If you’re a seasoned smoker or a part-time dabbler, you might not realise from the trips to your local corner shop that the brands on the shelves of 99p rolling papers, filters and plastic grinders are all pretty much all male-owned. This is the case for a lot of companies within the smoking industry.
Here to challenge the norm with incredibly stylish visuals and a message strong enough to shake the entire smoking industry to its core is Afg Suga. The first minority female-owned rolling paper brand.
Aiming to fill the gap in the market we spoke to the creators of Afg Suga, about the core values of the company, the culture of Afghanistan and how they intend to switch up the industry, one pink paper at a time.
Firstly, can you tell us more about your business?
We’re here to shake the industry! Afg Suga is the first rolling paper brand created by minority women to celebrate diversity, inclusivity and Afghan heritage in the tobacco industry. Afg Suga provides consumers with high quality, luxury rolling papers and associated lifestyle accessories. Our strategy is to create an industry-leading brand, using distinctive packaging, and growing through global social media campaigns accessible to all our Suga Babies around the world.
You celebrate Afghan culture in your brand, could you tell us more about that and the history of cannabis within Afghanistan?
We often find that Western Media and Society like to focus on war and politics when it comes to Afghanistan. It’s exhausting to always have to fight or argue a narrative which in reality is only a tiny percentage in the big scale of what richness and culture our country has offered to the world. We ensure we celebrate Afghanistan by including Afghan fashion in our visuals as well as educational posts about our country that most people may not be aware of. For example, the smoking culture is strong within Afghanistan and has been part of the country’s history for generations with records showing the use of Hashish as early as the 13th century, via the Mongol Empire and Genghis Khan.
A small example of what Afghanistan has offered as a culture in terms of the smoking industry is the word Kush. Kush is a Dari word – people throw the word kush around so commercially and easily and no one is recognising the source of this word.
You mentioned that you could see a gap in the market when it came to making Afg Suga, could you explain a bit more?
We found that when we were looking for rolling papers and smoking accessories, the products available tend to be made in minimal styles and simply not something we want to be pulling out of our bags. We wanted to produce a brand that focuses on feminine style, uses bright colours and is something we are proud to be using.
You also mentioned you want Afg Suga to be a non-sexualised brand for a female audience.
In today’s culture, it is easy to get sexualised, especially in the smoking industry which is majorly male-dominated. Our visuals and portrayal of women are from a women’s perspective and things we hope other women can relate to, we are at an advantage here because our team is made up of women from all walks of life/background. We strongly feel that women should feel empowered no matter how they decide to dress or be perceived by others such as we feel empowered by not using sexuality to sell our products.
Could you comment on the view that the current cannabis market is a very gendered one, and how does your brand aim to tackle the gendered stereotype?
Inclusivity is big to the brand! We have heard from other women how the current market can feel alienating to women, they look at the products available and wonder where do they fit, why can’t they see themselves reflected in the brands? We find that this industry is heavily male-dominated, which means most of the marketing is from the perspective and the lens of the men behind it and directed to other men. We strongly feel, both our visuals and our brand style are empowering for women of all backgrounds. We thrive on celebrating women and it’s important to us that when we do not use professional models, but customers and friends of the brand to truly reflect the authenticity of our movement. The industry is dominated by male-owned companies, often they target male customers and the female presence is one that is used to sell to males.
What inspires you?
We are inspired by 90s/00’s diaspora kids from all backgrounds, the kids grew up in western culture but told they are not *enough* to fit in western society and told they’re too westernised to be a part of their home culture. We reflect on the merging of these cultures, the possibility to shape new trends and styles from influences from different cultures.
Where do you see Afg Suga in 5 years time?
We have amazing plans for the future! Things we couldn’t have even thought would be achievable a year ago! Watch this space Suga Babies!
To purchase go to https://www.afgsuga.co.uk/