A Sit Down with the Founder of High Hemp – Let’s Talk: Marketing & Branding

Photo credit: entrepreneur.com 

It’s always a great day to feature women of color in the cannabis industry! .A little over a year ago, Vee had the pleasure of chatting with High Hemp for a piece on Medium, featuring companies in cannabis, looking out for vegans. Current day, we sit down with the founder of a woman owned and operated company, with offices in Florida and California- Paola Fernandez.

High Hemp offers a line of wraps for those looking for an alternative to tobacco, if they’re trying to quit, or cut back. The company makes wraps of all different flavors so everyone can have a favorite. They are huge on client/customer love and so their products are constantly featuring their amazing fans and customers. Their social media pages feature a lot of their customer base because they think it’s amazing that people want to show off their better decisions.

Check out the interview with founder- Paola Fernandez, led by Alaina Dorsey, focused on the company’s marketing and branding.

Alaina (A)- Paola (P)

(A:) What inspired you to start the High Hemp Brand?

(P:) Like you, I have a design background. I went to graphic design school but I never really finished. But I got the central skills I needed and then I moved to Puerto Rico with my dad. He had his own favorite company, but I mostly worked at his smoke shop. So I kind of was in the industry per se—but you can’t really say a smoke shop is for the industry. 

We started working on his products because he had a lot of Rolling Papers and just tobacco projects. My dad saw that everybody had either choice of blunts or Rolling Papers. The people that didn’t want to smoke tobacco went straight to the Rolling Papers. And the people that did smoke tobacco or didn’t smoke tobacco just didn’t like the rolling paper, because it burned too fast, and not like a blunt. 

So then, that kind of stuck to me that idea that thought of, “Damn, there’s not really in between, of the product. “And then as things progressed tobacco started being a real heavy hitter. 

I’ve never consumed it, and it was just something that I felt like didn’t go with the plant. So then we started doing our research and we came across this place in Europe that’s a paper factory. They tried to come up with solutions using other fibers. So they had mint, carrot… and then they came up with the hemp paper.  And that’s where we thought, “Okay, that’s definitely something that could take over the market and be something new.” 

We started doing test runs. We actually launched first with our mint product… but that one didn’t do so well. It was a tobacco-free mint paper. Right after that we launched High Hemp—and that one took off! Everybody felt close to the brand because of the tobacco free aspect. It was something fresh in the market that hadn’t seen a change in a long time. 

So that’s how I guided myself to that. 

(A:) Cool! How did you decide the visual design of the brand?

(P:) With my dad being in the industry for so long and not having any luck, I started just going through a lot of smoke shops and going to a lot of gas stations. The main thing I noticed was that it was all a cluster of colors and it was varied.

I thought if I make it if I want to stand out, I have to do something different than everybody else—and nobody had white packaging.

So I thought right from the start that it would go great with a brand. We’re trying to do something clean, something fresh and just clearing it from every corner on every shelf. And then when I played around with the words, I saw that the end of “high” and the beginning of “hemp” had two H’s. I was writing it out in capital letters.

That’s what I thought, “Oh, we put these together, and that could create a really cool logo!”  From there, it just stuck.

(A:) Very nice! That is a good talking point that you chose white—that’s how I’m easily able to see the packages when I go to different shops. So that is… really good.

(P:) I saw that it was a good idea because now everybody’s copying it.

(A:)  Next question is what are your inspirations for your current marketing campaigns?

(P:)  I would say we definitely have a different strategy than most brands. If you look at other brands or even tobacco brands. They’re very cut and dry through their promotional stuff.

When I was younger, I always listened to hip hop and grabbed all that stuff. What I saw was that rappers like Biggie would mention Bambu as his rolling paper of choice. At that time period, it was the highest selling rolling paper. The trends of the culture influences the smoking world.

So me coming from Puerto Rico and not really having any connections with any really big PR companies, I just started directly kind of guerrilla campaigning. I would show up at festivals and start handing out the product. I saw if I could get video placements. I took the route of “Here I am” to push it towards where I thought High Hemps would be best looked at.

It really helped us. We started around 2016. And now we have a really big presence in a small amount of time.

Alaina Dorsey is a professional draftswoman, freelance Creative Strategist and owner of Creative Ether, LLC, an artmaking and social media marketing company. Bud Biz Creativ is the cannabis, hemp and ecommerce side: she crafts brand lore-driven social content campaigns that are daring, distinct and experiential. It’s a brilliant amalgam of branding, strategy, social media and content marketing. 

Written by: Alaina Dorsey

Edited by: Veronica Castillo