In one of our first episodes of the North American Weed Tour Podcast, Joey was joined by both Haiti from OMS Rolling Papers and Briahna of SwankPR. Haiti is the founder and owner of OMS Rolling Papers, a community-driven, OG papers brand. Haiti took some time to tell us a little more about his brand and core beliefs, also sharing experience in the music industry as a producer.
You can catch our episode of the podcast with Haiti, as well as newer installments, on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook. Our episode with Haiti and Briahna was a vibe as much as it was educational. Haiti maintained this accommodating and knowledgeable personality during our interview and I found myself asking more and more questions about his perspective.
Haiti of OMS Rolling Papers and Briahna of SwankPR on the North American Weed Tour Podcast
Exclusive Interview with Lord Haiti of OMS Organics
RMR: Talk to me a little about how OMS Organics came about.
Haiti: Originally, OMS started off in 2019 as just merchandise for my music. I partnered with Farm Plug, an initiative focused on preservation of cultural influence, educated equity, and land ownership for independent farmers. It was a good call to raise awareness to people about the environment of small farmers, but more specifically farmers of color.
So Farm Plug sponsored the first batch of papers. OMS stands for “On My Soul,” and at the time, the On My Soul music project/crew was the main item and OMS papers were just a merchandise item.
So, little did I know the merchandise was actually a good idea. It evolved into a product line of its own. I literally started off with that, though. In 2016, before the papers, the first merch installment was custom lighters. Lighters are good too because you got “@lordhaiti” on one side and “OMS” on the other.
But in 2019 we came out with the rolling papers and they did so well… people were loving them. The lighters were just a way to get the name across and people everywhere still to this day find me through them, but the papers were promoted exclusively in Chicago and got good reception. People lose and steal lighters all the time, it’s just like that. So the lighters had a little international reach but the papers were regional reach. I saw the local value in that, so I decided to just turn it into a business.
RMR: What’s the cannabis business like in Chicago?
Haiti: Chicago, according to economists, is the most corrupt city in America. This is outside of the industry of cannabis, too. When you’re dealing with Chicago you really start to understand corruption from not only a political aspect, but also from a working class and grassroots aspect. Corruption in the public school system, the police department, the housing market. People ask, “Why is the city like this?” but they don’t see it from the perspective of living here.
Far as cannabis goes, when the governor announced legalization of weed it was great. However, some of the people who got the first licenses were actually connected to Governor Pritzker’s campaign. They got the first licenses to start their dispensaries, and then it trickled down to first-come-first-serve for everyone else. There were huge long lines, people would have to pay real high permit and application fees… A lot of money in fact just for that permit application. By the time that a lot of these people got finished with the process there was no guarantee left either.
It really is a doggy dog way of getting into where you fit in the industry in terms of the business side. However, outside of those dispensaries, the cannabis culture itself has been great. There’s been a lot of 420-friendly events in Chicago. It’s been bringing everyone closer together. It feels like pretty much everyone smokes cannabis now.
In Chicago, there are organizations pushing for second chance initiatives. These programs are taking past marijuana offenders and giving them jobs at local dispensaries. So not only will Illinois give people a second chance at paying dues, but in certain counties there’s a certain policy now where incarcerated people are required to be given an opportunity.
RMR: You’ve mentioned you’re a producer involved in the music business. What’s it like being part of two of the dopest industries out there?
Haiti: They are very interdependent. The cannabis industry is good because we have opportunities and … it’s good coming from a place like Illinois where cannabis is decriminalized and everyone is doing it now. Everyone’s trying to get in on it. People of all walks of life come and smoke MJ.
With music intertwined, you may be someone into cannabis and meet an artist who also likes to smoke cannabis. Opportunities interconnect. Being a music producer I can just make my connections through music alone, however being connected in the cannabis industry I can provide sponsors, strains and resources to those in music. I can provide music resources for people in cannabis.
My publicist Briahna has a long history of working with music magazines and big names like Lupe and Kanye West. She can bring that expertise now from the music industry into the cannabis industry. As a producer it’s the same. I came up making music and commissioning beats, and now I can provide these skills when people need resources like a jingle or audio engineering. I can transfer over product placement for music videos. I’m very passionate about connecting people.
RMR: I’m a big fan of the vintage-style advertisement for OMS Rolling Papers you did. When it comes to weed’s public image, especially with OMS, how do you think it should be depicted?
Haiti: The way I think OMS should be depicted is as a lifestyle brand. That photoshoot itself was part of a successful ad campaign, and I’ve seen the results. But I thought about it by myself and I realized this is gonna require a lot of work. I got so many positive responses, it was hard to keep up.
It took a lot to keep that campaign going. I have photographers and graphic designers, a wardrobe designer, and a marketing designer among others. That stuff really does take a lot of time and you may not notice it on the other side. But we are definitely looking to be a lifestyle brand.
RMR: How do you go about sourcing papers? How do you know you’re getting good materials?
Haiti: I have a partnership with a company, admittedly in China. The end goal is, once I fulfill the partnership with them, to have my own factory here in America. However, we get samples with our current partnership so we can test products out. We send them the ideas for exclusive merch and graphic design as well.
Our suppliers hire disabled women to help with the assembly of our products. So it is community based, geared toward giving back. It’s not some faceless company with illegal labor, this is a legit company with integrity. This was one of the main reasons I picked their product.
RMR: “Do not confuse activity with progress” is a great line you said in the podcast. What does real progress and success look like, in your opinion?
Haiti: My brother would say it all the time. “Do not confuse activity with progress.” Just because you are actually being active, just because you are doing something, does not mean you are better than where you were before. It does not mean that you have improved just because you are doing something. As a musician, if you are regularly playing an instrument – if you’re just playing the same chords – you haven’t exactly expanded your knowledge. You may get good at those chords, but it doesn’t mean you expanded your variety of ideas.
If you’re just going through the motions, running on the wheel, it’s not enough.Haiti
On the other hand, even if you made progress with your variety of ideas, you still need to make sure you’re getting out there and finding new shows, for example, and opportunities in general. It’s like the hamster on the wheel. If you’re just going through the motions, running on the wheel, it’s not enough.