Only 25 percent of businesses will celebrate a fifteenth anniversary. Sustainable growth is challenging across the board but can be particularly elusive in the cannabis industry where access to capital, marketing/social media platform restrictions, and political headwinds constantly present hurdles. The harsh business environment for cannabis companies, understandably, can lead to some compromising their vision in order to achieve long-term success.
GRAV has grown despite obstacles that hinder many others in the cannabis space.
“GRAV has been able to transform into a multimillion-dollar business without taking any outside investment and truly growing on our terms,” Chief Executive Officer Brandon Miranda said. “We never had to answer to a board or investors. We make all product and strategic decisions on our own, and it’s this balance of creative and business freedom that has paved the way for GRAV to grow as a glass leader in the industry.”
Some startups launch with an exit strategy — attracting a buyer with deep pockets — as their first priority. GRAV’s focus is different. The company built a business for its people and by its people.
“We are 100-percent employee-owned, and therefore we are the shareholders,” Miranda said. “This freedom allows us to focus on our mission without any distracting competing priorities.”
GRAV, like most brands that survived the industry’s early days, had to develop tough skin to keep the lights on.
“The reality in cannabis is that most of the time it feels like more people are working against us than are working for us or with us,” Miranda said. “Just in the past year, we have been fired by our tax and audit firm for being in cannabis, kicked off our [enterprise resource planning] software because the parent company won’t work with cannabis businesses, and had our merchant services fees raised because of our industry — and that’s just to name a few.”
Operating in Texas has presented additional challenges, for both companies like GRAV and cannabis consumers.
“Texas has a long and deep history with cannabis going all the way back to when the plant was first introduced to the country,” Miranda said. “We face extra scrutiny operating a cannabis business out of Texas, but the real threat is on a personal level. We are still putting thousands of people behind bars every year for cannabis possession in Texas. We stand with all those folks and choose to operate out of Texas because we see a future where cannabis prohibition is ended and the wrongs of the unjust war on drugs are behind us.”
Overcoming these challenges is important, not only for GRAV’s success, but to demonstrate how cannabis brands can leverage success to lift others, especially those most impacted by the War on Drugs.
“GRAV’s mission is to help build a cannabis space that is just, equitable, and responsible,” Miranda said. “We actively give back to the cannabis community and make an effort to hire an inclusive staff to represent the company across all business and consumer-facing sectors. At GRAV we honor those who forged this industry and aim to continue to build a responsible cannabis space.”
GRAV offers a wide range of products that touch just about every major cannabis accessory category and has been growing steadily, on its own terms, since the company’s early days. From 2019 to 2020, GRAV’s sales increased by more than 30 percent. The brand is now available to consumers in twenty-five countries and in more than 3,600 retailers.
But its diverse appeal is influenced by much more than a deep product catalogue. GRAV is dedicated to the concept of “finding one’s higher self,” a mantra that guides the brand and helps the company’s products appeal to a diverse set of customers and supporters. The philosophy has allowed GRAV to grow right alongside the cannabis community.
“We are the cannabis community, and the cannabis community is us,” Miranda said. “The cannabis space, and the war on drugs in particular, has done a lot of harm to a lot of folks. It is important that every company in this space understands the history of cannabis in the [United States]. We must do our part every day to undo this harm.
“This is at the forefront of everything we do — how we hire, who we partner with, our brand representation, our compensation model … literally everything.”
For more about GRAV and its product, visit GRAV.com.