In an interview with Disrupt Magazine, Mike Colavita, Chief Glass Enthusiast and owner of Fat Buddha Glass discussed how years of collecting glass, turned into a successful partnership with his childhood best friend, where the two created one of the most successful glass companies in the cannabis space.
“We’re both glass fanatics,” Colavita told Disrupt, referring to him and his business partner/childhood best friend.
“We’ve collected glass for many years and between the two of us, hold over 200 pieces of glass in our personal collections.”
Colavita revealed that after enduring a few bad experiences while buying glass, both he and his best friend “knew they could offer a better solution for fellow enthusiasts,” beginning with a shop in the corner of their garage. And in 2017, Fat Buddha Glass was born.
No different from any other industry, Fat Buddha Glass was no stranger to the barriers of entry that come with launching a new company. Primarily, Colavita was frustrated with what he described as the “subpar overpriced products” currently available.
“Our mission is to bring high-quality glass pipes, bubblers, and bongs to the market, offering them at affordable prices,” the company’s website says, with all of the company’s items stocked in a warehouse located outside of Washington, D.C.
We’ve faced a ton of challenges when we first started,” Colavita confessed, beginning with finding a bank and credit card processor. “Finding the most appropriate processor was really difficult, as most won’t work within our industry. The ones that would work considered our industry ‘high risk’ and had insane fees and regulations that most other companies would never have to deal with.”
The CEO shared that they had to learn the hard way on multiple occasions, that finding the right partners, while incredibly difficult, was also “necessary to ensure your business runs smoothly without interruption.”
“The best advice we can give to anyone in this industry, is to find reliable partners that you can work and grow with.” However, with a booming industry, comes a lot of misinformation.
Debunking ‘Imported Glass’
The cannabis industry certainly has myths that need debunking, especially surrounding “glass.” For many cannabis enthusiasts, purchasing a glass pipe is more than just having another instrument to smoke out of, and everything to do with the feeling and artistic appeal to the piece.
“I love glass! I look at it as not just something you smoke out of, but a piece of art. Not only is it beautiful, but also when you have a piece of glass that you really connect with, it makes your entire session better. It’s like when you wear your favorite shirt you just feel better. It’s the same thing when you use your favorite piece of glass, you just feel better and I love helping people find those pieces that they connect with.”
One of the most “ridiculous” things Colavita has heard involves rumors concerning import glass and its alleged “toxicity.”
“I’ve been in shops and heard someone tell a customer that import glass was ‘toxic’, which simply isn’t true. Not everyone can afford an expensive American-made piece, so having the import option is great because the end user will get a really beautiful product that they can connect with while not breaking the bank. The ironic thing about that same employee, was that they were saying that while holding their iPhone, wearing Nike shoes and later I saw her get into her import car.”
Fat Buddha offers a wide variety of American-made glass, while also offering import glass. “We love all types of glass,” he said. “Glass of all shapes, sizes, colors, and from all across the world. Some of the things I hear people say about import glass is just flat out ridiculous.”
For those unfamiliar with how companies like Fat Buddha go about creating and/or designing glass pipes, Colavita was excited to share, describing the process as one of his favorite parts about the business. “We start out looking for inspiration from anything that catches our eye; it doesn’t need to just be other glass pipes, but rather, anything that is ‘beautiful.’
Colavita says they have been inspired by many things, including, but not limited to nature, buildings, people, and traditional art itself. “Once we have a few ideas of pieces that we personally like, we look to see what the community is interested in. After all, they are the most important part of the process and we try and make sure they’ll be excited by anything we offer.”
The fun behind using ‘Chief Glass Enthusiast’ (CGE) as a title, according to Colavita, is that the company uses that term loosely. “It’s so much more than a job to me,” Colavita explained. “It’s about getting the best glass available for our community and giving them as much information and knowledge as possible. Having that title is a dream.”
Another part of Colavita’s job is ensuring the overall experience the community has with Fat Buddha is positive. “We all use these glass pieces to feel better whether it’s physically, emotionally, or mentally. It all begins from the first time a customer enters our store, to helping find them the perfect piece, and beyond.”
The company’s newest bong is the Bodhi Glass. “Bodhi Glass is something we’re really excited about,” he continued. “The word ‘Bodhi’ means to be enlightened or awakened, and that is really what we want our community to feel when they use one of these pieces. We strongly believe that the piece you use adds to your overall experience and that is why we wanted to have Bodhi Glass filled with beautiful colors and unique designs. Using Soda-Lime glass gives us the flexibility to have a wider range of colors and designs than the typical borosilicate glass pipe. The great thing about this is why we’ve been able to maintain a high level of quality while making sure they’re affordable.”
Currently, there are five separate handmade styles in the Bodhi line, each with its own unique colors, shapes, and swirls. “Each piece is slightly different in its markings and height, so you are guaranteed to get a one-of-a-kind piece of art every time!”
On April 20, Fat Buddha launched its first subscription box service, premiering with 10 unique items each month.
For entrepreneurs looking to penetrate this industry, and perhaps, even start their own type of glass-oriented business, Colavita says that you must be dedicated to your customers. “Listen to them and understand that doing the right thing might not always make the most financial sense in the short-term. But it will always pay off in the end.”
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