Pubdate: Thu, 02 May 2019
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2019 The New York Times Company
Author: Alex Williams


To his die-hard fans, Mr. Sherbinski is a storied name in marijuana.

A celebrated California cultivator, he helped create the Gelato and
Sunset Sherbert strains that have been name-checked in more than 200
hip-hop songs, including "First Off" by Future and "Bosses Don't
Speak" by Migos.

At the Business of Fashion's Voices conference in London last year,
his brand, Sherbinskis, was introduced as "the Supreme of marijuana."

And when Sherbinskis released its first sneaker design last year at
ComplexCon, a two-day festival of hip-hop and fashion in Long Beach,
Calif., the limited-edition Nike Air Force 1 model sold out in two
hours. (There is a pair currently on eBay asking more than $1,000.)

Now, devotees of the marijuana brand will have an official place to

Sherbinskis recently announced plans for its first store, on Fairfax
Avenue in Los Angeles, a few doors away from a Supreme boutique.

Renderings show a rooftop garden that is visible from the sidewalk
(no, there won't be pot plants growing there), and a gallery-like
white space decorated with close-up photos of marijuana buds. Haute
cannabis products for sale include vape pens and pre-rolled buds in
Instagram-worthy orange packaging; branded hoodies, fanny packs and
Mophies; and fashion collaborations.

"I want to evolve past the taboo, what I call the 'dirty bong
syndrome,'" said Mario Guzman, the Sherbinskis founder who for years
was known only by his street name, Mr. Sherbinski.

With his deep roots in cannabis, Mr. Guzman, 42, is hardly another
corporate newcomer looking to hitch a ride on the legal-marijuana
express. For decades he has been building a reputation as a cultivator
and innovator of widely copied strains. Now he plans to grow
Sherbinskis into a lifestyle brand beyond stoners.

"When people think of Supreme, a lot of people don't know it was
started as a skate shop," Mr. Guzman said. "It was really made by
skaters, but Supreme got to the point where people that never ride a
skateboard buy their stuff, because it's fire."

This is not to say that Mr. Guzman has any plans to abandon cannabis.
After two decades, he qualifies as a lifer, although a career in pot
was never his goal.

The son of a Mexican immigrant who was a sheriff's officer in
Sacramento, Mr. Guzman moved to San Francisco in the mid-1990s and was
making good money as a real estate broker until the dot-com bust.
Because medical marijuana was legal in California, a friend suggested
he make ends meet by growing marijuana in the garage of his Sunset
District house.

He eventually collaborated with the developers of a popular marijuana
strain called Girl Scout Cookies to create the Sunset Sherbert and
Gelato lines, and soon spun off on his own to perfect those strains.
The Gelato strain is a indica-sativa hybrid with purplish buds that
delivers a "heavy handed euphoria," according to its promotional
literature. Sunset Sherbert is an indica-leaning hybrid with a flavor
suggesting fruit and berries that brings a stress-melting body high.

The confectionary names seemed inevitable, he said, given that "the
munchies is obviously something that's associated with smoking cannabis."

Mr. Guzman's creations soon spread among Bay Area rappers like E-40
and B-Legit, and, eventually, to Los Angeles artists like B-Real, the
Cypress Hill rapper of "Insane in the Membrane" fame.

"They were the ones calling us," he said. "They wanted us to be there,
to smoke with them, to vibe with them on a creative level."

While Mr. Guzman takes pride in his street cred, he has no qualms
about the corporate fervor that is transforming the industry.

"The people that are running these $500 million hedge funds, they have
smart people and big checkbooks, but I still feel like there's a
shortage of people who are passionate and have been doing this a long
time," Mr. Guzman said. "I know my value."

Part of his value lies in more than a million square feet of
greenhouse space in Santa Barbara, a 22,000-square-foot indoor
facility in Sacramento, a four-acre property with commercial
greenhouses in Mendocino and other growing operations.

"I know I can always make a living," he said. "I can always have a
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