Higher Standards is Planning for the Marijuana Experience of Tomorrow
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 12/20/2018 | 4 Minute Read
Want to elevate your cannabis experience? Higher Standards can help you with that. Their line of high-end care and maintenance products—made from premium materials which are gorgeously-designed and packaged—promise to get you the best flavor from what you smoke.
“You wouldn't go and buy Japanese Kobe beef and then cook it in a dirty pan and eat it off of dirty plates,” explained the Higher Standards Co-Founder and Creative Director, Sasha Kadey. He started the brand back in 2016 in hopes to make a maintenance routine part of the smoking ritual.
“People are spending top dollar on really high-quality material, but then all too often going and consuming it out of a dirty piece," added Sasha. "They want those nice terpenes and flavors but use a utensil to consume it which totally impacts that flavor and experience.”
As an enthusiast himself, Sasha always works hard to keep his smoking implements sparkling, ensuring he gets the maximum flavor out of every session. He discovered there are plenty of products on the market intended for this purpose, but he never felt like they gave off a luxurious vibe—they looked like cleaning products (or even worse, automotive products) and added to the idea that this step is an unenjoyable item on the to-do list. He wanted to simplify things.
“For me, I always relied on rock salt and entirely concentrated alcohol for cleaning my pieces,” Sasha explained. But that’s not such an easy task anymore—while you used to be able to buy grain alcohol at any supermarket or pharmacy, now you’ll typically find a 70% concentration. And with rock salt, he often found himself sorting through a big box to find pieces small enough for the cleaning process.
With Higher Standards, he conveniently provides his tried-and-true cleaning products and makes them available at places where people are already shopping, like smoke shops and dispensaries. “Plus, we put it in packaging that makes it feel a little bit more like a luxurious self-care ritual as opposed to a chore,” he added.
Sasha had previously been involved in both the wine and spirits and luxury cosmetics industry, working with clients renowned for packaging design where he developed a strong sense of what he wanted Higher Standards to look and feel like. Sasha then utilized internal designers on his team as well as some external designers in New York to finalize the packaging and branding.
The Higher Standards flagship store is located in New York City—a state where recreational cannabis isn't yet legal. Currently, ten states plus Washington, D.C. permit recreational marijuana sales, while another 23, including New York, allow the sale for medical purposes only. Public opinion about cannabis is shifting, legalization trends alone indicate this, but Sasha still says it poses some frustrations.
“It would be nice to be able to provide product knowledge and product education without tiptoeing around the language and verbiage that's used,” he confessed.
Higher Standards is both a retail brand product company and a retail concept, Sasha explained, and one part of the model which he hopes to develop is the “Elevation Station,” a cannabis-centric take on Apple’s Genius Bar. “I hope that one day soon we can offer classes on how to roll, how to care for your glass, and such. Those things are just harder to do in a market that hasn’t yet had the benefits of adult use legalization.”
Pop-ups allow for a bit of experimentation in these regards, such as their current one at Cannary West in Los Angeles. Since cannabis, by law, must be displayed under glass, Sasha finds dispensaries can often have a sterile feeling to them. He hopes these kinds of partnerships make it a retail environment where people feel encouraged to browse, shop, and discover new products.
And in a country where cannabis regulations are changing rapidly, it’s important that others in the industry take note. As more and more states make motions to legalize recreational marijuana, consumers are going to buy their accessories at dispensaries versus heading a few blocks away to a smoke shop. And ultimately, places which can offer consumers education will come out on top.
“Dispensaries will be primarily focused on selling the software, the cannabis, and not the hardware, the products you used to smoke it with,” explained Sasha, “but they will obviously sell a selection of the best-selling products that people know and love and want.” While introducing new products and educating customers may not be a requirement of dispensaries today, it’s a consumer experience consumers will certainly appreciate, and likely expect, in the future.
“The ones that are going to really survive and thrive are those that are specialty retailers as opposed to convenience stores,” Sasha speculated. “They’ll offer a wider selection of well-curated products with high levels of product knowledge and education to go along with it.”