Wed, Feb 19, 2020
∙ READING TIME: 6 MINUTES ∙


In a Cannabis environment where the consumer only sees finished packaged goods, there are a lot of jobs and elements that come into bringing products to market.

THE ART OF ZEN

Blossoming from medical roots into the third largest Cannabis cultivator in Washington, Artizen has mastered the balance between craft and scale to deliver consistent boutique Cannabis.

Artizen’s journey to becoming a major producer began before Cannabis was legal, with a group of friends that loved growing and working together as a team. With humble roots in garage grows and the hills of Humboldt, the ownership team entered 502 as experienced practitioners in a brand new market. Putting their own sweat equity and funding into the company while reinvesting profits, the company has come to scale and is selling through every gram grown under hundreds of high intensity lights.

While being one of the largest companies in the market comes with a lot of attention and pressure, the team behind the brand have stayed true to their ideals and mission – to survive and then thrive in the emerging pot marketplace.

“There is a lot more to us than meets the eye,” Founder and Co-Owner Timothy Foia said passionately. “We’re working on some big things this year that are going to continue to expand on what we have built over the last five years.”

CRAFT AT SCALE

Walking into the several football fields long building that houses Artizen is an awe inspiring experience that began as a 3-D rendering. Building a garden to scale properly takes experience, and for Chief Designer Mark Hutchison, the opportunity to design from scratch was priceless.

“Growing indoors is an enjoyable canvas for me to work with. It’s like an art, my painting. When I design a grow, it’s all the way down to the ergonomics of the space. I can tell you how many inches are between every single aisle, or what the clearance is or whether a 3×6 cart can make the corner into the next room. So there’s a lot of forethought that goes into the design.”

The company began with a single grow room and 160 lights, and within the first year profits from initial sales had two additional rooms up and running.

Artizen was built in phases through the reinvestment process that will continue into the new decade, which allowed the company to stay wholly owned and focused on the original mission.

As the company began to develop, it added departments like logistics, which began as a desk in a closet and became an office space with several employees and a fleet of drivers.

In a Cannabis environment where the consumer only sees finished packaged goods, there are a lot of jobs and elements that come into bringing products to market.

“We put our money into human capital. When you walk around our facility you will see over 100 employees, many of whom have been here from the beginning,” Foia explained.

“We’re owned by my best friends. Jessica James (Chief Operating Officer) I met in 2002 – I introduced her to her life partner Mark Hutchison, and another partner, Paul, unfortunately passed away. Our CFO George Jordan is an amazing tactician and lawyer. This is a new decade, this is our third decade as friends and family. And from Mark building my first grow room and Jessica running it, this whole project is the most crazy story of an underdog becoming a big company.”

With nearly 20,000 plants in every stage of production housed under a 75,000 square foot building, it takes a family of employees all working together to thrive.

Chief Designer Mark Hutchison
Chief Operating Officer Jessica James
CEO Timothy Foia

In a market where gardens are constantly swapping genetics and discontinuing strains, Artizen has been a steadfast example of what works. Their core group of strains has been selling since the company began, and economic data from Headset on 502 sales show that five of the top 10 most sold individual product items in Washington’s legal Cannabis history come from Artizen.

 

GROWING CONSISTENT CANNABIS

The key to success in Washington’s developed Cannabis market is carving out a niche, and Artizen has successfully done that from the beginning of the 502 marketplace. That niche begins with consistency, which is difficult for grows small and large. Artizen set out to conquer that from the start, delivering strains early in 502 history like Allen Wrench or Grape Ape that are still selling today.

Inside the grow room are dozens of custom steel frames housing plants grown sea of green style, with each plant in a foot and a half of space. On average, a room has about 3,000 plants in flower representing 15-20 strains. The rooms are designed with 14 irrigation zones under 12 lights each, allowing zones to be fed uniquely based on specific demands for the genetics being grown.

“One thing we heard consistently through the first couple years was that we are so consistent. Our flowers are the same whether bought in Seattle or Spokane. The trim job is the same, and so consistency and customer service are the two things we tried to go above and beyond on,” Hutchison explained, alluding to his love of indoor Cannabis in Washington.

“We’re startups right now, every Cannabis company. So to build a business around two or three crops a year outdoors or with light dep, or even to have enough infrastructure in a greenhouse to run year round – which is practically indoors – didn’t make sense. Having a garden where we can replicate the same results year in and out gives us an advantage over other growing methods in terms of establishing ourselves and our strains.”

In a market where gardens are constantly swapping genetics and discontinuing strains, Artizen has been a steadfast example of what works. Their core group of strains has been selling since the company began, and economic data from Headset on 502 sales show that five of the top 10 most sold individual product items in Washington’s legal Cannabis history come from Artizen. The number one item sold by dollars sold is the Dutchberry in eighth form, a product which has been sold since the company first started.

“Of those top ten SKUs, nine of them are eighths. One of them is a one gram, and that’s also the Dutchberry. So it means that strain has been sold more than any other in the state, and we never would have been able to do that if we jumped from strain to strain,” Hutchison explained passionately.

CREATING ARTIZEN

Artizen is rapidly becoming a household name for Cannabis in Washington, available at over 200 retailers with products covering all aspects of consumer demand. When asked how the branding and future goals align, James was focused and excited.

“Our goal is to create consistent and well rounded products and strains, what we call our lineup,” James explained. “Artizen is several things, but at the heart it’s the art of growing Cannabis. It’s the art of zen, which we believe is creating a product that is a lifestyle enhancer. And it’s the connotation of artisan, bringing artisan products to market.”

In addition to growing and selling a lot of premium flower, Artizen also produces regular and infused joints, as well as cartridges and concentrates that are all strain specific. The company doesn’t have an in-house lab yet, so they partner with processors to create their concentrate products. Artizen never sources outside material in flower or concentrate, and only processes their own material in strain specific batches. While many of the largest companies source indiscriminately to fulfill orders, this goes against the craft mantra that James holds close to heart.

“Take our Dazed & Confused joints, which are a cultivar trifecta. They are the same flower, kief and distillate – all from the same harvest – packed into a hand painted joint rolled into the keif. Which I am proud of! We’ve been asked why we don’t homogenize or buy outside product to be more profitable or efficient, but I love that our products are craft and strain specific.”

From the garden to the jar, the flower at Artizen stands out with hand trimmed nuggets that burst with terpenes and heady effects. Strains like the Purple Tangie ooze with notes of bright orange peels and sour lemon rind, with sticky buds breaking open to reveal a slight hint of earthy fuel in the background. The Dazed & Confused joints live up to their name, with full strain specific flavor and a heavy high that easily satisfies several smokers in a sesh.

Even the heritage and humble Grape Ape – which was one of the first two strains ever harvested by the company – still delights with bright Kool Aid grape notes, a rich citrus sugar finish and a heavy indica buzz. Whether looking for a new brand to try or a classic to enjoy time and time again, Artizen has the ability to offer both, and you will find their products in every corner of the state – putting smiles on faces with the strain specific consistent chronic they’ve worked so hard to become known for.

ArtizenCannabis.com @ArtizenCannabis

 

story by WES ABNEY @beardedlorax | PHOTOS by DANIEL BERMAN @BERMANPHOTOS