Champelli on the Convergence of Cannabis and Fashion

On Richard DeLisi's social justice story and building the mycelium of the culture

Over decades of work, Champelli's dedication to style, design, and the preservation of Northern California's heritage weed scene has built an international following and garnered praise from leading figures in marijuana, music and art. His influences include San Francisco's legendary graffiti, skateboard and hip-hop communities.

Staying true to those counter-culture roots, Champelli has cultivated a lasting, high standard of production in all things cannabis and fashion.

We spoke with Champelli for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.

Champelli, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now. 

I was born in Málaga, Spain, and moved to San Francisco when I was young. In 2001 I spent four years in Europe and another four years in Mexico. I currently reside in San Francisco, California. 

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

I am an advocate for the plant. I am a legacy operator with an emphasis on social justice, cultural preservation and multi-state operations. My team and I are based in the Bay Area, California. 

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

Cannabis changed my life. It changed the course of history.  Those first plants inside my mother's kitchen pantry in 1987 were captivating. The process of cultivating, the connectivity to the plant and my community created meaning for myself and everyone around me. Used responsibly it can change your perception of life, the power it holds for manifesting and opening doors is revolutionary. 

A favorite flower, edible, product, or brand.

I enjoy Zkittlez flower for sure. There are quite a few new breeding projects on the books for Champelli as well as other operators coming out with new crosses soon that everyone is really looking forward to. I love the Dee Thai Tropical gummies from Natura. We have an amazing Champelli gummy line about to drop. Everything is vegan, gluten free, amazing exotic flavors with  just the right dosage of 10mg THC. 

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

Making a genuine connection with the consumer that's organic, that's not contrived or coerced. 

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

To build the mycelium of the culture. All of the opportunity and synergy with different brands and people in the space. There are so many ways to collaborate, grow and build the culture together. 

Early on experimenting with light deprivation in 1987 in my mom's kitchen pantry, which was practically unheard of in cannabis at that time. I was breeding and pairing my genetics to branding and marketing in the late 80s. Finding new popular names that carried weight back then was kicked off with organic branding and marketing through urban mythology in rap and hip hop music. The fusion and synergy of the record label "Champelli Entertainment" and cannabis came together for a perfect symbiosis to make a cross cultural phenomenon.

Champelli has really captured that and it has carried on to this day. These origin stories and the pioneers that are leading the way through the underground, guerilla marketing and word of mouth into legalization are alive now more than ever. I'm excited to shed light on people and their stories so they are never lost.  It's an honor to really be able to start sharing those receipts of history and I can't reiterate enough how important this plant is. Keeping the original magic that has driven the culture alive, to see our culture thriving and how the new industry is evolving. 

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

Richard DeLisi and his brand DeLisioso are an inspiration and a great example of resilience and success in social justice and cannabis law reform. Richard is one of the longest non-violent cannabis prisoners in U.S. history. In October of 2022 he called for true cannabis clemency on the White House steps, demanding Biden be held accountable. 

A project you worked on recently that you're proud of.

Aside from cannabis licensing deals, I've been working hard on a lot of design. Specifically cut and sew projects. I've always been hands-on with all aspects of creativity. I’m really into upcycled fabrics and almost everything is manufactured in the United States. Inspiring retro and new design, it's a nod to the past and a glimpse into the future. In the creation of my cut and sew pieces I've been finding ways to reduce the brand's footprint moving away from fast fashion. In my retrograde line of jackets I used almost all upcycled materials from my manufacturers warehouse. They used to do the original cut and sew for The North Face before they became what they are today. So the retrograde jackets are The North Face nylon material from the 80s. Even down to the zippers, excluding the embroidery and the labels, which were new production. 

Someone else's project you admired recently.

Richard DeLisi is someone I really admire and am proud to support. After being locked up for 32 years he's rolling out his brand in Florida, setting the example and laying out opportunities for other cannabis companies to find ways to give back to those that have been oppressed and affected by unjust cannabis laws. 

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

Needless to say, Berner has been driving the culture and acting as a vehicle for so many individuals and brands. He has been leading the way in the industry cementing Cookies as a household name and creating new opportunities for so many people on a global scale.  

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

I would continue to create music, clothing and art… everything that I’m passionate about. 

Higher Calling is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about Higher Calling, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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