A Conversation With Alex Todd On New Cannabis Company & Making Roc Nation Chains
Yohance Kyles (@HUEYmixwitRILEY)
(AllHipHop Features) According to economists, the marijuana industry added 64,389 positions to the U.S. job market in 2018. That number will certainly continue to rise in the coming years as more states make the move toward legalizing the plant for recreational use.
Individuals from all walks of life are now investing in the weed business. Alex Todd made a name for himself by serving as a jeweler for A-list stars such as Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Rihanna, and Kevin Hart. The native New Yorker is also part of the new class of cannabis entrepreneurs emerging around the country.
Todd helped debut Saucey Extracts items at the 2019 Hall of Flowers expo in Santa Rosa, California. The company’s strains, cartridges, apparel, and accessories are currently available at select dispensaries throughout California and Oregon.
Saucey also aligned with Harlem Hip Hop artist Jim Jones for an exclusive line of cannabis products. Jones is presenting the premium hash oil-kiefed CAPO Blunt (Triple F’n OG) with other releases in the works.
“I smoke the best, so it only made sense that I partner with the best,” states Jones. “The way people look at cannabis culture is changing - there's a lot of medical and creative benefits to these plants - so there’s an opportunity for us to do something special with Saucey Extracts and change the game.”
In the latest Conversations article with AllHipHop.com, Alex Todd also has something to say about teaming with the Dipset spitter. Additionally, we talked about the foundation and future of Saucey Extracts as well as Todd’s involvement with the creation of treasured jewelry for Jay-Z and other Roc Nation artists.
AllHipHop: What led you to go into the cannabis industry?
Alex Todd: It started off as a passion project. I had seen what was going on in the space with the financial side of it, with all these suits getting involved, the farming side of it, and the manufacturing side of it. I felt like there was a major gap that needed to be filled to bring those two together. It was a lot of suits and money getting involved, and they really don’t know much about cannabis. They just look at it from a financial aspect. There’s a lot of people that put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get to this position and get us to the point where we’re at today. So it was important for me to try to bridge that gap between the suits and the people of the grassroots that started this industry 20, 30 years ago.
AllHipHop: In your view, what separates Saucey from other cannabis brands?
Todd: First and foremost, our quality. We have a proprietary extraction that we use for all of our vapes. It’s an extraction that is patented. It’s a full spectrum extraction. We keep a majority of the cannabinoids intact in the oil as opposed to the regular distillate companies where 90%-99% of them are just using THC distillate from leftover flower and trim that is being processed and people are smoking. So, quality number one. Two, the presence of the culture that we have in terms of some of our partners, the people that are smoking it, and the influencers. I’m just trying to translate the things that worked for me in the jewelry business, in terms of the marketing and the networking side, and try to incorporate it with the cannabis.
AllHipHop: Its sounds like you’re very well-versed in this field. That has to be an advantage.
Todd: I think I’ve been involved almost from the beginning of legalization. As soon as Oregon approved legal weed, we established one of the largest growth facilities. We were able to get a couple of farms in California at the beginning of the industry. So we kind of had a little bit of an advantage in the sense where we already made a lot of mistakes. A lot of the people in this industry seem to think it’s very easy. A lot of people are looking to get in this industry. There’s somewhat of a fake gold rush that’s upon us where a people think they can get rich but don’t understand how difficult it actually is to really make it in this industry. We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, and we try to use those mistakes to learn from. That’s where we feel we have a little bit of a head start. There’s going to be people that are starting out that are just going to make a lot of mistakes just like any other business.
AllHipHop: You mentioned legalization, “suits” getting involved, and how there’s a lot of money in it now. Some activists feel like criminal justice reform should be a direct component of marijuana legalization. Do you think the cannabis industry should be lobbying and advocating for those type of reforms?
Todd: Yeah, of course. We definitely should. I think that’s very important for us as well. Like I said, there are a lot of people that have been in this industry for 20, 30 years. There are people sitting in jail today for the industry that people are about to make billions of dollars in which, obviously, you and I know does not sound fair. So, definitely, something needs to be done about that. And it’s still not federally legal. We have a lot of work to do.
AllHipHop: I was reading about how Colorado was having some issues because weed is not federally legal so you can’t put money in the banks. People are having to deal with the financial side.
Todd: Yeah, there are so many different obstacles in this industry because it’s not federally legal. Who’s going to accept your money? Who’s not going to accept your money? How do you make good payments? How do you pay your employees? Is it really that safe to not accept credit cards and checks when your drivers are on the road potentially picking up thousands of dollars? There are safety issues involved as well. It’s not the easiest, and there are a lot of obstacles that need to be overcome. With that being said, there are other ways. There are credit unions that do accept deposits for cannabis companies. It’s not as easy as opening up a Chase account, but there are ways of getting accounts opened and doing business, but it definitely needs a lot of work.
AllHipHop: Can you talk about how the partnership with Jim Jones came together?
Todd: I’m very close with some of the people at Roc Nation. One of my closest friends is OG Juan [Perez]. Him and Jim have their Harlem connection. They just recently started working together again. It just makes sense. Jim is a connoisseur. He’s kind of our East Coast Snoop Dogg to the weed industry. He’s definitely always been someone that’s respected in terms of smoking and what he smokes. We thought it was the perfect fit.
AllHipHop: Will we see other collaborations with Hip Hop artists and influencers?
Todd: Definitely, 100 percent.
AllHipHop: I want to talk about your other field as well. I saw you posted on Instagram, “Can’t leave watches and diamonds alone the game needs me.” Does that mean your move into cannabis doesn’t mean you’re walking away from the jewelry business?
Todd: To be honest with you, I'm not really doing any type of retail business anymore. I closed down my retail location. I’m primarily advising for some of my old clients. I’m very, very selective on who I’m going to be working with. A few of the people that I’m going to still help out are obviously all of Roc Nation and a handful of other clients with personal relationships that I’ve made that are more like family and friends now than clients. I’ll always be there to help them to make sure they’re not getting taken advantage of. If there’s anything I can do for them, I’ll always be there for them. But my focus is 150% on turning Saucey into a multi-billion dollar company.
AllHipHop: I have to ask you about that [$2.5 million] watch Jay-Z had on. The one-of-one that I think you called “The Blueprint.”
Todd: That watch was definitely something special. Jay’s special all-in-all. His collection is definitely one of the best in the world.
AllHipHop: You put in 3,000 hours [to create the watch case]?
Todd: No, it wasn’t actually me that put in 3,000 hours. They made a mistake in the way it transpired. It takes 3,000 hours to make that watch case for Richard Mille.
AllHipHop: Okay. The way it was reported made it seem like you had done something to the case.
Todd: It takes Richard Mille 3,000 hours to just produce the case on that watch, not including the mechanisms. It’s very labor intensive. It's cut out of one piece of sapphire. It’s a piece of art.
AllHipHop: I wanted to ask you about the Roc-A-Fella chain. That chain is probably the most prestigious piece of jewelry in Hip Hop history. Meek said getting a Roc chain was like winning 36 Grammys. What does it mean to you to create something that’s so prized in this culture?
Todd: That was one of my pinnacles when I was doing jewelry - to create that piece which means so much to the culture and just means so much for me growing up in Brooklyn, growing up listening to Hov. From him being an inspiration for me to one day actually being the exclusive guy to make the Roc pieces, [Roc Nation] Paper Planes, and being the exclusive jeweler/go-to guy for Roc Nation has been a dream come true all in itself. It’s something very special.
AllHipHop: There are a lot of people that wish they could have that around their neck. There’s definitely a cultural value to it that Hip Hop appreciates.
Todd: I agree.
AllHipHop: Going back to Saucey, legalization is slowly moving across the country. You’re currently in California and Oregon. Do you have any plans to branch into other states?
Todd: We are definitely planning to be in every single legal state across the United States and eventually get into other countries, go global, and take it as far as possible. We started in California with Saucey because we feel like it’s the most quality-driven state when it comes to quality cannabis. We feel like California has its niche where the growers, top strains, and availability to the seeds comes from here. So we wanted to build our base out of California. Similar to how with good wine you think of Napa Valley. When you think of designer clothing, the first thing that comes to your mind is “made in Italy.” We feel like cannabis is similar. If it started in California and you have the California quality, I think it’s going to go a long way. We want to build our presence here and become the #1 company in California. We feel like once we do that, it will spread globally.
AllHipHop: How was the experience at the Hall of Flowers Expo?
Todd: Hall of Flowers was a great experience. It’s probably one of the best cannabis conventions that I’ve personally been to. It’s a lot of good networking, great business-to-business. You don’t get a lot of the riffraff or people just coming there for free stuff. It was probably the best networking event that we’ve been to so far. It’s really cool. We like the way it’s organized. Great people involved. It was a pleasure to be a part of it.
AllHipHop: Do you have a preference between Sativa, Indica, and hybrid?
Todd: I grew up in New York so we’re big on the Gas and Sour Diesel. That’s considered Sativa. Honestly, when it comes to Sativa or Indica, I’m not picky with that because most of the time it’s a lot of bullsh*t. It’s just about what strain actually reacts better to your body because everyone’s body is different. Everyone has a different reaction to every different strain. It’s about picking the strain that you like. I procure all of our flavors. We have some of the best flavors. They’re my personal favorites because I’m the one that’s selecting them. I’ve been a connoisseur of smoking for over 25 years. I don’t know if I should be proud of that, but I know a thing or two about smoking the plant at least. So I’m pretty selective in what goes into our final product. A lot of the stuff that we grow won’t even make the cut. Even if it costs me a little bit more and I have to go and source flower for this brand, I do that just to make sure to keep the integrity of the brand and to make sure the product is always the best.
Follow Alex Todd on Instagram @alextodd.