. So they released elegant vape pens and edible pastilles packaged to look like something you might find in a Parisian boutique store. The look earned the nickname "the Hermes of marijuana" by the New York Times.
The two were onto something. Last week, Green Thumb International (GTI) acquired Beboe for an undisclosed sum, and Barney's New York, the luxury retail store chain, announced a partnership with Beboe to sell their products in a new cannabis lifestyle shop called "The High End."
We caught up with Campbell to talk to him about the company's origin story and his advice for getting in the business.
Related: The Bright Future of Cannabis Retail
What did you and partner Clement Kwan do before you crossed over the cannabis business?
I have been a tattoo artist since 1999, but I worked on all sorts of other projects and collaborations. I've collaborated with various brands including Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Berluti, Hennessy etc. Clement has designed strategies behind some of the most pioneering movements in fashion. He was president of Yoox when we met and he oversaw their merger with net a porter and was looking for what to do next. We shared a love of weed culture, and Los Angeles was really becoming more relevant in the global art market, so we moved to LA and I opened a tattoo shop here and built an art studio while we started exploring the landscape of the cannabis industry.
How is Beboe different than other brands?
When we launched Beboe (in 2013), the landscape of cannabis products was very collegiate and juvenile. Customers who were coming into dispensaries were only interested in how high they could get for twenty bucks. Beboe was created for people like ourselves -- high-functioning adults who have families, careers and appreciate nice things. I only have time to get high once or twice a week so, in those moments, I don't want to waste that time on anything less than the best experience possible. I'm not interested in getting so high that I can't get off a sofa.
A lot of initial feedback we got about Beboe was about the packaging and design. It's packaged well because we are proud of it. It doesn't look the way it does because we a bunch of focus groups indicated that this is what people respond to. It looks the way it does because we put great care into the product itself. It's important that it reflects our reverence for what we have made. Anything that is designed well is designed selfishly. If you are trying to make a product for someone that you understand less than you understand yourself, it will always be insincere.
Why did you name the company Beboe?
My grandmother’s name was Be Boe. My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was very young and my grandmother visited frequently to help care for her. She cleaned up the house and cooked for us.
One thing she made each trip were brownies. She made one tray for us kids, and one tray for Mom, but Mom’s brownies were strictly off limits…kept under lock and key in a closet. Of course, we would go through our rations in 24 hours, turning our sights on mom’s reserve. We were reminded each time that mom was really sick, deserved to have her own brownies, and backed off.
We found out years later that mom’s brownies were made with marijuana. They would help nausea brought on by the sickness and brought back her appetite. I laugh every time I imagine that little 85-year-old woman wandering around our local grocer, trying to find someone who could help her buy a bag of weed.
Explain the concept of social dosing. How does it work?
Beboe is socially-dosed. You definitely feel it. It's warm and bright and lightens your emotional load a bit, but it is subtle enough that you can use Beboe all evening long and still be present and enjoy yourself.
Your wife is actress Lake Bell. What's her involvement in the company?
Lake is the ultimate muse / sounding board. She has incredible taste and can give you sincere and thoughtful feedback in seconds. I run most ideas by her before we birth them into the world, and her intuition has had a heavy influence on the products. She doesn’t have an official title within the Beboe world, but within my world, she is everything, so her influence can’t help but permeate Beboe. I asked her if she would make a Beboe educational video in a way that people would actually connect with. She teamed up with Colin Devin Moore, and together they made in our living room that brand video. She is now writing, directing, and starring in a show for ABC, but I’m definitely leaning on her talents whenever she has time for more cannabis content."
What was one of your biggest challenges in launching your brand, and how did you overcome it?
Getting it into dispensaries. We would hear a lot of feedback about how customers just want as much high for their dollar as possible. And here we were pushing a product that was much higher quality, but that wasn't designed to slam you onto your sofa and trap you there for four hours. We were making something that people had yet to come asking for. We had to really work to convince people, on the retail level, that as consumers became more educated, and more discriminating in their tastes, that Beboe is just the sort of thing they would come to appreciate. To overcome this, we put together a persistent and sleepless sales team and focused a lot of energy on education and seeding to open peoples minds to different ways of consuming cannabis.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs interested in getting into the cannabis space?
Don't bother unless you truly love the plant. There are a thousand green-rush snake oil salesmen, each trying to put together their own get-rich-quick scheme. But what really prevails and keeps us driven and excited is love and reverence for the plant.