Haley Dineen and Lana Van Brunt are the co-founders of Sackville & Co, an online boutique of aesthetic consumer goods curated for people who want their commonly used cannabis accessories to integrate seamlessly with their style. Since its founding, the pair have both negotiated the sale of the company and fought to regain ownership due to a breach of contract, all while starting an entirely new business: Sackville Studios. With those challenges behind them, they are moving forward to create lasting products for consumers and branded moments for clients. Sitting in conversation with either entrepreneur, it’s clear the women simply love what they do. “We’re genuinely trying to create something beautiful and are beyond excited that anyone is interested,” said Van Brunt.
With their first endeavor, S&Co, the duo set out to design useful, gorgeous cannabis accessories. The online boutique goes far beyond your corner store headshop, instead centering on experience, creativity, and culture. “Cannabis is so much more than just the act of consuming,” Dineen said, “it’s so much more about connecting to different parts of yourself.” S&Co products are meant to help people explore those nuanced parts, and to create commonly used cannabis accessories that blend with one’s home decor. Imagine a wine and charcuterie night with friends: the glasses are gorgeous and the cheese board is ornate – why shouldn’t the grinder, papers, and lighter match the vibe? That’s the question Van Brunt and Dineen seek to answer with S&Co.
The team was intentional with every step of the branding process – the name was to be vaguely cannabis adjacent but not on the nose, and the brand was to remain genderless. But the women-founded business was consigned to the wellness category immediately, which did not gel with their vision. In response, the pair pulled back the launch and purposefully rebranded to spill outside the trite lines of gender. “We wanted to be a brand that existed in a genderless space. Any woman who’s running a brand, all of a sudden it’s a brand for women. Our decision in updating the brand was to make sure that we weren’t creating guardrails for our opportunity to grow because of how would be defined,” said Van Brunt.
A short time into its run, the company was growing and required more funds to continue. After months of meetings and multiple deals falling through after term sheets, they had found their ideal partner but soon the negotiations turned from discussing investment to the full purchase of the company. The pair negotiated the contract and learned a lot about each other in the process — specifically, how to stand your ground when being bullied into signing a contract. To Van Brunt it came down to gut instinct, “When I get something in my gut that just feels wrong, I would rather lose on my own terms than somebody else’s.”
Dineen credits Van Brunt’s fortitude in those meetings as those negotiations were vital in recovering S&Co, “It was those very deal points that we were really standing our ground on that ended up giving us the room to sue for breach of contract and it ended in us getting Sackville back.”
After eight months of negotiations, a contract was drawn up that met the founders’ standards and they signed — but the parent company had a change of control and they learned S&Co would be bankrupted as the new CEO didn’t see value in the brand. Dineen and Van Brunt immediately entered litigation and began the fight to regain control of the brand they had built. Unfortunately, the effort was expensive so during that time, they pivoted into taking on private clients, an endeavor that soon evolved into Sackville Studios. This work funded the women as they pursued ownership of their former business. And eventually, they won it back.
In the meantime, Sackville Studios has become an established multidisciplinary cannabis design and production studio working with clients like Playboy and Select. Studios’ offerings are unique in the space, as many brands have overlooked the power of building a culture around their lines. Studios builds a lifestyle in an honest way that doesn’t pander but rather shows that the brand is listening and responding to their clientele – just like they did with S&Co. This may be a natural step in the right direction for cannabis, where the focus is on genetics while branding is in varying levels of disarray from state to state.
“Not having a lifestyle brand means nobody has any brand affinity or brand loyalty. People are shopping by price at dispensaries, it has become a really difficult space to play in because people weren’t investing in building that connection with their consumer. Additionally, swag and merchandise has become a bit of a dirty word but ultimately, everybody wants something beautiful they can use in their home that has a utility and fits their aesthetic, and boom — it’s also a marketing opportunity for you,” said Van Brunt, who considers the moving pieces to arrange the big picture.
And Dineen, who hones that big picture into the finer details, continued, “Most consumers don’t really have a good handle on how to read a label or approach cannabis to get what they’re looking for out of it. When you can express that to them through product touch points that are so easily recognizable by them, and really set the vibe, and the tone, and the feeling for what the experience is, … it’s just like, oh yeah, that’s a full circle moment!”
With Studios, Van Brunt and Dineen work for the client, and with S&Co, they work for the consumer, but both companies are designed to attract the right consumer to a product they’ll love, and to do this they use their experience and natural talents.
To learn more about Sackville & Co visit sackville.co, where you can learn about limited edition collabs like their recent release with Flatbush Zombies that sold out in a weekend. Check out the Sackville Studios portfolio at sackvillestudios.co.