Colin Hanks On Cannabis And… Handkerchiefs? Appealing To Everyone, From Models To Mechanics
Colin Hanks has gotten into the cannabis space — well, sort of — with a very unique strategy.
The actor, producer, director and entrepreneur recently partnered up with multi-state cannabis operator Jushi Holdings to sell his Hanks Kerchiefs-branded products at the company’s Beyond / Hello dispensaries – and online. A portion of all sales will go towards assisting California farmers who have been impacted by wildfires, while helping amplify the message of the not-for-profit organizations that support them.
You don’t need to be a multimillion-dollar business for your company to have a charitable component, Colin declared during an exclusive interview. “Every little bit helps.”
Interestingly, and unlike many other celebrities getting into the cannabis game, Colin is not a big stoner. He indulges here and there, socially, but doesn’t make the herb part of his daily routine.
This, however, does not mean he carries any prejudice against cannabis.
“Like a majority of people my age, I think it was not really a big deal when I was growing up,” Colin explained. “I enjoyed it quite a bit in my younger days and always felt that it was something that was not as big a deal as older generations really seem to make it out to be. And so, ironically, I sort of lost interest in it around the time that it started to become a little bit more acceptable in a mainstream sense.”
Still, Colin is happy with this mainstreaming of the plant. In fact, he loves to see “cannabis stores and billboards and things” popping up all over America.
“To me it's just such a non-issue. I'm just so glad that we've somehow been able to collectively get over it. And as soon as people that have been in prison for far too long for these things can be let go, we'll be able to move on with the conversation.”
The Bill Hicks Theory
As Colin delved deeper into his history with cannabis and his more frequent use during younger years, he remembered the acts of comedian Bill Hicks.
“He's got a lot of really funny material about that kind of thing: ‘Have you ever met an aggressive, violent guy? Are they drunk or are they stoned? Chances are they're drunk. They're not stoned,’” Colin reminisced.
“Now, I feel like the way that I have looked at the issue for years has become the conversation now – which I'm grateful for, because then it shows me that I'm not insane, that it wasn't irrational to have that sort of belief.”
And he went on: “I don't believe that alcohol should be illegal. And cannabis serves many more positive functions than alcohol does. The uses [of cannabis] that are positive in nature, I think outweigh any of the negative.”
But the actor quickly followed up with a warning: cannabis needs to be respected and consumers need to be mindful of the effects it has and can have. “That comes with being an adult and being able to try and look at things from a certain perspective, if you will. But it’s clear cannabis serves a million better uses than alcohol does, and yet people don't flinch at alcohol being legal. So that's really the way that I look at it.”
For Colin, cannabis is like a glass of wine or a cold beer at the end of a long day. “I know a lot of people use it to sleep. I've done that on a few occasions, when needed. There are a bunch of different positive uses for cannabis. So for me, this idea of ‘you can't be some sort of productive member of society because you smoke cannabis,’ that is just simply not true.
“Now, I will say affects different people in different ways,” he added. “But it's fascinating to see how cannabis has evolved and how the conversation around it has evolved. And that to me is, ironically, the kind of conversation that I had been wanting to have about that for a long time when I was incredibly passionate about it.”
The Birth Of An Odd Pair
Andreas “Dre” Neumann, globally recognized advertising creative director and photographer, is Jushi’s chief creative officer. Dre is also a long-time friend of Colin’s.
It was during a friendly meeting that the idea of selling Hanks Kerchiefs handkerchiefs and other products came up, as the duo discussed the cannabis dispensary experience and compared it to the experience one would get when visiting a Tower Records store – the topic of Hanks’ 2015 documentary “All Things Must Pass.”
As Dre shared details on how Jushi’s Beyond / Hello dispensaries look and feel like, it became evident to Colin that they would be the perfect place for the brick and mortar debut of his (until now) fully online brand.
“We are always looking for ideas to expand on our experiential values in the stores and go beyond just cannabis related products,” said Neumann. “Sometimes in life you have to recognize the thing that's right in front of you is there for a reason and realize the unique synchronicity. The handkerchiefs were the perfect fit for the stores and an amazing kick off for our new experiential strategy.”
Jushi's CEO, chairman and founder Jim Cacioppo saw the strategic value of the partnership right away as well. “We immediately came to the conclusion that a collaboration with Colin aligned perfectly with our vision for BEYOND / HELLO's brand journey. In the cannabis industry, we’re on this unique mission to not only normalize the plant, but also to demystify what dispensaries are.
“These stores are no longer some backdoor, clinical speakeasy – they have evolved into sophisticated retail experiences that you would expect to see at Fred Segal in Los Angeles, or let’s say, a Starbucks Reserve. They’re places where like-minded people are gathering to chat and discover cool new products, or even music and art. Our partnership with Colin is the next organic step in what we call our ‘experiential expansion’,” he added.
In Colin’s view too, Jushi’s dispensaries are “much more than just a dispensary: They are really an environment, a place that you can go to where you can go get cannabis, but you can also get all of these other products that are a part of a larger lifestyle. That, to me, was really interesting and really engaging… One of the things that I loved about record stores was that it wasn't really just about the music you were buying. It was also about the environment, about the people, about the experience.”
Some Things Don’t Pass
Making “All Things Must Pass” clearly left a mark on Colin. And it also taught him quite a bit about business. This learning led him to starting one of his own: Hanks Kerchiefs.
According to Colin, Russ Solomon, founder of Tower Records, was also extremely curious, and that inspired him. “He didn't need to know about how everything worked; he didn't need to know how everything operated; but he was curious about it. And so he would enlist people that knew what they were doing and that could answer some of those questions and that also had a curiosity about that.”
Fortune, fait and history would also play important roles in the creation of Hanks Kerchiefs. “It was a little bit of a right place / right time / right attitude situation. Not too dissimilar from the relationship with Hello / Beyond,” he explained.
“I have always had a personal connection to kerchiefs or bandannas. They were always prevalent in my house growing up. At stores or truck stops or whatever, I'd always be looking and grabbing one and adding them to the collection.”
And this is true. For decades now, Colin has very often been seen carrying a handkerchief, just like your grandpa used to.
Also for years, Colin saw handkerchiefs as utility items, as opposed to fashion accessories. But as he got older, the fashion element came to be more prominent.
“While this is a business, it’s also a creative outlet for me,” he voiced.
Beyond history and creativity, there’s one more element about handkerchiefs that has always fascinated the California native: The fact that they are pretty universal items.
“The more and more I looked into the history of them and the designs of them and the fact that it is an item that is relatively simple to manufacture, the more I loved them,” he said. “Depending on the material and the design, it could be for anyone. It could be a very high-class item with a high markup or something that's a little bit lower for everyone else in between, from models to mechanics. I really liked that concept.”
By means of conclusion, Colin looked back at his entrepreneurial journey and reflected. “I think part of it is just a genuine curiosity about things. I think that is truly the first little building block that you need in any sort of endeavor,” he ended.