The unofficial cannabis brand of playing it cool.
Its compact, filtered prerolls resemble low-key cigarettes. Its meticulous packaging is old-school in design, evocative of cruising the California coast circa 1978. And its logo skips two industry tropes, featuring neither the color green nor any reference
If ISLAND isn’t your average cannabis brand, that’s because it’s run by folks who aren’t your average cannabis entrepreneurs.
Both Ray Landgraf, ISLAND’s CEO and founder, and Brandon Mills, the company’s chief operating officer, have deep backgrounds in the world of business and technology. When Landgraf launched ISLAND in 2014, it was with a very specific customer in mind.
“The modern cannabis consumer doesn’t necessarily define themselves as a cannabis user—they’re more likely to define themselves as a professor, or doctor, or young professional, or mother—where cannabis plays a supporting role rather than a leading role in their active lives,” Landgraf explains.
Explains Mills: “We want to build a lifestyle brand that can appeal beyond the traditional use-case and reach a consumer group that doesn’t necessarily feel cannabis is a core part of their lifestyle, but one that does feel cannabis is a part of their lifestyle.”
That’s why you’ll find ISLAND reps at events like Coachella and the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing. Those aren’t marijuana-centric functions, yet they are places where you’ll meet plenty of cannabis consumers.
Breaking from the pack.
It’s also why you can sport ISLAND’s cleanly designed hoodies and other gear without immediately getting stereotyped as a stoner. But this focus that goes beyond the simple use of cannabis to medicate or get high doesn’t mean ISLAND sacrifices attention to its core product—quite the opposite.
ISLAND has methodically worked since launch to build a supply-chain and cultivation network that now includes more than two-dozen growers ranging in location from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to the Bay Area and north up to Humboldt County. An insistence on working with natural organic cultivators who are transparent in their growing processes has made scaling the business slower and more costly, according to Mills, but he insists the extra time and money are well-spent.
The company’s diligence doesn’t end there, either: all the flower ISLAND acquires is tested for pesticides, fungicides, molds, and other contaminants. That way consumers know the ISLAND brand is an indication of product quality and safety. Whether you’re purchasing packaged buds, prerolls or vape, nothing becomes an ISLAND without meeting these rigorous standards.
Marijuana emerges as the cool kid, again.
ISLAND’s reputation for both cool and quality has helped it attract a diverse array of “ISLAND oOriginals”—sponsored athletes, artists, musicians, and others that it supports and partners with. Folks from previous generations might raise an eyebrow at BMX riders, skaters, artists and bands sponsored by, of all things, a cannabis brand.
But Mills says that’s just part of ISLAND’s wide-lens perspective. Would anyone think twice, for example, about an athlete sponsored by a beverage company?
For ISLAND, there’s no difference. With recreational use now legal in nearly a dozen states and medical use legal in more than two dozen, this paradigm shift is all part of cannabis’ journey toward social normalization.
“This is an opportunity to make our mark on an industry that’s going through a level of change and disruption that the consumer packaged-goods world hasn’t seen since the post-prohibition days in alchohol. It’s blue ocean territory, and I think we’re navigating it through a genuine and innovative lens, which is really rewarding. We love this space, we love this brand, and we’re excited to be on the right side of history.”