Greeting cards are an age-old tradition that never seem to change with the times. That was until one creative cannabis consumer decided to gift a fellow stoner friend a homemade greeting card one Christmas – with a joint inserted into the fold. “Gradually, over time, I started creating these cards for other family members and friends, and personalizing them even more,” says Denver-based Lauren Miele, founder of KushKards. Miele designed her first-ever KushKard in 2013, and has since transformed her vision into a blossoming business venture. “A KushKard offers a unique type of feeling, compared to a normal greeting card,” she says. “This is a gift that keeps on giving for many occasions.” KushKard designs are available to send to all your favorite sativa snobs and indica enthusiasts on birthdays, holidays, as get-well wishes, and even, you guessed it – in celebration of 4/20. We spoke will Miele to get the low-down on the inspiration behind her cannabis card brand.
How did KushKards transition from a hobby into a business?
KushKards really evolved from seeing a need, and fulfilling it. The cards started to get more and more creative over time, and by 2015, I had already developed more than 20 different types of cards. At that point, I knew it was time for me to make a move. After doing my due diligence and researching the market, I came to realize this was untapped territory, and that gifting marijuana in a unique and fun way was my lane to create. While I was working full-time in New York City as a fashion bath accessory designer, I used the skills I learned at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and from my mentor, to begin my business plan. I looked at the opportunity to create KushKards from a hobby to a full-blown business as a challenge. I let my excitement drive me, and I left my fear at the door.
What is your process like, from design to print?
The process of creating a KushKard starts with the concept behind the card, and most importantly, the design. I start with an occasion, let’s say Christmas, and take iconic symbols, and make them punny. For example, “Ho, Ho, Ho” then turned to “Ho, Ho, HIGH!” I then get them printed locally in Boulder, Colorado, and after prints are completed, the handmade assembly process begins. A final handwritten message is added to each order, [giving thanks] that KushKards was the choice of greeting card for the occasion. After receiving a 2,500-card order that needed to be made in five days, I quickly built a production team that [now] produces thousands of cards every week!
How do you develop the card language?
The overall language of a KushKard starts based off what holiday or occasion I am designing for. I research the overall color scheme many associate with a particular occasion, what clever icons to pair, merged with how the card sounds after it is read. I often ask myself, "Does this pun roll off the tongue? Will people get it after they read it? Does it spark an emotion? Is it appealing to the eye for both male and female buyers?" I often think of the card and look, first, then think where to add the cannabis-related aspect. It is usually in the pun; however, the placement of the pre-roll slot [or the new-addition one-hitter] is the icing on the cake – or really, the spark to the joint.
How do you spark your own creativity and keep the ideas fresh?
I spark my own creativity while keeping the high-deas fresh by fear of not being fresh or current. Pressure creates diamonds, so when a major greeting card holiday is approaching, such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, I start to get into full-gear, always with a joint in my hand. I spend a few weeks sketching, inspiration shopping, researching cards already on the market and paying in-store visits to a few favorite card stores. Iconic words and symbols stick out to me, while marrying clever words to make the card complete. It really isn’t a KushKard if it doesn’t rhyme and leave you with a laugh.
In which cities are KushKards currently available? Where are they most popular?
KushKards are available in 400 retail locations, in just about 35 states across the U.S., in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia and more. Our retail locations map on our website lays out our geographic footprint. We also have a large presence in Canada. We are the most popular in Colorado. After moving here in late 2016, Denver became my playing field. With easy access to dispensary buyers, smoke shop storefronts, and cannabis trade shows, it made it easier to spread the word. When the industry comes into town, I often hear, ‘I saw your cards here and there, and everywhere!’
Who currently purchases KushKards?
Our target demographic covers a large range of age groups, starting from 21 to 35 years old. In fact, 75 percent of women are [greeting card] purchasers, compared to 35 percent of men. Making the cards gender-neutral, and keeping the colors chosen in mind (not too many pinks) has proven men are buying more greeting cards than before. Now, they do not have to make the extra trip to the grocery store to look though outdated cards.
KushKards are available where they are needed. It is no longer boring to write a message that will probably be thrown away, but what an experience to buy a card and attach cannabis as a mutual interest amongst the giver and receiver, who are both humorous, unique, and looking for a clever, new way to say "Happy Birthday," "Congratulations," and a "Dank You," here and there! Where there is a love for greeting cards and cannabis, we have found our niche customer.
Why is gifting a KushKard this 4/20 the ideal commemorative? What would you say to someone on the fence about gifting a KushKard on 4/20?
Gifting a Kushkard this 4/20 is the ideal commemorative because what other way is there to say "Happy 4/20," and instantly have the ability to smoke the cannabis with all tools needed to light it? The match striker conveniently located on the bottom of each card, and the matchbooks included, make it easy to spark the emotion, instantly. There is nothing better than a handwritten note, followed by a toke on the happiest Stoner Day of all.
If someone is on the fence about gifting a KushKard, it’s simple: Do not go for the selection of cards that offer a slot for a pre-roll; check out our new one-hitter KushKards. Instead of providing the actual cannabis gift, [you can insert] a one-hitter pipe, allowing the end-user to add the green, and it is meant to have as a keepsake item.