by JR Valrey, Black New World Journalists Society
TreeMoon Cannabis Fashion, like so many other small businesses in the United States, is busy rebounding after having its production line interrupted by the COVID-19 quarantine. Business analysts estimate that up to 60 percent of Black-owned businesses will not survive the impacts of the extended COVID quarantine and national rebellions of 2020. As the Black community, we have to step up our support for Black business at this critical juncture in history.
TreeMoon Cannabis Fashion is a brand that is riding the turbulent wave of doing business in these unprecedented times, and we must go out of our way to support them – not just for the culture, but because they make dope shit. My long-time friend, Kerby Garcia, founder and pilot of the brand, sat down with us to discuss TreeMoon’s beginnings, his history, his family’s culture, and doing business during a global pandemic. Check out Kerby Garcia and TreeMoon, the cannabis fashion brand.
M.O.I. JR: What made you want to get into fashion?
Kerby Garcia: I’ve always had an interest in starting my own fashion line ever since Karl Kani, FUBU and Cross Colors. Back then I was in middle school and my brothers, cousins and potnas used to all share and rotate each other’s fits because we didn’t have the money to buy outfits for every day of the week, like some of the more fortunate teens.
After a while my crew and I started rippin’ and dyeing our jeans to stand out from the norm. Later on, we learned how to screen print our own T-shirts. My older cousin, Mark Jackson, showed us how it was done and we ran with that piece of knowledge.
Designing our own shirts was right up my alley because I didn’t like wearing all the name brands. I figured if FUBU could do it, so can I, right? Little did I know there were hella layers to this fashion journey.
M.O.I. JR: What made you start a cannabis-based fashion line?
Kerby Garcia: Cannabis has been a part of – most of – my life. My father in law Billy Cox really taught me the science of the plant. He taught me how to properly care for this healing herb. I wasn’t aware of all the benefits that cannabis contained until I began researching it myself.
I decided to start this fashion line when I was introduced to the Emerald Triangle, Humboldt County. It was there I experienced the true power of the flower and its potential to change lives for the betterment of us all.
In Humboldt I was blessed to be around the most innovative, creative, hard working individuals I’ve ever met. Being in an environment where ideas were naturally developed, pursued and executed, I realized I was right where I needed to be, to give birth to something organic. TreeMoon!
M.O.I. JR: Where does the name come from?
Kerby Garcia: The name TreeMoon comes from some of my favorite memories as a child living in Belize. Besides swimming and running through the lush jungles, climbing trees and moon gazing was my absolute joy. Especially while my grandmother Erma Torres (RIP) hummed spiritual tunes blended in with bits of old family stories. TreeMoon comes from that free-spirited child in all of us!
M.O.I. JR: How would you describe your brand?
Kerby Garcia: TreeMoon is a mellow vibe, a chill mood – easy going! It embodies not letting the worries of the world dampen your life visions. TreeMoon is an apostle for all genders, races, cannabis growers, indulgers, green entrepreneurs and blue-collar workers.
M.O.I. JR: What kind of clothing pieces do you specialize in?
Kerby Garcia: At the moment, we specialize in T-shirts, hoodies, joggers, crop tops and tanks. Hats and accessories will be added as we grow.
M.O.I. JR: How do you want people to feel sporting TreeMoon Fashion?
Kerby Garcia: First, I want people to feel comfort. After the fact that it feels good on your skin, I want you to enjoy the uniqueness and creativeness of the designs. I want you to feel proud and inspired to continue on your own life journey.
All we can do is stick together as a people and support each other. This is the time to circulate the dollars amongst our own.
M.O.I. JR: What is your connection to cannabis? And how do you see the politics surrounding this herb?
Kerby Garcia: My connection to cannabis has become personal now. I rarely indulge socially. I most enjoy cannabis when I’m alone or in an intimate setting. I use it to create and/or as a stress relief.
The politics surrounding this magical herb is like a dark cloud on a beautiful sunny day. There are bittersweet emotions surrounding the political side of the cannabis industry. I don’t care to partake in that as much. I do know that we have to stay in tune and educate ourselves with these ever-changing laws.
M.O.I. JR: Have the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine affected your business?
Kerby Garcia: Yes, in a tremendous way. TreeMoon is considered a start-up. It’s like a new baby, so I have to feed and nurture it until it becomes sustainable. Due to this pandemic my orders have slowed down a lot.
M.O.I. JR: As the head of a fashion company, how have you dealt with non-essential businesses being closed down?
Kerby Garcia: It was ridiculous for places like the DMV to be closed but McDonalds was open. I couldn’t get some of my most popular orders filled because my direct-to-garment print guy is closed down due to this COVID-19.
Personally, I’ve been just trying to stay safe and make sure my immediate family is safe too. We can’t control what the government already has in place. All we can do is stick together as a people and support each other. This is the time to circulate the dollars amongst our own.
M.O.I. JR: How have you used the quarantine time as a businessman?
Kerby Garcia: As a man who wears many hats, I’ve been hustling online pretty hard. I am also a video editor and web and graphic designer, so there’s some relief there. I’ve been studying online using YouTube university to sharpen my marketing skills.
M.O.I. JR: Have you applied to get any of the business loans available because of COVID-19? If so, what was that experience like?
Kerby Garcia: Yes. The experience was frustrating AF!
M.O.I. JR: If the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine lasts through the summer, how will TreeMoon be forced to adjust?
Kerby Garcia: I’ll have to take down some of the designs off the website that I am not able to fill and focus on the ones I can fill from home. I’ll work on new designs and invest in some Facebook and Instagram ads. Turn my home into a podcast show for new business owners or something of that sort.
M.O.I. JR: How do people keep up with you online?
JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of the Black New World Journalists Society, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook. Visit www.youtube.com/blockreporttv. All stories related to COVID-19 were partially made possible by the Akonadi Fund #SoLoveCanWin.