Emerald Magazine caught up with BURB co-founder John Kaye, one of the protagonists behind the British Columbian cannabis inspired fashion label. They carry more than just clothing, and Burb has plans to expand into your cannabis needs go-to. This is why we decided to pick Kaye’s brain on the history of his label, his personal history with cannabis, and much more.
Emerald Media Group: Being a cannabis and clothing brand simultaneously is an interesting combination. How did this project come about and what makes you different?
John Kaye: We’re passionate about cannabis and fashion so blending the two seemed very authentic to our team. In a sea of cannabis companies putting their logos on cheap blanks and giving swag/merch away – we wanted to be the first to properly cut/sew all our apparel and give enthusiasts a clean garment they can wear. Burb doesn’t scream cannabis but those who know… know. I think it’s too early to put Burb into a box of being cannabis retail or an apparel brand – we’re certainly forging something new where we both live and interact in an organic and authentic way.
EMG: What is the mission behind the brand, and how much of the focus is on cannabis?
J.K: Our mission is to build a brand that cannabis enthusiasts can relate to and be proud of. Cannabis culture is at the core of everything we do, from curating products to design decisions so the two are very closely intertwined. Our focus is on BC[British Columbia] and delivering the best retail experience possible – we hope that by doing so we can bring BC Bud and cannabis culture to the world community.
EMG: As the co-founder, what does cannabis mean to you? What drove you to make cannabis your life’s work?
J.K: I’ve been a consumer since high school and always had a very positive relationship with cannabis. When I had the opportunity to jump in professionally via the lab business it just made a lot of sense. I am a pretty laid back guy and wearing a suit was always just a short term thing for me. I feel fortunate that I was able to learn about business and finance before specializing in the cannabis industry as an operator – capital and knowing how the system works allows us the freedom to be creative and problem solve for our customers.
EMG: What upcoming projects do you have in store for BURB? Are you planning on expanding beyond Canada?
J.K: We’re focused on our retail roll out in BC at the moment but opportunistic when looking at the US. We sell our apparel and accessories across borders and it’s an exciting market that is taking shape quickly. Lots of exciting things happening on the brand side, collaborations, experiences and being creative with the current regulations. The brand is being received very well and its a tailwind which we’re fortunate to have.
We have also launched an editorially driven podcast called “Light Culture” which we are excited to keep building. Our host David Hershkovits who co-founded Paper Magazine has interviewed cannabis legends such as: OG’s Fab 5 Freddy and activist Steve DeAngelo, as well as journalist Abdullah Saeed of HBO’s High Maintenance, and Bong Appetite’s host Vanessa Lavorato. It is an honor to give a platform to these voices who have been on the front lines and continue to shape cannabis culture on a global scale.
EMG: Where do you draw your fashion inspiration from?
J.K: We’re looking at items that fit the cannabis consumer lifestyle. Comfortable and minding trends but not following the fashion calendar too strictly. The inspiration mainly comes from being high and thinking of creative solutions to “streetwear” – we have functional elements to our current collection, rolling paper hang tags and some great lounge wear coming up for the fall.