The BFF team behind Sundae School talk fashion, channeling creativity, and never re-lighting joints.
What started as a weed-inspired clothing label in 2017 has since evolved into a full-fledged cannabis brand complete with two lines of pre-rolls designed to enhance every occasion. Thanks in part to their refreshing aesthetic and inclusive values, Sundae School is already creating a community for like-minded creatives despite being brand-spanking-new to the scene. We caught up with Sundae School founders Dae Lim and Mia Park at their recent pop-up in downtown Los Angeles to chat about how they met, why they smoke, and what they're looking forward to next.
On Growing Up in Korea
Dae: Mia and I, we've been best friends for 13 years. We grew up together in Korea. We're from the same neighborhood. We actually lived in the exact same apartment complex. Both of us were studying English to come to America, and that's actually how we met. We instantly fell in love with each other. I didn't know I was gay at the time, so I wanted to marry Mia a little. It was just a really organic friendship. We started studying together, and then we made our way to America when we were 14. I went to boarding school here, and then I went to Harvard. I studied math, and then after, I worked in consulting at McKinsey. I thought business is fun but not as fun as I'd like it to be because my passion was retail and consumer experience and consumer goods. So, I started working at VFILES, which is a fashion brand and an agency here in New York. After that, Mia and I got together and we started Sundae School.
Mia: Similar to Dae, I grew up in Korea. I went to college in New York, and then I just stuck around here. I also did some banking and consulting for a couple of years, and just like Dae explained, we were stuck in terms of our creativity and the mundane daily lives of the corporate grind. So, we would smoke a joint on the weekends and start sketching things out. Looking back, I think we were really trying to get over that fear of designing because neither of us has a design background. We really wanted to escape and break the shackles of that fear, and just launch forward with the cannabis creativity. That's how Sundae School was born. We started it as a side project on the weekends, and it started catching pretty organic press. We never started this brand to be the biggest cannabis brand out there. We really just wanted to embody that creativity through cannabis.
On Going from Secret Stoners to Grown Professionals
Dae: The first time I ever smoked was in high school, and I didn't even know what it was, honestly. I thought it was a cigarette that smelled weird. Little did I know it would make me high. I really started getting into weed in college with the formal initiation steps from gravity bongs to mini bongs and whatnot. I quickly realized that I loved the flower experience. Definitely more so than the vape experience. And so I started rolling joints. A lot of them. I actually have an Instagram account called Spliff the Explorer where I travel around the world with spliffs and document it.
“I would always roll the skinniest, tiny joints, and Mia and I would open up a sketchbook.”
Dae: As a grown professional who uses cannabis not to waste time, but to spend time, I really wanted to be conscious about how we smoke and what sort of activity activities we do, whether it's watching a crazy movie or drawing or sketching our new collection. That's when we started to become more mindful about it, especially how much we smoke. I would always roll the skinniest, tiny joints, and Mia and I would open up a sketchbook. That's really how we started to think about developing products for modern-day creative professionals.
Mia: To reflect Dae's experience—AKA not getting too stoned—we created these tiny, 0.3-gram joints. We never finish full joints ever. Even if it was 0.5 grams, the slimmest joints that were on the market, we never, ever finished it. Personally, I hate roaches. I hate the experience of relighting those ashy smelling joints. Back in college, my white friend from Virginia (who my dad still doesn't want to talk about) lured me into smoking weed during Thanksgiving break. We brought a half-lit roach, ultimately got caught, and then got kicked out of school. That really made me hate roaches, hate the whole re-lighting experience. Eventually, I rekindled my relationship with cannabis, but that incident really had a traumatic effect on me.
Mia: In Korea, cannabis is seen so negatively, so I haven’t told my parents yet. I know they're going to accept me no matter what industry I'm working for if I'm passionate about it and love what I'm doing. But, at the same time, it's definitely delicate because the public perception of weed in Korea is so negative. Dae's parents, on the other hand, are very chill. They have supported us from the beginning and have even packed lunches for us. So, I'm hoping my parents will also get to that stage where I can freely talk about the future of cannabis.
On Moving from New York to Los Angeles
Mia: We are in the process of relocating to LA because our cannabis business is taking off pretty quickly. But we definitely started out as New Yorkers not knowing much about the California cannabis industry at all. And I think the lesson we learned is just connecting with the right people who are there to mentor us. We're really forever grateful to them. Honestly, it was hectic sourcing the first batch of cannabis flowers, and we had no idea about conversion between grams and pounds and trim and kief. It was a really steep learning curve for us. But we're quick learners. With the support of the network we’ve slowly built, we were able to get to where we are. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for all the support we had from the people who'd been operating in the industry for a while.
On Developing Pre-Rolls for Every Occasion
Mia: Currently we solely sell pre-rolls, because both Dae and I really love flower. We sell two main varieties or sizes. The first is a pack called Bullet, which is essentially eight 0.3 gram mini pre-rolls. The intention with the Bullet packs is that they get you to the right amount of high—not too stoned, not high, not high at all actually. Right in between that sweet spot where you are functioning but you are elevated. So whatever your intention is, whether you want to go out or finish that creative project you started, it's going to get you to the right spot. We have
Mia: We also have another size variation called Party rolls, and these are one full gram, fat joints. We developed these Party rolls—which are infused with
On Addressing Inequalities in Cannabis
Dae: Even before we got into cannabis, social justice is something that has been very keen on our minds, especially as immigrants ourselves. Working on representation and working on the right kind of equality and equity piece is very crucial for us. This past 4/20 for our New York pop-up, we donated the proceeds to DPA, which is the Drug Policy Alliance. We did an event with Bubble T, which is a drag group out here in New York. As we start to expand our business, we're working with different local groups to figure out how to bring greater awareness to the issue, and what are some actionable items that we as consumers can be really mindful of and we as brands can push out the stories for. Hopefully soon we'll be at the stage where we'll be able to direct a lot of the funds ourselves as well.
“Cannabis is the window for creativity.”
Some Parting Words
Dae: Cannabis is the window for creativity. More often than not, the older generation still views it as reefer. And with younger generations, there's a tendency to get over-excited and only really focus on the sexy parts. But we think it's a tool to unlock your creativity and be in touch with your emotions. And this is not just our experience, this is our community's experience. I'm sure this is your experience. We really respect people like you guys doing work to contextualize, and we hope we can share unique stories in order to continue the efforts here.
Check out Sundae School's pre-rolls here.
Photos by Anthony Tripoli