Not Just Blowing Smoke
"It's not just about smoking pot and getting high. There's a lot of work and artistic creativity going into it," said glassblower Patrick Lee, 21, who contracts with Sasquatch Glass. (Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times/MCT)
"We are trying to make tastefully artistic things that can sit on a table anywhere and remain out even when not in use," said Sasquatch Glass co-founder Scott Hunter, 53, holding a water pipe. (Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times/MCT)
A playable and smokable glass guitar, one of which was recently purchased as a gift for Joe Walsh of the Eagles, sells for $20,000 at Sasquatch Glass. (Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times/MCT)
“Be legendary, baby.”
It’s a line you might expect from an overdone action movie or How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson, but instead it’s the tagline of Seattle-based smoking glass company Sasquatch Glass, which believes that being legendary is a way of life best experienced through its products. Whether you order a $395 bong or a $995 wine goblet, Sasquatch Glass products come stamped with a signature pawprint and the promise of what they call the “legendary lifestyle.”
Such ambition isn’t often associated with the type of people who care enough about weed to spend that much on a bong. But that’s what Sasquatch co-founder Scott Hunter is looking to change.
“It’s the whole idea of being your best at everything you do and displaying that in how you look and how you feel and how you perform in life,” said Hunter, 53. “It’s about enjoying glass art for a new age with a company that began with a cannabis focus and then discovered and is still discovering and blossoming around all these other things.”
If there were ever a time and a place to get a foothold in such a market, it’s here and now. With the full legalization of marijuana and the emerging of business opportunities around it, there is a figure-it-out-as-you-go feel to many of the new outfits, Sasquatch Glass among them.
And for Hunter, one of the most important parts of living the “legendary” lifestyle means destigmatizing marijuana use, especially for the older generation.
“You’re not going to go from A to Z. It’s not like all of a sudden for the 35- to 60-year-old, it’s legal now, let’s throw stuff around. People have lives and children and in-laws,” said Hunter. Even so, he added, “We constantly get, ‘I love this stuff and I want people to see it.’ ”
With that in mind, Sasquatch Glass has also expanded its focus from bongs to barware and even glass art. For a company that began selling ashcatchers and straight tubes — rudimentary smoking devices — Sasquatch Glass now sells glass products that range from margarita glasses and glass clocks to playable and smokable glass ukuleles and guitars (one of which was recently bought as gift for Joe Walsh of the Eagles, and you can have one too for the steep price of $20,000).
Despite its roots as a smoking glass company and its newer glass barware, homeware and specialty items, glass comprises less than half of the nearly 200 products available on the company’s website. It also sells floor mats, backpacks, beach towels and women’s underwear to name a few items all in red and black and emblazoned with the iconic pawprint.
Hunter, a businessman and entrepreneur by trade and a native of Newton, Mass., founded the company in June 2012 with Spencer Ward, 20, who oversees production. (The two met because Ward went to high school with Hunter’s daughter.)
“From a young age I became extremely interested and involved with not only the cannabis movement but also the glass,” Ward explained. After graduating from high school, he began working for Hunter at another glass company until the two decided to branch out on their own.
After a difficult first year — Hunter admits they almost went out of business three or four times — the company received an award for Best Glass at the High Times’ 2013 Cannabis Cup in Seattle last September. Since then, its products have been in high demand. Though Hunter would not specify how many of the popular Beehive Bubblers have been sold, he said the number was “a large four-figure amount.”
But Sasquatch Glass isn’t just selling physical products. By sponsoring a VIP Oscar after-party at the W Hotel in Hollywood in March and hosting a benefit for victims of the Oso, Wash., mudslide in April, Sasquatch Glass is attempting to make its pawprint a lifestyle brand. For Hunter and Ward, who keep a red-carpet setup at their Seattle showroom for special occasions, the glitz of Hollywood is all part of the “legendary” lifestyle.
Instagram plays a large role in maintaining their image as well. With almost 900 posts, Hunter and Ward consistently upload artsy shots of Sasquatch Glass smoking devices set against the Seattle skyline with clunky hashtags like #endofprohibitionmentality, #glassruleseverythingaroundme, and of course, #belegendarybaby.
Half of Sasquatch Glass’ products are made in Seattle and another quarter are made in Washington state, with all products designed and prototyped locally.
Glassblower Patrick Lee, 21, regularly contracts with Sasquatch, and his specialty is glass water pipes.
“Right now selling glass pipes isn’t really accepted by a lot of people,” said Lee, who is originally from Shanghai. “Pipes can be artistic. It’s really just about showing people that glass is what it’s about, it’s not just about smoking pot and getting high. There’s a lot of work and artistic creativity going into it.”
Hunter gives glassblowers like Lee artistic license, only requiring that their creations be consistent with Sasquatch Glass’ style and ethos. However, Hunter plays a large role in the design of many of the company’s signature smoking devices. He often draws inspiration from childhood memories of his grandmother’s crystal glasses, which had curved bottoms and sat in a base so they wouldn’t fall over, a design echoed in several Sasquatch items.
“We are trying to make tastefully artistic things that can sit on a table anywhere and remain out even when not in use,” said Hunger.
Sasquatch Glass has younger fans as well. Lizz Bear, 22, of Columbus, Ohio, has six Sasquatch Glass smoking devices, and attests that “all of my friends are in love with their glass” because “everybody that tries it loves it.”
Sasquatch Glass’ logo and quality are so appealing to some that they join what the company calls the Tatted and Tubed club (current membership, 13), in which fans who tattoo the Sasquatch Glass logo on their bodies receive a free smoking device and “Lifetime Sasquatch Glass VIP benefits.” After Raven Cotton, 28, of Boone County, Ky., tried her friend’s Sasquatch Glass beaker and heard about the promotion, she tattooed a daisy with a pawprint in the middle above her wrist on her right arm. She now raves about the 15-inch straight tube that came in the mail soon after.
Cotton also won the company’s Facebook competition for the best Sasquatch tattoo and received two tickets to its Oscar after-party in Hollywood. She sold her car in order to attend.
“Everything they have, even the vases and the cups, is so amazing,” she enthused.
In five years, Hunter and Ward hope Sasquatch Glass is the foremost smoking glass company in the country and that the “legendary” lifestyle becomes an immediate association with their brand.
“I don’t think we ever want to lose our roots, which is the smoking glass business, but out of that we want people, everywhere they turn, to have that pawprint,” said Hunter. “It’s on their towels and on their dishes and on the crest of their shirt, on the flip-flops, on their barware, whatever.”
Most important is the shift in culture. Hunter believes that a time is coming when marijuana use is no longer stigmatized, and Sasquatch Glass is poised to capitalize on it.
“The world is ready to come out of the closet with cannabis and its related products,” he said. “It’s just going to be baby steps.”