They’re among the top worldwide cannabis brands, but their mystery is part of what makes The TENCo a cultural phenomenon. In one of only two interviews ever released, Honeysuckle got the scoop with Staks and Gerry, co-founders of The TENCo, the global leader that birthed the ever-popular Zushi strain and its offshoots.
Watch Honeysuckle's exclusive interview with The TENCo founders Staks and Gerry:
What Is The TENCo?
“We’ve been curating this brand for almost five years, so the combination of us together is like a deadly weapon,” Staks says.
“I always felt that the weed culture was a part of the culture, but it wasn’t really fused in there,” Gerry adds. He and Staks believed it would be part of The TENCo’s mission to create that fusion, allowing consumers to feel the influence of the plant on every level of their being, from merch to events and experiences and music.
The vertically-integrated brand took charge of the zeitgeist almost immediately, with its anime aesthetic and powerful flavor profile capturing the hearts of cannabis enthusiasts everywhere. Staks, originally from the United Kingdom, is a pioneer who brought Cookies across the pond for the first time in 2014. He used his background in European horticulture - particularly taking inspiration from his time among the cultivators in Barcelona - to innovate terpene-rich strains with Gerry. Zushi, a Zkittlez and Kush Mints cross, would become their biggest hit.
The TENCo's Zushi: A Cannabis Strain Turned Cultural Phenomenon
“Our true game is to combine the two worlds together again, European genetics and California genetics,” Staks explains. “I used to make hash, so I was all about terpene profiles and being blown away by that concentrated flavor. It has to cut through my sinus and it has to stand out from whatever’s really out there on the market.”
Blue Zushi is an indica-dominant staple that delivers a well-balanced but euphoric full-body high. Yellow Zushi contains citrus notes with “just a hint of sushi,” and earthy terpenes that merge for a strong but clean elevated experience. Zoy Zushi includes a Gelato cross in the genetic mix, a hybrid that makes for a great daytime smoke. Then there’s the elusive Pink Zushi, deemed by Honeysuckle’s own Creative Director Sam C. Long to be an exquisite “unobtanium.”
The TENCo And Coi Leray Partnership: Rise Of The Pink Zushi
But you can’t talk about Pink Zushi without talking about its loving mama, renowned rapper Coi Leray. When the chart-topping, platinum-selling musical artist began partnering with The TENCo, the brand entered a whole new evolution.
“Three years ago, when we were creating the characters [for our merch], for some reason we always mentioned bringing Coi Leray as a fit to the brand,” Staks recalls. “She’s got the anime vibe, she’s part of the culture, she’s up and coming. We truly love Coi. She’s family to us, for sure.”
Leray and The TENCo teased a preview of Pink Zushi at Art Basel 2022 in Miami last December, but officially launched the strain this January at Cookies Melrose in Los Angeles. Though the brand’s eighths are known as the highest-priced products of any in the category in their home state of California, it’s clear from the devotion of cannabis consumers that the quality is well worth the cost. And as Staks told LA Weekly in 2021 when he and Gerry opened their first The TENCo retail store, the idea is to keep product runs limited to maintain that precious quality and the “gotta-catch-em-all” mindset. What’s a good anime without a quest, right?
But it seems to be on the East Coast where consumers have welcomed the brand most readily, according to Staks. “We get great reception everywhere, but I feel that New York’s kind of embraced us with open arms and we have the position to play in the city,” he observes. “They’re the curators of the high-beat trends, so I feel that they relate to us and our market.”
As connoisseurs develop their palates globally for what cannabis giants have to offer, the future definitely looks bright for Staks and Gerry. We give them a perfect TEN.
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Featured image: (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture