Goldleaf is Blending Science and Sophistication to Create Bold and Beautiful Journals for the Cannabis Community
Goldleaf finds motivation and inspiration in creating unique ways in which growers and enthusiasts can document their personal cannabis journey.
In 2016, after an extensive and unsuccessful search for quality log books, founder Charles McElroy decided to design his own.
After months of research, product testing and sampling, the Goldleaf team concocted their very first Grow Journal. Now, his line has expanded to include a Patient Journal, The Cannabis Taster, and The Grow Jotter, as well as several science-forward and design savvy cannabis-centric art prints. Recently, VIRIDE jumped at the chance to learn more about the mastermind behind Goldleaf!
Viride: Goldleaf has partnered with select dispensaries to carry your products, some of which are customized for the dispensary. Is this an option also available to the casual or medical consumer looking to have their name on the journal?
Charles McElroy: We really wanted to align ourselves with various kinds of dispensaries, co-ops and medical outlets. I know there has been a need, from a business standpoint, to have something that is co-branded or extra special and our journals present a unique option. We’ve been working with dispensaries and other cannabis companies to customize our journals—whether it is a co-branded collaboration or white label. We also do special projects where we work with clients to customize the pages. In fact, we’re working with a client in Puerto Rico on a Spanish version.
V: That’s so cool! How has the paper/stationery industry changed in recent years?
CE: In the last ten years, it’s changed a lot. The barrier for entry is high if you want to make a journal like ours. You can get them online, but they’re cheap—staple bound, thin paper. The quality just isn’t the same as Goldleaf. Recently, I’ve been able to negotiate with our partner factories to get the minimums down and develop a workflow that works well. I’m excited because, as of this week, we can offer companies much lower minimums than before. That’s where our focus has been (not so much the individual customizations for one off journals).
V: What inspired you to provide high-quality journals for both medical and recreational users, as well as those who grow cannabis?
CE: It’s been a perfect storm of things I’m interested in. I’ve always had a creative mind, but I’m also plagued with an analytical mind. I thought about this for about two years before I started the company and came out with the first versions. There wasn’t anything out there for these niche groups and I wanted there to be, because I wanted one. Beautiful log books for aviation and pilot logs exist. In the audio studio, track-listing log books exist. But, there wasn’t anything for growers. Prohibition has forced a lot of people to learn it on their own.
V: There are a lot of people doing this stuff….
CE: Yes, every grower that I’ve known keeps some kind of record. A composition notebook, an app or a spreadsheet program...If you care about cultivation and want to get good at it, you’re going to take notes to replicate your successes. From the grow side, it made sense to make something useful for cultivators. I don’t think our journals would be the first choice for the large, commercial grows. They have computer programs and automations set up for that. For everyone else, it’s a better choice than just a notebook because it guides you through specifics. On the patient side, there was a need to bridge the gap between caregiver and patient. Our thought with the Patient Journal was to help bridge that gap and empower patients to take charge of their own therapy and take note of the metrics doctors would want to measure. We wanted to make it approachable and fun to use. They’re written in a serious, science forward, clinical way, though. For that reason, it made sense to focus on areas of cannabis you can nerd out on.
V: And recently, you’ve designed a recreational journal...The inside of the Cannabis Taster is amazing.
CE: Thank you! Our taster journal focuses on flavor and experience. Generally, I think it’s perfect for cannabis tourists, or even someone who is in a legal state, but visiting another state for the weekend. They can rank dispensaries and write notes on what kind of strains they tried. Blue Dream in Denver isn’t going to be the same as it is in Portland.
V: Your company also creates cannabis inspired prints from terpenes palate prints to cannabis quotes and feeding calendars. Are these concepts you design personally?
CE: It’s a little bit of both, really. I’m not a classically trained painter and I have someone who is on our team. I steer the ship as far as content creation. All of our art prints and concepts go through my hands. With some, I take an active role in research and design. With others, I delegate. We have one print that features beneficial insects for cannabis gardening. All of those were done by a classical painter from Italy. She’s done those and some other amazing pieces coming out next year. I take them, do the layouts, and plug in research components. I designed the terpenes print. I wanted something that was a fun companion to the taster, where we focus a lot on the flavor palate. There’s a lot of great terpene graphics and infographics out there, but none of them embody our aesthetic. Ours is minimally influenced by a Danish modern vibe—sophisticated and reminiscent of the old textbooks from the sixties and seventies as far as typeface goes. The commonality of all our prints is that they have a scientific backing, whether it’s representing information or because it’s cribbing off some old school scientific types...like the insect drawing or botanical illustrations.
V: Your background working with the Marijuana Policy Project and helping to educate veterans on the benefits of cannabis is remarkable. Do you continue to support these causes personally or through your company?
CE: I still support MPP and am very active on a personal level. This is something I’ve done for a while. I’ve had the activist spirit since high school. I volunteered for the CLR (Coalition for Labor Rights). I helped them put on concerts and fundraisers, which was largely about labor rights and manufacturing. I carried that onto a clothing company I started that made everything in rural US factories that were hard hit by NAFTA and barely getting by. We sourced and grew everything locally. In general, I approach my political and social experiences through a lens of anti-oppression. Cannabis has always stuck with me. As far as cannabis in our country is concerned….it’s been so utterly irrational and oppressive.
V: What’s your relationship with cannabis?
CE: I was involved with cannabis for a couple of years before I even tried it. I use it for medical reasons...I’m not a partier. There is a lot of misinformation about cannabis out there... I’ve tried to do my part and I know that this stuff starts small. I’ve been active in my own community here in Ohio. I was really stoked when I heard MPP was coming to Ohio. I think they thought if Ohio goes, all the other states will follow. I did what I could to disseminate their information and use my skillset, which is largely with computers. I’m good at web development and marketing and was active on Facebook. I was doing all I could to get signatures and get momentum going. MPP had to leave the state. They decided to pass a law within the state that took the wind out of MPP, and they deemed Ohio as not worth their money and time. I don’t fault that decision. It was probably a sage move to use their resources somewhere else. I’m disheartened how it's starting to shake out here. It doesn't seem conducive to cannabis businesses and it seems monopolistic in how permits are being granted.
V: And, your work with veterans?
CE: A lot of the ideas I had with the patient side was born out of family experiences. I have two uncles who served in Vietnam. Both came back with PTSD. Both used cannabis successfully to help control their symptoms. One has since passed away from leukemia from the Agent Orange he got over there. I have a cousin who has done tours in Afghanistan and struggles with PTSD. He isn’t really open to trying it because of its federal schedule. I understand and see that a lot when I interact with people at groups and events. I’m still very active on a personal level and am excited about Goldleaf to be able to help serve that community and normalize cannabis in a larger way, to help make cannabis more approachable to veterans who are injured physically or mentally. Right now, Goldleaf is still new. I’m excited about future collaborations or opportunities. We’re open to finding something impactful we can participate in.
V: Is Goldleaf working on anything new?
CE: We do special projects like art installation at dispensaries, which is rad. We have a cool journal coming out at the beginning of next year, featuring the Italian painter we discussed. It’s for the field grower, but anyone who loves the outdoors would love it. It features insects under the lens of the cannabis grower. It shows all the types of bugs and how to care for them... if that’s the path you want to take. It’s a book, not a journal, which will be colorful and pocket-sized—a great compliment to any of our journals.