Art and cannabis have long been associated with one another. In D.C., where cannabis is decriminalized and legal to gift, but not yet legal to buy and sell, artistry supports the city’s growing cannabis culture. Many shops sell apparel, accessories and art while gifting cannabis products. The gray area allowed by Initiative 71 has made cannabis more accessible while creating space for new brands to emerge and challenging preconceived notions about cannabis.
Adams Morgan-based art gallery Gifted Curators and clothing store Pink Fox on 14th Street both combined the need for a legitimate business model and passion for street art and streetwear, respectively, with the added incentive of cannabis gifts to draw customers in.
Pink Fox is a D.C. lifestyle brand and gifting shop. Like every lifestyle brand, the shop fills a specific niche. Whereas Supreme has skateboarding and Nike has athletics, Pink Fox has cannabis.
“We acknowledge and accept that [while] we can’t sell you cannabis, what we can sell you is our brand,” says Mark Nagib, Pink Fox’s co-owner and creative director.
The apparel takes a subtle approach to the niche of cannabis. Rather than flashy marijuana leaves or other cannabis-related imagery, their apparel is emblazoned with the brand’s logo: The words “Pink Fox” form the head of a fox. Their products also frequently feature D.C.-specific things, like the Metro map, Lincoln Memorial and cherry blossoms.
Nagib designs all of Pink Fox’s apparel and accessories, finding inspiration for designs everywhere -— from the culture of D.C. to mid-century travel stamps. He says art and cannabis have a long history.
“Cannabis is seen as a very artistic tool or way to relax, so like any good combination, these things already have a relationship and go hand in hand. Because we had to be innovative and create that recreational marketplace [in 2015], art was the strongest, safest fall-back plan.”
At Gifted Curators, the art is just as important as the cannabis. As a lover of street art, manager Tee Stoe brings that to the shop. The gallery features art from local and regional street artists, which customers can buy digital versions of, and cannabis products are gifted with those purchases.
“I come from the graffiti world myself, so the art angle of this is my main passion,” Stoe says. “I’ve been so grateful to work with a bunch of my heroes as a kid, and now to include them as part of our aesthetic.”
Street art is not the only way Gifted Curators engages with artistry. The gallery also hosts intimate live performances customers can win tickets to when they spend money with the shop. Gifted Curators also works with local DJ John “Brooklyn” Saviola, who runs record store El Donut Shoppe inside the West End’s Yours Truly Hotel, to create strain-themed playlists.
Stoe describes art as something palatable for people to connect to. For Gifted Curators, the connection to art also helps challenge stereotypes about cannabis and the people who use it.
“When I started this, I expected to see a lot of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo-type characters coming here — your standard stoner type. But to be honest with you, the demographic [of our customer base] is so wide. We get a large portion of people who are [ages] 50 to 90.”
Gifted Curators is often the opposite of what new customers expect.
“There are a lot of shops out here that are dark and dirty and dingy,” Stoe says. “The gallery in general is a clean and concise experience to walk into. There is nothing threatening about a gallery.”
Author’s note: These businesses operate under D.C.’s Initiative 71, which means they do not assign a monetary value to anything with marijuana or THC in the ingredients. Instead, the items noted in the story are gifted along with the purchase of a different product, such as clothing or artwork. For more information about I-71, visit www.mayor.dc.gov.
How High-End Glass Is Changing the Cannabis Scene
Glass House Gallery showcases the intersection of art and cannabis in the form of intricate glass-blown pipes. The Shaw-based space works with over 320 different artists, and every piece featured is made by hand. Glass House frequently hosts shows to feature artists’ work with pieces selling for between $100 and $55,000. Owner Eric Wimsatt talked with us about how high-end glass is changing the cannabis scene.
District Fray: How do you connect with artists to feature at Glass House?
Eric Wimsatt: Instagram. A lot of the artists are huge in our market, [and] we know [them] because we have been in the community for so long. It’s more relationship-based than anything. It’s an intimate thing because you’re selling their artwork. When you meet these artists, you do want to build a relationship with them. You’re selling part of their soul, in a sense.
How do customers generally react to the art at the gallery?
Honestly, they’re astounded. At a lot of our shows, we put videos of the artists themselves blowing live from their YouTube, so they show all the work they put into this. They literally shape hot, molten liquid and form a piece with it. If they screw up in any way, from pulling it too hard to temperature differentiation, it can completely mess up the entire piece. It’s a skill that takes a certain level of technique, but also years of figuring out. It’s cool when people see the amount of work these [artists] put in.
How does artistry support D.C.’s cannabis culture?
It’s kind of shaping it. When you get higher-end glass, you get higher-end customers. It’s the whole lifestyle around it. It sets precedence not only for the glass but for cannabis you use with the glass: quality in, quality out.
Don’t miss our virtual Cannabis City panel presented by District Fray and BĀkT DC on Thursday, April 29 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Register here.
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