Doreen Sullivan didn’t intend to create one of the cannabis community’s favorite bongs or water pipes. The design sprang from a quick-thinking, covert operation in her living room.
“I was hitting on my bong when a repair man came to the door,” she explained. “Wanting to hide my cannabis use and the bong, I quickly put it on a shelf with some bud vases and turned the bowl around.”
When the repairman left, she noted how similar the bong was to the flower vases and took one down, putting it to her lips. The rest, as they say, is herstory.
Sullivan’s foray into the cannabis space was driven by the bud vase design, along with a desire to beautify and normalize partaking of the plant. She didn’t need to start up another business, having owned her own highly successful media company for decades.
Sullivan was raised in the shade of the Hollywood Sign, so to speak, with her father, a prop maker in television and film in Los Angeles. Her first degree was actually in theater at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
“As a broke actress, I transitioned over to merchandising, then advertising and marketing in the industry,” she shared
The legacy of Sullivan’s advertising and marketing company is phenomenal— five Super Bowls working with ESPN, 30 years developing brands and doing promotions for entertainment marketing companies—including product development.
“My Bud Vase evolved to what it is today, but it’s really been more fun to run than anything—a creative escape from my day job,” she mused.
Sullivan said she never intended for the bud vase company to feel like a work project, she wanted it to come from the heart.
“If it starts feeling too corporate or restrained, it’s uncomfortable,” she added. “The fun part is, I’ve had no limitations with this product—the sky has been the limit, and the designs just keep coming.”
Female-friendly, Man approved
Unlike the classic, man-sized bongs of the past, My Bud Vases are sized for easy handling by the female form—yet, many are masculine enough for men to admire. Sullivan knows her target market, because she’s part of the demographic.
“When I started using them myself, I realized how much I really do love them and love smoking from them,” she said. “It’s also rewarding for me to see them being used and loved by others.”
Sullivan said she spent more than six months in trial and error, sourcing vases to transform and learning how to work with various materials—glass, ceramic, and porcelain, with the entire process a labor of love.
If she was traveling for her day job in media, she’d pack her drill and peruse antique shops in her off hours, looking for the perfect bud vases. She also works with vase makers globally, customizing unique vases for bud.
The first vases Sullivan sent to market were from her Artisan line, all one-of-a-kind bud vases.
Then she added the Signature Collection, with matching sets of trays, bud jars and vases; with pieces specifically designed for the collection, such as the DeAngelo.
“The DeAngelo was created to honor longtime cannabis activist, Steven DeAngelo, and comes with a matching bud jar and tray. It’s dark and earthy— more masculine than most of our pieces, and we are so happy to have Steven included in our line. He sent me a message saying, ‘Your works of art are potentially destigmatizing. Well done.’ That was the best compliment, because that’s a huge goal for us, to do away with the stigma of using cannabis.”
A portion of each DeAngelo sold will go toward Steven’s pet project, The Last Prisoner Project, helping to free longtime cannabis prisoners in the U.S.
Not included in any line is a special cut crystal bud vase created especially for Martha Stewart, then gifted to her by Snoop Dogg. Other celebrities enjoying a My Bud Vase are Jim Belushi, Amber Rose, Miley Cyrus, The Chain Smokers, and Margo Price.
The newest addition to the Signature Collection is Yemaya, a mermaid-fin vase with a nod to the African Water Deity, said to be the Goddess of the living ocean.
“Yemaya quickly became a favorite among our customers,” she said. “We had to be careful in describing and honoring her, as many take her meaning very seriously,” she added.
The social media and ad campaigns for each bud vase have become events in themselves, with Yamaya’s photo shoot nothing short of epic.
“We used a male merman with long dreads in a fantasy suit underwater—and he is spectacular!” she gushed. “Of course, we used some lovely female mermaids, as well—with beautiful female mermaids frolicking in the ocean and underwater in a swimming pool.”
Sullivan enjoys working with Social Media Influencers, like Jessica Gonzalez, otherwise known as The Mommy Jane on Instagram. Gonzalez was chosen along with other influencers in the space to be in video montages and stills, promoting her bud vases.
In 2019, the My Bud Vase musical commercial made it to the big screen in Times Square in New York City.
“Because of her background in media and marketing, everything Doreen does is big,” Gonzalez said. “You can feel her energy when she walks into a room – and she puts all that energy into her brand, with the ultimate goal of normalizing plant medicine.”
Gonzalez said she’s also grateful for the immense feminine energy and scaled-down designs she has brought to the industry.
“When all is said and done there’s not much I would rather be doing than normalizing cannabis through creative products,” Sullivan surmised. “Cannabis is my medicine, too—and I feel that using beautiful tools normalizes the process. It brings me complete joy to be able to make and market these beautiful vases all over the world.”