This article was originally published in April 2020.
In this interview, Renier Fee, the Senior Director of Marketing at CULTA sits down with Berner's longtime friend and the breeder behind Cookies, Powerzzzup. Read on for unique insights into Powerzzzup’s career in the cannabis industry.
Welcome to the CULTA blog. Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. I know you're busy.
Thanks! Not a problem at all. How's it going Renier?
Going good! Let's start at the beginning. You are originally from the Bay area, right? How and when did you develop an interest in cannabis?
Yes! I'm originally from the Bay Area and I probably got into the good herb when I was 18, being out on my own, just nervous about life and it got to a point where it affected my eating. So I tried some herb recommended by my neighbor and her girlfriend, who were both cannabis activists. It really helped me in my everyday life of going to work and eating.
Wow. Then later you turned your passion to growing. Where did you acquire the knowledge to start growing on your own?
My passion for growing period came from helping my grandmother in the garden. So I took what I knew from that and built on it. Trial and error of course, at first. I later was introduced to who is my go-to guy, the Painter. He taught me more about outdoor cultivation using the Farmers' Almanac.
How did your business partner, Jason, come into the picture?
I met Jason Mejia--my partner--through my cousin. They would purchase herb from me. He got into growing himself and brought over something he was working on. It was fire so that opened the door when I saw his passion for the plant.
Your genetics are respected by the industry and have a devoted following. Was there a specific moment when you knew that your genetics were superior to anything else on the market?
From being around good herb for years and seeing what was available to purchase for myself and what was big in Bay Area culture, from music to sports or business, period. Mary was always the meeting point. I just wanted to have my own that people would love to have, like some of the other great herbs that we would get in the Bay Area. I've been groomed on smoking some of the best so finding something on that level is what I aimed for. The product spoke for itself and, if I got it in the right hands, it could be popular. And we knew a lot of the players, whether it was sports, music or just the people everyone looked up to.
Without giving away any trade secrets, what is your process to create a new strain?
<Laughing out loud> It's no secret you have to be tapped in to source genetics, first and foremost. Fortunately, I have built relationships throughout the years that would allow me to be able to work with some amazing men and, surprisingly, at first older women, as well that had some of the best genetics in the game that no one even knew about.
I'm assuming that the potency of your top-shelf cannabis is the explanation of your trademark name, Powerzzzup?
Ha! Yes. The three ZZZ's definitely mean that the herb from Powerzzzup will be more on the sit-your-ass-down style but checking the other boxes as well--look, smell, taste, high.
How did the partnership between Powerzzzup and Cookies come about?
Our partnership was just a matter of time. I've been knowing Jigga and Berner for a long time and I think once things fell into place, the opportunity was a no-brainer. We already had ties this way through Thin Mints. The f1durb was the other half of Cookies. It's something I brought to the game.
CULTA is proud to be the exclusive Cookies partner in Maryland. When we first dropped the Cookies strains, including Powerzzzup, there was a line of hundreds of fans around the block. Did Baltimore's turnout surprise you?
It's amazing to me the response to what we do and are able to share it with the world, not just the herb, but the whole lifestyle of regular everyday people, from so many different walks of life to come together, a thing that just happens naturally when Mary is involved.
When we were hanging out for our second drop, you told me some fascinating stories about how you create strain names. The history of Gary Payton is well-known but Cereal Milk and Snow Man are less so. Can you tell me the origin of those names?
Definitely. You have to smoke first then the name usually pops into my head. Snowman was just so frosty in appearance and smokes so strong and has a refreshing taste. It looked like it was ice all over the green and purple buds. The CEREAL MILK was named by Berner and myself because it reminded us of that creamy, fruity sweetness of the milk after you ate a bowl of cereal and the smell is unreal.
Fans love your designs and packaging as well. How much input do you have into the bag graphics?
The design team at Cookies make the magic happen. I tell Berner what I feel about the strain and he passes that info along then, "BAM," they throw ideas out there and, "BOOM," we pick from what they give back to us or we ask for a different design.
What's on the horizon for Powerzzzup in 2020?
Speaking of designs wait until you see the New New from Powerzzzup for our new strain FLY and Snow Montana. They absolutely killed it so we're looking forward to 2020 so everyone can try them.
What advice do you have for young cannabis enthusiasts who want to get into genetics?
My advice to all young people that want to do genetics is to purchase or build a time machine. Ha. Just joking. If you can get a chance to volunteer or help out an older person in the industry it could open doors for you but that trust relationship would need to be built first. Good luck to everyone.
Let's end it with shout outs. Anyone you want to thank?
First, I'd like to thank the weed gods for allowing me to be a vessel for the good herb. I would like to thank my partner Jason for all the extra stuff that needs to be done, Berner, Jigga and everyone at Cookies that put in work to make our brand what it is. All of the other companies that help produce, promote and make it available to everyone, we really appreciate you. And, last but not least, all of the people that have supported us throughout the years. You don't know how much this means to us.
I appreciate you sharing your wisdom with our readers. Thanks again.
Thank you Renier!