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    PROFILES | BUSINESS

    26 Mar 2021

    How These Nova Scotia Brothers Rolled Into The Cannabis Industry Featured

    “There's so much room for Black ownership in the Cannabis industry and it's only right that we take advantage of an industry that we helped build,” says Josh Creighton, one of the co-owners of Fumes Rolling Papers & Accessories.

    Fumes Rolling Papers & Accessories is a Black-owned business in Halifax, Nova Scotia founded in July 2020 by three brothers: Tyler Morton, Treno Morton, and Josh Creighton. The company distributes high-quality rolling papers for use with cannabis.

    About the Owners

    The brothers were all born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Tyler owns different rental properties and has been accumulating properties over his lifetime. Treno went to Queen's University and will graduate this April. Josh's experience is in marketing. 

    Inspiration and Establishment

    “Most of the stigmas surrounding weed persist well into 2021 and beyond. Growing up, our only vision of people who smoked weed was that they were either unemployed or losers in life. I think this stereotype saved us from trying it earlier and getting addicted to it,” explains Josh.

    Due to their experiences with cannabis, Josh and his brothers know the difference between a good paper and a bad one.

    “Since we were dissatisfied with the quality of the paper, we thought about making our own. This also happened to be a great business opportunity and fell in line with our ambitions,” Josh recalls.

    According to Josh, the multitude of problems and stereotypes about their community are also among the factors that motivated them to start the business. “We want to change the way people think about what someone from our community can do.”

    Josh also explains that their company was a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The pandemic offered us an opportunity to explore our passions and work on it.”

    On top of this, the constant mentorship and encouragement of Tyler, their eldest brother, turned their business idea into a reality.

    The brothers registered Fumes Rolling Papers & Accessories in July of 2020 and never looked back.

    The first six months were spent on product testing and finding the right manufacturers. They finally landed on a product they liked and placed a big order in January 2021.

    “January was our first month of business because that’s when we got our big order and began to rapidly expand.”

    So far, the three brothers do all the work on their own. Tyler handles sales, while Josh and Treno handle all the marketing and admin work.

    Types of Products, Quality and Price

    The company only has one product right now: 100% organic rolling paper.

    “We believe our key customers are between the age of 19 and 30. We think our brand resonates with them. We try to keep it super genuine and authentic,” says Josh.

    The papers are made from all-natural unbleached pure hemp certified by TÜV SÜD in Germany. It uses a 100% natural Arabic gum adhesive seal, which is also certified. The paper is 1 1/4 size.

    The company will have its full product line out by summer and will roll out accessories by the end of this year.

    Prices start as low as $2.60 to $3 for a pack depending on the vendor.

    The company operates 85 locations: Nova Scotia (75), Ontario (9) and, British Columbia (1).

    Their main avenues of marketing are social media. One thing that Josh tells a lot of young people is that anyone who grew up with a phone or who has a lot of experience on social media is already a marketing expert.

    “Social media is one of those things that young people are taking advantage of when it comes to marketing their businesses.”

    According to Josh, their business is prospering and they are doing better every month.

    “We ordered 10,000 units on January 9th and two months in, we sold half of those.

    All the feedback they have received has been really great and inspiring. People love the papers because they burn very slow, and there's no taste of smoke. A lot of people are also telling them that they're switching where they buy their paper from.

    “So we’re really excited for ourselves, and we've almost exceeded our expectations when we first sought out to do this. Besides, we really enjoyed the process and it gives us a lot to think about and allows us to think a lot more innovatively,” says Josh overwhelmingly.

    Lessons

    Josh explains that their new venture has been a lot of work, a lot of stress, and a lot of expensive mistakes. But it’s been a fun experience as well. One key lesson is the issue related to packaging, “Although we’re in over 80 locations right now, we can’t really expand into anywhere Canada-wide yet because our packaging doesn’t have French and English. That’s something we didn’t really know. But now we do. If we would have done more research, we would have known that.”

    Josh advises up-and-comers to do more research and connect with people in the industry to learn more.

    “Remember, there’s no need to rush because that’s when mistakes happen. And one mistake can set you back a few months. If you take your time and are strategic about every move, you’ll succeed,” explains Josh.

    The Benefits of Owning a Company

    The biggest thing for Josh and his brothers is that they are from a community that has a lot of history in Nova Scotia.

    “Never in my life have I held this much autonomy over anything. And that's been one of the most liberating things I've been able to experience in my life. We can decide on whatever we want to do. As a young Black person, you don't often find yourself in situations where you can exert your autonomy however you like,” explains Josh.

    Josh believes that more Black people should start their own business and also take advantage of the cannabis business industry.

    “Cannabis is not legal everywhere, it’s only legal in Canada nationally, and a few months ago, the UN recognized its medicinal value. So things are changing and it is the best time to invest in the cannabis industry.”

    Even so, Josh and his brothers don't encourage underage smoking. “We think one needs to be at the right time and place in their life to utilize it,” advises Josh.

    But Josh warns that starting a business in the cannabis industry as a person of colour isn’t without its challenges.

    “We've been receiving a lot of support here in our local community. However, sometimes people project their fears, insecurities and false assumptions onto you. People don’t just do that because they’re Black. Everyone does that. My brothers and I are really good at not paying attention to people who may say otherwise.”

    Future Plan

    The company has plans to release a new line of products this year that make it a lot different than many of its competitors. It will release new products in a few months and the rest before the end of this year.

    One example is releasing a premium product that comes with filter tips and a magnet enclosure to prevent dust and folds in less than a month.

    They will also launch a subscription-based model in 2021 summer where customers will be able to sign up for a yearly and monthly subscription.

    The brothers have been looking into different funding opportunities to grow their business.

    “It's taking us a bit longer because we’re self-funded and it’s tough for us to get a loan. That speaks to the long history of systemic issues. We’re 100% Black-owned and we'll eventually get there.”

    According to Josh, more growth means more expense, “So it's just about establishing enough money to really get things going.”

    Currently, there’s no one that makes rolling papers in Canada. So their five-year plan is to buy the infrastructure to source them in Canada.

    “We do everything online. We have a website and social media handles. @highofffumes247 is our handle on all social media.”

     

    Author’s Note

    • Cannabis was legalized in Canada in 2018.
    • Before the legalization of cannabis in Canada, Black people and Indigenous people were overrepresented amongst those arrested for minor cannabis possession or offences.
    • Between October 2018 and September 2019, CAN$907,833,000 was spent on recreational cannabis. (Statistics Canada)
    • In 2020, the cannabis industry in Canada generated about $8.16 billion to the country's economy (Source: Statistics Canada)
    Read 511 times Last modified on Saturday, 24 April 2021 22:20
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     Feleseta Kassaye Woldtsadique

    Feleseta Kassaye Woldtsadique is a seasoned communications professional in Canada with a passion for storytelling. Having a literature, media and communications background, she has worked for several non-profit organizations advocating for change for women, children, youth, environment and health policies across several UN Agencies.

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