In this week’s Women in Cannabis Wednesday, JADEO catches up with the high vibing duo behind Sackville + Co., a contemporary, design focused cannabis lifestyle brand. Here business partners Hayley Dineen and Lana Van Burnt share what inspired them to get into business, the value of social platforms in building an independent brand, and what they are hanging their stars on next.
To begin, tell us about your company. What is Sackville + Co.?
Hayley: Sackville + Co is a design focused cannabis lifestyle brand. We want to bring a new aesthetic to the space that has a lot of value to us, and to the space. The brand helps people take their consumption outside the dark. The same way you’d have a beautiful bar cart to host family or friends, we wanted to take cannabis and put it in the same light.
Lana: We are just acknowledging its commonplace in your lifestyle. Like, if friends came over for a drink. We create accessories that people are proud to show off and represent that aspect of their lifestyle.
How did two you meet?
Hayley: We met pretty organically. Around the fall of 2017 Lana was working at Vice with my husband when we first started chatting. We both had a vision and a dream of the type of brand we wanted to bring to market. After a few conversations we figured out that we saw the same vision and we saw the same future. That’s kind of what got us to launching Sackville + Co. to start. We actually launched as a lifestyle brand before legalization was even announced, so that when it was announced, it was like “ok now let’s go into hyperdrive.”
We weren’t sure how we were going to launch the brand and they when they announced October 17th would be the day of legalization we were like oh wow! And the date also happened to be my birthday, so we took that as a big sign from the Universe!
Lana: We were thinking about our experiences and of the female experience in general of going into a head shop and how, it’s wasn’t really a friendly or inviting place. There was nothing that represented cannabis the way that I buy all of the rest of the products in my home and my life: the way I buy clothes, the way I buy everything else. Thinking about all this, we just recognized at the time that this was not the future.
How did you figure out your distinct roles within a partnership?
Hayley: It’s funny it actually wasn’t a conversation but we realized we had very different skill sets.
Lana: We kind of joke how it’s just so inherent to us, because it’s a small business, we both do everything in a way.
Who we are, the way we approach things, is just so complementary that there’s really no question of who owns what when. And since we talk 400 times a day it’s pretty easy to separate the who what when.
What about your backgrounds has prepared you to run this company?
Hayley: My background is in fashion. I lived in England for 7 years where I worked for a bunch of different luxury fashion brands. As well I worked for the ITC doing consulting, then when I moved back to Toronto I took over as design director for October’s Very Own where I was doing a bit more streetwear stuff.
With Sackville + Co we’ve tied that all of our experience into the brand synergistically. We’ve talked about this before but for so long, there’s only been one real aesthetic that went along with cannabis culture which had a headshoppy, masculine kind of look. So we just wanted to spice it up.
Lana: I came from traditional advertising, then worked in music for a while, then media, then business development… so I round out the other end of Hayley.
How do you know how to go from having a job to knowing how to run a company?
Lana: You don’t, you learn. It’s on the job learning. You don’t give up. One foot in front of the next constantly… (laughing) with a blindfold on, holding hands.
How do you feel about being female founders and independent?
Lana: It’s something that, in our day to day we aren’t overly focused on it. We are doing this out of an inherent desire. We recognize it, we see it, we’re conscious of it, and we’ve kinda had our own experiences - but It’s like emblematic of a lot of things and we hope to see the industry level out a bit.
Hayley: Ya I mean, I think you hope that generally in society, in this industry but also in every other industry, that we are working towards more equal opportunity for women, and more diversity in all aspects of business. It’s something we all have to be fighting for to make that change.
Lana: The good thing is that for the women that are in the industry, it’s a very tight knit community. Everyone is incredibly supportive and I think the way that we all operate with each other is going to inspire more women to get involved in the industry. The whole environment is really quite incredible.
Hayley: People really hold each other up and I think that’s really important.
What were your thoughts about the cannabis industry before you founded your company? What were your concerns?
Hayley: Well, I think Canada is a difficult place to operate in, in that it’s so heavily regulated. We aren’t doing consumable, we do a lot of lifestyle goods that are outside of consumables, like candles, or jars, so we have found a path that works for us. When we first started of course we had dreams of being more in the flower side. As you get more involved and learn more, you realize that flower is one part of a massive industry that has many other really vital arms to it. There are so many ways you can be in the industry without touching flower.
Lana: As much as if feels like it’s everything we talk about, everything we do, it’s funny how you get isolated in this cannabis industry warpzone and you realize other people are not as in it.
Hayley: I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned is that people inside the industry don’t have a realistic viewpoint of how people see cannabis outside of it. People are still learning, it’s so new for so many people! For example people think that putting cannabis cream on your body will get you high, or people have assumptions built from anti-cannabis propaganda. People often think the consumer is way far ahead of that, but really they’re looking to learn the basics.
What has the journey taught you? Loves / dislikes? Challenges?
Lana: It’s funny we talk about this a lot. It’s very much, starting a business and being an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster and the cannabis industry is a whole new set of ups and downs. But, every part of it is wildly rewarding: the challenges, the relationships that we are building along the way. Even just personally, the amount of growth we’ve both seen personally in the last year
Hayley: They always say this, but it’s so true: you learn so much more by getting involved and getting your hands-dirty. And the more that you do, the more that you learn, and the more you figure out how to do it better. It’s a wild ride!
Lana: I think the biggest thing we’ve really learned is that it’s honestly just persistence. It is just, no matter what, taking a step forward every day. You don’t always know in what direction.
What kind of milestones have you hit since you launched?
Hayley: the OCS deal was a big milestone for us.
Lana: We have aggressive timelines, the OCS one was a big one, and now we’re moving into larger wholesale contracts and International distribution. There’s a lot of pieces for us as we always have our sight set 10 steps ahead. So, while there’s been some really great milestones and I think we just see all the other things that we’re excited to step into.
How has instagram helped platform your brand? Are you worried about our account being taken down?
Hayley: It’s been an interesting one. In terms of brand awareness I would say world-of-mouth has been the most important. We’ve participated in a few in-person events like rolling salons or things like that, and It’s been amazing because people get to touch and try the product. From all the feedback we’ve gotten people really love the product and that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day.
Lana: Instagram’s been incredible for creating relationships. We talk to so many entrepreneurs in the space. Our brand is really rich within music, art, fashion, culture those kinds of things. We’ve had a lot of relationships built through that social network.
Hayley: All through those DMs baby! I mean it’s true though, you’re able to connect with people you would never connect with otherwise.
Lana: It allows us to connect globally. One of our big pillars is our artist collaborations, and we’ve created some great relationships Internationally with women who are creating artisanal products worldwide and it’s all been through that platform. It is a great way to meet people with shared values.
Hayley: Ya, we are about to release our next collaboration with an artist in Mexico, which will be all handmade products.
What can you tell us about your next venture?
Lana: We can’t say that much right now but we have big things coming. We are launching our next venture called Parlor. We are incredibly passionate about both brands and both offerings.
What advice would you give to women wanting to break into the industry?
Hayley: I would say, show up, so go to all the events, go to all the meet ups. You’ll learn a lot of tidbits. Take the stuff that suits you. It’s a good way to gauge what you want to go into, what inspires you and peaks your own interests. Really whatever your passion is, there’s a way to match it to cannabis.
Lana: To Hayley’s point, it’s like: “learn learn, learn.” There is so much to learn and understand within this space, I think there’s so many avenues you can build on but it’s all about showing up, participating and soaking it in. It’s interesting because there are a lot of companies that are larger than us, and some our size. So we trip and fall and then the next cohort of people coming up can learn to not trip on the same things as us.
Hayley: That’s one of the amazing things, how quickly things evolve and change. The industry so much is going to open up so much more even by this October. It’s amazing really.