The maker of sleek, modern pipes chats with us about highdeas, her love of pre-rolls, and dismantling ageism one wacky outfit at a time.
Alice Boher’s slight Southern twang snakes around her new home of Los Angeles like elegant smoke tendrils. Although the stage is what first beckoned her to the coastal hub, Boher banded with her partner, Sebastian, to start hawking his beautiful, functional ceramic wares. And so Miwak Junior was born. The company touts a slew of sleek, modern pipes, all of which are inconspicuous in their intended use. Miwak helped usher in the first wave of aesthetically on-point smokewear just as recreational cannabis use became legal in California. The iconic design even landed a cameo on the stoner staple series High Maintenance.
Luckily, the days of cartoonish glassware being your only option are over and that’s in large part thanks to Boher’s hard work. I caught up with Alice to chat about regional understandings about the herb, indoor/outdoor glasses, and how weed dissolves the ugly, made-up standards of ageism. This is her story as told to Proper.
LIFE & CAREER
I grew up in Columbus, Georgia, but came to LA as an actor, like so many of us weirdos. Also, I went to film school and I do screenwriting. My partner Sebastian had made these little pipes and even though he wasn't much of a smoker, I've always been a stoner. Then I noticed that something was up with these pipes. People really wanted them.
It all started to dawn on me how he was doing something unique with cannabis design. I've always believed in him as an artist—big time—but this was the first time he designed something functional. I started learning about making a brand and starting your own thing and what that all entails. It excited me.
I started taking Miwak more seriously in 2014. I was becoming more and more a part of it. I quit my job teaching performance art at a college and decided to sell weed pipes. I was tired of teaching, I was tired of ungrateful students, and I was tired of putting in my heart and soul with so little payoff. Instead, I put my heart and soul into these weed pipes, thinking, “This is a funny thing to sell. This is great.”
I do think humility is a wonderful Southern trait and one that's really counter-cultural to this particular moment. It's a human quality, but it isn’t necessarily the most helpful sales tactic. Southerners often have a self-deprecating thing, and I can take it a little far. Sometimes I end up overcompensating when trying to move away from that and feel like I’m fronting. I'm always wrestling with that idea of balancing humility and the audacity needed to propel an independent business in the cannabis space as a Southern-raised woman now entrenched in Los Angeles.
“I'll look in the mirror and there’s no question: I look like a person who smokes a lot of weed.”
I love the social freedom here in California. I love the fact that it's not a big deal to be myself. At home, there’s a very narrow status quo and if you don't fit into it, it can be exhausting. Here, it's not a big deal what I'm wearing to the grocery store. It's just not.
When we first started Miwak, the stigma was so much stronger, even such a short while ago. Weed helps out the process of getting dressed; it always distracts me from default anxieties like, “Where am I going? How am I going to be appropriate?” Now, I feel free to explore and celebrate fashion discoveries and pairings. So, more often I’m thinking, “Oh, now that would be fun. We've never put that together.”
Of course, not every “highdea” is brilliant. With some stylings, I'll look in the mirror and there’s no question: I look like a person who smokes a lot of weed. There's just no way around it. However, I'm certainly not hiding anything. I do smoke a lot of weed, and I’m part of a cannabis-centric business. So I flip that anxiety around, shifting the narrative so I look in the mirror and think, “This outfit looks like the result of some really good ideas!”
For example, I have these really round glasses—they're huge. They look awful on me. They're Iris Apfel sort of gigantic glasses. But I love them. I'm also trying to figure out my age and that's another reason why I like to smoke weed; I forget what I'm supposed to dress like. I'll tell myself, “Alice, you're a 43-year-old woman, you cannot wear this, you just can't.” But weed will have me saying, “Yeah you can! Of course you can!” Ultimately, I’ve learned how to identify a nice object through working on Miwak Junior. The experience taught me how to examine objects—something I would never, ever do in my former life.
FOR THE LOVE OF PRE-ROLLS
They're so fun! They just travel so well. I love Lowell Herb Co. Quicks pre-rolls. I love Caliva Toasties. Pure Beauty pre-rolls look like cigarettes and have this bouncy filter that appeals to me so much. As a Southerner, the cigarette is very powerful.
“As a Southerner, the cigarette is very powerful.”
As for rolling my own, I'm terrible with my hands. It's a shame. Honestly, I have real shame that I'm not better at rolling joints. I make Sebastian do it, although he’s always telling me, “You have to smoke out of the bowls!” And I’ll have to remind him, dude, I live out of these bowls all the time. I'm always smoking out of them. But when I go out, I like to have a joint with me. Maybe I should just learn but, ultimately, if I have someone to roll those, why should I have to? I'm tired of learning shit. I just like to look at rolling joints and feel at peace knowing that's something I don't need to know how to do.
I think people don't understand that the weed industry contains a lot of super, super, super interesting people. A lot of people who've had many lives. People like me who have interesting stories, are usually pretty enterprising, and really hard-working. I enjoy being around people who believe that doing what they want is ultimately more important than the stigma.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Photos by Emily Berkey.