Welcome back to another installment of our Hashmaker Q&A Series! This time I sat down and seshed with the guys over at 1904 Provisions to bring a taste of San Diego to the Hashtek blog.
From how these two originally teamed up back in 2020 — combining expertise in the garden with experience in the hash lab — to how they’re now building a local following through digital marketing, finding unique flavors to add to their rotating menu, and making the most of a small lab footprint with the A-Series, let’s dive into it…
Building a Brand Identity as a Craft Solventless Producer
Tell me how you two met and started 1904 Provisions!
Dave: We established the brand back in 2020 and I had met Mac just a little over a year before that, actually. I went to pick up a vacuum oven for a buddy’s project and he was working in the store. We started talking weed stuff while I was checking out and got into a conversation about hash, then ended up exchanging phone numbers and kind of slowly and casually started collaborating on some things together. It just organically evolved from there. We worked really well together and got along really well to where it just made sense for us to merge and try to form a company since it was kind of going in that direction anyways.
Mac: Yeah, because long story short, Dave is pretty much the growing side of the team and I’m the lab side.
So you guys each had your own area of expertise and teamed up. Are you still running that way today?
Dave: Oh, for sure. It’s cool to have each other focused on our things that we like to do and we’re good at. Then we talk and work hand in hand every step along the way. I think it helps both sides of the process a lot when you can have that open communication and just be open-minded about everything.
One of things I really wanted to chat about is your branding as you’re crushing it here in a lot of ways — participating in local events, putting out lots of digital content, and using branded side wraps to establish a strong brand name. Starting there, how did you come up with “1904 Provisions?”
Dave: It’s alphanumeric. It’s the 19th and 4th letter of the alphabet, which is SD and stands for San Diego.
It seems like the local San Diego culture is really a central part of your brand identity. Can you tell me more about that?
Dave: Absolutely. We like to say we’re “putting San Diego in a jar.” Mac was born and raised here and I’ve been here for just about 11 years myself. We’re really involved in the community out here. Any local event, we do. There’s this local cannabis cup that our friend hosts called the Farmers Cup. Brands come down to San Diego from all over the state to enter it. We’ve won a lot of awards there for a few different rosin strains and some hash holes.
We also just did this big street fair, the city actually let us operate like a licensed consumption lounge at this 80,000 person music festival event. We gave away like 3,000 dabs to people and got so many people high. Just the notoriety and marketing opportunity of doing an event with that many people was pretty cool. We’ll probably start hosting our own events early in the next year for the local community, having really nice hash parties for new drops of strains and some exclusive stuff like that for the people in San Diego.
One of the things we like to talk about here on the Hashtek blog is how craft producers can find ways to differentiate. You all are putting out tons of content and have a great marketing strategy which is something you often see overlooked in this industry — how have you guys used digital media to develop a competitive advantage?
Dave: We’ve had one of our buddies that’s been working with us since day one who has a media company he runs called Ill Media Co. He’s been running the Instagram for us…doing the melt shots and dab shots, making some sick reels and video recaps of events, just getting all the content. It’s been really great to have him be able to focus on that department because Mac and I don’t really have the time to do that ourselves and it certainly isn’t our speciality. He’s been a great asset, handling the media side of things for us and doing our online marketing, putting us into the right places with the right people in the community. We’re super grateful to have him working for us. The more marketing presence you have usually directly correlates with sales so it’s definitely helping us a lot of ways. It gives us an online identity and presence, which in this day and age is important to have.
Mac: In some of my past experiences, especially with licensed brands, there’s this rush to get into as many shops as possible as fast as possible all across the state and not really being strategic about it. We’re way more strategic about having a local following and local presence down in San Diego. That’s really our first and foremost priority, I guess you could say. I think the Instagram has done really well to get us that local cult following going. People who are loyal to the brand and looking forward to our drops and new products coming down the road. They definitely want to see that content.
Hunting for Unique Flavors on a Commercial Scale
Speaking of your drops and products, let’s shift to the production side of things. How are you growing?
Dave: We’ve got a few different sides to it. We’ve had the unique opportunity to be able to run and freeze indoor and greenhouse material, both on the same strain too. On the indoor, we ran hydroponically in coco and fed full synthetic. Outside and in the greenhouses, we ran only living soil with organic inputs. Then we got to see a side-by-side comparison. We’re no longer running the indoor grow and freezing from that. We’re probably looking to do another one down the road but do it all organic. I think we’ve seen things wash really amazingly from synthetic fed and hydro, and we’ve seen things wash really amazingly in living soil as well.
That’s the thing…it’s hard to say if one is always better than the other. I think overall the consensus is with living soil, we saw more nuances and flavor. More profile body, I guess would be the way to say it. But with the synthetic, we would see a lot more of this mono-terpene thing happening, where just one specific flavor would jump out but it would be really sharp. It’s kind of cool to have that happen because it’s almost like a different strain if you ran it synthetic versus running it in living soil. It would come out totally different on the profile itself, but still be good in both forms.
Are there any signature strains you’re known for?
Dave: For sure. I would say what started everything for us moving into a new tier of higher-grade hash and rosin was starting our single-source garden. At first things were kind of based on access to material we had because we weren’t freezing in-house material yet at any of my grow sites. That was something that was a process and I had to convince my business partners to get on board.
It was definitely the Z Face that was the first thing we washed and put into production that gained us a lot of traction. We’re super proud of it to the point where it’s like, this is something we could take anywhere, put up against anything, and it would hang with the best of them. It’s a Zkittlez x Faceoff OG cross from Archive out of Oregon that we had acquired from clone, not from seed, which is great. I had some friends running it for dry flower but no one was washing the stuff. So we just froze a bunch of test batches to see what would wash and what wouldn’t. It ended up not washing amazingly, only about 3% overall. For our standards that’s on just about the acceptable line for it to make sense. But the hash is incredible and people love it so we will continue to run it just because of how great it is.
Another one these days is the Peanut Butter Runtz, which is a super high yielder to hash and has a great flavor. It won “celebrity pick” by Nikka T at the Best of New York competition in Manhattan and we got to share some of it with Mila which was crazy. So Z Face and Peanut Butter Runtz are two of what we like to call “keepers.” We probably have 5 to 6 of those strains that make sense for us to run consistently, and then we’re always rotating and hunting through other flavors to fill out the menu.
That actually leads me into my next question. How are you putting together your menu and deciding what those keepers are? Is it more about what you personally like to smoke on, what’s big in your region, or do you try and just hit everything?
Dave: I would absolutely say variety is the key. The market has a wide variety of people and things they like. You could essentially put yourself in a box if you try to just run one thing, like only gassy varietals or certain fruity ones. You want to have some creamy stuff, some sweet stuff, as many weird different things as you can find basically. And I think people like to try that.
Mac: Yeah, and I think you kind of have to cater to where the favorite terps are currently. I would say this year that candy gas and Zkittlez have been really big so we’ve tried to offer flavors that hit that. But there’s a lot of other cool stuff we’re working on, like this SFV OG that one of our friends grew that we’re washing right now. It’s really hard to capture that OG terp profile in rosin. You don’t see it too much. We’re always trying to find flavors that you don’t usually see in rosin and find cuts of it that actually wash and make sense to produce, not just be unique.
Making The Most of a Small Lab Space With The Hashtek A-Series
Getting into your washing process…you run the A-Series in your lab. Why did you choose Hashtek and that model?
Mac: I’ve been working in cannabis labs for about eight years now. I actually built my first rosin press probably in about 2014, when I was growing in four-by-eight grow tents, just because I wanted to mess around with pressing some of the stuff I was growing. Then got into ethanol extraction from there, and it kind of circled back in 2020 when I partnered up with some guys to do a licensed hash company.
I was actually running the entire PurePressure lineup there, the Axis and the Long’s Peak. I wasn’t really satisfied with those when I was running them, so when me and Dave got together I was looking for alternatives. I did like the automated wash systems, I like the top-driven agitation over the bottom-driven stuff I’ve seen. So I was looking into options and that’s kind of when I stumbled across Hashtek in probably September or October of last year. We needed something with a small footprint so we got the 50 A-Series and started running that in November. We’ve probably gone through like, close to 3,000 pounds or more in this one unit we’ve had since then and it’s been great. We’re able to do two washes in about eight hours including cleanup and everything which has really upped our efficiency.
How do you have the unit set up in your lab?
Mac: We like having 360-degree coverage of it, so we have the unit placed away from the walls and try to keep as much free space around it as possible. It’s so compact and easy to work with, even in our small space. You make it so turnkey that everything we’ve gotten with the initial setup has worked great for us. The way Aleks set the presets, in terms of gentle, medium, and aggressive agitation, they’re all really good.
Any pro tips or hacks you can share for using the machine?
Mac: We did order the upgraded 50 A-Series with the seven-inch LED screen attached to it. It’s kind of like the brain of the machine and I would recommend that to anyone. It just really helps to be able to store your recipes, keep track of data, and control everything from one panel. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another Hashtek without that control screen.
We’re just now getting into collaborating with other people and exploring tolling more in the future. It looks like that’s going to be a need for a lot of people out here in our area. So we’re actually considering getting another machine here soon, and it’s dope that you can store different recipes for the different people you work with in there and then just pull them up as needed. We would like to be able to get in that tolling space a little bit while still maintaining our own stashes for our brand, too.
What else is on the horizon for you guys?
Dave: Well we’re gonna do a big pheno hunt over the winter, popping a lot of genetics from Masonic and probably some more Archive stuff. Then we’ll be competing at Legends of Hashish III here soon in LA. See you at the dab bar…