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Interview: Behind the Scenes with One of Cannabis’ Classiest Companies

An interview with Elevate Accessories founder Alan Bader.
Elevate Accessories

Elevate Accessories

Elevate Accessories is an American manufactured, sustainable cannabis accessories company providing the community with heirloom quality products for cannabis patients and enthusiasts. I followed owner and founder Alan Bader around his shop for a unique opportunity to see his process. Alan’s passion and knowledge for his craft can be seen in his handcrafted pieces (I especially love the Colfax Dugout), even mid-production. I found it interesting that businesses outside of the cannabis, such as New Belgium Brewery, have requested customized accessories for their brands, which speaks to the level of quality. By living true to his own ethics, Alan is setting the bar higher for companies in the cannabis industry.

In the Elevate workshop.

In the Elevate workshop

MAGNETIC: What inspired you to create high quality smoking accessories?

Alan Bader: Initially, I was in consulting. A friend of mine, who was a grower, asked me to take photos of his plants. After I did, I realized that no one was really taking these types of photos. I mean, nowadays, everybody is, but back then it was rare. I then shifted my focus to the cannabis industry, which eventually lead to opening Elevate. I worked for America [the location he rents his shop space out from today], which is where I obtained my knowledge of wood and learned how to run a company sustainably.

M: Have you always been environmentally conscious—did you start Elevate Accessories with that vision in mind?

AB: I’ve always thought it was cool to recycle and that sort of thing, but it never really dawned on me that the products we use have a big impact on the environment until later. I went to school for industrial design. As I was getting into the program my first year, I started to recognize the waste in making and later discarding or recycling these products. I thought I wanted to design cell phones when I first started, but very quickly realized that small electronics are one of the biggest waste producers in existence. I then realized that because I was in the position of pursuing product design, I was in a place where I could guide that message. As a designer, I have the ability to build a better, more sustainable product. At Elevate, we don’t use toxic chemicals during the production process. We use solar power, natural and edible finishes, and being heirloom quality, our product should out last the user. That’s about as sustainable as we can get.

M: As a company that resources materials and manufactures locally, what would you say are some pros and cons to being American made?

AB: Obviously, the price could drop if we went overseas, but you kind of have this balance. Do you want to spend a lot more time up front with management, or do you want to just pay a little bit more per part? But really, you may have to pay out later anyway, if you have to fly over to China to make sure everything is being done right. I’ll never have to spend that sort of money if I’m doing it all in a shop and my home right here. It’s easier to have good quality control that way. In fact, often times, with outer production, they don’t even care, they’ll just ship it off and say, “Here ya go.” With so many variables, you may get left with a bunch of stuff that requires fixing. Here, we don’t make thousands of pieces at one time, so if there is complication, we can fix it right there. We’re happy to be making products in the U.S., even though it does mean our profit margin is smaller.

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M: How do you support veterans?

AB: We offer a discount. My hope in the future is for Elevate to grow to the point where we can have a Veterans for Hire program, as it’s something that has been in the back of my mind for some time.

M: How did you choose which materials to make your products?

AB: I actually started the company using all exotic woods like pink ivory, and I used to offer several varieties. Then, I scaled it back to two options: walnut and maple. I chose walnut and maple because they are more durable and sustainable to use. I do plan to bring back exotic woods in limited batches, so that’s something to look forward to. 

Fillmore Bubbler

Fillmore Bubbler

M: Do you have a favorite product from EA?

AB: I’ve smoked weed for about 20 years or so, minus the past couple of months in dealing with lingering allergies. I used to hate edibles, but I’ve really been enjoying them. When I am smoking per usual, my favorite is our Fillmore Bubbler. It’s great for flower and concentrates, but I usually use it for taking dabs. Honestly though, I would love to be using our mini bubbler, especially for smoking weed. It’s the same size as the mini hitter, but with a little bit of water filtration for a smoother hit. I’m definitely a fan of our dugouts as well, it’s great when you’re on the go or just need something simple to carry around. I personally don’t usually smoke joints or blunts. But, when I do, I definitely like using our joint or blunt bubblers, because you can get a much bigger hit out of it.

M: What’s something in the cannabis industry you hope to see change?

AB: More legalization, of course. It should be legalized in every state. But for us, I would say the way dispensaries are set up. It’s hard for us to sell our products at dispensaries for a few reasons. Tourists, understandably, aren’t coming in to spend a lot on the item they smoke from. They want something cheap and possibly even disposable. Aside from that, for those who are possibly interested, with the way a lot of dispensaries are set up, the waiting rooms and products are separated, and with the system of customers being shuffled in and out quickly, those types of things get overlooked. Whereas with places that aren’t, people get a longer chance to look around. At the very least, it could be helpful to have a display case in waiting rooms. So, I hope in the future, open shops can become more the norm. I think it would be more enjoyable for customers as well as retailers. 

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