KushKards' Lauren Miele on Her 'High-Deas' and Collabs With Curaleaf and Toker Poker

Plus how she and other cannabis marketers have had to finesse social media regulations

Lauren Miele is founder and CEO of KushKards, the first cannabis greeting card where "one can strike a match and light what is attached." A burgeoning fashion designer in 2013, Miele launched KushKards to fulfill a need to gift cannabis—at a time when there was no way to do it. Standard greeting cards lacked the form and function, so Miele created a niche market of innovative cannabis gifting for young professionals like herself looking for "the perfect gift with a lift." Miele quickly grew KushKards into a national brand—KushKards’s just won Best New Product in the Lifestyle Category at The National Stationery Show in 2022, and to date is sold in over 4,000 retail locations including Spencer Gifts, Hustler Hollywood, Museum of Sex and Planet 13.

We spoke with Lauren for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.

Lauren, tell us... 

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

I am the founder and CEO of KushKards, the world’s first cannabis greeting card with a slot to enter a pre-roll or a decorative one-hitter included. I'm from New York and currently reside in Denver, Colorado.  

Your earliest cannabis memory.

Gifting dime bags of weed in Hallmark cards as gifts! 

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

Cannabis has replaced my alcohol use. Although, I never was the drinker in the group nor wanted to be. Cannabis has allowed me to have my own outlet, so when people ask if I drink I now proclaim—green only! This has impacted my life in a positive way by not harming my body with the negative side effects alcohol brings. I also use my "green only" pass when one asks about psychedelics as I truly only want to smoke weed! 

A favorite flower, edible, product, or brand.

CannaBombz is a women-owned company that makes plant based products for the people! Lindsey, the founder, shares her journey through all things motherhood, parenting and cannabis. Her products are awesome, handmade and I am a returning customer. She also has a Cannamomz Podcast and new local events where she interviews other women who share similar experiences as they break the stigma around consuming before, during and after pregnancy. 

Beautiful Burns is reinventing a stylish approach to the industry. They provide not only quality but also aesthetically-desirable pre-rolled papers that have metallic tips. Classy pre-roll cones that burn beautifully. The pops of color and vibrant patterns look perfect when paired with KushKards. Now customers have the option to gift an upscale cannabis greeting card with matching cones. 

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

The language we speak in everyday life cannot be replicated on social media. We constantly have to find ways around the "community guidelines" to market to our customers by using words such as "ouid" and the leaf emoji instead of using the actual words for cannabis. It has made it impossible to grow on TikTok with having over eight accounts and a total of 250,000 followers combined. While social media is based on creativity, cannabis marketers face challenges like standing out with creativity, as well as the potential for getting banned or taken down. 

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing. 

I'm very excited to chat about the ongoing collaboration I have with Toker Poker. Toker Poker is the most convenient smoking accessory tool: a lighter case that has a poker rod to clean your bowl, one-hitter pipe, stuff pre-roll cones and more. We add the artwork of my cards on the Toker Poker lighter cases to make a matching set with the one-hitter Kards. After all, you need the Toker Poker (aka the new bobby pin) to clean the one-hitter. It's an item I always have in my hand, plus that way no one steals my lighter, and it's a creative way to get my brand in the hands of thousands. I recently started adding my new Kush Charms to dangle off the Toker Poker. I keep Toker Poker in mind when designing new cards and charms. We usually only do seasonal drops, but stay tuned for a collection of 10 matching KushKards and Toker Poker sets!

Another new collaboration for the Holiday Season was with King Palm. We have attached terpene infused wraps to a Christmas and birthday KushKard. BluntKards are available for the consumer on Kingpalm.com. This is just another example of the innovation behind KushKards and all the high-deas to come!

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support. 

I support women-owned events that are popping up in the cannabis industry. These are events led by women supporting women from new entrepreneurs to high level executives. I've sponsored a few of these events like Blunt Brunch at MJBizCon, Lady Led Collabs at Champs Show, and the upcoming Women's Chamber of Commerce Event at Art Basel. I have worked alongside many of these groups and am proud to be a part of them. 

A project you worked on recently that you're proud of.

I love the Cliq KushKards By Select / Curaleaf collaboration. My team and I worked on the Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day in-store marketing campaigns for Curaleaf's new Cliq Pod battery. We creatively attached a select battery to a KushKard. The promotion was "Buy a Cliq Pod and Get a Kushkard With a Battery Attached for Free." I’m really proud because they came to me looking for creative ways to promote their new Cliq Pod program, and KushKards delivered. I was honored to create cards that would fit their customers and do the job of selling the Cliq Pod in a fun and joyful way. Curaleaf ordered over 15,000 custom cards to date! 

Someone else's project you admired recently.

I recently admired the launch of Blazy Susan's purple cones. They've done an excellent job dominating the market with their pink papers/cones by introducing a new color out of nowhere—it's brilliant. Purple is also Pantone's color of the year (Very Peri), so for me it was very on trend with other consumer goods in the market. It's another way for their customers to get excited about their products. The purple cones also pair well with our greeting cards, so I team up with Blazy Susan's social media to collaborate on reels that have gotten anywhere from 10,000-50,000 views. 

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

I admire Amanda of CannaStyle, a women owned brand rocking the stoner girl smoking accessories online shop market. I personally know the owner from NYC when she was trend-forecasting in fashion. Her creativity is expressed through understanding her customer, knowing what words and symbols can and can't be promoted on social media while mastering e-commerce. Amanda creates one of a kind stylish bongs where fashion meets function. She is an industry leader in making pretty stoner girl accessories you cannot find anywhere else on the market. 

What music, movie, TV show, or food do you find most enjoy pairing with cannabis?

New Girl on Netflix is my number one go-to feel good show I love to binge while I am high! I have watched this seven-season show more than once and it makes me crack off the entire time. 

What would you be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry?

I'd be working in branding for major companies such as Nike, Adidas, Pantone, helping to design and create brand extensions for these well established companies. For example, when I interned at Aeropostale, I presented "teen bedding" as a brand extension to the CEO—it was the best experience and I loved doing it! I see myself still living in NYC, building my career, being a part-time spin teacher and being my own High-Dea consultant for others.

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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