#Shopsmall Meet Tribe Tokes
November 24, 2020
During the month of November we’re highlighting small business owners in the neighborhood to encourage you to #shopsmall on Saturday, November 28th and always. For our next business, we’re shouting out Dege Tufts and Kym B of Tribe Tokes, the newest retailer in the neighborhood. As the CBD market continues to grow, Degelis and Kym are carving their own niche, providing access to “clean CBD with an elevated aesthetic for the next generation cannabis consumer.” Read more about Dege and TribeTokes below or watch Kym B on an episode of Meatpacking Unpacked.
How did you get into the CBD business?
My husband and I spent about a year bicoastal between NYC and California to learn about west coast market trends and explore licensed opportunities. It was clear the demand for cannabis vapes was growing rapidly for many reasons (discretion, less smell, cleaner for your lungs than combustion), but there weren’t great options for CBD vapes. CBD can be a volatile molecule and many companies were having trouble with shelf stability, and therefore cutting it with additives such as VG, PG or MCT (also to save money because these additives are very cheap). We felt we could do really well if we could serve our customers by providing a high quality, healthier CBD vape alternative they can trust, and set out on a mission to do so. Today, our CBD vapes are sold nationwide in 12 strain profiles, and have only 2 ingredients – full spectrum CBD distillate and natural plant terpenes.
Can you explain what TribeTokes is and the inspiration behind the name?
Regarding the name, the cannabis industry is all about community – find your tribe! The cannabis community in NYC and nationwide shares collective values – advocates for legalization, freedom to choose, and expungement for unjust imprisonment – and needs to work together to bring these to fruition.
TribeTokes is a female-founded “clean CBD” brand in the Meatpacking District that creates products with an elevated aesthetic for the next generation cannabis consumer – who respects plant science, consumes mindfully and expects top quality products from trusted brands. The team personally tests every product in its pipeline for months pre-launch to curate only the highest quality, unique CBD products for its customer base.
You both met at an NYC Women Grow event in NYC, tell us about how TribeTokes was born out of this initial meeting, what is NYC Women Grow? In follow up, networking was clearly a strong force in the development of TribeTokes, any plans to create networking opps for aspiring up and comers in your industry?
Women Grow’s mission is to cultivate and connect female cannabis leaders. At its monthly events I had met not only women to partner with or hire, but also to become friends with. They host monthly meetups in 45 different cities, and also has one national conference per year. Last year, they hosted an official fashion week show and our TribeTokes vapes were on the runway – I think it was the first time a model vaped cannabis on a fashion week runway! We were so thrilled.
When I met Kym, she had the idea for a CBD clean skincare line and had already formulated an idea to develop an initial product, a CBD eye cream for hydration, puffiness and dark circles. I loved this, and Kym was a believer in our vapes – we had a shared vision for building out a product line of “clean cannabis” products and decided to team up.
What made you choose to open up a storefront? What drew you to choose The Meatpacking District as the place to set up shop?
We have actually been headquartered in the Meatpacking District for a couple of years now, our office is on Gansevoort St. We live within walking distance from the office and worked throughout the pandemic and were watching the commercial real estate shake up happen real time. We believe in New York coming back strong and that this is a temporary situation and decided to go all in on the neighborhood!
So a complete newbie to CBD walks into your new shop, what will they find and how will you educate them?
The first thing we do is find out if people have tried CBD before (what they liked or didn’t like) and also why they’re interested (pain management, anxiety, sleeping etc). We have products that can address all of those things but it comes down to personal preference – for example, you can get CBD into your bloodstream 3 different ways – vaping, tinctures or gummies – but which are they personally most comfortable with?
CBD certainly isn’t new, but it has been the biggest trend in wellness in recent years. Did you ever expect it to become the industry it is today? What do you think contributed to that and how do you see it changing in the future?
When we first started TribeTokes most people did not even understand what CBD was – “does that get you high too?” was a common question. The trend really accelerated after the 2018 Farm Bill passed, as retailers and consumers were given more confidence that it was legal on the federal level.
How does CBD play into the larger conversation of the legalization of cannabis?
I think that it’s a good entry into cannabis to show people in a low risk way that cannabis truly is medicine! Even without the THC, our products are helping people reduce their prescription intake or move away from the pharmacy aisle – and they realize that they have an endocannabinoid system and the science is there.
A portion of every purchase through the end of 2020 from TribeTokes, will be donated to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp. Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose this specific organization and how it aligns with TribeTokes?
(1) Real change starts with kids! (2) Colin was using his influence to address systemic racism before the official BLM movement began in 2020 – that is true leadership and someone we want to support.
The fight for racial equality is particularly important in the cannabis industry, where Black people are 3.6x more likely to be arrested for marijuana despite roughly equal consumption rates. Being able to smoke weed without being afraid of going to jail is, sadly, a white privilege, and more people need to realize this.
What are the top 3 TribeTokes items a CBD newcomer should explore first?
Oooh it’s like choosing between my children! But I would say —