Before opening Trichome, John Le worked long hours as a heart surgery assistant for hospital emergency rooms. • Photo by Nick Wong
Trichome co-owner John Le. • Photo by Nick Wong

John Le is on a mission to diversify cannabis culture. The chosen foreground is the International District and the vehicle is Trichome—a retail store focused on lifestyle. Owned and operated by Le, Trichome has the intention of propagating cannabis use in a manner distinct from the mainstream.

“The focus is on the crossover between cannabis and culture in a modern sense because it’s always had to stay underground for so long, so the cultural side didn’t get to flourish, or at least it flourished very one-sided,” says Le in regards to the focus of Trichome. “We never really support the idea of being locked away in your basement just smoking weed and playing video games or whatever. We feel like that’s an unbalanced life.”

Officially, Trichome is a retail store specializing in the sale of designer clothing and smoking accessories. Though they don’t sell marijuana products, there is plenty of equipment to consume them and consume them in style. Glass bongs and sleek silver grinders fill the display cases. Jackets made of Tyvek and hoodies lined with secret pockets hang on the racks. A couple of old-school arcade machines are plugged in near the entrance, and there’s usually some kind of ’80s sci-fi or Kung-Fu flick playing in the back. Le says the design, feel, and layout of the store are mere reflections of his and co-owner Richard Saguin’s personalities.

That is perhaps the difference between Trichome and other cannabis centric stores; it flips the culture-lifestyle model on its head. Instead of there being a singular scope to defining cannabis lifestyle, Trichome argues that any lifestyle can incorporate cannabis, if done correctly.

Trichome is a retail store specializing in the sales of designer clothing and smoking accessories. • Photo by Nick Wong
Trichome is a retail store specializing in the sales of designer clothing and smoking accessories. • Photo by Nick Wong

“I think one thing that makes Trichome special is that it’s not cannabis centric. In the end the lifestyle, the person, is the main picture and cannabis is one variable you should care about, just like you should care about many variables in your life,” Le tells me. “We just started writing down and analyzing what is affecting our life. We’re always thinking about how can we make things more efficient? How can we live a more fulfilling life? Then it’s just about paying attention to things.”

Those questions are the core inspiration to the store’s beginnings, and getting the store to where it currently is has not been easy. Being one of few establishments in the area offering goods and services that are outside of the typical International District business profile, the distinction did not go unnoticed when the venture first started in 2013.

“When we first started looking for locations [a year and a half ago], a lot of them didn’t want Trichome. You either had to open up a Chinese restaurant, or one of the kinds of establishments you already see in [the International District]. But I think it’s good for the neighborhood. I think it contributes to the International District culture,” says Le.

An avid student and practitioner of martial arts, Le incorporates a certain Ying-and-Yang balance in how he manages the store and cannabis consumption. • Photo by Nick Wong
An avid student and practitioner of martial arts, Le incorporates a certain Ying-and-Yang balance in how he manages the store and cannabis consumption. • Photo by Nick Wong

Trichome is most widely known for their coffee-tasting events where patrons can sample their cannabis-infused coffee, a concoction inspired by the silicon-valley invention “Bulletproof Coffee,” which combines coffee, grass-fed butter, and triglyceride fats for a supposedly healthier and more efficient version of the morning java. Spurred from the familiar “wake-and-bake” ritual amongst cannabis consumers, Le perfected the recipe by discovering coconut oil as the combining agent. Being able to control dosage is key.

“Everyone has that story where their friend eats a brownie, and it’s just way too strong and they just have a terrible time,” says Le. “It’s because people don’t do their due diligence, and the careful part that we do is making sure the dose isn’t too strong.”

Moderation sits in the center of Trichome’s cannabis philosophy. An avid student and practitioner of martial arts, Le incorporates a certain Ying-and-Yang balance in how he manages the store and cannabis consumption. It is also elemental in the message that he is sending out to the public.

“We’re in this huge transition where it’s okay for society to consume these products and if we’re early adopters of this lifestyle of cannabis, we can actually try and steer into the direction where it should go. So in a way, Trichome is doing good in the world, spreading this aspect of cannabis as something that would not ruin your life.”

Trichome is located at 618 S Jackson St, Seattle WA 98104. For more information, visit www.trichomeseattle.com.

Trichome initially was met with resistance when looking for a storefront in the International District a year and a half ago. • Photo by Nick Wong
Trichome initially was met with resistance when looking for a storefront in the International District a year and a half ago. • Photo by Nick Wong

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Editor’s note (6/19/2015 at 2:03 p.m.): An updated version of this story was uploaded.

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