Fumes Papers Nova Scotia

Three brothers from Nova Scotia took a big risk creating opportunity for themselves in the cannabis industry. They stuck together and stuck to their plan. Now they’re seeing double digit sales growth. Read on to learn more about Fumes Papers.

This content first appeared in Volume 2. You can read it for free here.

When Treno Morton approached the store on campus he reminded himself he had done this many times before. Even though his brothers weren’t with him this time he felt confident he could do it on his own.

“Hey,” Treno said to the clerk, “I’m a student at Queen’s. You may have seen me in the store,” Lord knows he hasn’t, Treno thought, rolling his eyes at himself. He’d never had a reason to go there before but he forged on anyway.

“My brothers and I started a rolling paper company called Fumes. Who would we talk to get placed in your store?”

Treno recently stopped playing football for Queen’s University due to a medical condition. Despite dedicating two years balancing sports with school Treno’s coach met his diagnosis of epilepsy with skepticism. He no longer receives his scholarship because of his decision to put his health first. [UPDATE: Treno has recently graduated from Queen’s. Congratulations Treno!]

Treno Morton - Cofounder Fumes Papers

Back in the store Treno listed the reasons the clerk might say ‘No’ in his head: he was a stranger; he looked young; he only had one product to offer. Three strikes and he might be out.

“But I’m always confident in my product,” he says over the phone from Halifax. Besides, “not everyone’s going to say ‘Yes’, but not everyone’s going to say ‘No’ either.”

The clerk told him to come back the next day when the owner would be on site. Treno followed up and added one more store to an ever growing list he and his brothers have been building since January.

Fumes, a cannabis accessories company, has placed their papers in over 80 stores in only a few months of operations. Tyler Morton, the eldest of the three and the one with the most business experience, spearheads most of the sales efforts.

“People say ‘What makes you different from other papers?’ and I say ‘Do you know the owners? Because the owners are here in your store right now. To take it a step further: is the owner Black? Because the chances of that are slim to none.”

It’s common knowledge that people of colour (POC) are grossly overrepresented in prisons for cannabis-related offences. They are also severely underrepresented in the cannabis industry, especially when it comes to leadership positions. Stash learned about Fumes because of a CBC article written by Emma Smith in which statistics on this issue are explained. The highlight? Only 1% of 700 leadership positions in over 200 cannabis businesses in Canada are staffed by people who are Black.

Fumes Papers

Institutionalized racism isn’t anything new to the Fumes brothers. As the oldest brother Tyler’s seen the most. He and Treno are tall. People often ask if they play basketball.

“You can gauge if they’re a bigot or if they’re just being ignorant because ignorant is different.” Tyler says he will humour the latter, “but if they’re being a bigot you say ‘Why? Why are you saying that? Because I’m Black?’ The only thing you can control is your own behaviour.”

At Queen’s Treno is the only Black person in his program of roughly 40 students. When issues of race come up in discussion he is often put on the spot to describe the experience of being Black.

“When it’s a class full of white people you kind of feel obligated,” he says. “It’s just something you get tired of doing. It’s crazy how you can be treated differently just for how you look.”

For Josh, the third brother rounding out the company, embedded racism is a motivator to create new opportunities.

“Everything we do in life,” Josh says, “you think about a certain experience and then you have to remember we’re Black. It’s just one of those things you live life with in the back of your mind.”

Josh is a member of ACCE (Arts, Community, Culture, Economics) which is an organization dedicated to strengthening the Black economy in Nova Scotia. Their Buy Black Halifax campaign this past year generated over $32,000 in revenue for Black-owned businesses. The group uses their own money to finance projects in the Black community including two funds aimed at socio-economic and business initiatives. Celebrated community organizer and city councillor Lindell Smith is also a member.

The decision to leave a respected, professional career in community organizing wasn’t an easy one to make. Before Fumes, Josh worked at Common Good Solutions in a number of capacities, including meeting with government officials to advise on community-based solutions. There’s even a picture of Josh giving a speech to a large crowd with a blurry Justin Trudeau looking over his shoulder.

Josh Creighton

“I had a lot of professional interests to consider and I kind of threw it all away,” he says. “I knew we could market this but I knew that we would have to put ourselves out there in order to do it right.”

The risk has so far been worth it. Sales are maintaining a healthy growth rate and repeat buys are starting. All three brothers are excited about their new product offerings coming in the next few months. Pre-rolled cones and tips are next on the list.

“The concept of having any autonomy in my life has been seldom,” Josh says. “It’s been a dope collaborative process between the three of us. It’s magical to see us put ourselves out there and then see it come back in such a generous way.”

It was Tyler who first suggested to his younger brothers they start the business. The three were walking across the MacDonald bridge when Treno and Josh began whining about buying papers again. Tyler’d had enough.

“This wasn’t the first time the two had been talking about it so I just turned around, being snarky, and said ‘put up or shut up’ – start your own.”

After months of research and careful planning beginning last July the brothers now have their flagship product in several provinces and a whole new line of gear coming down the pipe. It’s an exciting time for all entrepreneurs with an interest in cannabis but for Tyler it’s more like watching two young shoots take root.

“Being on this journey with these guys,” he says, “knowing how inseparable Treno and Josh are, to watch both of them come into their own manhood and to have had a hand in their lives is great. We put one foot in front of the other and everything’s going to come together.”

Want your local dispensary to carry Fumes? Let them know at @highofffumes247 or highofffumes.com

Fumes Papers

This content first appeared in Volume 2. You can read it for free here.

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