Clothing Firm Sees Budding Opportunity in Weed


Fashion label Dope’s new owner wants to inject some green into the business he bought last month.

Entrepreneur Rob Gough wants to grow the retailer, which he acquired from the original owner in an all-cash deal for an undisclosed amount, by introducing smoking accessories and leveraging its domain name, – a prime URL – as recreational marijuana is being legalized around the country.

“For me it was interesting because they’ve been around 10 years and stayed relevant,” Gough said. “Word on the street is the company is typically a trend setter.”

Dope, which includes a Fairfax District retail store, wholesale business, and e-commerce site, had revenue of more than $10 million last year, Gough said.

The site recently featured men’s T-shirts with the store’s logo for $32 and hoodies for $78 to $88, though its products aren’t typically marijuana themed. Gough said he also wants to begin selling women’s clothing.

He said that he originally tried to invest in the company a couple of years after it was founded, but his offer was rejected. After a record year of sales and acquiring some new trademarks, however, founder Matt Fields was willing to sell, according to Gough, who said he approached Fields again about five months ago.

Gough said he also has a large stake in vape e-liquid company Mad Hatter Juice, which sells its products online and wholesale. While there is some overlap in customers, he wouldn’t try to combine the companies.

More marijuana lifestyle brands have cropped up locally as regulatory and social acceptance of the drug has increased. New York-based pot-focused publication High Times opened an office on the Miracle Mile and began selling a line of branded apparel online in fall of last year.

Michael Catalano, founding partner of West Hollywood brand consultancy Prominent Brand + Talent, said retail brands need to find ways to stay relevant in today’s challenging environment but that Dope shouldn’t stray too far afield from its original self.

“Whatever marketing path you choose, remaining true to the core values of the brand is really important,” Catalano said. “If it’s done properly and you remain true, it can be very powerful.”

Pizza Wars

The C-Suites at local pizza businesses have been spinning lately.

Pasadena-based build-your-own-pizza chain Blaze Pizza promoted its chief operating officer, Jim Mizes, to chief executive this month, the company announced. Co-founders Rick and Elise Wetzel, who also co-founded Wetzel’s Pretzels, hired Mizes in 2012 when Blaze only had two restaurants; it now has 194 locations in 32 states and Canada.

“By leveraging the infrastructure we’ve built over our first five years, we are now well-positioned to become a dominant category leader, with a goal of becoming a billion-dollar brand by 2022,” Mizes said in a statement.

Blaze generated $185 million in systemwide sales last year, with an average unit volume of $1.45 million, according to a press release. It was unclear who Mizes replaced in the role, and phone calls and emails to the company weren’t returned.

Prior to Blaze, Mizes served as vice president of operations at Jamba Juice Inc. and president of Noah’s New York Bagels.

Competitor Pieology Pizzeria, which was founded in 2011 with a similar concept and has 135 stores nationally, hired another industry veteran, Michael Nolan, this month as president. Nolan served as chief executive of burger chain Smashburger before joining Pieology, which is based in Rancho Santa Margarita.

In March, 800 Degrees Neopolitan Pizzeria, which opened its first store in Westwood in 2011 and now has 15 internationally, abruptly replaced its chief executive of less than a year, Steve Overholt, with Tommy Lee, a former vice president of operations at Chili’s Grill & Bar parent company Brinker International.

Staff reporter Caroline Anderson covers retail, restaurants, and hospitality. She can be reached at (323) 556-8329.

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