2023 has been a landmark year for Missouri, bringing the start of recreational marijuana sales and a bevy of new products and brands to market.

Missouri is currently home to more than 200 different brands and more than 10,000 products. As the market grows and new brands and products continue to appear, Greenway looks to highlight Brands to Watch. Companies and brands ranging from homegrown talent and design to out-of-state players looking to make a big impact, the brands featured here are moving the needle.

One of these brands is Culture Collective, also known as CUCO.

The company says that the Culture Collective (CUCO) brand stands for freedom. “The freedom to bring our culture with us; to feel who we are, wherever we are, in a community that makes room for all.”

Based in Saint Louis, CUCO is a subsidiary brand of BeLeaf, the parent company to SWADE and Sinse Cannabis.

The company believes in growing quality and shareable products and empowering creators. Something that can be seen with their recent launch of Faeded edibles a partnership with the fabulous Maxi Glamour.

From helping budding creators create name recognition to cannabis education efforts, CUCO aims to be actively involved in the community. 

CEO of Beleaf, Jason Nelson shares more on what it means to be a part of CUCO.

What values and ideas does CUCO represent?

We believe in a safe place and inclusion for all walks of life. The thing about cannabis is it certainly is a very comparable and common component of arts entertainment. People can either enjoy themselves and are able to consume nowadays or if they really love to go out and enjoy whatever events such as arts and sports. Then when they come back and relax at the end of the day, they’re consuming cannabis at that point. 

It’s just the chance to essentially elevate and escalate all walks of life and in these particular cases, the exciting things for us or when we get to showcase artists’ local talents; the things that really make St. Louis diverse and special.

What went into the design and execution of your packaging?

The Culture Collective brand as a whole, is a little bit more fun, bright and diverse in color, generally the sense of a very exciting and fun brand.  There are a lot of times that type of brand is focused towards Generation Y; the millennial consumer, the ones that are attending to have fun times out at concerts enjoying that life. Not that other demographics don’t partake as well. 

Then you take that backdrop and you do something like our Faded partnership with Maxi Glamour, which in itself is its own specific packaging with CUCO, and the iteration that they worked on with us to design. It’s been a great fit for us.

Generally, the notion of CUCO, in and of itself is colorful. It’s approachable and very inclusive.

What inspired the partnership with Maxi Glamour?

Our typical focus and partnerships are to represent and escalate local artisans that are doing amazing work, and that are supporting local communities of all walks of life. It’s just very important to us as a company. 

Then you have this amazing list of artists. They might be hip-hop artists, they might be in this particular case, a Drag Queen, but the whole notion is there’s the vision for this particular brand. We really respect the work that they are doing and want to support it. [For those open to partnership] that’s honestly the best relationship we can have. Partnering with someone who believes in the mission and committing resources to it is bound to become a great partnership. I credit my marketing team for being so plugged into the scene that it’s very fortunate for us to have a long list of stakeholders we can’t wait to support.

What should patients and consumers expect from CUCO for the rest of 2023?

Consumers are in different levels of socioeconomic circumstances. That means some have more discretionary income than others, and the focus of this CuCo brand is to really be a very well-priced value brand approach that passes on every savings to consumers, with high-quality flower and vape products. We are excited to carry that into quarter 4 of this year. 

No matter what prices are or what taxes are gonna do, we’re excited to offer the CUCO brand at what we know is a very affordable price at a very high quality.

Short of that we do have some other brand development components underway at BeLeaf. Our Sinse brand produces our best flower, will be bringing out new vapes, and concentrates. We’ve also got some new edibles flavors coming out. And we just launched a Cuba libre, which is fun. They are working on a couple of different beverage additive-type products too. There’s a lot of innovation for us as a company. 

What differentiates CUCO from other competitors?

I think it’s key that in corporate cannabis the focus needs to be, first and foremost, normalizing cannabis access. We want to do it safely. We want to do it in a way that builds a sustainable business that pays it forward to our employees with strong job growth over time. In conjunction with that responsibility also comes this chosen assumption, the need to empower and really support communities that have been disenfranchised by anti-cannabis laws, or just disproportionately impacted.

It’s one of those things where at the same time, I’m trying to run a business and build a business off of something that’s federally illegal, and I know that myself and my team, we’re all focused and committing these resources to the micro business program as we did in the incubator series. We’re supporting minority business owners to try to get a license and offset some of the lack of diversity and the business side of the cannabis realm and outside of that. 

We expect ourselves to be a leader in the space. 

Jason Nelson | BeLeaf Medical

If you had to pick a favorite out of all your products, what would you pick and why?

That’s such a tough one. Almost like picking between all of your children; they’re all amazing. I cosign every bit of product quality that we’re making across all spectrums and that goes from a pre-roll, smokable flower, and all the way down to our Amend tinctures and balms. 

I use the topical lotion every day on my face right after I shave. But at my core, I grew up coming through college as a flower guy. So, our pre-rolls right now are really amazing. We have several great strains of all natural flower.

Flower first and then after that, our liquid live sauce. The cartridges are amazingly convenient and they are completely holistically derived from a whole plant and are strain specific and not refined at all. 

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