Credit: CBD Hemp Event
Meet the Founder
LittleJohn New York was founded by product developer and designer Marc Littlejohn, on 4/20, 2019. The premium leather, 5-layer odor proof bags are first in class for style, function and formation, and boast a complete 3-piece line that comes in black or camel brown.
The LittleJohn New York brand history is as layered as its form, and as rich just the same. Mr. Marc Littlejohn was more than happy to give testament to his latest creations, his style muse, and all the beautiful details in between. Marc projects a poised energy and embodies the sleek sophistication of his brand. It was truly a pleasure speaking with and learn from him.
**Interview has been edited slightly for clarity**
Dom: Thank you so much for sharing your energy with me today! I’m so excited to learn more about this amazing brand.
Marc: Thank you! I’m excited to talk about Littlejohn.
Dom: Please give me a little background on your company.
Marc: Sure, so I founded Littlejohn on April 20, 2019 and we’ve been running for about 9 months. We’ve grown very quickly! Right now, we’re in 10 retail spaces. 3 dispensaries carry our products. I also collaborate with a friend of mine, Stephanie, owner of Wyld Aire, a company that makes elegant foldable travel hats.
We have a Northern East coast rep and are currently looking for a West coast rep because we are definitely looking to expand. Always room to grow!
Dom: The canna market is definitely growing. And Littlejohn is your namesake, if I’m not mistaken.
Marc: That’s correct. Yes, it’s my last name. The Littlejohn name goes way back.
Dom: Yes! I know of a couple of LittleJohns in American History. One that comes to mind is black culture photographer and activist Calvin LittleJohn. Any relation or inspiration drawn?
Marc: There is no relation but I am very familiar with his work. My family actually has a rich history of our own! I don’t know if you’ve heard of the 1619 Project, but some of my family have contributed to those research efforts.
The LittleJohns are descendants of slaves and can be traced back to West Africa; Ghana, to be more specific. John Littlejohn and his brother, “owned” my ancestors, who were slaves in North Carolina. My ancestors took the name Littlejohn. They followed the Great Migration to New Jersey where they were some of the earliest black settlers. You can read about the Great Migration in the book Somerset Homecoming, which is a book that has been compared to Roots [by Alex Hayley]. The book details the family history of African slaves and descendants that settled here in New Jersey. Those people are connected to my people.
Dom: Wow! So, you guys are truly the epitome of the American dream!
Marc: Yes! I feel like this is our American Story.
Dom: Now, I know you’re not related to Calvin Littlejohn but your collection makes me think of his work and a certain time in history. Like the Harlem Renaissance.
Marc: Well yes! That’s it! My style influences are reminiscent of that era.
Dom: It reminds me of JAZZ! Looking at the pictures on your Instagram put me in a calm jazzy mood. The pictures are curated excellently, by the way!
Marc: Thank you! You got it right. Jazz is definitely an influence. I would call my design mid-century modern.
If you’ve heard of modal jazz, like Miles Davis’ album Kinda Blue, think about the structure of the music. Modal jazz is a short scale of (6) notes laid on top of each other. The result is this sophistication of music with a beautiful sound. My bags are designed that way but with 5 carbon layers and air-tight zippers. They are elegantly simplistic.
Dom: Truly beautiful! I love everything about them.
So, can you tell me about your foundation? Do you have a team? Teamwork makes the dream work and we see some beautiful recurring faces on your IG page!
Marc: You must be talking about my daughter. She is one of our models and handles social media for Littlejohn. I am the designer but I have family and friends that help with finances and marketing. A few closer friends’ model for Littlejohn as well. We have a couple of freelance writers on the team assist with marketing.
Everyone has a role that helps make this work. I placed myself specifically over product development and design so I can manage and delegate since I have experience in the design industry. But everyone’s role is important! The product is fabricated in China so having a team to work with provides a stability to the structure of Littlejohn New York. We have a great team!
Dom: On your website you tell us that you are a product designer by trade. What are some other products that you have designed? Are any of them canna related?
Credit: CBD Hemp Event
Marc: When I first started, I was designing crystal and silver, then I moved on to tables and dishes and home decor. Eventually, I went on to design bags and pouches.
As for canna, when I was younger, I used to make roach clips for my friends as a side hobby. I designed different things for them by hand.
The Stow Collection is my first personal bag line, but you may have seen some of my work without realizing it. You know the canvas and leather bag line at Barnes and Noble? I actually designed those bags!
Dom: That’s super dope! And now that I think of it, the style of those bags is reminiscent of the Littlejohn brand. I always loved them.
Marc: Yup! My style has always been that of a gentleman, polished.
Dom: Even the colors and materials are similar. Almost like they were a muse for you branching out.
Dom: Switching gears a little before we wrap up, you mentioned that your bags are fabricated in China. How has your business relationship grown there? What has been your biggest take away from it?
Marc: When you’re doing business anywhere, but especially outside of your country, respect communication! I learned a little Mandarin to try and communicate more effectively with folks at the warehouse in China and my Chinese connections laughed at me. But it was all good because they respected that I took the time to try and learn their language.
Where my bags are being fabricated, in southern China, the people actually speak Cantonese, not Mandarin. But my effort is what really helped make business even more pleasant.
I always tell people to stay open and be willing to learn. For example, it’s Chinese New Year so for 2 weeks production is halted. Our business philosophy is definitely about respect and learning about each other.
Dom: Wow, so you learned much more than you thought you would!
Marc: For sure! I appreciate the experiences that have helped me grow in this business.
Dom: Now are there any expansion projects in the future for LittleJohn? Luggage maybe?
Marc: Hmmm…I don’t foresee any luggage but I’ll give you an exclusive! Now, I don’t want to give it all away but we are going to be in some glass shops soon. And I’m looking at a second pouch design. In the Springtime I want to introduce a convertible clutch with a cross body strap and some card slots and odor proof compartments.
Dom: Oooh! That sounds perfect. Just perfecting an already amazing product. I dig it.
Marc: Yes. These are niche products so I want to work on protection and structure of the product for the consumer. As I said, LittleJohn bags are carefully designed and elements and chosen without compromising style and function.
Dom: I believe it! And I respect your drive. It’s better to have a great product on the market, perfected, than to have lots of products that always need work.
Dom: Thank you for everything! I truly appreciate your time and energy today.
Can you give me a couple lines you would use to describe your company and product to someone who is unaware of them?
Marc: Yes, absolutely! The Littlejohn Stow Collection is the stash bag reimagined and redefined! It is designed with style, discretion and function in mind. The accessories are carefully chosen and reflect the attention to details.
We are looking forward to expanding this company, doing more research and growing with the industry. There is always room to grow!
This piece is a repurposed version of the original piece, written by author, and published on www.cbdhempevent.com
Written by: Dom, The Cannamom
Edited by: Veronica Castillo