Ryan "Ruga" Connolly is not your average CEO and Grassroots California is not your normal clothing line. Raised on the outskirts of Detroit, Ryan headed west after high school to earn his degree at the University of Colorado. During his time there he fell in love with the city but still heeded the siren's call of California upon receiving his degree. Once arriving in California Ruga first went to work in the corporate culture of real estate finance.
As with many coastal Californians Ryan fell in love with the ocean, surfing, and the vibrant culture found at the beach, as well as in many of the beach communities. While enjoying his chosen past time Ruga suffered a severe skull injury - fractures in three spots - that caused him to seek and use alternative treatments for the recovery and chronic pain. With this new perspective on the healing properties of the plant he took a hard look around the real estate industry and saw a lot of his colleagues making a huge profit off of this healing movement and realized he desperately needed to change focus and find a new passion that more closely aligned with the counter culture.
At this point Ryan decided he wanted to make a difference more than a dollar and, after receiving his end of an $11 million dollar real estate deal, left the finance industry to begin work on a film documenting the burgeoning California cannabis scene and culture. While beginning work on making his film a reality he used friends as a sounding board and think tank to develop funding ideas and raise awareness about the culture in general, that is where the seed that would grow to become Grassroots California was planted.
In 2009 Ruga launched the progressive clothing company known as Grassroots California and since then has quickly come to be one of the most recognizable brands of hats in the game. Beyond his clothing line Ryan was also instrumental in starting the 710 Cup, a competition for herbal concentrates that ran until 2015. Between these ventures he has worked with counter culture legends like Jerry Garcia, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Method Man, Griz, and many others. His company is also incredibly well known for working directly with many different glass artists and companies to create some of the most cutting-edge headwear on the planet - Embroidered, silk interiors, hologram bills, and more!
Grassroots California is now an established brand with followers worldwide. Beyond being carried at all Illuzion Glass Gallery locations and illuzionglassgalleries.com they can be found in all fifty states and twenty other countries around the globe. Last year they put another trophy on their wall by successfully opening two permanent locations in Denver, CO, and Chicago, IL, as well as a successful pop up store in Barcelona, Spain. Ryan Connolly and his atypical company are definitely spreading the gospel of our culture across the globe and into the cultural mainstream - we cannot wait to see what this design-a-day company has in store during upcoming years!