For the Cannasieur, Pre-rolls in a Humidor
With so many ways to consume cannabis these days -- vapes, drinks, gummies, cookies, cakes, sprays, tinctures, toothpicks -- it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures of smoking a well-rolled joint. Actually, it’s easy to forget a lot of things, but the point is, Albert Einstone’s remembers.
A brand new name in the all-natural, luxury smoking space, Einstone’s has just introduced El Blunto: a glass-tipped, hand-rolled, hemp-wrapped, whole flower, 1.75-gram pre-roll that’s available in California in seven strains. Looking like a finely rolled mini-cigar right down to the gold-leaf label, El Blunto pushes pre-rolls to a new level, and it even comes in a humidor for those who like just a touch of snob appeal with their smokes.
We sat down with the Albert Einstone’s team -- Derek Maddalena, Q Ladraa, Alan Oliver and Tyrone Gomes -- to learn more about this new venture and the distinctive product they’re bringing to the cannabis space.
How did Albert Einstone’s come about?
We started it about a year and a half ago with the goal to create a vertically integrated, three-pronged business: cultivation, manufacturing and distribution. We wanted a brand that would be the gold standard, that would go above and beyond; we always wanted to be a step ahead of the competition in terms of products, packaging, quality and consistency. Every time a customer has our product, they should have the same experience they had last time -- just like with liquor. The plan was to cultivate our own products and provide that consistent experience for our consumer.
Did you know right away what your product line would be, or has it been evolving?
We had an idea of what we wanted to create, but it does evolve, and today we also distribute other people’s products -- if the consumer wants to consume a certain kind of product, we want to be there. We want to be specific with who we’re targeting, connect in a real way, and have the consumer tell us what they want with their purchases. The nice thing about being a smaller company is that we can be nimble; we’re small batch, high quality, more like a craft beer than a Bud Light.
As a start-up in California, what are the toughest obstacles you’ve had to deal with?
Waiting for the city of LA to finalize and release the application process. Originally, it was going to be in early 2018, but we didn’t get our final approval till December. We were paying rent and utilities at our location all that time and laying out cash with nothing to show for it, and for a small business that’s difficult. Even now, there are so many unlicensed dispensaries in LA, so our competition includes all those businesses that aren’t paying excise taxes or licensing fees. All that said, we persevered, paid our fees, staffed up, paid lawyer fees, which have gone up exponentially because of the demand for this kind of business, and we’ve put out our first products, which have been very well received by the retailers. We’re going door to door, asking them to carry our products, and the first couple of dispensaries are sold out now
Are you positioning this as a wellness brand?
Some people are using this for medicine. So if they use it for that reason, and they come back to it again and the product is different in any way, they’re not getting what they expected. These products are going into someone’s body, so we keep a high standard for what we put in it. A good analogy is farm-to-table: People want to know where their food comes from, they want to know their sources and maintain high standards, and we want to bring that same standard to cannabis
Any advice for other small entrepreneurs trying to enter the market?
Expect it to take longer than you hoped and to cost more than you planned on. You’re a pioneer in a new industry, so there’s not a lot of institutional knowledge, and because of all the hurdles it helps to have people with diverse skill sets, like a Swiss Army knife. Everyone’s wearing many hats, everyone’s mopped the floor the same day they’ve gone to sell to dispensaries; I mean, we have a lawyer, but he’s also rolling blunts. There are obstacles everywhere, you just have to be a problem-solver and be resilient.