Ask Feather CEO Patrick Lehoux what led him to the frontlines of Canada’s booming cannabis industry, and the answer is a lifetime of curiosity. Long before founding a multi-faceted product and design company where the motto is “Everyday. Simple.” the Ontario-based entrepreneur dove into hobbies from astrophotography to eco-friendly aquaponics – mastering each before moving on to the next obsession.
“That curiosity is always there,” he says excitedly. “In another life, I would have been a physicist – I love physics, I love science. They always lead to interesting places – my extreme hobbies.”
All those hobbies and experiences would prove invaluable when Lehoux started Feather, a proudly forward-thinking cannabis company where quality is more valued than quantity and connections with people are most rewarding when made on a grassroots level.
The Ontario-based company first made a splash with its colourful but discreet, inhalation-activated vape pens in flavours like the India Thin Mint Kush (hello chocolate-mint cookies!), hybrid Twisted Tangie (think fresh OJ), and Sativa Melon Bubble Haze (pass that melon-flavoured gum).
But Feather’s ambitions don’t stop with its pens.
“At our core, we’re really an industrial design company,” Lehoux says. “We kind of have a motto, or mantra, internally that we use, which is ‘Everyday. Simple.’ Really that just means that, if we’re creating products, we’re creating products that fit into people’s lives seamlessly. Now cannabis doesn’t fit into everybody’s life, but if you are trying to find a use for cannabis in your life, whether it’s for sleep or anxiety or whatever, we’re trying to create products that seriously fit there from a design perspective.”
“Because of the speed the industry is moving at, there sometimes isn’t a lot of deep thought put into new products. Manufacturers and licensed producers just don’t have the time to go and build something from scratch. So they just grab things off the shelf, brand them and move on to the next offering.” The overall result of this is that many products currently sold are almost identical. Same product, different brand. An example of trying to do something different is: Feather has spent the last two years designing product offerings based on medical inhalers.
“For us at Feather, we’re always trying to start from the ground up,” he continues. “So early next year, we’ll be launching products that are truly ‘Everyday. Simple.’ and will look less like the current offering and more like products you would purchase at Sephora.”
Lehoux isn’t new to the build-a-better product design game. Past endeavours have included inventing the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter. A runaway success – it’s been sold in more than 50 countries – it upcycles used glass bottles into decorative glasses and other useful items.
Controlling the process from conception to production gives Feather the ability to keep things, well, “Everyday. Simple.”
“It looks like there’s a design firm behind these products,” Lehoux says. “Again, we’re trying to build them in such a way where there are no instructions needed – you look at it, you know exactly what it is. It’s intuitive. All the products that we’re rolling out – we’ll eventually roll out a type of edible – will be “Everyday. Simple.” as well. If we’re going to put in the effort to do something, let’s try and add a piece of design and innovation to it. Otherwise, the industry’s so competitive, you’re just another SKU on the shelf.”
With that competition, of course, comes stress.
“The cannabis industry is where I feel like you need a safety helmet and a seat belt,” Lehoux says with a laugh. “It’s quite the ride.”
And one of the most important things at Feather is recognizing that, with any ride, there’s bound to be bumps along the way.
“I don’t do well when I’m not moving,” Lehoux acknowledges. “I’m definitely built in a way that I gotta keep doing things, but if I’m not careful I put myself in situations where mental health and anxiety becomes a serious issue. Obviously, the pandemic has really played a number on a lot of people, including myself.”
To that end, the ideas of compassion and understanding are almost as important at Feather as the motto “Everyday. Simple.” The idea of fairness and overall quality of life has been part of Lehoux’s belief system since childhood. So right from the earliest days of Feather, he realized that mental health days would be as valuable to the company’s staff as they are to him. Feather employees don’t track their time, they track their deliverables.
”A job should add to your overall quality of life and not take away from it,” says Lehoux. An example of that is Feather’s policy of offering unlimited mental health days should anyone need them.
As for Lehoux, more than just part of the team at Feather, he’s also one of the proudly progressive company’s most happy customers. Sometimes it pays to be endlessly curious.
“I was never a cannabis user – it was never really on my radar, even in high school,” he shares. “But the more I learn about this plant the more I see real opportunities to help reduce daily suffering for so many people, whether it’s for sleep, anxiety, depression, etc.… Cannabis is so much more than just about getting high.”
For more information on Feather, click here. Its products are available at ocs.ca.