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Colin Hanks on Hanks Kerchiefs in Dispensaries, Veterans and Cannabis

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Director, actor and producer Colin Hanks is joining forces with Jushi Holdings Inc. to launch his handkerchief line Hanks Kerchiefs in select BEYOND / HELLO dispensaries—providing assistance to injured veterans at the same time, through a portion of proceeds. The kerchiefs can be found at BEYOND / HELLO retail stores in Santa Barbara, California, locations in Illinois and available online nationwide at Shop Jushi.

Hanks said he’s an avid supporter of veterans “without question,” who are often down and out, due to trauma and other physical and mental injuries, and are among the loudest voices in support of medical cannabis. As an actor, his support for veterans is expressed through roles throughout his career such as his portrayal of Lieutenant Jones in the World War II miniseries Band of Brothers—created by Hanks’ father and Steven Spielberg and based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 book. 

That’s part of the reason why a portion of each Hanks Kerchief sold will go to support specific charities such as Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds custom homes, adapted for severely injured post-9/11 veterans who are seeking to rebuild their lives at a pivotal point. 

Hanks scored repeated roles alongside actors such as Jack Black in the Academy Award-winning film King Kong—the two together also in Orange County and Jumanji: The Next Level. Hanks also starred in TV’s Life in Pieces, and directed the more personal projects All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records—with interviews with everyone from Dave Grohl to the late Chris Cornell—and his chilling documentary Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis

Hanks created Hanks Kerchiefs in 2018, working with Anderson Brothers Design and Supply, makers of the men’s clothing line, Tankfarm and Co. Hanks Kerchiefs original designs can be worn as wearable, fashion-forward art or utilized for an endless array of practical purposes—such as masks, for instance.

Hanks sat down for a video interview to share his thoughts about his collaboration with Jushi and BEYOND / HELLO, veterans and cannabis. Being a cannabis publication, this conversation would inevitably circle back to Hanks’ personal relationship with cannabis—something I didn’t even have to articulate it out loud. Hanks will partake of the herb occasionally, “like having a glass of wine,” he laughs.

Dispensaries are really one of the most durable industries. Last year, dispensaries were deemed essential in several states, when retail was closed. Do you agree?

A lot of times, I sort of discovered that what may seem like a brilliant strategic move is just moving at the speed of opportunity and trusting an instinct. And really the partnership with BEYOND / HELLO and with Jushi really came about through a friendship and an interest in creating brick-and-mortar spaces that spoke to a kind of vibe and lifestyle. I feel that since dispensaries are somewhat new in the United States—at least some of the dispensaries I’ve seen—they’re far-ranging in vibe and organization and what is offered and sold. I was talking with a friend of mine who had gotten involved in Jushi and he was describing what they were trying to do with their brick-and-mortar store: create an atmosphere that wasn’t just about cannabis, but really more about a lifestyle and culture.

About six years ago, I released a documentary about the rise and fall of Tower Records. And over the course of making that film, I learned a lot about business, and I learned a lot about creating an environment and space that people can go to where everyone is welcome, and no one is excluded. And where you’re able to purchase different kinds of things that speak to your lifestyle. And now, all of this may seem rudimentary, simple or obvious—but once you kind of go and talk with people, you sort of realize that there’s thought that is put into these kinds of decisions and these kinds of places. They don’t just magically spring up. Obviously you have to be able to catch lightning in a bottle when you figure out these things. 

Colin Hanks

Photo courtesy of Jushi Holdings Inc.

“I’m very happy that there are a lot of states that have eased up on their restrictions and sort of come to their senses in regards to cannabis or marijuana.” 

Is that one of the reasons why you decided to partner with BEYOND / HELLO dispensaries?

Dispensaries, specifically BEYOND / HELLO, sort of spoke to an aesthetic and vibe that was not a classic headshop sort of vibe, but it was something more elevated. There was just something about the vibe they were going for that seemed to fit the vibe of Hanks Kerchiefs and the kind of thing that we’ve been trying to establish online. Wanting to break into the brick-and-mortar space—actually being in stores—felt like an interesting opportunity to court with BEYOND / HELLO and have them carry out our handkerchiefs in their stores, because something about it seemed right. 

The fact that they were deemed essential—[makes me smile]. So scratch that answer. [laughing] Just say yes.

I admire your tutorial on how to make a mask out of a handkerchief. The pandemic is apparently not over as there is the Delta variant. Have your mask-making skills improved over the past….say two years?

Well I mean, the crazy thing was when all of that was going on, and the very beginning of the pandemic, everyone was pivoting to making masks. I thought that was really important. And I had a lot of people ask me if we are going to pivot to masks. And I just said, “Haven’t you been paying attention? These things can already be masks.” It’s not actually that difficult. So we were able to do one of those kind of tutorials, and we basically sort of did a little video tutorial, and anyone who wanted to buy a kerchief, we also emergency-printed up some illustrated instructions that we included in the package to show people how to properly fold it into an adjustable mask using hair ties and stuff like that. And then we also were able to do a partnership with this company out of Silverlake […] that I’ve been going to for years. And we were able to make little leather cinches that you can thread through it, so you can wear it like a bandit-style, over your face, without having to tie a knot.

It was a fine way to prove what we’ve been saying all along: Kerchiefs serve countless different functions. They can be a simple fashion accessory that you can tie on to a bag or stick in your pocket to match your outfit. But there are also practical uses. I’ve always been very adamant about that, and you’d be surprised how many uses these can serve. When you have one, get ready to roll. “Be ready” is sort of our whole mantra. That’s the motto because basically, when you them have on-hand, you’ll find uses for it. Masks just happened to be one of those uses. That was just something I learned back at music festivals. That was one of those, you know, kind of things you’d label as being at the right place at the right attitude. Hopefully we were able to [help] a bit.

So if people don’t live close to a dispensary, they can get Hanks Kerchiefs online nationwide at Shop Jushi?

Yeah. They can go on the Jushi website and purchase it there, and they’re also available at hankskerchiefs.com

What is the general overarching concept behind Hanks Kerchiefs, because it seems like there is a lot more than behind it than just selling bandanas and koozies, such as the charity giveback component? 

Well, there’s all different things that needed to come together to start a company. Obviously, the fact that I am a creative person, this endeavor is a way to keep my hands busy. The purchase, the design of them, from the graphic perspective, the masks were created [for that.] And I was sort of [inspired] in terms of creating a team and putting people together, being inquisitive, and asking questions about how things work, and basically learning a new industry. That was also something that I enjoyed doing. And then, really trying to create a culture around what it was that we were trying to do, so it wasn’t just a business like it’s sole purpose was to make money. It wasn’t necessarily just to do that. I wanted to be able to have more of a reason to exist. I felt that was very important, not to be able to raise huge sums of money. But then again, every little bit helps.

To be able to give to a charity was a bit of a no-brainer, but also it seemed like a great opportunity to be able to sort of highlight different charities, highlight different organizations, to be able to raise awareness about what their causes are. So that we could do anything to help with their footprint and be able to get people to know about it. As a result of that, again it sort of seems like a [grand] plan, and it really is not. Ultimately, to be able to have that baked into our DNA, we’ve been able to do a lot of great collaborations with a bunch of different companies. I also have those same beliefs, and also wanted to be able to give back and help with proceeds and stuff like that. 

And you also help efforts in unison with Parks Project that works to preserve parklands.

That’s one of the things we were able to do with Parks Project and work very closely with the National Parks System and a handful of other companies that we’re doing collaborations on currently. That was one of the big things: Okay, so what is the organization that we’re going to be working with. So, you know, with Jushi, when we just started talking, that was definitely one of the first things we talked about. What is the charity component that we want to be benefitting and Jushi was saying, “How can we get involved in that sort of stuff.” So, again, all of these things are really great blessings, and we always try to have an open mind in realizing that there’s just not one way to do things. 

One of the charities that Hanks Kerchiefs supports is Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans to rebuild their lives. Veterans are among the loudest voices for medical cannabis. Is helping veterans important to you?

Oh, absolutely. I mean, without question. Let me be clear: I’m not speaking for that organization. This is my point of view. I think that the entire generation of young men and women that have spent their lives, and unfortunately, giving their lives to a much greater cause than I think most people realize. And unfortunately, it’s been going on for [many] years, which is kind of a shocking thing about it. I will say that I am very proud of that: American culture, if you will, is coming around to actually accepting the fact that cannabis has multiple different uses which are positive and medical. And I feel like it is incredibly important to do everything we can to help our veterans when they come home. Because that transition is very, very difficult.

For those who are injured with physical injuries, many of whom have had mental injuries and have problems adapting to that disability, I think it’s important that we do everything we can to help them with that transition. And if cannabis helps them in any way—helps them cope—I think it’s very important to do everything we can. There are lots of really great organizations that help provide homes, jobs, medical care, and every aspect that you can think of. I think it’s just very important. It’s now officially an entire generation who have fought in a war. So we have to do everything we can to help.

Colin Hanks

Photo courtesy of Jushi Holdings Inc.

“For those who are injured with physical injuries, many of whom have had mental injuries and have problems adapting to that disability, I think it’s important that we do everything we can to help them with that transition. And if cannabis helps them in any way—helps them cope—I think it’s very important to do everything we can.”

Is cannabis something in your own life? 

In my younger days, I definitely enjoyed my share, but as I got older, I sort of have not necessarily. So every now and then, occasionally—like having a glass of wine—for sure I will partake and enjoy, but I’m not necessarily a massive cannabis enthusiast. But having had experience with it, for many, many years, I’ve never really quite understood why it had gotten such a horrible rap. There was just so much about it that I know is positive and not necessarily as evil as some people make it out to be. So I’m very happy that there are a lot of states that have eased up on their restrictions and sort of come to their senses in regards to cannabis or marijuana. 

There are efforts to decriminalize at the federal level.

Now, I think the real important step is to sort of righting a lot of the evil wrongs that have occurred over the better part of the last 40 or 50 years in terms of the people who are still in jail for something that has now been decriminalized. That to me doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I think that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done there. So I’m well versed, but I’m not necessarily an enthusiast. 

Colin Hanks

Photo courtesy of Jushi Holdings Inc.

I heard that you’re into writing thank you notes to build up a feeling of gratitude—inspired by Gina Hamadey. Does that actually improve your mental well-being?

Yeah. To get a little bit philosophical here, I had found that when I was younger, it was very much part of my routine to sort of look on the positive side, the bright side of life. That was very easy, but as I got older, and I got more responsibilities, working more with businesses, it’s very easy to sort of bogged down with what life requires on a daily basis. And anything that you can do to at least try to not only allow yourself to [acknowledge] the good things that are going on in your life regardless of the bad things. To be able to focus on the good stuff —if only for a little while. And those little moments add up over the course of a day, over the course of a week, over the course of a month. That helps sustain you when the onslaught is phone calls, emails and responsibilities. All of those daily grind things can wear you down.

Gratitude notes and thank you notes are another way to help remind yourself about these things, and also to be able to make a connection with someone else. When you do it and think about how grateful you are—that’s when you begin to see the world differently. So when my good friend Gina started doing that sort of thing, I thought it was a brilliant idea. Thank you notes always seem like a short thing to do around Christmas. The truth of the matter is, you don’t even need to do it about things that you’re given. Like it could be “Thank you for your time. I really appreciate what it is that we were able to do. I really appreciate our friendship. I really appreciate the fact that even if I don’t see you, it feels like no time has passed.” Any one of those things enriches relationships and friends. It also sort of reinforces the good stuff that you have going on in your life. So those kinds of things I think are really important. I always try to take the time to do it. It’s not always easy to self-motivate. 

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