In May 2018, I penned a piece for Magnetic Magazine noting how cannabis was becoming infused into non-cannabis cultures most notably tech, design and beer. In my ongoing explorations of the Portland design and craft culture, I continue to be struck by how Serra, an experiential cannabis lifestyle brand and curated retail space, continues to make its mark in the design and craft food cultures in Portland, Oregon.
A trip to their dispensary feels akin to entering an art gallery or an upscale fashion boutique. Gone are stereotypical signs of stoner culture. Instead one finds sculptures that also function as smoking devices and other accessories designed for those who prefer their smoking to be discrete and sleek. In addition, they focus on carrying products with a distinct craft focus (and a price point to match) such as Drip Sweets, Empower BodyCare, and Leif Goods
From the very beginning, design played an important role in establishing what Chasity Roesler, Director of Marketing at Grownworks Industries, cites as Serra’s brand values: product, service, and environment. Their Brand Director and Co-founder for Serra, Cambria Benson worked alongside the innovative creative team at OMFGCO, and interior design experts JHL Design. “Serra’s goal is to offer our wholesale product lines (and curated goods) in a stunning retail environment allowing curious newcomers and female shoppers to feel comfortable exploring cannabis products. OMFGCO was able to support us in establishing our brand identity while JHL Design brought our vision to life.”
This design focus can also be seen in their collaboration with Pruf Cultivar, a clean-green facility, that uses cutting-edge techniques from seed to flower that results in high-quality flower and oil. Serra aligned with them to provide the highest quality oil for their in-house wholesale products such as their upcoming Gumdrops and their Serra X Woodblock Chocolate Bars.
Roesler describes the synergistic connection between Serra, Woodblock Chocolate, and Pruf Cultivar in crafting their wholesale Serra x Woodblock Chocolate edible line. “Partnering with Woodblock Chocolate, our distinct cocoa beans are ethically sourced from single-origin, processed from bean to bar in Woodblock Chocolate’s Portland factory, then brought to our kitchen to be infused with the highest quality cannabis oil in Oregon (Pruf Cultivar); pairing perfectly for an optimal flavor profile.”
Serra Represents the First Cannabis Lifestyle Brand at Design Week Portland and Feast Portland:
Serra’s blend of art meets cannabis made them a perfect fit for showcasing their brand alongside other design innovators during Design Week Portland 2018. As Roesler reflects, “For us, it’s about reaching customers at a different level and forming novel connections with people in places they weren’t expecting to interact with a cannabis brand. It feels more impactful and starts the cannabis conversation while breaking stereotypes associated with cannabis culture.”
Also in 2018, Serra had the opportunity to not only be the first official cannabis sponsor of Feast Portland but to also participate in two events this annual major food festival celebrating Oregon’s Bounty. Roesler exclaims, “We’re big fans of the Portland food scene and the incredibly talented folks creating in it; not to mention captivated by the mission and values of the Feast founders. We too are proud of our Portland roots, and the products we are creating.”
During Feast Portland, Serra showcased their partnership with Woodblock Chocolate and Pruf Cultivar by by collaborating with three Portland-based chefs for these limited-edition Feast bars leveraging their core Serra x Woodblock Chocolate line. They offered a course titled “Sugar High” that gave participants a chance to learn how to make CBD infused brownies. (Due to current OLCC regulations, no cannabis consumption was permitted during this class.) Also, they offered non-infused versions of their Feast bars during the Grand Tasting, one of the Feast Portland’s main signature events.
For Roesler a highlight of Feast Portland was when a celebrity chef that they deeply admire visited their booth. “They mentioned that whenever they are visiting Portland, they only come to Serra.”
In reflecting on the future of craft cannabis in Portland, Roesler opines, “We know that enjoying cannabis will soon be just as common as grabbing a drink with friends. There is much momentum behind this industry. With CBD beers now on the market and the ubiquity of infused dinners, these energies are allowing adults (who may be curious about cannabis) to have a relatable experience or merely offer an opportunity to explore the industry we trust.”