Buddies Brand is a premier cannabis producer/processor operating out of Washington, Oregon, and California. As one of the few brands to be comfortably functioning in three different legal states, it’s worth knowing how it all began. This kind of progress doesn’t happen overnight.
But, for this increasingly popular vape cartridge and concentrate brand, things have been happening fast. Since launching in August 2017, they’ve already gone on to win the hearts of Oregonians with their clean and potent cartridges. By 2018, they won the crown of Best Cartridge at Oregon’s DOPE Cup.
The origin story of Buddies Brand actually begins at a high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. Three young guys with a shared love for cannabis began a fruitful friendship. Each brought something different to the table when it came to ultimately realizing a vision for a brand.
The president of the company, along with their gifted chemist got into the medical cannabis industry early on. Eventually, it led both of them to the West Coast where they knew they had to develop a brand to fill a niche in the budding legal cannabis market.
This is when Shane Coble came into play, a rapper with 17 years of performing experience that had also co-founded a clothing brand, Permanent Vacation. Shane had all the missing pieces of the puzzle. He knew how to make something look cool, and sell it to boot.
After he flew over from the East Coast to meet with a few investors, the wheels began to turn. Soon after, Buddies set up shop at their Grants Pass facility in Oregon—and the rest is history. I had the pleasure of chatting with Shane about how it all really began with Buddies, and how they’ve seen such growth in less than three years.
Buddies Brand Co-Founder Shane Coble Interview
How Did All Three Of You Connect To Form The Brand?
Shane said that the president of Buddies Brand, James, and the lab director, Nick, were “both in the medical industry for a long time.” The real turning point though, was when James was on the East Coast, and then “moved to Washington to live with family and to start doing recreational cannabis work.” Nick, the lab director, came shortly after over to Washington to start developing the brand with James.
After a bit, James had a few investors that had an interest in helping them get off the ground. But, “definitely no hedge fund situation,” as Shane told me. The crucial aspect that was missing at this point was the branding and sales side of creating the company. Mr. Coble said he met with his friend who he co-founded Permanent Vacation with to layout the initial branding for the idea. “Then I packed my car with my shit, my girl at the time, and two dogs and drove across the US to Washington to piece the sales and branding together,” Shane said. “I put together the branding, packaging, and the sales team.”
How Did You Generate Leads Before Launching?
Buddies Brand took on guerrilla-style tactics in order to spread the word about what they were about to launch. “It started from getting 1,000 lighters made with the logo and leaving them at bars,” Shane said. “Then we went to tons of events. We were out at anything we could be at serving up dabs to people and wholesaling flower for a partner at the time, Moonshine Gardens.” Mr. Coble said they were out doing what they had to in order to show up to the function and say “hey, Buddies is coming.” He told me “we made our relationships off that, so when the time came we had some accounts essentially ready to go.”
What Products Were You Initially Making?
After founding the company in the Spring of 2017, Buddies Brand officially launched in August of 2017. Shane said out the gate they were making “crumble, hash, and resin.” But, he said, “once we understood terpene extraction, we extracted terpenes and began re-introducing it to our distillate.” He said this particular move “got us a lot of momentum in Oregon.” From that, they went on to win Best Cartridge at the 2018 Oregon DOPE Cup for their Sour Tangie cart.
In the wake of this momentum, Buddies brought their business into Washington state. Despite Shane claiming their efforts in Washington to be “slowly gaining momentum,” there’s nary a shop in Washington I haven’t seen at least their PAX Pods in.
Buddies Brand has an undeniably impressive ability to gain shelf-space in damn-near any new area they enter. Between their potent distillate plus cannabis-derived terpenes, and new line of live-resin Liquid Diamonds, they have the cartridge game on-lock. Even with all the commotion that’s been going on with vape-related lung illnesses, Buddies’ products have stayed compliant in all three states.
How Did Live-Resin “Liquid Diamonds” Come Into Existence?
Right around the end of 2018, and the beginning of 2019, Shane said: “We wanted to expand to have something new on the menu regularly.” It was then that they remembered a method for extracting live-resin from freshly frozen cannabis. “We stumbled upon it years ago at our farm in Oregon,” Shane told me. “We engineered a process to reduce live-resin ‘diamonds’ back down into a liquid state.”
By freshly freezing cannabis within an hour of harvesting it, you can retain incredible amounts of terpenes and cannabinoids. The method for extracting BHO is also known to favor high terpene and THC yields.
Neither of these are incredibly new ideas or innovations in the cannabis space, but Buddies has been able to do it cleanly, and scale it quickly. “We were the first brand to do a live-resin cart in Oregon,” Shane said, “and I know we’re not the only ones doing it, but we’re trying to be more transparent overall about how we do it.”
How Do You Consider Price-Point And Accessibility With Your Products?
“We’re priced as conscious as we can be. We want to be a brand that everyone can participate in,” Shane told me. He said there’s “a lot of ethics behind what we do, and we’re not trying to take advantage of peoples’ wallets.” He said overall, “we’re a bit volume-based. We respect the boutique business, but we crank out oil and try to put out the best products we can.”
It’s important to note that many cannabis companies in Washington specifically have seen trouble from the ban on flavored additives in vape products. Cannabis flower can’t be reused for further extracting once it’s been run through to isolate either distillate, terpenes, or live-resin. The amount of biomass you need to scale a huge production of strain-specific vape carts can be labor-intensive, or expensive.
Buddies Brand has been able to leap over every hurdle by having access to the highest quality cannabis in any of their three states and extracting clean product with complete transparency to the public.
As Shane eloquently said, “it’s kind of an underdog story. Some things we learned on accident, or by phoning friends or chemists. We know we’re not the smartest or the best, but we busted ass and beat down doors to get this brand off the ground.” Considering their company is now over 150 employees strong after less than three years, I’d say the only direction for them to keep going is up.
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