For the month of February, we are hosting a virtual pop-up shop featuring a brand and dynamic duo that are very dear to our hearts. Sway is a Black and woman-owned purveyor of fine hemp blunts for an elevated smoking ritual. For the latter half of 2021 and into the New Year, Barbari has been incubating Sway out of our cooperative production space in Portland, Oregon and we are honored to be able to introduce them to our customers.
In the midst of everyone’s hard work and hustle, I found some time to catch up with Sway co-founders Melody and Sonia Wright to dig into their brand and what lengths they will go to produce their fantastic artisan handmade blunts.
Valarie: Sonia and Melody, I feel like I know you both so well, yet I’ve never really heard the origin story of Sway. When did you realize you were passionate about blunts and decide to venture into the recreational weed/hemp industry?
Melody: I got into blunts growing up in Cali and having to mask the smell of weed by using a tobacco wrap. We bought swisher sweets and dutch masters. Dutchies are the best.
Sonia Fay: When we met in 2016, Melody already had the idea to make Thai Sticks and sell them on the THC market. I was working on another venture at the time and sort of volunteered my amateur business starting skills to help. Then we worked together to find a way into that market past all the hurdles. Turns out you really couldn’t do it at that point in time without significant funding. So when hemp went legal in 2018, we pivoted because that was something we could do on a much smaller budget since it’s not OLCC (Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission) regulated. I also was at that point discovering how much I preferred to smoke 1:1s and sometimes just hemp, because I’m more hooked on the act of smoking than the high, and getting high in the middle of the day is counterproductive for me. So we decided to hone in on the ritual of smoking and make products that help people calm down and recenter.
V: What are your roles within the company? How big is your team?
Sonia Fay: Mel runs production and product development and I do everything I can to support that and reach our target market. We just have one part-time employee right now, but it took us a minute to find the right fit, and we have someone now who we’re really excited to grow with.
V: Let’s dig into your product a bit. Until discovering your amazing handmade blunts, I didn’t realize that there could be so many different blunt form-factors. What are some of your favorite offerings and why?
Melody: I love Thai Sticks. I love how slow burning they are and how they invite me to take my time. I’ve put a lot into developing our thai stick method, getting custom tools made, and giving lots of them away to get feedback over the years. Enjoying something that I hand made that smokes so nice and smooth is happiness to me.
Sonia Fay: My fave, and also our best seller, is the “Pinners.”–mini blunts with a toasted hemp wrap, reminiscent of a spliff in flavor, designed for a quick smoke to get you through the day–I like to think we’re going to get “Pinner” into the oxford dictionary one day. I usually lose interest halfway through a blunt or a joint, and the pinner is just the right size for a quick smoke. In college, I used to smoke spliffs on the weekends with my friends, and the pinner tastes like a spliff to me – it’s so satisfying.
V: Looking to the future, what are you working towards with Sway?
Melody: I’m trying to do more collaborations with farmers, gain more traction and sell more blunts both in THC and CBD. I also have big ambitions for creating jobs for people getting out of prison. This plant has been used by Black and brown people to cope with trauma, it has been used to persecute and imprison those communities, and now we have the opportunity to use it as a tool of empowerment to create wealth for Black and brown people, but there’s a lot of fighting still to do to keep it accessible and keep regulation fair and equitable. For example, Black people should get a free OLCC license to grow and sell marijuana.
“At another time, I would say the best way to smoke a blunt is with friends, but we live in a covid world now. So send your friend a blunt and schedule a zoom call.”Melody Wright
V: School us, because I know you have an opinion here… What’s the proper way to enjoy a Sway blunt?
Sonia Fay: The best way to smoke a blunt is how you want to. We have quite a range in types of blunts, because we want to have an option for whatever your ideal smoking ritual would look like. For example, I think Thai Sticks are great for special occasions, moments of celebration, or of ceremony, or to enjoy when you’re really treating yourself like when you’re taking a nice bath. Pinners are to get you through the day. Slims are nice with a glass of wine and a book.
Melody: One rule: light it before you hit it. And don’t worry, the Thai Sticks come with instructions. At another time, I would say the best way to smoke a blunt is with friends, but we live in a covid world now. So send your friend a blunt and schedule a zoom call.
V: What does Sway mean?
Sonia Fay: Slow your roll! For us the idea of being centered is like when you’re sitting to meditate, but your body is still gently swaying – you’re never really still. It’s like let’s take this swinging needle that is your energy, and let’s turn it into a gentle flow. Balance that qi, queen.
“We put a lot of love into our blunts, and we hope people are inspired to buy them for each other this Valentine’s Day and beyond.”Melody Wright
V: We worked together to produce a collab product that I’m SO EXCITED about: The Blue Lotus Thai Stick Blunt. Will you do the honors of introducing it to our audience and talk about anything special about it?
Melody: The blue lotus was Barbari’s idea, but it was serendipitous. I have an obsession with ancient Egyptian art and culture, and the lotus is a prominent theme. It symbolizes rebirth and the afterlife. It’s also just gorgeous, especially overlaid on these yummy chocolaty hemp wraps. We’re excited because we’re always trying to get more people to try the Thai sticks and get why they’re so fun to smoke. We put a lot of love into our blunts, and we hope people are inspired to buy them for each other this Valentine’s Day and beyond.
You can follow Sway on Instagram @swaycbd
Valarie Sakota is the co-founder of Barbari and head of Product and Brand.