Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Brush Tokes is 420-Friendly art sessions created by artists - Kelly and Natasha.
Kelly & Natasha met while selling their art at local art shows and having shared an interest in art, cannabis, & a drive for growth - we decided why not create a vision of a safe art space where others can relax and create art while enjoying the benefits of cannabis.
What’s included in your classes?
We got it all... step by step instructions, the canvases, the paint, the aprons, bongs for clients who bring in their own cannabis for consumption.
Our main products are our painting classes but we are branching off to creating other 420 friendly workshops such as Plant Nite, Fluid Pour art classes, & Wooden sign workshops.
The income for Brushtokes ranges on how many classes are scheduled a month. When we sell out of classes - it is up to $2500 per month and growing.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I got into a new relationship and was told that females tend to lack real hobbies. Not just make-up and toenails, a real hobby.
I remembered I liked art as a child so I started to self-learn how to again. Being naturally progressive, I decided it would be ideal to sell my art and eventually let it replace my workplace income of being a business teacher.
However, the drawings were subjective to emotional buyers. Emotions are unstable so I shifted to wooden crafts and ensured they had a purpose. I ventured out of the wood craft market as to not be just another candy in a store full of candy. I found pop ups that let me display my business and products.
Our idea came about due to like interests of smoking cannabis and art. Once cannabis become CA legal, we decided to launch a class with the same concept as paint and sip but instead we would allow cannabis.
That’s where I found another person who was on a similar path, Natasha, and we formed Brush Tokes together where we not only focus on our shared interest of art but creating an experience that our customers will remember.
Take us through the process starting and launching the business.
We attended paint and sip classes and analyzed some ideas from that to differentiate ourselves. We decided to focus on the quality of the classes as far as the supplies we use, having consistent instructional steps, fun raffle giveaways during the classes, and providing the “double bag” concept - leaving our customers with an experience to remember.
We are solely still a word of mouth business and nourish our network of regulars.
We initially began as a partnership but found it more profitable to split it up and let Natasha focus on her growing side business and stay as a committed BrushTokes Instructor.
Because cannabis cannot be advertised online/social media, we would talk to people wherever we went regarding our first class launch and post photos on Facebook/Instagram only.
As we already had a passion for art, it was simple to create paintings and step by step instructions to launch our first sold out class back in Jan 2018.
To get set up for our first class, we had a list of required equipment and supplies. We would go on classifieds to purchase equipment used and utilize our discounts as school teachers to save on our art supplies.
Kelly also creates wooden products for BrushTokes’ official merchandise and Natasha handles all of our T-shirt designs for our shirt line.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We focus on gaining subscribers so that they can receive our emails about updated events and promo codes.
On our website, we offered an immediate subscriber discount code that did not expire to gain our first subscribers.
Learn as you go, don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking too far ahead. Focus on one thing at a time & only learn as you need to.
We also utilize Facebook, Instagram, and event websites to add exposure for our ticket sales. It is naturally a word of mouth business as there are federal laws against advertising for cannabis friendly events.
We utilize actual event photos, our logo, and “420 event tags” to help gain exposure with the cannabis industry.
We build our ads using mostly photoshop and iPhone video/slideshow editor applications.
Being naturally sociable, we always are able to spread the word when attending local art shows or visiting local dispensaries and smoke shops.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The business is going steadily - we run classes every other weekend and run private events by appointment only.
We are focusing on expanding our venue to add more workshops and workspace for other growing businesses.
We currently cannot run ads but do focus on word of mouth, our email subscribers, going to actual smoke shops/dispensaries to meet with owners and advertise there, etc. This also allows us to save on advertising costs and have more money in our pockets.
With our supplies: we buy in bulk to reduce costs and I also am able to hand make my wooden boxes for our Plant Night classes or our canvas frames to save on costs. Our costs vary from $8 per person at our Paint Night classes & $15 per person for our Plant Night classes.
I have been focusing on my website and SEO - found more success by getting direct visits and sales that way as opposed to the event site where you also must pay them fees for your ticket sales.
We are also working to expand our official merchandise to offer more wooden items such as smoke trays & stash boxes or anything our customers ask us for a customized request. Having a snack for problem solving, we can make almost anything that comes to us.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When we began our business, we found it beneficial to have a partnership agreement. That helped us when Natasha exited the business and things remained civil that way. We were able to use that as our mediator and had a civil discussion instead of letting emotions get in the way of being rational. Always put things in writing because sometimes we hear only what we want to hear.
We have also learned to stay organized and have a check off list when preparing for classes. This allows us to free up brain space for what’s more important - the classes itself. Being organized has helped us reduce prep time and clean up time, allowing us to focus on building more paintings and spreading the word online or in person.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Mason
- Art of Charm - social psychology podcast
- Side Hustle School - Podcast about other side hustle ideas (we were featured on this in 2018 as well)
- The Jordan Harbinger Show - social psychology podcast
- Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin
- The Art of Logical Thinking by William Walker Atkinson
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Have a foundation of good people. People with resources that will tell you the truth. People who believe in you. People who you strive to be, people below you will regress you. “ Money doesn’t make you wealthy, your circle does”
Have a plan and set clear goals. Plan as much as you can.
Learn as you go, don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking too far ahead. Focus on one thing at a time & only learn as you need to. Example: watch tutorials on photoshop/illustrator to create your own brand will save you money and develop your confidence. “The more skills you have, the less you pay and the more you will trust yourself”. It’s important to trust yourself to avoid self doubt and continue focusing on a positive future.
Don’t compare, try not to look at what your competitors are doing. Come up with your own ideas. The world doesn’t need 100 of the same businesses going on. It’s about being different, not better.
Have a safety net. Accumulate assets in the event that your business has to take a change without expecting a financial return right away.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Website - www.BrushTokesOc.com
- Facebook - Brushtokes
- Instagram - BrushTokes
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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