Not all successful cannabis brands get their start with big funding rounds, a crew of angel investors, flashy press releases and ribbon cutting ceremonies. Some start in the underground and have to fight their way to the top.

Ryan Bartholomew, who is the brainchild behind the cult-favorite brand Doja, also known as Doja.Pak, has been quietly dominating California since the Proposition 215 days, when he was known as the purveyor of some of the finest packs California had to offer. When cannabis went adult-use legal in 2016, he decided it was time to level up. He hired a graphic designer. He formalized and licensed his supply chains. He didn’t do much else, besides network, and his brand took off. Many will know Doja from his most famous offering to date, the RS-11 (Rainbow Sherbet 11) cultivar, bred by Deep East and grown by Wizard Trees. The deep purple-and-green buds with bright orange pistils quickly became internationally famous.

Today, Doja, whose business is so far self-funded and whose drops appear in dispensaries throughout California, is still known for providing the finest packs available. Many celebrities, especially rappers, are counted as clients and fans. Bartholomew is planning to take his operation vertical, which means bringing growing in-house, as well as continuing to contract with some of the best growers across California and eventually in other state markets. Incredibly, Bartholomew has done this based largely on brand reputation alone, despite not really putting any effort into branding beyond selecting good weed and letting it speak for itself.

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