Imagine shopping for designer clothes, that satiating feeling of purchasing something of top-notch, high-end quality. Now apply that same concept to marijuana edibles. Everyone can shop at H&M, but sometimes, you treat yourself to some Gucci. This is exactly the experience Bana Bongolan aims to achieve.
Based in Los Angeles, Bongolan is a designer and creative entrepreneur who specializes in streetwear. And Marijuana.com has the exclusive on the world debut of her edibles line Homies by Kushie.
Having worked for the likes of clothing brands LRG, Young & Reckless, Crooks and Castles, and Diamond Supply — where she served as director of Diamond Womens for nearly three years — Bongolan abandoned the corporate world and started her own clothing company. Bana Los Angeles is a luxury brand sold only in Japan through Fred Segal and other luxury boutiques.
Bana is also the founder and creative director of Poster Child, an agency that sponsors young artists just getting started in the fashion industry. With Poster Child, Bongolan has creative directed some of the most cutting-edge digital content in the industry for celebrity clientele including Cassie, YG and Saweetie — generating more than 40 million views on YouTube.
Bongolan grew up in an abusive household. Amid the gang warfare that swept through Los Angeles in the 1990s, she made it her duty to keep mental health a top priority. This is reflected in everything she does and creates. Art has been Bongolan’s go-to outlet over the years, and she continues to channel her own struggles with mental health through her work and share her experiences with the world.
Her work with Poster Child is also focused on creating awareness of mental health issues for creatives. Bongolan goes out and speaks to aspiring creatives at retail locations and colleges to provide guidance on career choices, and how to handle their business so they aren’t manipulated. Bongolan is an open book with the artists who work under her guidance.
When the idea for Designer Edibles came to fruition, Bongolan’s nephew came across the edible company, Kushie, and reached out. Bongolan pitched the idea knowing she wasn’t familiar with the ins and outs of the marijuana industry. But she did know she could explore the marijuana market for ideas.
What inspired you to create this concept of Designer Edibles?
Money. I realized I need to survive for the rest of my life, and I didn’t want to be an Instagram star. So, I pursued the opportunity to make money off of legal drugs. So I’m like, I want to make money off drugs — legal drugs. Because drugs make a lot of money, so why would I not want to make money off weed? That’s really only it. The goal of Homies is to keep you happy and obviously fucked up — to help mental health and stay uplifted.
How’d you come up with the name?
There’s another edible collection coming out after this that is something similar to the figures you would collect in the quarter machines. When we were kids, they were like “homies.” I can’t say what it is right now, but it will be the shit.
Tell us about the experience preparing for this.
It was really long, because I had to still make a living and survive. I like living chill, so I still have to work my ass off. So just finding the time to work my jobs — and they’re dope jobs, don’t get me wrong — and then make space for my passion projects. Strategically, I want everything to pop off along with my other endeavors as I continue to make connections.
What do marijuana edibles do for you personally?
Honestly, I think I wild out all the time. Or I knock the fuck out. Sometimes, it’s time to just chill the fuck out. But I also design on them. I design high as fuck probably 80 percent of the time. There’s a lot of designers that don’t, but for the designers that do, I kind of wanted to create something that was tight and had a dope concept. … I wanted to make something with a cool edge.
Can you talk about the pictures printed on these edibles?
I’m trying to do what I did when I was younger. When I was younger, I created these concepts. I noticed everyone in streetwear had only drawing stuff, and no one was doing pictures. So trying to take that same idea and do it with the chocolates, where they’re images and shapes, and not just this smashed together edible that tastes good. Because some of the edibles are like, eh. But I wanted something where it’s postable and that was appealing to the eye, but still fucks you up.
Was Kushie on board right away?
It took a second for me to explain [the concept]to them. And once they figured out what I do for a living and the concepts I can come up with … I guess they kind of knew who I was because of fashion. We had similar friends or something. And when they realized what I could actually bring to the table, their sales could probably go up quite a bit. That’s what I was bargaining.
Tell us about the photo on this money bag edible. You mentioned it came from a night out at the strip club with Floyd Mayweather.
I came up with different icons and themes to actually make images and shapes out of the chocolate edibles. For example, one is a Playboy bunny. And I had these characters drawn out that I’m going to drop later. One of the guys asked, “Well, what about for people like us?” And I was like, “Oh, the trappers, like the dope boys.” They’re like, “What about a hundred bill?” I was like, “Eh, I don’t know. What about a bag of money?” So then I drew that. And then when they asked for the packaging… they were like, “We need something that represents the money bag.” I was like, “Fuck. I gotta look.”
Because it has to be about me. This whole line’s about me. I didn’t want to just draw something. It has to have happened. … I took a picture of money that when I looked at it, I was like, “Damn, I wish that was mine.” And it was kind of more like a goal, because I want that one day. But it was ironic because [Floyd Mayweather’s people] gave [that money bag]to us to throw at the strip club. [laughs]
What strip club? In Los Angeles?
No. He owns it. It’s in Las Vegas. So that way people know I didn’t just take it off somewhere. Like no, I actually seen that in front of me and it was really fucking real. And it was a lot of fucking money. It was cool and all, but I want that for myself.