Written by Mackenzie Brotzman
Deep in the heart of South Carolina, a state not often associated with progressive cannabis policies, Doreen Sullivan creates one-of-a-kind lifestyle pieces with two purposes. Her antique floral vases also double as water pipes.
My Bud Vase, a passion project of Doreen’s, launched April 2016 in Folly Beach, South Carolina, what she describes as a “hippie bohemian beach community,” about nine miles outside of downtown Charleston.
Originally, however, Doreen grew up in Los Angeles. She later moved to New York City to start her business, Post No Bills — an entertainment marketing, merchandising and product development company. This, she said, is where she honed the skills needed for her next endeavor, My Bud Vases.
“I come from a product development background so once I had the idea for bud vases, the production side came naturally to me.”
It is Doreen’s professional background mixed with her entrepreneurial nature, and passion for the cannabis industry, that make My Bud Vase so successfully distinct. She is committed to creating beautiful pieces for her customers to enjoy everyday that evoke pride (and conversation) when displayed in their homes.
Trial and error was the name of the game in the beginning, but Doreen quickly came up with her own process to transform vintage vases into functional bud vases.
“I spent my first year doing some serious product development and breaking a lot of glass,” Doreen says. Each individual vase has it’s own set of challenges, she described.
“Every piece is different, and a lot of people think transforming them is a simple do-it-yourself project, when in reality every aspect, especially the down stem, takes careful consideration,” says Doreen.
Her inspiration comes from her personal experience as a cannabis consumer living in the South.
“I [live] in such a conservative place that [puts] a lot of judgment around cannabis,” Doreen says. “I felt like I was constantly doing something wrong when I knew that I wasn’t.” This feeling gave birth to her idea to create a water pipe that she could display in her home, and feel no need to hide when company arrived.
“I had the ‘ah ha!’ moment when I had people coming over earlier than expected, and I would feel like I had to hide my bong among my vases, and I realized they were the same thing just engineered differently to make them adaptable for different purposes.”
Doreen’s distaste for hiding her smokeware is a sentiment shared by her customers, who feel a sense of freedom when displaying her products.
“I love to hear the feedback from people who have our bud vases in their homes,” Doreen says, “I was at the High Times Cannabis Cup and a couple of women in their 70s came up to me in tears because they were so happy they finally found a product to allow them to take their medicine without having to hide it from their family.”
Creating a feminine piece for herself and her customers is another of Doreen’s motivations. “Since I’ve been a user of cannabis, I’ve felt there’s a disconnect between women and bongs,” she adds, “I felt as if most of the water pipes I’d seen were phallic in nature, and I knew if I spotted the disconnect, other women [would] too.”
Creating feminine-esque antique pieces filled the niche she felt was lacking in the industry’s market.
It’s evident in every aspect of her work that Doreen wants her customers to love their pieces as much as any other fine art they’ve displayed in their homes.
“It’s just like anything with art, if you love looking at the piece and it’s something you can use everyday, you’ll just keep falling more in love with it,” she says. This is something she hopes her work embodies.
When looking at Doreen’s one-of-a-kind pieces customers should know that the flowers displayed in her vases serve a dual purpose. While they’re aesthetically pleasing and help to camouflage the water pipe in any room of the house, they also clean the bowl, a perfect example of beauty meeting functionality.
Many of My Bud Vase’s pieces are relics from Doreen’s travels. She seeks glassware with a history, and a story to tell.
“Yes, I can pop into any antique store or Goodwill, but I love getting pieces straight from individuals so I can learn the story that comes with the piece and the life it had before I found it.”
She takes care of each piece individually, learning what best to clean the particular material with. This, she says, is one of the hardest parts of the transformation process.
Doreen says the inquiry from customers to make pieces out of their existing vases is skyrocketing. It also comes as no surprise that her popularity is growing in the wedding and floral markets.
With plans to expand My Bud Vase, and delve even deeper into the flourishing cannabis industry, Doreen sees no limits within this creative discipline.
“I hope to remain a creative force within this industry, and to help keep this movement going.”
This is simply the beginning for My Bud Vase, as Doreen plans to expand into the floral market and display in florist shops across the country. She’s also got new collections in the works.