By Rob Starr,Big4.com Content Manager
Being an entrepreneur can be hard enough. It can be especially tough when the industry that you’ve decided to launch in carries an unwarranted stigma although a segment of the population will live better lives with less pain because of your work. Starting a business is always rough—even more so in an industry like the one described that relies primarily on the online sales of physical products.
Darby Cox has taken on these challenges, succeeded and excelled. She’s the co-owner and Vice President of The Smoke Cartel, the online headshop start-up based in Savannah, GA. Together with Sean Geng, co-owner and CEO, they’ve built a growing enterprise with projections of $6,000,000 in revenue for their online enterprise and stores this year. The business also employs 45 people.
The backdrop for this kind of success is less encouraging than in other states like California where the ground was just broken on a $2 million dollar and nearly 13,000-square-foot medical marijuana cultivation and manufacturing facility because the laws around using pot for medical conditions is less clear in and around Savannah, Georgia.
“Low THC oil has been legalized for five specific conditions. However there’s still no laws around
cultivation and transporting across state lines is still illegal here,” Cox says adding that every time a state legalizes medical marijuana, The Smoke Cartel sees an up tick in traffic to their website. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s effects.
Cox says one of the favourite things about the business for everyone at The Smoke Cartel has to do with alleviating suffering.
“We get calls from older people when their state becomes legal who might have used marijuana before in their lives and now have emphysema or another chronic pain problem. We really love to see that.”
She furthers that legalization also allows for product innovation for these medical devices and that opens the door for technology companies to get involved. The Smoke Cartel offers an assortment of bongs, vaporizers, custom built glass water pipes and other products that can be shipped anywhere in the United States and Canada.
If you really want to understand their current philosophy, you need to be familiar with how the company started as an alternative to other headshops that ordered products from overseas that often took weeks to get delivered. Seeing a need they could fill, Sean and Darby started their enterprise in a little one room apartment with the intention of keeping the products and services locally sourced.
Considering the fact the company is expanding and working within a burgeoning medical marijuana industry, you might expect Darby has her sights set on big things that might leave her roots and values behind, but that’s not the case.
“I’m helping 45 people to put food on their tables and feed their families,” she says. “That’s important and starting this January we’re going to upsize our current warehouse facilities from 12,000 to 42,000 square feet. We’re also going to open up a glass blowing school. We currently have four glass blowers on staff and we’re hoping to expand that.”