KushKards at NSS
She called her line “the happy card” when an attendee walked past her KushKards exhibitor’s booth last week at the National Stationery Show (NSS) at New York’s Javits Center and was stopped in his tracks by the “Strike match, light what you attach” slogan--not to mention the “cannabis greeting cards” on the adjacent wall, and the two big display pieces under it.
That both pieces—a blown-up meditative "Namast’ay High" card representation and a "High Wishes" happy birthday blow-up--each had giant blunts attached grabbed further attention to Lauren Miele’s KushKards line, as well as steady traffic from excited retail buyers.
“People laugh when they see the cards here,” Miele said. “I tell them their customers will, too!”
Generating even more mirth, a KushKard comes with gift attached, as her display blow-ups demonstrated.
“Each card comes with a slot for a pre-rolled item of your choice,” Miele coyly explained, “or a one-hitter! So there’s something else for the recipient to do than just read the card.”
She added that a match book comes with each card, too, for use with the two match strikers embedded into the bottom of the front of the cards, one on either side of the center “KushKards.com” logo with a “Light It Here” directive emblazoned beneath.
“You never have to look for a lighter again,” said Miele, “and it’s a great branding ploy: It really gets our name out there!”
The “kush” name, if you don’t know, comes from a cannabis strain, and Miele clearly put a lot of thought into it when she conceived KushKards on the #1 New York subway train in 2013 following her graduation from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
“I realized there was a void in the market for cannabis-themed gifts, and wanted to make a contemporary card for the cannabis enthusiast to connect with,” she said. So she trademarked the name, and created her line by sewing her hand-rolled blunts onto pre-designed cards in forming initials, numbers, names and ornaments to depict festive greetings.
“They were themed around a special treat for a special person,” said Miele, whose first KushKard appeared, appropriately, on Christmas, 2013.
“I found a lane in a niche market—merging the cannabis and gift-giving communities in a unique and creative way--and went all in on it,” she continued. In 2015—“4-20, of course!”—Miele launched in her first dispensary retail location, in Denver.
The following year she “took the leap” and moved to Colorado, “a legal state with a cannabis community.” Having graduated FIT, the Westchester, N.Y. native had worked as a fashion bath accessory designer, and was lucky to have had a boss who encouraged her move.
“I left the corporate world, and in the next two years added the one-hitter cards, Stoner Stationery [including ‘High-Idea’ hardcover notebooks, notepads, post-its and stickers] and Kush Wrap [tissue paper featuring multicolored cannabis leaves] to the product line. I invested in inventory, started attending business-to-business trade shows, increased distribution to Texas and Canada, and secured mainstream media exposure as well as social media influence. This year I introduced cannabis greeting cards to the gift/home industry—at NSS—and have expanded into over 400 retail locations in the U.S and internationally.”
Miele has also introduced polka-dot gift bags (also using the cannabis leaves pattern) and tested placement in the Spencer’s gift catalog. Having been featured in Lizzie Post’s new book Higher Etiquette--A Guide to the World of Cannabis from Dispensaries to Dinner Parties (in the “Gifts With a Lift” section), she gave an NSS talk with Post in conjunction with The Emily Post Institute.
Miele’s do-it-yourself ethic continued all the way up to her NSS appearance—with much assistance from family and friends who helped her construct, paint and staff her booth.
“We’re all about clever, unique, creative and fun,” she said, and promotional website messages like “Enjoy your Hit and get Lit” (for her Kush Hitter Kards, that “leave you with a [one-hitter] keepsake item to hold on to--making the sentiment of the gift extra-special”) and “A Gift with a Lift” (her original KushKards with the slot for pre-rolled "gifts") surely bear her out.
“K-Kards are designed by the people you smoke with,” she noted, adding a sales pitch for the full KushKards experience: “All gifts should be wrapped in Kush!”
“If I’m a card, and I come with a gift, why not complete the package and have wrapping paper that goes with it?”
But besides her product, Miele is proud to be a woman who has established herself in the grassroots cannabis business.
“There’s a lot of vape pens, vape pens, vape pens,” she said. “I am creating a gifting experience, and it’s the perfect ad-on to everything.”