In an effort to redefine the cannabis experience, Jushi Holdings Inc., a multistate operator and owner of cannabis retail, cultivation and processing licenses based in Boca Raton, Fla., has partnered with actor, producer and director Colin Hanks to bring his 'Hanks Kerchiefs' line to select BEYOND / HELLO retail stores.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jushi welcomed Andreas Neumann as the company's chief creative director to help build the brand's digital presence. The company later launched its BEYOND / HELLO online pre-ordering platform in April 2020, which saw tremendous success.
"It was very successful from day one," Neumann said. "[Roughly] 75 percent of our business [came] from online and pre-order in all of our markets. Some of it was a hundred percent because we couldn't even open the stores inside. You could see people wanted the product and wanted to make sure they got the product."
Neumann said the brand's digital presence helped increase Jushi's visibility, which led the company to explore ways to expand its retail footprint and diversity its in-store experience.
"[We thought] 'how do we build new stores?' 'How do we make those stores an experience?' which is what people want to see, what people deserve, and what the business deserves as well," Neumann said.
As the development and presentation of adult-use and medical cannabis stores is ever-changing, the company’s executives thought, "What can we do differently in those stores than just selling cannabis and cannabis-related stuff?" Neumann said, which led Jushi to the idea of incorporating unique and on-brand non-related cannabis products that are inspiring and tell a story.
The company also wanted to partner with brands that have a connection to possible charities it wants to work with, Neumann said, creating the ideal partnership with Colin Hanks’ brand, 'Hanks Kerchiefs,' which donates nearly 90 cents of every dollar spent to Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds homes for veterans, according to the Hanks Kerchiefs website.
"When I met with Colin in the midst of COVID, [I said] 'What are you doing?’ He said, 'What am I doing? I just launched my brand,'" Neumann said. "And since he's a good friend of mine, I said, 'that's amazing, so let's do something together.'"
Hanks Kerchiefs was not featured in stores at the time, but Hanks was interested in expanding his product to retail locations. From there, Neumann showed Hanks Jushi's retail stores and its new designs, and they both thought it was a good fit.
"My collaboration with Jushi is a great opportunity to bring my handkerchief line to a new group of like-minded consumers in a store environment," Hanks said in a press release. "Hanks Kerchiefs fits with the overall vibe of what BEYOND / HELLO represents. There's something about it that just seemed like a no-brainer. With pretty much one bounce of the ball, we got this collaboration up—and it's been really exciting to see Hanks Kerchiefs in this new retail setting. With so many options in today's world, it's unique to discover something that brings a sense of newfound comfort. For me, handkerchiefs have always provided that calm, and my hope is that they deliver the same sense of calm to BEYOND / HELLO customers."
Jushi's partnership with Hanks Kerchiefs has now become part of Jushi's effort to "build the company's brand into a modern retail leader that blends exclusive and unique offerings with cultural experiences," according to the press release.
Neumann stresses that the partnership is not about sales, as Jushi believes Hanks Kerchiefs fits the BEYOND /HELLO environment and complements the in-store experience.
"We've seen it already when we put [Hanks Kerchiefs] as a test in store at eye height so [consumers could] touch it and feel it, and people came in and said, 'wow, what's this?' you know, it adds to the experience," he said. "They don't even have to buy it, but it adds a story and adds a legend to the store, and you cannot buy that. It has to be real, and this is why we're doing it, and this is Colin's expectations [as well]."
And according to the press release, a portion of each Hanks Kerchiefs Jushi sells will support several charities, including Homes for Our Troops.
To sell non-cannabis-related products in certain markets, there are specific regulations brands must follow. For example, Jushi's logo must be on all non-cannabis-related products sold at its retail locations and online. The company must also ensure the product for sale isn't dangerous to consumers, aligns with the brand and fits in the compliance environment, Neumann said.
"It's about pioneering stuff like that because if you don't push, you are never going to get anywhere," he said. "It's a slow transition to the novel world. You cannot do this overnight, and you have to educate people. And I think we were always very respectful to that, and we do what we can. Sometimes it doesn't make any sense, but we still have to do it because we cannot change everything overnight. So we push the borders, but we stay in the frame of legality at all times."
And Hanks Kerchiefs is just one of many collaborations Jushi wants to partake in.
"There will be lots of other things coming," Neumann said. "We want to do vinyls, we want to do music, but it always has to have to be the right moment and the right time. The stars have to align with those collaborations."
Suppose other companies are looking to partake in collaborations similar to this or are interested in leveraging non-cannabis sales in stores. In that case, Neumann said it's essential for brands to find themselves, and the rest will fall into place.
"Everybody has to do their own thing and find their own truth," he said. "What I like about it is that there's no formula for it because you've got to be us in order to do this, but another company might have a totally different creative vision."
"We at Jushi and BEYOND / HELLO, we're in the process of finding ourselves; this is our journey," he added. "There wasn't a strategy to team up with Colin Hanks. We had to run into it, see the opportunity and then take it."