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By Ayad Maher
Henrique Dias is the founder of Wood & Glass, and according to his own words, he loves the hustle. He is responsible for all of operations, business development, and engineering, and sometimes works 18-hour days with no breaks. He is an energetic individual who always seeks to lead and empower those around him, and his life revolves around all facets of entrepreneurship. As a mechanical engineer he thrives in conceptualizing, designing, and bringing physical objects to life, while at the same time finding the right people to help him along the way.
Henrique founded Wood & Glass in January of 2017, as a result of a very “high and enlightened” moment while speaking to a friend over the phone. His friend had worked for a company that made wood-covered products, and this made him think about which smoking accessories could be covered in wood, too. Since he had owned a beaker style ROOR in the past that he really loved, the shape was ingrained in his head and the concept of making a wood and glass water-pipe was born.
After speaking with multiple head-shops around his parents’ area in Oakville, ON, Canada, nobody really thought it was a great idea. This didn’t seem to bother him, and nevertheless he was set on bringing this concept into reality. Henrique bought a simple beaker for $40 at one of the local head shops he had been to, and then started calling any company that popped on Google Maps for the keywords “wood machining”. The calls would go something like this: “So, ughhhh, I’m working on a project, and we want to cover a bong in wood… Do you know what a bong is?”
Henrique went to a few woodworking companies around a 50-mile radius, and finally found a group of Mennonites who made W&G’s very first wooden shell for $450 (ouch!). A week later, all of the wooden pieces were handcrafted around the $40 beaker - not to mention he also made a travel case along the way. This is what the first prototype looked like - not too shabby at all.
The same people who had doubted his idea were about to have their minds blown. When Henrique brought this water-pipe into the head-shops, everyone was amazed. The reactions on people’s faces were priceless. Everyone was truly impressed about the looks, and also about how the wood felt on the hand. Even though this prototype had cost him over $750 and took about 20 hours to craft, he was confident in that he could engineer a better manufacturing process for it.
Over the next month, he called and visited every woodworking shop in the area, and had multiple experts help him come up with a process. Little by little the picture started unfolding in his head, and by March he had a fully scalable manufacturing process. Over the following 4 months Henrique made even more improvements to the product line, and in July he manufactured, handcrafted, and sold W&G’s first collection at a well renowned head shop in Waterloo, ON, Canada.
Since then, Henrique got two more members to join the team – Rebecca to look after photography and David as the product manager – and together they keep growing and scaling the business. Multiple improvements have been made to the manufacturing process, and while they drive their unit cost down, they keep expanding their reach through social media and resellers. W&G’s current line of water-pipes comes in three different types of woods and has an even more refined design. These water-pipes are made with the strongest materials found in the woodworking industry, and are built to last a lifetime.
Fortunately for him, Henrique’s parents are very successful entrepreneurs and really helped the company get off the ground. Even though they’ve never smoked cannabis, they really saw the potential in the idea. He also got one of his best friends to invest in the company, and as W&G expands Henrique will soon be looking to get in front of real investors to raise capital and scale the business.
On a personal level, Henrique has been a regular cannabis smoker for about 5 years now, with some tolerance breaks here and there. When he first heard of Canada’s plans to legalize marijuana (back in November of 2016), he had been in Australia for over a year. Without much thought he packed his bags and headed straight back home. He knew cannabis would be a lifelong habit, and as he puts it: "Might as well make a business out of what you love.”
Cannabis has always been a source of creativity and focus for him, and sativa-dominant hybrids are his favourite strain. As he puts it, “If you want to work stoned, make a real promise that you will actually work hard, and then plan all of it before actually smoking. Then, smoke and get to work, and don’t stop until you’ve done everything on your list - or you WILL regret it later. Once you start doing it consistently, you stop being lazy and start working a ton more than you would sober."
"If you are bringing innovation to the table or making anything better, faster, or cheaper, you shouldn’t have too much problem facing the competition." Henrique said. "Going into something more cut throat, such as the accessories industry, really requires a unique marketing message too, or you just become another brick on the wall.” Henrique’s only hope is that the Cannabis industry keeps growing, because the more fish in the pond the more fish in the plate. “As people become more and more educated, the stigma will start to disappear and this growth is just bound to happen.”
When it comes to the downsides and obstacles he is facing, Henrique points to the limitations in marketing. Since Cannabis is still illegal in a lot of places, the big platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, don’t allow cannabis-related advertisement. He also finds that there is still some "push-back” when you are trying to find manufacturing suppliers. “Some people just don’t want to do business with the cannabis industry.”
Next for Wood & Glass is to scale operations, keep recruiting top talent, and investing in sales and marketing. All they really want is to keep designing beautiful products and bringing them into reality.
They are currently working on a couple of new product designs, and Henrique says "It won’t be longer than a month until we have new accessories coming out." Wood & Glass is also very environment conscious, and giving back to the planet is their number one priority. According to Henrique, “You only get what you give.”