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From the founding to the Dragons’ Den and beyond, Ian Kaulansky has built an identity that is “not focused on the product, but on how it gives something back”.

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The growthOp “Cannabis brings people together; we should find ways to work together,” writes Ian Kaulansky. Photo by LOOP / POOL

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Ian Kwickansky is the CEO and Co-Founder of LOOP / POOL, a jointly owned artist and a socially-minded cannabis brand that gives back to emerging Canadian talent. Here he talks about why the company’s focus is on nurturing local talent.

Cannabis and music have always been closely related, not only as part of the experience for fans at home, festivals, and concerts, but also in the creative process for artists. It has evolved from Jerry Garcia, who fights for legalization, to John Mayer, who renounces alcohol for cannabis and works to ensure that his “quality of life has increased significantly”. The connection between plant and artist is permanent.

Like many others, my pairing of music and cannabis started as a fan, but I’ve also been fortunate to have deep connections with both of them through my professional life. Working at indie and major labels, I saw firsthand the change in the recorded music landscape. Technology brought access to the world’s music into our hands, but for artists it shifted the decimal point to turn dollars into pennies. The industry has changed and a transformation needs to take place so that artists can benefit from the content they create and continue to receive support through scholarship programs.

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When the Cannabis Act came out, I sat down to read it and play the first episode of Mad Men in the background. While listening to the show’s characters discussing the challenges of differentiating nearly identical products, I checked the regulations and realized how difficult it would be to highlight a brand or product if it hit me: change the conversation. Make cannabis useful.

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Supporting artists can become a collective call. Make it a company whose identity is not focused on the product, but on how it returns. Provide an answer for talented artists who are underserved or who do not have access to existing scholarships.

LOOP / POOL grew out of this concept of supporting emerging artists by pledging to return at least five percent of the proceeds from the sale of our licensed cannabis products. I’ve seen the difficulties touring musicians go through in order to be successful in the industry. With venues closed during the pandemic, the challenges these artists faced may seem insurmountable. Now is the time to revitalize the music industry and innovate in an emerging environment like cannabis, where legalization has paved the way for new opportunities that artists can benefit from.

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The path to building a new brand that blends creators and cannabis took me through Dragons’ Den, one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking experiences of my life. It was the ultimate test for me and our company, but I learned two important things that can be applied to all cannabis brands to come.

First, social forward can be your differentiator, but only if it’s authentically and organically part of your business. Because of the limitations in marketing cannabis, it means understanding how your brand can make a difference in the values ​​that appeal to your consumer.

Second, don’t fragment – unite. Cannabis brings people together; We should find ways to work together. We have brought together seven artists, Our Lady Peace, Blue Rodeo, Stars, Felix Cartal, Kiesza, dvsn and Roy Woods, under one banner with a single mission that everyone, from budget tenders to consumers, can support: support supporters.

While I’m proud of the collective we started and our success at Dragons’ Den, that’s only part of the journey to the real goals we want to achieve and the movement we want to create. It’s time for socially conscious brands to shine because the companies that have the greatest impact on supporting important causes may also be the ones that last.

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