Laws governing cannabis use in Canada are loosening, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowing to push for the legalization of weed in the country. As such, former Google employee Alan Gertner and his father, Lorne Gertner, anticipate that more cannabis opportunities will open up, hence leading them to create Tokyo Smoke—a new lifestyle brand that aims to elevate weed to the level of sophistication.
“It’s not about the prototypical stoner,” Alan said in an interview with Fast Company. “We want to build a brand for the contemporary urban citizen—it’s clean and elegant, which signals quality and transformation.”
Tokyo Smoke is a 330-square-foot coffee shop nestled between two warehouses in Toronto’s West End. Unlike average back-alley head shops, Tokyo Smoke is outfitted with custom steel shelving, exposed brick, a common table, and Tolix stools—giving an industrial-meets-modern vibe. Customers can read a number of design magazines and books, grab a cup of coffee, and buy from a wide selection of vaporizers and artisanal ceramic pipes for their weed needs.
“We transformed a ‘dirty’ space into a ‘beautiful’ space,” said Lorne, noting that the coffee shop was once the site of a loading dock. “In some ways, cannabis is a messy business and Tokyo Smoke is an opportunity to introduce a brand that has authenticity, and the architecture brings authenticity.”
But it’s not just about packaging marijuana products for Tokyo Smoke. It’s also about educating their consumers how a certain strain of marijuana will make them feel. Instead of using unfamiliar names for their marijuana strains, they categorized them into four experiences: Go, Relax, Balance, and Relief.
“There’s a limited nomenclature to understand the experiences around cannabis. By creating a design-oriented brand, we can build a language,” Alan said.
“When people consume Tokyo Smoke cannabis they’re going to have a certain type of experience. A huge part of the revolution is about experiences.”
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