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Which cannabis smoker does not know the RAW brand? Ofcourse we do not mean the G-Star Raw brand of jeans and other (denim) clothing, but of course the well-known rolling papers and smoking accessories manufacturer: RAW. The founder of HBI US is Joshua Kesselman. He invented and owns (together with HBI) the brands Elements, Juicy Jay´s, RAW Rolling Papers the RAW Foundation. RAW still produces their rolling papers to this day in the same place where rolling papers were invented some 400 years ago. Back then and still made using traditional "paper mills", in Alcoy in Spain. The same traditional techniques are still used in combination with new innovations. Using old techniques and knowledge in combination with current and modern technology new knowledge. This combination of authenticity, quality and progressiveness makes all RAW products extremely sustainable and popular, wherever in the world! In fact, RAW has made such an impact that the word '' authentic '' is called "RAWTHENTIC" by their enthusiasts!

John Kesselman the man behind RAW products

Josh Kesselman also had to fight hard to get RAW to where it is today. In order to better understand his story, we are going to take you first into the amazing and enormously interesting story about the origin of rolling paper (paper). We will also tell you how RAW started and managed to stand out above the competition and how they continue to do so today.  Let's go back hundreds of years to the beginning, right up to just before the origins of "the very first rolling paper".

History of using papers for smoking

Hundreds of years ago before the very first rolling paper was invented most people in Europe smoked tobacco (and / or cannabis) using a newspaper or similar paper, which was often also printed. Spanish merchants recognized that newsprint and ink were not at all suitable for smoking, so these merchants began to trade cut, unprinted, and white sheets of paper as blotting papers. Soon a small factory was started up in Alcoy for this purpose and this was the only one specializing in making special rolling paper and thus the first rolling papers specially made for smoking. A little later, these rolling papers were also packed together and stacked on top of each other in special packages. The papers were in turn further developed by attaching a so-called 'sticky edge' to them with natural glue.

smoking a joint
A little later other merchants started up a factory close by to compete with this first factory. Over time, more blotting manufacturers arrived in Spain, including Barcelona, ​​and soon in other countries in Europe such as France, UK and the Netherlands. Ultimately, there were dozens of these factories all over Europe. However, RAW is currently (still) the proud and sole owner of the very first rolling papers factory, ever started in Alcoy, which developed these papers and still produces them today. The factory in Alcoy produces many different rolling papers brands including RAW and many other paper brands for HBI and also for private labels. HBI produces Brands such as: RAW, Elements, Juicy Jay's and DLX. These brands of rolling papers are all made one by one with techniques that go back to the origins of this first factory. For decades, they have worked here and are still working here today. This contributes the RAW's superior quality.
During the industrial revolution (during the 17th and 18th centuries) it was possible for the first time to make cigarettes with machines. The format for these cigarettes are 70mm or 78mm without filters. A little later there was an important invention (also with the help of machines), namely that of interleaved rolling papers, in which the papers were alternately interposed. This was "less than" 119 years ago and brought us the well-known flowing brand Zig Zag. Zig Zag refers to how the papers alternately come out of the package (interleaving) with this new and at the time unique "zig-zag method". The zig-zag technique is nowadays used by (almost) every smoothing brand in the world. In 1950, machine-produced cigarettes with filters were added. Tobacco smokers became concerned that they were getting less tobacco because the filter was taking up space. In response to this, the cigarettes were extended by the manufacturers, this format was then called King Size, named after the King of England after he was seen smoking with this cigarette(s).

Long rolling papers have been around since the 80s

However, rolling paper manufacturers lagged behind and still produce the old formats. Today, the term King Size refers specifically to the 100mm size rolling papers made by Rizla in 1984. These were originally developed for women, hence the former name Queen Size. The former Queen Size, which they later renamed King Size again, eventually became 110mm long and 52mm wide. However, the latest format is 110mm long and 44mm wide and is often referred to as King Size or King Size Slim.  At the moment this is the most popular format of most cannabis smokers in all of Europe. Developed not long ago (2009) by HBI, the company that owns the RAW brand name and many others. Including DLX, the brand that produced the first long rolling papers of this size. Rolling paper manufacturers often lagged behind because of tradition and reticence. 

rolling a joint or blunt

Origin of Raw rolling paper

Now that you know everything about the origin From rolling papers and the paper formats, we're going to take you to the more personal and awesome, almost movie-like story of RAW's inception and founder. By whom, why and how this brand has been able to grow into something big, world famous and now available in almost every country in the world. It is such a popular product with users that they call each other the "RAW family". RAW has a legendary status among smokers and is often mentioned and praised in numerous films, songs and even by the biggest stars in the world. Great things often started very small and that's the case here too.
It all started with Josh Kesselman as a young boy obsessed with his father with the magical trick he did for him during the holidays. His father set a paper on fire and threw the burning paper into the air, after which it would suddenly "disappear". It's the only trick his father knew. but more than enough to capture Josh's utmost imagination. This set everything in motion for Josh and created a tremendous passion and even an obsession with rolling papers. Once Josh was old enough to buy his own "papers" he went into shops and bought each brand he could get. Josh decided to put his collection online and to share and increase his knowledge by trading parcels with European collectors. Less than decades later, this turned out to be the foundation for what is now a world-famous and highly successful brand. 
Josh decided to open a store in 1993 . With his bundles of rolling papers exchanged and bought, he started with a lot of effort, selling everything except his Harley-Davidson, and with only $ 500 in his pocket, a retail store. His store was called "The Knuckleheads" after Josh's (not always) working old Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He began to specialize in obtaining and selling smoking products that were difficult to obtain. If a customer wanted something, Josh would find it like he always did! Giving customers what they really needed rather than what the salesperson, thought they needed, made his store a huge success. Josh found out that those unique packs of rolling papers, including especially European rolling papers, could sell with big profits. Just at the moment of his success, it came to an abrupt end when Josh sold a bong in 1996 to a daughter of a high-ranking officer in US customs. Police confiscated all drug paraphernalia from Josh's shop except for the papers, which were not illegal, much to Josh's surprise. Josh had to leave the state immediately, of course he did this with his generous collection of papers. Josh then moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where they were already very liberal at the time and known for the counterculture among cannabis users. Josh started his business again here, this time however he focused on providing advice to business owners about the intricacies, differences and complexities of rolling papers. Again Josh realized that he could sell European rolling papers at high prices.
Raw products
A few months later (in 1997) he came into contact with a paper / rolling paper craftsman, who recently (one of the) reopened the  oldest rolling paper factory in the world.  Josh won this parent's trusthe European by telling him the story about his father who set the rolling papers on fire and that this greatly captured the imagination in the then young Josh. The paper used by his father was Marfíl Arroz and, after hearing this, the older craftsman immediately reacted in surprise. Hj immediately told that his own father, grandfather and even his great-grandfather already made these papers. Now that the two were more connected than ever, they decided to bring relevant rolling papers back to the market. This was Josh Kesselman's first and by now well-known (rolling paper) brand: Elements.
This brand was and is a success to this day and he therefore focused on a good brand name and a connection with all smokers and cannabis users. Sometimes things went wrong. But Josh persisted and learned that he was really creating something unique. It would be his life's mission to improve the smoking experience of every smoker and smoker in the world. He also came up with pre-rolled empty joint sleeves (cones) to fill for people who cannot roll.  A unique concept, with which he has made many smokers happy.  Now he could finally make his dream come true, namely: bringing natural, unbleached and unrefined rolling papers to the market. Rolling papers without bleach and lime did not exist at all at that time. He had already come up with a name for it: RAW. The "natural unrefined, unbleached" papers.  At the time, there was no market for this type of paper. The paper manufacturers did not agree with Josh and did not want to produce these papers with and for him. They even said it was going to look like a paper bag, you know, those "paper bags" they use in the supermarket to put the groceries in. They just didn't see what Josh had long recognized. 

Downcast but certainly not yet defeated, Josh decided to continue with his own ideas. He believed in his ideas and knew that sooner or later people would come to understand him. Natural unbleached rolling papers wouldn't turn out like a paper bag. Rather, they would become very thin and transparent. People would be naturally attracted to it and the papers would burn great! Josh's determination finally convinced a small flux factory to produce what he needed for his natural rolling papers. In 2004 he went all out, and was forced to risk all his capital in one investment to start setting up this rolling stock brand (RAW). 

Natural unbleached and bleached rolling papers RAW

This is the beginning of RAW. The brand started by Josh would eventually begin mass production in 2005 of the world's first and only natural, unbleached rolling paper. From about 2008/2009 RAW started to turn into a global success. However, this did not happen immediately, the demand for these types of rolling papers was reasonable from the start, but by no means overwhelming. However, this was not immediately the intention, Josh was mainly about connecting with his customers and learning what they really needed. One thing's for sure, Josh thought, they all want to smoke the very best product! Josh faced some setbacks and he started to struggle to further expand his new rolling paper brand RAW into a really big success.

Finally, around 2008, there was a huge boost when the Hip-Hop world picked up and started promoting his unique product (s). It all started with the rapper Curren$y and then his entire group of smoking friends followed, including the much more famous rapper Wiz Khalifa. They all started smoking RAW. They thought it was a unique product and Wiz Khalifa immediately told everyone that he could taste all terpenes better with the RAW rolling papers. This boost by the hip-hop industry has ultimately helped Josh and his brand to both become world famous. In the end, Josh and Wiz Khalifa even managed to create unique products from RAW in a collaboration and this naturally made the RAW brand even more known worldwide.
Of course Josh, from the start he fought hardest for all his own ideas, products and brands. Even when no one believed in him anymore. Josh decided in those difficult and uncertain times to sometimes even give away his rolling papers for free, among others in the smoker community. He did this so that people could become more familiar with his unique product, in the hope that they would then buy his product themselves. He also hoped that they would be convinced of the quality of his rolling papers, that they would recommend others to also buy RAW products. In this way, RAW would literally be mader at hand, from smoker to smoker, would be passed around the world and the popularity of his product would skyrocket. Everyone immediately understood that RAW's natural and unbleached papers smoked and burned better. Partly because of this, RAW has grown into a huge success. More and more people started to roll RAW papers (tips/filters) and therefore increasingly know and recognize his product and love his products. People were amazed by the way this paper smokes and burns and so was the aforementioned influential Hip-Hop world.

In addition to Josh's well-functioning strategy to become the most enthusiastic. He reached out to the cannabis smokers and used the influence of the hip-hop industry to his advantage. He also managed to win and retain customers through the quality and diversity of his products. With time, tobacco and cannabis users increasingly wanted better quality rolling papers, which improved the experience of smoking cannabis and tobacco. So it was also expected that the flow brands would follow and respond to this trend, and Josh was the first and only one with his flow brand RAW, which kept getting better and better known. 

joint pure weed

 The patented is a unique, well-functioning Criss-Cross watermark from RAW, which ensures better combustion of the paper, is a great example of this. In addition, RAW never uses GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in the production of its rolling papers, they are also always produced "Vegan-Friendly" and contain no additives and absolutely no coloring agents. This is also the reason that RAW papers are so "translucent" or also slightly transparent. The only exception to this are the RAW Hemp rolling papers which are "opaque" because of the hemp pulp used to produce them. These are therefore a lot less and / or no longer transparent at all.

RAW, its founder and the team continue to innovate new products and possibilities quickly and effectively. In their own words, they will never stop doing that, because there is always room for improvement. RAW strives for ultimate perfection for every (cannabis) smoker and so their mission is never finished. This is also reflected in the quality of the numerous brands that are registered under HBI, such as: RAW, Elements, DLX, Skunk, Chills, Zen and Juicy Jay's. In addition, the factory of the above brands also produces many other qualitative (private label) rolling papers. 
Another major success factor of HBI and RAW is Josh Kesselman's media and promotion insight and its clear presence and close involvement from the outset. Where other rolling papers and smokers brands were not yet so active in social media, RAW Social Media started early with advertising and communication and even had a help tip channel. Josh has a (very) presence on Social Media, from YouTube to Instagram. He would love to teach and share (almost all) his knowledge to any stoner. Obviously he also has some secrets, but nevertheless Josh's openness as CEO of a large flux manufacturer and as a representative of a multi-million dollar company is unprecedented. Josh himself (@rawkandroll on Instagram) has almost 2 million followers and over 2000 posts on Instagram. Partly because of the personal connection that customers feel with Josh and his company, they become even more accommodating and nowadays there is even a huge fan base, including a truly worldwide own ''RAW community''.
Partly thanks to the combination of old techniques and modern innovations, RAW can no longer be ignored in the market today. Josh and his entire team really love rolling papers and smoking and smoking products. Thanks to all their innovations and superior quality, there is currently much more demand for RAW products than the company can handle. Josh likes to create the best rolling papers in the world for everyone and prefers to bring the most unique products to the market. In his own words, this is more important, but also more difficult than becoming the richest among the rolling paper manufacturers.

Of course, together with RAW, HBI has today grown into a large profitable and multinational company, but RAW gives back like no other to charities with their many foundations and their numerous initiatives. Josh doesn't really brag about the fact that thanks to the work and donations of and by the RAW Foundation and their many initiatives, the lives of nearly a million people and animals have been changed forever in a positive way. In short,  RAW will be its own innovation with excellent quality natural rolling papers, and for this reason they are completely 'RAWSOME"! Are you looking for other cannabis smoking accessories? Check out our headshop category!

- This blog was written by the Stonedgrower(Instagram) -