Image of a man standing in front of a building.
Zack of Zackwoods holds up his branded bags of tobacco leaves. 2021

If you use Instagram, you might already know the man behind the indie brand Zackwoods—who now goes by Zack, after the lead character in the 90’s teen TV show “Saved by the Bell.” Zack is one of the most prominent weed meme creators on the site.

Zack, as he now goes by, launched the brand in 2018 after tens of thousands of people started following his Instagram account.

“The memes are what birthed this whole thing,” Zack says. “The memes were where Zackwoods was born. Once I got the attention of the cannabis community, I started growing. People were seeing my branding capabilities, my comedic skills, my travels, and just the ability to really push the brand to the next level.”

According to Zack, the audience that he cultivated has been with him on the journey of this indie brand’s unorthodox path to success.

“A lot of people saw the real organic growth that I went through.”

First Zackwoods gained a following online by rebranding Backwoods packs with his own stickers, then its founder turned his art into a brand that has been on the rise in the few short years it’s been around.

The memes were where Zackwoods was born. Once I got the attention of the cannabis community, I started growing.

Zack

Known for exotic weed strains and hand-rolled blunts, the brand has now launched its own line of tobacco leaves as a high-quality alternative to Backwoods.

Building a Following

For Zack, memes were a way to critique both the traditional and recreational markets after California legalized the sale of weed in 2016. The man behind Zack had long been part of the Trap scene, working with top growers and selling the best weed to insider clients bringing California’s best flower to insider clientele. When he saw the way that licensed recreational brands were “re-branding” weed culture to make it palatable for mainstream consumers, he called bullshit. 

Inspired by the master of weed memes, Sourwavez, Zack started to get more aggressive and direct in his meme commentary on the weed industry, not hesitating to call out even the top brands and weed celebs of the moment. He quickly gained a following of people who appreciated his off-center, undiplomatic, fiercely and hilariously direct style of commentary. Zack realized that he had a perspective that a lot of people responded to.

An Instagram meme posted by Zack of Zackwoods, November 2021.

From the Street to the ‘Gram

Zack’s perspective comes from his experience growing up in Southern California. He was raised in Compton during some of the most volatile periods of Los Angeles history. His large family, partly Samoan, partly Mexican, and partly Black, were as much an influence on him as the pop culture, music, and advertising of the period. His adolescence was also the height of the War on Drugs. He saw family members harassed by cops for weed, some arrested and given parole or house arrest—”nothing too serious, fortunately” he says. He saw others around him do serious prison time for weed.

Zack speaks in the idiom of pop culture, especially Trap culture from the streets, rap and hip-hop, sports, music, television, and his own family background. He uses short-hand, slang, and insider terms that even his followers are confused by (just what is “the new low”?). For all of his ironic and subversive humor, he makes clear to his audience that he’s part of the true, authentic weed culture that long predated the recreational market.

Inventing Zackwoods

Zackwoods came into being somewhat by accident. Zack understood the power of branding through meme culture, and his first product was really no product at all: he collaged stickers that he made of characters from “Saved by the Bell” onto Backwoods pouches. Backwoods, the well-known brand of tobacco leaves used to roll blunts, is a fixture of the weed scene. The character from “Saved by the Bell,” Zack, exemplified the boss dude that had it all. A sticker of the word “Zack” made to match the logo was affixed on top of the word “Back” on the tobacco pouch, and Zackwoods was born.

The character from “Saved by the Bell,” Zack, exemplified the boss dude that had it all. A sticker of the word “Zack” made to match the logo was affixed on top of the word “Back” on the tobacco pouch, and Zackwoods was born.

Zack produced more branded pouches with names that played off of “Saved by the Bell’s” other characters while also making commentary on the weed industry. Zackwoods packages used retro 90’s design and featured names like Cannabis Influencer Kelly, Light Dep Lisa and of course 2 Stack Zack, which became Zack’s persona (“two stack” being a shady way of doubling the price of product, implying a nefarious character always trying to scheme). The pouches of “Zackwoods” leaves bearing Zack’s clever re-branding gained attention online.

A collage of Zackwoods original cover designs of Backwoods packs, made by Zack.

By 2019, in order for Zack to level up his growing brand, he decided to launch a strain. Not one, actually, but 10 all at once. His mind set to work with ideas for strain names and bag branding. In answer to the trend of naming strains after food and desserts, Zack offered Abuelita, the chocolate powder drink that, he says, any Mexican kid would have grown up drinking. He also launched Maqui, his most iconic strain to date.

From his home base in Miami, Zack tells us about how he got started, how his childhood influences his branding, and what’s next for Zackwoods.

How’d you get started with memes?

I was making memes about all different kinds of topics but I really didn’t touch on cannabis too much because I didn’t want to offend anybody. I have a lot of friends in the different cannabis scenes before I was even Zackwoods, so I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers by saying too much or saying anything too offensive.

Once Sourwavez and me met, we hit it off and became good friends and started talking about the memes. I was looking at his page I could see that he just went no holds barred, completely gloves off, like he didn’t give a fuck about anything when it came to the memes. No brand, nobody was safe. If you were doing some fuck-shit, you were getting called out.

I was looking at his page I could see that he just went no holds barred, completely gloves off. He didn’t give a fuck about anything when it came to the memes. No brand, nobody was safe. If you were doing some fuck-shit, you were getting called out.

-Zack, on being inspired by Sourwavez

So I was like OK, I can respect that because like that’s when transparency started happening in the industry. All of these brands were claiming we’re so organic, we’re so natural, and our whole process is all healthy and a lot of that shit started coming out about that not being the truth and them not giving us the grade A product that they’d been telling us they were giving.

You have an interesting perspective. The humor, the references. If you know, you know.

People ask me how do you come up with this shit? It’s like, man, I’m a stoner, I get high and fucking just elevate, create, who knows what comes next. Same with the branding, you know, I get all these branding ideas.

When I saw what was happening with cannabis branding trying to go old-school, I was like oh my god, these guys are really going to make me like go in my bag right here for some old stuff?

I got old stuff for days, I’m an old-head, what they call us now. I got all the old WWF stuff, all the Micromachines, all the Nintendo–I can go back to all of that stuff, I know it like yesterday. All my posters, collectibles. 

So why “Saved by the Bell”?

To me, as a kid from the 90s, Zach Morris was probably the coolest kid on TV. As a kid watching, I always wanted to have the newest technology, I always wanted to have the new kicks, the freshest shit. Zack made you feel like you had to be that cool kid at school. He came through, fresh kicks, got the J’s on, hair all fucking whipped up. Oh, what? pulling out the brick phone in class?

There were other kids on TV who were cool but Zack was the guy that stuck with me as a teen. And I watched that show religiously.

How’d the whole Zackwoods thing get started?

When I first started the brand I did some artwork with each character. I was putting stickers on the actual packs of Backwoods. I would put the stickers with my artwork we’d have Zack on there or Kelly or Lisa, and it would be very loud colors and instead of Backwoods it would say Zackwoods.

People saw that and they fell in love with the artwork so I just kind of started pushing it, pushing it, pushing it. I was pushing it with no cannabis involved, it was just artwork on Backwoods. That’s how Zackwoods really started. 

People kept asking are they prerolls? and I’m like, no, they’re not prerolls, they’re just Backwoods with artwork on them.

I got to the point where I was like ok, I’ve got to do something about this. So, I partnered up with the best preroller there is in the cannabis industry, his name is Roll BMC. He was like yeah man I’ll happily do your prerolls for you and we’ll introduce Zackwoods to the world as an actual preroll. So now when people hit you up and ask if it’s a preroll or if it’s just leaves, well now it’s both. I have the artwork or I have the actual preroll for you. Which one do you want?

People were like aren’t you nervous? I’m like, not really, this is what we do, you know? This is what we do to feed the family, what we do to keep shit moving around here. 

Zack

I know you’re in Miami now but we’re talking about California weed, right? Who are your growers?

I have an all-star team of growers back in California. I’m blessed to have some famous and some no-name growers that are in the San Francisco Bay area, like Oakland, Santa Rosa, all the hot-spots for growing the best stuff in California.

Everything I deal with is top shelf. I’m just finally getting into the lower-tier stuff. But as of right now, everything I deal with is top-tier, exotic, Za, whatever street name you want to give it. That’s what we market towards, that demographic.

Have you thought about going licensed?

A lot of these people I’ve seen entering the game are using shady characters and shady tactics and shady business models. It just doesn’t look lucrative enough to me on the financial end, or enough for me to want to release my brand or put the trust of my brand and everything I’ve worked for in the hands of someone else.

How’d you get started Trapping?

I’ve always been able to just get out there and generate money based on me being a street person, being a word-of-mouth type of guy, very people-person. It’s kind of in my blood, I feel like. And then I grew up around a bunch of real dudes who were really active in the street, so I saw what was really going on. I didn’t want to be sitting there on the curb or asking mom for money when it came time to buy school clothes. I had to get out there and start doing for myself. And it’s really been like that ever since. And I love it.

People would tell me you can’t do this forever, you can’t sell weed forever. We’re also talking about different times when having weed on you was a much much bigger deal than it is now. So people would always freak out. You know, I’m sitting in mom’s crib with fucking ten pounds bussin’ down fucking half ounces and shit. People were like aren’t you nervous? I’m like, not really, this is what we do, you know? This is what we do to feed the family, what we do to keep shit moving around here. 

I’ve just been evolving with the Trap as it’s gotten wider and touched more lives out here.

Zack

But now we’re into a space where we’ve been able to take the Trap scene and monetize it, LLC it, legalize it, websites, taxes, and all this stuff going on. So it’s just a crazy time. I’ve just been evolving with the Trap as it’s gotten wider and touched more lives out here.

You grew up in Compton during the 80s and 90s. How’d that influence your perspective?

I grew up in the 80’s in Los Angeles in the middle of it all. In the middle of the gangs, in the middle of the police, in the middle of Hollywood, in the middle of AIDS, in the middle of all that shit. I saw it all. When you really have that up-close, in-depth look at all these different things, you’re gonna remember. Eazy-E dying of AIDS, Magic having to retire, Tupac getting shot, all these major critical events that really play a major impact on your life. 

That along with Nike branding and all the different commercials getting shoved down our throats as kids. There was just so much imagery and so much being thrown at us in the 90’s, it was crazy. So you’re soaking up all that shit. And as an adult, I’ve always loved nostalgia.

You have a big family and family is important to you. What’s your family background?

Black, Mexican, Pacific Islander all mixed up. I come from a mixed background, and I grew up in L.A. around all three cultures. Samoan sometimes, Black sometimes, Mexican sometimes, depending on which parent or which family member I was with at the time. I’m a combination of all that.

When did you first get into weed?

12-13 was when I really started getting into it.

Funny story, I was maybe 4-5 years old. I remember my father always had an orange Zig-Zag pack on the table next to the ashtray. I didn’t know the difference between a cigarette and a joint, you know? I just knew the ashtray was for smoking. I remember one time distinctly my father either blew the smoke in my mouth or he put the joint in my mouth and let me take a little hit, not enough to get high or anything like that. Fast-forward ten years when I become a teenager and I take my first actual hit of weed where I’m really actually getting high: I immediately flashed back to that moment with my father where I had the taste of the weed on my tongue. I knew immediately, oh, this is what I smoked with my father. So I would say my first encounter with weed would be like 5 years old.

The brand really took off fast.

It wasn’t until I got to like 20k that I really got serious. Now this shit is a brand. Zackwoods is a fucking real thing now. Now I’m about to go fucking crazy. Now I’m going to invest all this Trap money and whatever I had, boom: LLC, website, lawyer, all that, real quick.

You gotta have a lot of fucking things going for you if you want to do what I’m doing. But you can try.

Zack

So that’s what I started doing, I started investing all my money into that, investing all my money into Sticker Farmer, getting my artwork and all my ideas printed out into mylar bags, and just started evolving from there. The wheels started rolling.

Do you see others following in your same footsteps?

The artistic ideas that I have, the memes too. It’s not just one thing, it’s not just the branding. It’s the everyday vocal communication with the people. 

So for you to say you’re going to do something like me, I feel like you have to tackle multiple areas. You have to be good at memes, you have to be good at talking, you have to be good at picking out the best exotic weed, you gotta have your taste buds right, you gotta have an all-star team of growers, you gotta have Sticker Farmer on your side. You gotta have a lot of fucking things going for you if you want to do what I’m doing. But you can try.

I just try to do my own thing and swerve away from what everyone else is doing. If I see too many people doing one thing, I’ll go a different direction.

Zackwoods just released their official lines of tobacco wraps for blunts. “2 Stack Zack’s XL Leaves” available at Zackwoods.com. 2021.

Speaking of doing your own thing, you’re known for inventing the mylar bag “tray.” What’s that about?

We have a little plastic tray that we insert into the mylar bag to preserve the nug integrity.

We’re tired of people bringing flat weed. Pancake nugs we call it. Dude, check this out, I just got this! Yeah, but it’s been fucking rustling around in your pocket all day with no tray. No tray to keep your nugs in shape because when you have the tray in the bag, the bag doesn’t squish. It keeps a little air in there and it keeps the shape of the tray. Keeps your nugs nice.

As we say, No Tray, No Play.

You collab with Sticker Farmer a lot.

I came out the gate I came with top-quality flower, top-quality growers behind me, and the top-quality branding machine, being Sticker Farmer. I got all those ducks in a row and I already had the top fucking preroller in my back pocket.

Zack

Obviously that’s who you want to be working with in this branding shit. If you’re not working with them, I feel like you’re working with a minor league company. 

This was my debut into pushing the exotics my own mylar bags, so I wanted to make sure when I came out the gate I came with top-quality flower, top-quality growers behind me, and the top-quality branding machine, being Sticker Farmer. I got all those ducks in a row and I already had the top fucking preroller in my back pocket. So everybody already sees I’m rocking with Roll BMC out the gate. Oh shit, he got with a legend! Right off the bat.

Now that you’ve taken on the 2 Stack Zack persona, could you tell me who 2 Stack Zack is?

He is a master of all things exotic. I’ve always been a fan of having top-tier whatever it may be. Whether it be drink smoke, food, candles, cologne, lifestyle, car, all that type of stuff. So now that I’ve really elevated to a point–let’s just say I’m not new to having money or getting money by any stretch, you now, I’ve been around big money and all that stuff before. But it’s different now because it’s earned. And it’s very much encompassing “you’re a grown man,” like I’m grown now so I want to have the finest colognes and I want to smoke the finest weeds, the best of everything.

I’m coming out with my own leaves now because I got so tired of smoking Backwoods and wasting money giving Backwoods money, so I’m like: I need to go find the finest leaves because my lungs deserve the finest smoke. Not only that, we’re just getting ripped off by this company over and over again. Every time we buy a pack, you spend for 5 you only get two. It’s just a waste of fucking cash.

Zack is basically just a person who wants to have all of the things in his life be top tier.