Based in Olympia, Washington State, Raven Grass produce and sell organically grown and beautifully curated cannabis goods. Each product is photographed, and stamped with the ‘Vera Terra’ seal, meaning ‘True Earth’, an alternative term used to describe products that have been organically grown without chemicals or toxins. Each strain is accompanied by a concise flavour profile detailing variety, origin, THC/CBD percentage and even ‘serving suggestions’.
To find out a little bit more about their inspiration and design process, we caught up with Nichole Graf, Creative Director and Head of Product Development.
I bet it’s pretty awesome being a LEGAL cannabis trader! How does it feel?
NG – It feels pretty incredible! It’s been surreal at times, to be sure. For about the first year it still felt quite taboo to be doing our business out in the open; talking about cannabis constantly, having packages of our products in public, even telling new people we would meet that we were cannabis business owners. Now, I find it’s actually the opposite! The west coast has really embraced the recreational cannabis movement with wide open arms, and the stigmatization of the industry has really started to dissolve more and more over here. Now, when I travel back to New York it’s such a culture shock to be back in the “dark ages” where cannabis is still treated like an illicit activity. Looking at how far we’ve come perceptually in states that have legalized, it’s incredibly encouraging. It makes me so hopeful and excited for how this country will be treating cannabis and cannabis users in the years to come as decriminalization legislation progresses.
I don’t think we could have ever expected how many people would reach out and tell us their stories about how being able to access high quality cannabis legally has changed their lives. Though we’re prohibited by Washington state from making any “medical claims” about our products, the overwhelming outpouring of personal tales is pretty hard to ignore. We’ve heard from customers that are using our products for overcoming prescription drug dependencies, anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic pain, chronic digestive issues, migraines, the list just goes on and on. Being a part of an industry that’s bring such positive changes to people’s lives is just incredible.
What was the inspiration for using the Raven as a design element?
I wanted our brand to have a name and a logo that weren’t completely obviously indicative of Cannabis at first glance. One of our goals in our packaging and product development was to develop a line that people would feel proud to have out on display in their homes, or to bring along as a hostess gift to a dinner party in lieu of a good bottle of wine. Not everyone feels comfortable having packaging that screams Cannabis! on display in their home, so that definitely played a part in it. I have always loved brands that have another level to their logos, their names, their backstories. I love hidden meanings and deeper mythologies. Having branding that was tied to the history of this place was important to me as well.
The raven is a very important cultural icon to the native people of the coastal Pacific Northwest. Raven is known as a creator, provider, trickster, and a complex reflection of one’s own self. Raven can be a magician, story-teller, transformer, healer, an unstoppable creative force, source of endless amusement or a ravenous debaucher, but always a cultural hero. Cannabis has been all of those things for me, and I wanted to communicate to the world at large that using cannabis can mean so much more than some of the typical stereotypes. We’ve worked hard to curate a collection of really varied, beautiful strains to represent hopefully everyone’s interests.
As Creative Director, what has been your favourite part of the design process?
I came from a career in fashion design, where every season felt like a race to get your version of an idea out on the market before anyone else can. Every brand in our demographic, every design team was more or less looking at the same inspirations, the same images of French women in the 1970’s, trying to formulate some original take that would set them apart. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the design process and working in fashion, but you really start to feel after awhile that everyone is cycling through ideas that have already been had.
My favourite part of the process at Raven so far has been what a unique opportunity it is to create a brand in an industry that, for all intents and purposes, has no precedents. It’s a rapt audience, totally un-jaded, excited about the products and totally receptive to new directions in branding and creative work. There are so many different directions one could run with when branding cannabis, and there’s so much room for all of us to create and brainstorm and try new ideas. The cannabis market is enormous, and there is no one Cannabis User Model to cater to. It’s such a golden opportunity to let your brand really be a reflection of yourself and what’s important to you, and know that it will attract people who appreciate those things as well. Right now I’m loving that the “competition” aspect of this industry feels so much healthier. Rather than vying for each other’s business and being secretive and protective of our ideas, we’re all just trying to push each other to be better. It’s in all of our best interests to be sure we all succeed and set a positive example for the rest of the country. It’s wonderful to feel supported and encouraged by your peers as well as your customers, and I find it completely inspiring.