Industry Innovators: Lauren Miele, CEO of KushKards

WOW! Being active on LinkedIn has led to me being featured on High There! Thanks so much Hannah (Izer) Vysoky

I enjoyed sharing more of my background before KushKards, how I took this high-dea from a though to creation, my social media strategy and what is to come!

Check out the full article HERE to learn about my story with Kush Kards.

"Lauren Miele is the owner and founder of KushKards

! She graduated from The Fashion Institute of Technology and earned her degree in Visual + Product Design, which she has used to merge two markets she loves the most — cannabis and stationery.

She understood the retail industry with a history of interning at Louis Vuitton and Aeropostale. Her career began in developing novelty bath accessories for major retailers. You can still find her work in all Bed Bath & Beyond stores.

KushKards began as a high-dea that turned into a sellable product that has won awards and rests on shelves in museums today.

We were so grateful to sit down with Lauren to learn more about her background and the passion that has gone into this company. So let’s get into it!"

How it All Started

High There: How did you become involved in the cannabis industry?

Lauren Miele: I became involved with the cannabis industry because of KushKards. I didn’t even know the cannabis industry was an industry. I’m a natural cannabis smoker; I have a 420-friendly family and started smoking weed in high school; it was always a part of my culture.

When I started KushKards and in actually late 2013, but it didn’t start until 2015 is when I’m like, “Oh, there’s other people out there who enjoy smoking weed.” And there’s, like, a whole industry because, you know, mind you, I grew up in New York weed was such an illegal wand; you know for 420 was hotboxing in your friend car. 

So, because the start of KushKards is how I entered the cannabis industry.

HT: Can you tell us a bit about your background before KushKards?

Miele: I went to the Fashion Insitute of Technology, graduated with an associates in visual presentation with visual merchandising, and my bachelor’s was in-home product development. 

So I learned how to style, design, package and market a product, and then I went into manufacturing the product. So I had great, really great experiences throughout college. My home base is New York City, where I was fueled by inspiration, creativity around me and opportunities.

I interned at Aeropostale, one of my favorites, working on the visual team. I had the opportunity to present a brand extension of teen bedding to the CEO, which I hope they have now. So fun because that ties back to my branding class, which tied back to developing and making bedding. So my journey before KushKards was all things visual presentation design. 

My first and only job other than KushKards was as a fashion bathroom accessory designer. I was in charge of designing the flip flop built-in, with the tissue basket and the matching shower curtain. That is kind of where my skills in editing down and learning the novelty industry because I was in novelty bathroom accessories, and our primary customer was Bed Bath & Beyond. Some of my stuff is still there today, which is incredible.

HT: That’s so cool!

Miele: It’s so cool. In my first little three-year job, I had so much experience. I work with big box retailers. I learned how to make something from China flat, 2D to 3D, to real life. On the shelf. 

I’ve had all this experience of bringing something to market and creatively designing so many projects, and from FIP, I feel like this part is a big college project. I do. That’s it. I’m in it. I’m in it for the long run. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but I like to have a standard for quality of work, how you to present things, and how to think about designing a new product that will stay with me forever.

I like to use everything from my background. Every day of my life. I soaked it up all. I appreciate the journey. You know, I think they where I’m from, what cannabis meant to me then and what it means to me now, and funneling it into some product that people say “that is cute” and it keeps me going.

KushKards: A Life-changing High-dea

HT: What sparked the idea to create KushKards in the first place?

Miele: So I wanted to get a friend weed, and I was tired of going to CVS and getting cards that had nothing to do with who I was trying to gift. AKA: stoners. And then, in New York, they were selling dime bags. So my friends and I would get an eighth, and I would put it in the card, and you know, it’s so bulky they would pass an envelope when the person opened, and it was like there was no instant high. The weed fell out. You would have to roll it, and I didn’t know how to roll it then.

I’m just going to work one day. And, mind you, I live 100 blocks away in New York City from where I worked, and I just sat on this local train, thinking about my friend. I was like, and I wonder if I wrote his name in blunt and then what I would do is I went to work, and I predesigned a card, left the big face in the middle of the card open for me to go home and hand-sew the needle and thread his name to the card that I had already predesigned. You can scroll down [

] and see some of the first lines of the horrible drawing I did. I sent him a flower that was a real flower and that was like a real, like little pot with soil to the bow on the bottom. 

I got used to going after work and going to this paper store and just figuring out ways that things they can attach or how to make the card creative, which is, again, constantly me using my environment. And then when I did the card, and I sewed his name that my friend actually, her name is Karissa, and we were talking on the phone, and she said “it sounds like a Kush Kard with a K.” And I’m like, “What did you just say?” 

I think my life changed, and you know when you hear those stories. It’s either that the product comes first or the name does. I think that happened at the same time. My mom and I trademarked it. The first priority was that I gifted it to my friend, and I was so nervous, but he loved it. And I’m like, well, “why don’t I make more of these?”

So in 2014, I was just hand-sewing blunts to cards, you know, so I was like sometimes like big, but I was the creative drug dealer. I made the bags, and I was down for like 50 bucks because you got the weed, and it was customized to what you wanted. It was like my hobby because after college when you get that job, it’s 5 o’clock or something, someone will say, “Well, what now?” I don’t have homework anymore. I was like that transition. I just think I’m super creative. I just started my job. I mean, it was six months after college. So I thought of KushKards very early. I waited a whole year, and my boss was my best friend. So it was great because she was my mentor. She would look at me and say, “don’t tell anyone.” I knew she knew that I wasn’t going to work there forever. You know, she can help me bring it to life. She just saw the vision, and she knew that I would work for myself for my next job, where I never thought I’d be working. So she helped me, and in 2015, after I’ve been doing it for a whole year, I’m like, “wow, this still is not a thing. No one is doing it. I’m sure, so many people have thought of it.”

And I’m going to try and make this so it can sit on a shelf. and that took some time because you know needle and thread, so like an idea that no one has seen before, which is my biggest challenge when I started, how am I going to show people in Colorado, which is where choose to focus, so you can attach a joint to this card that’s never been done before. That’s kind of when I moved into my launch.

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