Studio Series: Mister Green'S Ariel Stark-Benz
Designer Ariel Stark-Benz is the creative mind behind Mister Green Life Store, a “friendly shop for high-minded people” in L.A. Mister Green has quickly become a must-visit destination for any discerning herb lover with its wide range of covetable goods, from pottery and pipes to vintage books and magazines. The shop’s effortlessly cool, minimalist vibe makes it the perfect place to spend a stoney California afternoon.
Marley Natural recently visited Mister Green to check out what the buzz is about (it’s rightfully deserved). Then Stark-Benz welcomed us into his personal studio – conveniently located just behind the store – to talk more about Mister Green, cannabis, and his creative process.
When did you first become curious about cannabis?
My neighbor gave it to me, he was like, ‘my sister has this weed stuff’. I knew about [cannabis] growing up in Portland, Oregon and hearing about it from my parents. I grew up in a place where artisanal shops were next to head shops, so it was already a part of my culture. I smoked it out of a Dr. Pepper can. I don’t remember getting high from it but I remember the experience.
Did you ever image working in cannabis? what sparked your interest?
I’ve always been a smoker, but I never imagined being in this world at all. I’ve been a designer forever, but then I was looking at the laws changing [in California]. I saw all these brands that were way too hippie or tech-y. None of that made sense in my life. I felt there must be somebody who spoke my language. I waited and waited and thought, “Why don’t I do this?”
How did that interest develop into the Mister Green concept?
My original thought was to open a dispensary, but when I started going in and checking them out, none of them really reflected my personal values or aesthetics. Initially, we were just looking for an office space, but we developed that into this shop. We currently have a Mister Green dispensary in the works, but not at this location. I want it to be a similar vibe and a tactile experience.
When did you open the Mister Green store?
We opened the day before 4/20, so 4/19 – we’ve been open about four months now. I want it to be a place people come by and grab a coffee, pick up a tee or a hoodie, look at books and magazines or grab some accessories.
Why are you an #AdvocvateForTheHerb?
I’m a cannabis supporter for a number of reasons. Number one, because it makes you feel good, the health aspect is huge but I don’t necessarily like to focus on that because I feel like that’s so heavily leaned upon to almost make it seem ok. It’s medicine but it’s also a little bit of fun, a little bit creative, it’s adjusting your perspective. It’s so many things that I think just calling it medicine greatly limits it.
How does cannabis influence your creative process?
Well, I’m an ADD kid, so one really fast way to zone into details is to get a little bit stoned, and it shifts my perspective. I become much more laser-focused. I have something that I’m on the final stretch of designing. I’m going to have to have my quiet weed time to make sure that I’m looking at the project from all angles and using all sides of my brain to make sure it’s treated properly.