From high tops to high class, High Ties is Ottawa’s go-to cannabis store

What do high fashion sneakers and recreational cannabis have in common? Not much. But both are worlds that require a certain amount of education and understanding to appreciate.

Local businessman recently turned cannabis entrepreneur Will Chaar is connecting the two niche worlds in his new High Ties cannabis shops, now open in Ottawa. The shops partner with Jaragon, a luxury custom trophy shoe design house founded by Colombia born, Ottawa raised Juan Sebastian Aragon.

High Ties is not the first, nor the only, cannabis retail shop to open in the Ottawa area. There are at least 80 retailers or applications by retailers across Ottawa and the surrounding area, according to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

But High Ties looks to do something different than the rest of the cannabis stores on the street.

Running with a 1920s, prohibition-era theme, staff in bowties, suspenders and hats are not just part of the set dressing—the staff will be passionate and expert cannabis educators happy to explain the world of weed to a new consumer or talk specifics with an old hand.

Cannabis can seem confusing to a new customer, but Chaar knows that and wants to help change it.

“I wanted to build brick and mortar stores that my mum and sisters would feel comfortable in, where folks not used to buying cannabis can be educated by a bud tender who will remember them as a welcome guest.” Chaar said.

There are plenty of areas in the world that require further explanation to appreciate. Cannabis is one of them; so are high-end designer sneakers.

The High Ties shops will display a selection of high-fashion trophy sneakers from Toronto-based design house Jaragon. The design house has created $12,000 custom shoes for celebrities like Grammy winner Marc Anthony, nominees JBalvin and Maluma. Currently, it is creating a line of stilettos with Jennifer Lopez. Jaragon has custom-designed a multi-thousand dollar collaboration with High Ties.

High Ties Cannabis owners collaborated with Juan Sebastian Aragon (centre) of Jaragon to produce a line of high-end High Ties logo’ed sneakers.

Aragon came up with the plan for Jaragon during a year studying in Milan, Italy as part of his University of Ottawa international business degree. After spending two months learning his craft at the workshop of Giordano Torresi, a renowned Italian shoe manufacturer, he returned to Canada and launched his brand.

“Putting these incredibly vibrant shoes on display is part of an overall theme of showcasing local artists inside and outside the stores,” Chaar said,  “I love art and his shoes are definitely modern art.”

Bringing new cannabis shops and high-end shoes into Ottawa doesn’t just benefit the consumer and the connoisseur, it also benefits the economy. “We’re investing $2 million into the local economy, using local trades and artists, and bringing jobs where they’re most needed,” Chaar said.

The first two High Ties cannabis shops opened February 25th, one on Wellington West and the other in Embrun. Eventually, Chaar said, High Ties will expand Ontario wide.

Though the combination of high-end statement sneakers and cannabis seems an odd mixture, High Ties blends them together to create a unique shopping experience. By supporting both a local trade and an artist from Ottawa, High Ties opens two new worlds—those of modern art in sneaker form and cannabis—to new customers.