gravitypope Community Series
RJ Hunt, co-owner of Studio A-OK and avid dog walker, recently invited us into his Chinatown, Vancouver retail space 'All Day Breakfast,' to give us the downlow on what he's been up to lately. From his favourite low key hiking spots, and current inspirations, to the story behind his now iconic 'weed lifestyle brand' and his dream collab with everybody's fav cheddar flavored snack.
What are your favourite ways to stay active during the quarantine?
If I’m not lugging boxes around the shop, my favourite way to stay active is by taking walks with my wife Darcy and dog Titi. I try to keep my phone in my pocket during the dog walks and use the time to get some fresh air and refresh my brain at the same time.
Where are some of your favourite places to hike and where do you like to take your dog, Titi?
One of our favourite walks with Titi (aka Tito aka The Muffin Man) is Harbourview Park in North Vancouver. It’s a sneaky spot, close to the city and you drive through an unassuming industrial park to get to it. Once you’re there, it’s a nice walk along the water and you get an amazing view of the city over the ocean from a platform at the end of the trail.
Can you tell us about A-OK, how did it come to be and explain the concept behind your retail space “All Day Breakfast”?
A-OK is the name of the weed accessories and lifestyle brand that we founded in Vancouver in 2016. At the time, Canada was looking like it was 2-3 years out from federally legalizing weed and the political momentum was building in other parts of the world as well. We were looking at the array of weed paraphernalia available at that time in the city’s head shops and felt there was an opportunity to look at these products through a different lens. We did some market research, confirmed our hunch that it looked like a good idea, and jumped right in knowing that the earlier we got started the better. Four years later, A-OK has a full line-up of products we call “weed basics” found in dispensaries across Canada and the USA and a popular clothing line that we ship to customers from all corners of the world. Wild!
All Day Breakfast (ADB) is the name of our retail store, studio and venue that we run in Vancouver’s Chinatown. We first opened ABD as a concept store in January 2019 in a studio connected to a house I was living in with my wife in East Van. At the time we were sharing the space with the design firm she co-founded called @and-daughters, but the opportunity to move into a real retail space presented itself and we jumped at it opening in June 2019. The concept behind ADB is to reimagine the head shop (and head shop products) for the 2020’s and beyond. Important to us is continuing on the legacy of the head shop as a place for progressive thought and as well as showcasing artists from Vancouver, Canada and from the rest of the globe. At the shop you’ll find some of the most unique weed paraphernalia from around the world, clothing, apothecary, vintage, snacks, local goods and art. We try hard to stock interesting products for everyone, even if weed isn’t your thing.
How do you select brands to carry and collaborate with, what shared values are you looking for? Care to share any upcoming releases?
I would say all of our collaborations thus far have evolved organically through existing relationships or from connecting with like-minded people through the power of the interwebz. We used to throw a lot of parties (…what are those?) and when we’d invite people into our space, we’d always use the disclaimer “No Narcs & Everyone is Welcome”. If those two statements resonate with you then we’ll have a good chance of getting along and working together. It also helps to have if you have a sense of humor and not take yourself too seriously.
We have some exciting projects upcoming for 2021, most of which I can’t talk about yet. Definitely keep your eye out for our new incense that is handmade for us in Toronto.
Who would be a dream collaboration?
Since the day we started A-OK there has been one dream collaboration I’ve always wanted to do, and it would give me no greater joy than to work with the Canadian snack icon Hawkins Cheezies. They have been my favourite snack since I was a kid and they’ve held a prominent position at every A-OK event we’ve ever hosted. When I was going through our expenses last year it was hilarious to see how many bags we’d bought for all our parties. Their branding and colours are amazing, they’re a cult Canadian snack, what more do I need to say?
"Hawkins Cheezies. Someone out there please put me in touch if you have the plug!"
Which pair of On Running shoes are you currently wearing and what you love about them?
I’m wearing The Roger and I love them because of how light and comfortable they are. I’m digging the gum sole and profile too. You’ll be seeing these on my feet all summer.
Is there a place in Vancouver inspires you the most?
It may seem counter intuitive with all of the natural beauty in this city, but I take a lot of inspiration from the Downtown East Side (DTES) neighbourhood in Vancouver. The DTES has a well-documented history as being one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country with its residents being some of the most marginalized people in Canada. Despite all the hardships that the residents of the neighbourhood endure, the kindness and generosity you see day to day is inspiring and an amazing testament to the human spirit.
What are your hopes for 2021? What’s in-store for both A-Ok and yourself personally?
I think 2021 is still going to be a funky year without any travel or things back to what we’d consider “normal”. We really want to use that time to refocus on A-OK, expand our wholesale weed accessories business and continue to refine or point of view now that we’ve been up and operating for a few years. Although Covid has slowed the pace of business it has given us a chance to rethink what we do.
Personally, I’d love nothing more than to take a retreat to one of the Gulf Islands for a couple weeks with my wife and dog!