New Weed Shop in Ottawa, Ouid brings Positive Vibes and Great Products
The newly opened Ouid shop in Barrhaven is just the latest in a long line of entrepreneurial ventures by owner Lauren Tansley. She’s more commonly associated with Ouidblends, an herbal smoking blend she designed to be mixed in with cannabis now sold in dozens of stores internationally. With a graduate degree in history, Tansley had been working at the Library and Archives of Canada when legalization unfolded. She got a toehold in the industry as a junior marketer at Indiva but within a few months she led their entire marketing department. Among many of her other projects she managed a complete redesign of the company’s brand and a partnership with Bhang edibles.
Entrepreneurship is in Tansley’s DNA. Earlier in her life she made thousands of dollars reselling used IKEA furniture on eBay. Later she paid a programmer to scrape a website for marketing contacts and resold those for a profit. When it came to cannabis she wanted to open her own store but Ontario’s lottery system didn’t play in her favour right away. Although she did help another retail store open, Tansley realized she’d need another angle if she wanted to start her own cannabis business. The problem she decided to solve was important but often overlooked.
“Ouidblends is for people who want to smoke but don’t want to get too high,” Tansley says. “Truth, I was just getting too high all the time.”
Tobacco wasn’t a good mix for Tansley because it has nicotine in it and even a small amount can overwhelm the taste of cannabis. Instead, with the help of an herbalist, she developed several different blends of herbs which can be rolled into a joint or smoked on their own. The blends are made up of various plants and herbs to produce unique and complex aromas.
A staff member at Ouid in Barrhaven is using one of the blends on its own as a cigarette smoking cessation aid.
Tansley picked a non-cannabis based business to enter the cannabis space because she thought her products wouldn’t be as restricted in terms of advertising and distribution.
“I played myself,” she laughs, “they’re actually more highly regulated. I could not find a payment gateway provider. Even the ones that did cannabis weren’t 100% sure about herbs.”
Despite having to work out kinks in production and basic business functions for a brand new product, Tansley managed to expand availability. She now has several repeat wholesalers and will be listed in the Ontario Cannabis Store soon.
With her beachhead established it wasn’t long until her dream of opening a retail store became a reality. Tansley and Ottawa real estate developer Huntington Properties partnered last year to open several stores under the Ouid brand.
“I was super nervous,” Tansley says, “You’ve got to give up so much but they have been the most incredible operating partners ever.”
In an effort to increase margins and stand out from the crowd Tansley is designing her own suite of accessories to sell under the Ouid brand.
This approach is more expensive up front but can yield greater margins in the long run. It’s also a crucial element of her competitive strategy.
“For me it was really important that we develop something that was just ours. So we didn’t just buy someone else’s product and slap a logo on it.”
Helping her design this suite of products is Dave Shaw, a former product designer for David’s Tea. The pair have collaborated with Miwaki Junior and the GCC Shop to create exclusive pipes. When refining the basic idea of a grinder, Shaw and Tansley did things like reduce the number of threads keeping its lid screwed in place.
“We were thinking ‘What if someone with arthritis buys this and they can’t grind it or open the lid properly?’”
The store itself features large colorful walls and whitewashed shelving reminiscent of a beach house in Key West. Sweaters and tote bags labelled “Moms Smoke Weed” frame CBD bath bombs, concentrates and of course every flavour of Ouidblends. For the tech or data inclined there’s also a waist high bar with sample nugs across from a giant, wall-mounted monitor.
Pressing the small silver button in front of the nug brings up all the
information about that cultivar on the wall-to-wall screens. There really is something for everyone.
“I’m really trying to offer home decor items that are functional cannabis products,” Tansley says. “We should celebrate the fact that weed is an awesome part of life. We don’t need to hide our stuff away anymore.”