This holiday season find yourself celebrating on the “higher” side of the Denver marijuana community, with Grassroots California (GRC) at Dabroots. A counterculture celebration, Dabroots is being held at The Dark Star Lounge in Denver.
The three-day event features over 40 live acts ranging from reggae to electronic music. Nappy Roots, The Malah, Stylust Beats and many more will be playing. Magic, laser tag, and comedy will also be preformed throughout the weekend. There will be shuttles to and from Bronco Stadium providing safe parking for all who attend, the shuttles also will be offered to take attendees around town to High Times, and other 4/20 events in the city. VIP tickets include an Italian dinner on Friday evening, as well as a brunch on Sunday morning with a special “Easter Nug Hunt.”
GRC will also be celebrating their 5-year anniversary over the weekend, “We want to show everyone that we are proud of our accomplishments, and how far we have come,” said GRC CEO Ryan “Ruga” Connolly. The VIP meals will give GRC creator and employees a chance to rejoice with the very people who made their success possible.
“I see everyday that we get love and we are building a community, so that’s where I measure my success.”
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ruga to discuss Grassroots and how the “movement” came about.
JF: What was your original intention for the company when you started Grassroots?
GRC: Grassroots actually started as a documentary about the California cannabis culture, part of the film was to show I could start a clothing line, but also that I could start a company in the cannabis culture and profit from that culture without actually selling any marijuana. From growing up in Michigan on the east coast; it was kind of a chance to show the Mom and Pops out there that the industry isn’t as bad as you think it is and that there is an actual opportunity for money to be made.
While we were filming some random guy in Venice Beach attacked our cameraman. He thought we were filming him and obviously wasn’t having it and shattered our camera. It was then that I had the decision to either spend all my money on a new camera, or to spend all my money on more hats; and I really needed the money at the time, and the hats had a quicker pay out so I decided to focus more on the hats.
In the beginning it was focused on the marijuana industry, but quickly we realized that there was more then just marijuana that needed a voice. We now give back to 30-40 different organizations every year, and whenever we collaborate with an artist or company we let them pick a charity or organization to donate for the product to give back to. That is where the “Movement” really comes from and essentially each of these products has their own movement, which allows the individual to express some of their beliefs.
JF: How does music affect the creative process for your ideas and designs?
RC: I’m a fan of so much music and there are different times for different types of music, but when I’m driving across the country or snowboarding I like to listen to electronic music, and some people say that its not the safest because it would make you zone out. But for me that’s a chance for me to really collect my thoughts and not be distracted by lyrics. It allows my brain to move more freely which then gives me a chance to come up with a lot of GRC ideas and designs.
JF: When you first started the company were you already planning on working with artists to create a collaborated product?
RC: I think with all ideas you need to be prepared to evolve and in the beginning yea it started as a marijuana clothing line, but then it branched out into the music scene. With that we were thinking of ways to grow, and at the time Pretty Lights was one of our favorite bands to be listening to. I went to school at the University of Colorado, I had friends who were personal friends with Derek; and I mean when we were talking to him he was playing house parties in Ft. Collins and we were selling hats out of our backpacks on the Venice beach boardwalk. It was kind of a perfect alignment and we decided that he would be one of the first bands the we would reach out to, as well as our friends Ghost House from Chicago. The Pretty Lights hat just crushed it and since then we have chosen to evolve year after year. That was a big year for bands and electronic music, then we decided to focus more on hip-hop artists, and now this year our focus is trying to break into the ski/snowboard and action sports scene. We like to set new goals for ourselves year after year.
JF: Was there ever a moment where you took a step back and realized that Grassroots was really starting to make its way across the entire music scene? Almost like a “Wow” moment.
RC: It just living proof. Literally the idea started out of my backpack, and then upgraded to the back of my car where I was living. Then we moved to right here where we are sitting in the back of my store, where I was living, and finally 9 months ago I was able to move out of the store. Now after 5 years I actually have a real salary, and it was never about the money. Now I get to work with 10 of my closest friends, travel the world, and to fight for things that I believe in like the marijuana industry. I see everyday that we get love and we are building a community, and that’s where I measure my success. Not how many hats I’ve sold, or how many store are selling my hats. We get to do what we WANT to do.