Spotlight Series: Michelle Allred of LVCANNAGARS
This week we had the chance to learn about a Las Vegas company specializing in high-end, luxury cannabis “cannagars” “cannarillos”, “Rosegars” and the incredible looking “Perfecto”, the first paperless cannacigar. The company, LV Cannagars is owned and operated by Michelle Allred, a woman who has been blowing glass and rolling cannagars since she was in her late teens. Through vision and drive she has built her company into one of Las Vegas’ most respected cannabis companies and her products are enjoyed by everyone from locals to celebrities.
Check out the company’s Instagram for some truly drool-worthy shots and read on to hear Michelle explain how she got started and where she’s going.
How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?
I moved out of my parents house at 15, I immediately started blowing glass. By the time I was 18 I bought a small house, removed the kitchen and replaced it with a glassblowing studio and the other half of the house I grew cannabis. This was how I made a living for almost 7 years.
The second Arizona offered a medical card and became legal, I removed my home grow and retained a position with a state regulated and licensed grow facility. Once there, seeing all the excess cannabis, I asked our grow if we could try and make some "thai sticks". They had always been a goofy stoner day dream I had, and really wanted to try one, or make one. They were like a myth. I used to listen to all the vets describe them when I was young, and always wanted to experience what they had. In my first week of making them, I sold 10, the next week we sold 20 and then kept doubling our sales steadily for a very long time. Cannagars are a hand crafted product, that requires love and attention to each one in detail.
By the time I left Arizona I was selling 600 a month, I went to California and started a cannagar department in Arcata CA. Immediately learned how to increase production to 1000+ gars (cannagars) on my own and now exceed 3k units here in Nevada and training to expand production numbers and sales here shortly. Our production has never been able to meet the demand. So we are currently expanding.
Tell us a little bit about your product or service
We are a luxury, craft cannabis production company. We create only fine quality, unique cannabis items you won’t find in any other state or dispensaries besides Nevada.
We make cannagars, this is our number one product. But we also create different style gars (cannagars) no one else creates currently on the market. Like our 100% paperless, wrapless cannagar the Galaxy gar, which is a flower core, drenched in concentrate and rolled in kief. It smokes solid for 30 minutes to 50 minutes with up to 20 people partaking. depending on lung capacity of course.
Our smallest cannagar 2 grams flower, 1.5 grams concentrate and fully cured cannabis leaves, has a solid 1 hour burn time with 3-15 people. We have had up to 30 people smoking on the smallest one, and it almost last a full hour.
We also make the only rose gar available in dispensaries, instead of cannabis leaves we use biologic edible organic rose petals, the most organic petals you can buy in the world. They are expensive, but pass state pesticide levels. We spend months testing organic rose companies for a solid source of truly organic rose petals. We only offer the best. This is our smoothest product we offer.
What time does your day typically start and what does a normal day look like to you?
Monday through Friday 5 - 6am to 6 - 7pm, I am hands on in cannagar production. Every cannagar and product we produce is made by three full time production cannarollers. We all have a specific stage of the cannagar process.
I mold the flower core and drench them in concentrate, the two other crew members wrap the cannabis leaves or rose petals around the gars. We all package.
Sat and sunday are reserved for celebrities, gatherings, popups, and giveaways. We work with a local dispensary in town to supply they're A list celebrity guests with custom cannagars adorned in 24 k custom gold lettering. Often accompanied with custom wooden cigar boxes and glass etched cigar tubes all made by us.
I also blow glass on weekends for giveaways with our products, we’re a start up and don’t have a lot of cash for giveaways or marketing at the moment, so I do most grassroots style :)
I'm working 7 days a week. Some days I will work through the night to make sure we don’t miss a deadline. 27-32 hour shifts are not uncommon for me at this point in building the company. I have financially held all responsibility of this company and it has been no small task for me, I take my responsibilities very seriously. I live, eat, bleed, breathe and literally dream of cannagars. It may be a slight obsession. I am fully driven to make this succeed.
What is your vision for your company going forward?
At first moving into multiple states. Expanding and building a solid foundation.
Once this happens, I will be wanting to use the company to make a positive change somehow. Whether it leaves a very small change, but hopefully a much larger positive mark or change on the earth, we intend to try and do as much good as we can with the time we have. I don’t require much in terms of possessions. So I'd like to instead, reforest a deforested area. Plant a billion trees. Help children, homeless, maybe even help clean the oceans.
There is a website 4theOcean, we’re huge fans and intend to emulate them. They build bracelets made of recycled glass, they sell for 20$ and for every bracelet, they remove one pound of trash from the ocean.
We have asked, what if we do that with cannagars. For now, we are paying our bills and slowly being able to invest in extra product and small amounts of marketing or upgrades on packaging every once in a while. It's been slow, but very steady. We are not going anywhere, only growing roots here in Las Vegas. One of the most amazing towns I've ever lived. We’re beyond grateful for the opportunity to be here to have an opportunity to make sure we can give back. It's our ultimate goal.
What would an ideal post prohibition society look like to you?
I want to see it dominated by craft and truly natural medical cannabis. I know all the small canna- businesses are worried and dreading the big pharma takeover, but I'm hoping and manifesting that we can all thrive and succeed. Some will want cheap, fast cannabis, synthetic pill forms of cannabis, but others with finer palettes and health requirements will want and need fine craft cannabis and cannabis products.
Hopefully large and small cannabis businesses have a place together in the future. It's the American dream; To work hard, make something of nothing. Hopefully with future regulations and laws we (the small cannabusiness) will be allowed to continue with this dream of the cannabis entrepreneurship. I also wish to see that the medical side hopefully doesn’t end up too pharmaceutical [in nature]. Hopefully keep our natural cannabis cures natural and not patented to create a synthetic version to be regulated, and used to prohibit the more natural side of cannabis.
What was your first experience with cannabis like?
I was a fairly unhappy, sad child. Marijuana was the first time I truly felt a pure and utter happiness. I had never laughed so hard or smiled so much in my life. I could barely lift my head, I stared at the ground. But could hardly breathe from laughter. True and pure happiness, it was an incredible experience and it made its mark on me. An experience I have chased every day after that. I was a daily consumer after my first time. I ended up loving cannabis so much, I needed to make it my profession. I truly believe it's not only an incredible medicine, but is a most sacred plant.
Tell us about some of the challenges you face working in the cannabis industry
Goodness, quite the question. Honestly, My first challenge was being a woman. It was a 99% male dominated industry in the beginning. As was glassblowing, which is where my cannabis career started. This created animosity and hard feelings for my talents and skills. No one wanted to look less knowledgeable than the girl on the crew.
I understand the dynamic but it never felt fair, and I lost two separate jobs from this particular perspective of others in the industry and many more issues due to me being a skill based female cannabis worker. I don’t like to harp on this, as it was a very negative aspect if my earlier career and now is almost the exact opposite. I actually receive recognition from many locals and people in the industry here for being a woman business owner, who started from nothing. So the tides have changed.
I'm deeply grateful and much more satisfied in my overall place in the cannabis industry now that women are more readily accepted, especially those without using physical attributes but more intellectual and skill based talents, which was something I personally feel was very gradually integrated into the industry in the past few years.
What are some solutions you've found?
Learning how to speak politically correct, how to use proper etiquette in all situations. Being uber polite has really helped, even going out of my way to help or complete jobs for the ones that didn’t appreciate my skills or necessarily want me around due ro me being female.
I guess I tried to kill my opposers with kindness. Show them I’m not as bad as they think, I just wanted a home. A place to belong. And I belong nowhere other than cannabis. I also never stop, never quit, sleep less. Learned to work harder and longer than those around me and those that doubt or deny my true skills, knowledge and passion. I have used my oppressors as a drive, as a push. I have failed many times. But after falling I always get up and try again.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about cannabis?
It can cure cancer, or at least help significantly. It’s safer than alcohol. It’s safer than toothpaste. It has more medical benefits than any other plant or substance I know of. It's not just for the typical "stoner". Its for everyone, over the age of 21, and in severe medical cases, children as well. The list of conditions cannabis treats, is a mile long.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about your product or service?
That we are a small woman owned craft cannabis company that specializes in creating the most exotic and unique cannabis products available on the legal market today.
If you could go back in time and do it all over again, what (if anything) would you do differently?
Protect myself better. Learning business and business coldness. Unfortunately, being a stoner kid, I had somewhat rosy colored glasses on when it came to community and cannabis and this industry. I would have protected my proprietary information and myself personally much better and required contracts instead of handshakes. I have learned contracts tend to keep people and companies accountable, upfront and transparent. Going from stoner to business owner was quite the learning curve, I won’t lie.
What is your favorite way to consume cannabis?
In a bong. Or in a paperless, wrappless cannagar.
Concentrate or flower? Why?
Mixed. I like both flour and concentrates combined for the terp profiles and affects.
Do you think cannabis legalization will change the world for the better? Why?
I can see it going both ways. For the better If we can all keep it honorable. But if the pharmaceutical companies get control, I worry they will make synthetic versions of all our cannabinoids and patent them. This in itself is not a problem, it's more that I'm worried since its offered through a pharmacy in a pill form and patented, they will make the natural ways to consume it illegal again or regulate it so hard it would cause problems for the smaller businesses to produce and sell. Maybe I'm crazy. I just hope to see craft boutique cannabis have a solid foundation and place in the industry.
What advice would you offer to another woman who is looking to get into the industry?
Be strong. In your convictions and what you stand for. Don’t sell yourself, your ideas, drive, passion, morals and ambition short. Believe in yourself. Sounds cliche, but I feel like people try very hard to push their own agendas, wants and needs on individuals like me who are trying to make a business and brand. It can be difficult to discern motives of others at times and counteract them for the future.