Custom Smoke Canada (Instagram @customsmoke_403) is Canada’s most sought after cannabis artist, rolling some of the most creative custom smokable art pieces that have graced this planet. Not only is Daniel a magician when it comes to custom smokable art, he’s a guru when it comes to what’s inside every joint and how they work, and that’s really what matters. In a world where consumers are skeptical of buying pre rolled joints with a pre conceived notion that we’re getting seeds and stems, it’s premium positioned cannabis artist like Daniel that are building trust in the legal industry, offering products curated for the cannabis connoisseur
Extract Magazine recently sat down with Daniel to check in for our regular update. When we met, Daniel was just getting started with his first custom rolling venture. It’s always been apparent that Daniel is in it for the community, and culture and that’s part of the reason his projects glow around the cannabis community in Canada. Rolling custom creations that compete on the top globe scale for their creativity, Daniel is a success story in the Canadian cannabis community, taking a hobby and turning it into a full time gig.
Custom Smoke Canada is primarily a creative art company – Can you give us a little intro and insight into your background as a youth growing up around cannabis and how you got into the industry?
I was not around the cannabis industry much when I was young, other than rolling some blunts for friends. After high school I started to meet people in the industry and my interest took off. I was very interested in the cannabis plant’s life cycle, along with all the varieties of strains. I remember it being extremely frustrating chatting about cannabis with friends and bringing up a terpene and being told “It doesn’t really make a difference”, “Weed is Weed”.
All of a sudden I was a volunteer manager at a legacy market dispensary in Calgary, rolling cannabis cigars and custom rolls for fun and friends.
If you’re new to cannagars, these are premium cannabis smokables that burn for a really long time. Picture this: Cannabis wrapped around a stick for airflow. Now incorporate extracts, pure THC crystal, and premium cannabis formed into any size, wrapped with anything from traditional papers through tobacco leaves, hemp leaves and even rose petals.
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The trick here is, not all of these plants are grown smoke, so you can’t just grab any flower and wrap your weed with it. Well you can, but you’re not going to get the desired effects and flavors that Daniel meticulously creates in his own custom gardens. The process to achieving a smokeable leaves is extremely important. Over the years Daniel has mastered this, cultivating his own smokeable leaves for his custom creations, grown to perfection and made for combustion.
At what point did you realize you could turn rolling joints, a hobby into a business? Describe this period in your life for us and the transition into being a young entrepreneur in the industry that really is one of a kind at least in our area.
I was looking for a bigger and better way to roll cannabis. I smoked a lot of joints throughout the day. So I started rolling bigger and bigger joints. It still wasn’t enough. I started researching “Cannagars” and “Tai Sticks”. A friend of mine bought a green leaf “Cannagar”. Spent a good amount of money on it. He was so excited and thought it was the coolest thing. So he brought it over. Not only was it super harsh, but it broke in half, about a quarter of the way through. We were extremely disappointed. So I started making my own.
After a lot of research and development, we launched in the legacy market. After legislation came to Canada, we made the shift into the legal market. After we moved out of the legacy market, I was still being asked to roll different items. That’s when my head of corporate development said I should look into making art and think about what I can offer my loyal clients while still being legal.
Daniel has extended his businesses from traditional cannagar shapes, to custom smokeable joints in really any shape or object you can think up, with Custom Smoke Canada, seriously we’ve seen animals, guns, logos, this man is versatile. Complementing these smokeable creations with accessories like custom tips and wraps, Daniels group of brands has managed to widen a premium product line to the entire experience of smoking a joint, and is making these products more accessible to the everyday cannabis consumer, a first of it’s kind in the Canadian legal cannabis industry.
Your specialties have widened. Products from cannagars into a massive variety of offerings over the years including pre-rolled fillable cones, flower wraps of any scope…. How important is it to keep innovating and finding new ways to cater to the massively untapped creative side to cannabis in Canada and was there any ever a time where you found your business with a need to just.. change?
Looking back on what we have done is a bit crazy. Our catalog of custom art is epic and growing every week. Understanding trends is important but there is nothing like actual market numbers and customer feedback.. Sales tell the truth and people speak with their wallets. If it sells WHY? Was it marketing? Word of mouth? One off purchase?
You can rely on marketing, giveaways and affiliates but it all means nothing if you don’t have an amazing product behind it. Good enough is NEVER GOOD ENOUGH. When I have an idea I go through my own vetting process. This helps me understand if it will or will not work, the why, scalability, along with any future issues that might come up. It’s a bit of a meticulous process that requires a lot of R&D. Sometimes things come together perfectly. Other times it’s solving one problem after another, hours of design and research just to get to a point where you can do one test or one build. Understanding variables and keeping control of the process. One step at a time. Slow and steady to achieve the desired art piece.
Give us a feel for cannabis regulation at this time you started out… I’m guessing it’s still heavily outlawed at a consumer level with talks of legalization or decriminalization.. How did you manage to work around these policies to provide legal services?
Custom Smoke Canada as a corporation focusing on artwork and custom tips, custom smokable roses and papers. This gives us the freedom to get one on one with our clients, designing their very own piece functional artwork. We charge by the hour to create these pieces of art. We make custom artistic tips that we call CUSTOMZ, (available on our website customsmokecanada.com AND at our local retailers in Calgary and surrounding area. Such as The Next Level on 17th, and High Neighbor in Kensington just to name a few). CUSTOMZ is a massive selection of custom filter/paper art, like one off filter tips with your name or Logo, custom papers with your name or logo and novelty weaves, custom designed Rose petal pre-roll tubes. Each we can tailor to our clients liking.
When it comes to functional artwork we have created custom smokable laser guns, gnomes, logos, custom smokable lettering, vases, microphones, elephants, turtles, fish and fishing rods. If you can think of it we can roll it. Since I charge by the hour for my time, no cannabis is exchanged. My clients give me whatever they want and I provide the art. The end result is a custom made piece of artwork that can be smoked if you choose. If a client wants a roll and doesn’t have cannabis I tell them to hit their local legal dispensary. We do provide a service that is not well known and some have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that I just sell my time, Like a tattoo artist (shout out to Honor bound Tattoo In Calgary!)
I found the very best way is just to steer clear of any illegal activities. Custom Smoke Canada loves our local retailers which include Legal dispensaries where we sell out artisan tips.In my opinion there are much more important things that could use the police attention. The only problem I am finding is that everyone who thinks they can sell cannabis is trying. Not only are these people only in it for the money but they don’t really care about the cannabis, how it’s grown or where it comes from.We have provided our services to medical and recreational users. One of the hardest things to deal with day to day is being creative and careful. The biggest point I try to get across is that I sell art. Just so happens the medium I choose is cannabis, and rolling papers etc. When a painter sells a painting. They are not selling the paint and canvas. They are selling their time and the art they created. That is what we do at Custom Smoke Canada.com
Success hasn’t come without trials and tribulations however. In Canada we have something called intellectual property, and special protection for businesses in the cannabis space. This is a deep and complex topic, but the quick once over; these are guidelines to protect plant breeders, trademarks, trade secrets, patents, and industrial design.
While these regulations are set to protect businesses, in some instances in Canada we’ve seen what some deem to be an overbearing approach to intellectual property laws, in turn preventing fair competition and industry entrants to certain product lines.
As a small business owner in Canadian cannabis, how have trademarks had an effect on the way you run your businesses, and as a business that utilizes certain strains in their art and make certain products that are liable to trademark concerns, what are your general thoughts on the whole idea of product categories and the usage of certain strains being limited?
When I did research including due diligence when it comes to naming. We did find trademarks of certain terms that honesty we believe are industry terms that are used world wide. I will not go into what terms I found but let’s use “Rosin” as an example.
“Rosin” is an industry term for a type of concentrate. Should someone be able to trademark the term “Rosin”? This would limit what others can call their concentrate. Even though “Rosin” is what they make. We could see if a company were to come up with their own proprietary knowledge of making “Rosin” , naming that and trademarking your name and process. But to trademark an industry term should not be allowed.
Lineage of plants is a closely guarded secret in the legacy market. There are levels of cannabis in my eyes.. Bad, Good, Great, and Award Winning! Like DJ Short Blueberry, a legend in the cannabis world. Hunting landrace and spawning many different and some of the most revered cannabis strains on the planet. He did the work. He walked the mountains to find and build what he wanted the way he wanted. That I believe should be able to trademark. After all, it’s his vision.
Custom Smoke Canada has become recognized brand in the western Canadian cannabis community throughout the last years and it’s Daniels grind and community involvement that has really engrained these names within the culture. Frequently giving back to the community, Custom Smoke Canada has worked with some of Canada’s most recognized athletes, musicians, and continues to actively participate and sponsor local cannabis events. It’s the community that has really helped shape the demands of cannabis consumers and Daniel is always listening.
Since day 1 we’ve seen you at similar events and very active working alongside and contributing to the local cannabis community in Calgary and across Canada. How has being a part of the community, building friendships and relationships helped with product feedback and growth of your ideas?
Leverage my clients experience is important. Not only to help us get better at what we do, but also see preferred tastes of individual regions. I put any ego aside and focus on what needs to be perfect. All feedback is welcome. This is how we get to the next level, and not get ahead of ourselves when it comes to innovation.
In the same notion, you’ve been active in online communities and social media. It’s almost like there is 10 of you. How has social media impacted your growth? How does social media impact your reach as a small business owner in the Canadian cannabis space and has the new way of living in the COVID era changed your business model?
Yes I do hit the social hard and since COVID it’s even more important to engage and network with clients. Even just a simple hello, or a promotional giveaway. It all builds into a mountain of positivity from all over Canada.
Since COVID we have been rolling items smaller. Made for one person or a roll with removable smokable parts everyone can have their own artwork to enjoy, while keeping everyone safe. I have always rolled artwork in a positive pressure clean room. Gloves and mask even before covid. A clean roll room is a happy roll room.
This shouldn’t need to be a question but where there’s cannabis there’s money and that means a lot of hungry hands. As mentioned above, we’ve seen you around from day 1. How has being a cannabis consumer yourself and actually being involved and a part of the community helped your ideas come to fruition, with feedback and overall helped your business develop into a local staple in the creative side of things?
When I first started rolling cannabis cigars, I was still at the legacy market dispensary. I got a unique start, because of this I was able to give clients cigars to try. In exchange I asked for pics and honest feedback. I was able to see things from three points of view.
-First – The business owner. Trying to start a business, get their product noticed in an ever evolving market. Figuring out how to get the customer a product that they will enjoy.
-Second – As a manager. I had to look at each product to decide if it should be on the shelves. Breakdown each item in terms of cost, profit, will it sell etc.
-Third – As a cannabis consumer/customer. What do I like/want to see on the shelves?
I think this experience was very valuable. This helped us grow our businesses to what they are today.
The entrepreneur in me says just go and do it! But the dad in me says be smart with it. Take time and do research, and have goals. Where do you want to be by the end of the day. Where do you want to be by the end of the week or month. Your going to have setbacks, every business does and it’s not necessarily about completing your goals on time.
Its what you’re putting your effort and time in profitable? Are you being productive?. If you find the answer to the last 2 questions is yes. Your business will move forward. Build the mountain of your dreams and you can look over all the naysayers with pride. Even if you stumble or fall, just keep making progress.
From Prada West through Olympic gold medalist Ross Rebagliati, Custom Smoke Canada has managed to create some of the world’s top smokable art pieces put together with Canada’s top herbs and extracts. Each of these masterpiece ingredients blending into a beautiful salad, making Daniels custom creations some of North Americas most sought after smokable pieces to date.