We are not immune to the charms of beautiful design, and that is no less true when it comes to marijuana storage and cannabis packaging. As we increasingly embrace cannabis and its related products into our everyday lives, there’s a new focus on raising the bar on aesthetics, function, and form in the industry to attract customers — similar to artisanal coffee or chocolate.
Marijuana is also perishable, requiring packaging and storage designs that are also pragmatic. No one knows this better than Josh Gordon, CEO of NYC-based The Bureau and a potpreneur making some of the most attractive and thoughtful marijuana storage products available right now.
What is your experience with cannabis prior to this business — personally and professionally?
I grew up in a pretty open household, where cannabis wasn’t something that was shunned — at least once we got to an age when my parents thought we were responsible. My family has a house in Colorado, and we could see firsthand the evolution of the industry from black market to main street.
I’ve also always recognized the medicinal side of marijuana — for example, seeing the monumental benefits cannabis can provide to people with epilepsy. From a pain standpoint, I think weed is a million times better than the opioids that are easily available out there.
There’s also the recreational side, and I’ve always thought that just like people like to relax with a glass of wine at the end of the day, people should be able to relax with a joint at the end of the day. It seemed to me that should be just as common and socially acceptable.
Why focus on developing marijuana storage?
I’ve followed a more traditional path in life, including attending college, working a pretty mainstream job, and then going to business school. I knew a lot of people like me, who appreciated weed but weren’t the typical stoner stereotype. I appreciate the finer things, such as products with well-designed packaging, and while cannabis has historically been kept in bags and in the darkness, I knew it could be served in an attractive glass jar, just like a good whiskey.
I recognized that there was a void in the market for the kind of appropriate cannabis packaging and branding necessary to make this a true consumer product. Walk into any store for any other product, and everything — even inexpensive items — are packaged to the nines. Why not cannabis? It was only a matter of time.
What’s your personal design aesthetic? How did you determine the right aesthetic for The Bureau?
It was important that I spent a little bit of time working in a design firm. Through that, I got a sense of what it takes to create a brand identity and learned to recognize design talent. I used that knowledge to speak with a few different design firms whose websites and work spoke to me.
We went through some arduous sessions, trying to extract keywords from my brain to understand the kind of design I wanted. The Bureau ended up being professional but hip, contemporary, and functional.
My personal style is similar to The Bureau. I’m a little outside of the box compared to the standard professional. I’m not a crazy fashionista, but I’d say I have a little bit of an edge. I like to walk the line between professional and edgy.
How did your parents react when you told them you were starting a cannabis business?
Well, they didn’t know exactly what I was talking about at first, because unless you pay specific attention to what’s going on with dispensaries and the mainstreaming of cannabis, it’s a little bit difficult to grasp. But that being said, they were supportive. It was a legitimate business selling packaging to an up-and-coming industry, and it was easy for them to recognize that.
What do you do for fun?
I play basketball. I snowboard. I play every sport and even coach my kid’s Little League baseball team. Hang out with friends — normal people things.
What is the one food you couldn’t live without?
Hmm, I’d say fish. I’m a big sushi guy.
What are the myths you want to dispel about cannabis?
It’s an interesting question, because when I started my company, I realized I was unintentionally promoting a more responsible type of cannabis use by promoting a more thoughtful storage approach that moved away from the stereotypes of stoners and back alleys.
I was trying to dispel the myth that people who smoke weed are no-good degenerates. People who use cannabis are often incredibly talented, accomplished people. It’s just about how you approach cannabis, and sometimes that reflects the way you approach your life.
You can treat cannabis like a glass of wine or abuse it like any other vice. You just have to know your line.
Thank you, Josh!