Our Story: How KASHER came to be
We believe in proactively and efficiently steering our lives, and by doing so, achieving the successes of our dreams. We look to break the stereotype that smokers are lazy and uninspired, and that is why our motto is “Make it Happen.” It’s the KASHER story of entrepreneurship, discipline and persistence.
It began with a paperclip wrapped around a lighter
Drew Sweeney founded our company over 13 years ago with the intent to make a lasting tool. Tired of wasting time looking for a poker and being unable to find another functional and convenient solution, he wrapped a paperclip around his lighter.
The paperclip worked, but it was a little less than elegant, and very temporary.
He saw the need for a seamless, functional, attractive, and durable tool that lives on one of society's most-used items: a lighter.
It didn't exist, so he invented it.
He made it – tested it – patented it – sourced it – and started a business with it. It all started when Drew moved to Portland Oregon to pursue his dream. He started out sleeping on his brothers couch in NE Portland for 6 months.. He would wake up everyday and go to the library to write a business plan. His biggest hurdle at the time was funding.. being a recent graduate, he had nothing but a laptop, phone, car, and a pile of student loan debt. Realizing he would need to raise money to bring his idea to market, he started beating the pavement. He asked and was told 'no' from many, even from family and friends. He decided he would try his luck with getting a small business loan. After months of perfecting his business plan and financial projections, he sat down at with a loan officer at Mercy Corps Northwest (MCNW). He was told 'no' yet again, however this time, they clarified it wasn't a 'no', but rather, a 'not yet'. Wanting to give up seeing only a sliver of hope, he stayed persistent. MCNW said they wanted to see actual purchase orders before they would loan him any money.. the problem was, he didn't have any product to sell. When most would quit, Drew continued to pursue his dream, even though he considered quitting each and every day.. somehow he found it within to keep going. Drew covered the entire Portland-Metro area; going into hundreds of smoke shops, gas stations, c-stores, head shops, novelty stores, and more. The problem was, he only had samples.. the original 6 prototypes that were the first machined Kasher samples ever made. He had to explain to each potential customer that he just need an official purchase order, but he wouldn't have product ready to delivery for at least 3-6 months out. Even though 9 out of 10 stores he visited told him no, he somehow dug deep and kept going. Finally, after months of 'selling' a product he didn't actually have, he had a stack of 30 or so purchase orders and took them back to MCNW. They were very impressed, curious as to how he managed to get orders without having any product to sell, and ended up approving a small loan.. and that's when Kasher Inc was truly born.
Fast forward to 2022, Kasher Inc is headquartered in SW Portland with a 2,000 square foot warehouse, office space, and storefront. Now there are millions of happy and loyal Kasher customers all over the world.. The Kasher team has shipped orders to New Zealand, Australia, Trinidad & Tobago, Canada, South America, and have retailers in all 50 states in the US. It was a slow start, but once his patent was approved, things really started to take off for Kasher Inc. There was a level of education that had to be overcome as no one had ever seen a product like this before. It literally has the opposite product life cycle than most products.. it took nearly a decade for people to realize all the different uses and versatility the Kasher provides. Now the sky is the limit and it's only a matter of time until Kasher is a household name.
The journey from Kasher’s inception to present day has been exciting, difficult, and we’ve been blessed to know some of the best sort of people in the world – the 420 family.
We've now sold over 1 million KASHER lighter tools!
Every step of the way has reminded us of the importance of maintaining a proactive, work-conquers-all mindset, and despite any setbacks or nay-sayers, to just Make It Happen. We are proud to be the first lighter tool company in the World to bring the most versatile, yet sleek and sexy multi-use lighter tool to market!
MEET THE TEAM
Andrew Sweeney, CEO & Founder
Andrew is an entrepreneur and inventor. While attending the University of Idaho’s School of Business, the idea to create a long-lasting, easily accessible lighter tool struck him. After graduating, he established Swado, LLC, filed for patent protection, and then began sharing Kashers with the world. Andrew started out by moving from Moscow Idaho to Portland Oregon, sleeping on his brothers couch in a small, 1 bedroom apartment. Waking up each day to continue writing his business plan and figure out how to get a product idea to market. It started slow; working other odd jobs and devoting time to Kasher during nights and weekends, but he stuck with it. His unrelenting belief in this patented, radical new tool has brought the company to where it is today – selling Kashers in all 50 states, and in other countries around the world. Andrew's goal is to share his invention with the world by bringing the most useful tools a person can keep on their lighter - and in pockets, purses and backpacks worldwide.
Bradford Duft, Consulting CEO
Brad began his career in private law practice, focusing on patent litigation, licensing and negotiation, and strategic patent prosecution. He also spent time in-house at companies, including as SVP and General Counsel at Amylin Pharmaceuticals for ten years. For the next ten years, Brad was President and CEO of CoDa Therapeutics (now OcuNexus), which he co-founded. Brad brings over 35 years of business and legal experience to the Kasher team. He helped raise over $200 million for his previous companies, including Amylin, which he helped take public and was later sold for $5.3 billion. Brad has assumed an integral role as CEO at Kasher and brings experience and knowledge to the table in many areas including operations, financing, legal, and in scaling companies.
Jesseca Caver, Head of Sales and Relationships
Jesseca brings over a decade of sales and management experience to the table with priceless knowledge gained from managing multi-million dollar sales floors at Nordstrom. Jess managed over 50 employees at times and was the go-to person anytime a store was having trouble staying profitable. She would literally turn a store that was losing money into a top selling store in their respective region. Jess is one of the most personable, observant, talented, and thoughtful person you will ever meet. You will talk to her for 10-15 minutes, and you might forget her name, but it's a guarantee she won't forget yours. Not only that, she will recite back to you your life story when you see her six months later and barely recognize her, asking her "do I know you? I feel like we've met before.." She'll respond with something like "yeah, we met at DFO and talked about your 4 kids, your oldest just graduated high school, your wife's name is Shelly, and you are a Leo.. in fact, I'm pretty sure your birthday is August 15th and you have two lion tattoos on your arm". People are blown away by her attention to detail and how well she listens and truly cares about each and every person she meets. That is why she is the head of relationships here at Kasher.. nobody in the world can do this better than her and she is an extremely valuable member of our team and is going to help make Kasher a household name and a true success story.
Eric Fitzgerald, Operations Consultant
Eric is a Brand & Business Management Consultant, and founder of Tailor Consulting Group LLC. He is an accomplished brand and business management professional with a particular focus in the fashion, lifestyle and retail industries. He is a highly analytical and strategic thinker driven by pragmatic problem solving, innovative solutions and attention to detail. Eric provides big-picture vision and is highly effective at identifying growth opportunities and responding to challenges with confidence, determination and focus. His areas of expertise are numerous and include: Strategic Planning & Analysis, Brand Management / Marketing, Business Development & Sales, Merchandising & Inventory Mgmt., Operational Systems & Processes, P&L / Financial Reporting, Retail Project Management, and International Business & Distribution. He is an effective leader and builds effective teams.
Josue Villegas, Warehouse Manager
Josue has a Masters Degree in Kasher assembly and packaging, with a minor in Jewelry Making, as he was forced to learn how to become a jeweler after we launched the Kasher Necklace and Kasher Keychain to market. Josue wear many hats, from managing inventory, assembling and packaging Kashers, to packing orders - both online and wholesale orders. If you've ordered or received a Kasher in the last 2 years, chances are Josue was the first to have his hands on it. An extremely hard worker and fast learner, Josue is an extremely valuable asset to the Kasher team.
Kasher's mission is to continue to bring customers the finest new products for their life and convenience.
We believe in bringing ideas to life with initiative and action. Kashers were created to solve basic, but unsolved tasks. A decade later, dozens of uses have emerged from this simple tool.
Projects that have been completed and goals that have been achieved all have one thing in common: they all started with one single step and were followed with daily diligence. This is the Kasher philosophy.
Join the movement and start living your life with KASHER® products!
About the business
The KASHER was created, and first made and sold by Swado LLC, a Portland Oregon-based company. The company was founded in December 2008, specializing in lighter accessory items. Andrew Sweeney, the company’s founder, invented the Kasher® lighter tool, which was patented and released to the market in the summer of 2009.
Andrew came up with the idea, developed it while in college, then moved to Portland Oregon to launch his business after filing for a patent, which was granted. Kasher® Lighter Tools were a hit. Kashers are now sold in all 50 states, Canada, and Australia, and we're closing in on 1 million sold!
Kasher, Inc. is now a Delaware corporation, headquartered in Portland Oregon and led by Andrew and Brad Duft, a seasoned CEO, and long-time lawyer, litigator and business executive.