|Last October, Viola launched their incubator program as a means to help new and pre-established cannabis companies and adjacent that are minority owned, flourish in the fast-growing industry. Mezz Bands, whose name was inspired by Milton Mezzrow, the Jewish jazz musician who befriended the likes of King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and other jazz legends while also fighting for cannabis decriminalization during the prohibition, launched in 2017 and quickly became a favorite among locals in California, Colorado and Nevada.
“We fell in love with the story from the first time we heard it,” said Robert Ciardi, Managing Partner of Provident Healthcare. Ciardi and his business partner Dr. Bobby Dey, a retired Pain Management Surgeon, were lead investors in Mezz Brands’ seed funding round in 2017.
“We’re excited to officially announce the partnership,” said Paul Saunders, Mezz Brands Co-Founder and Head of Brand. “We hope to be a light for other brands, leading by example with amazing products that authentically connect with consumers, and partnering with Viola will help make that dream a reality. Helping create a brand that pays homage to industry vets who have fought to create change and a code of ethics in the space, like Al, has been amazing, and we look forward to the future.”
With the vision of creating a diverse and inclusive culture through their offerings in an industry that has long been pegged with negative stigma, Mezz Brands, has been producing products and events that help bridge the gap between cannabis and pop culture since closing a $2M seed funding round in 2017. From star-studded events to expert-led panels by well-known names in their respective fields, the team has worked to educate their audience about the positive impact cannabis can have on your health.
“At Viola we look to work with brands who have built a strong foundation. We’ve been really impressed with Erin and Paul’s vision and what they have established with Mezz in Colorado. Working together as Black business owners in the cannabis industry makes our collective impact stronger and we are excited to help them expand their footprint” said Viola CEO, Al Harrington (pictured).
“Our relationship with Al and Viola goes back a few years. With my passion to help felons that have been unfairly targeted and Al’s work with Root & Rebound, the partnership and opportunity to be a part of the incubator is the perfect fit. We now have the opportunity to share the story of Milton Mezzrow and his advocacy with the world.” said Erin Hackney, Mezz Brands Co-Founder and CEO.