The cannabis industry is known for its creativity and adaptability. As strain genetics change dramatically and new methods of consumption constantly arrive on the market, it is reassuring to know some things remain the same. Glass is still ingrained in the culture of cannabis, offering simplicity while also providing a stage for beautiful art.
So, it’s no coincidence that glassmaker GRAV leans heavily into its artistic beginnings. But the team is not the usual cast of characters practicing their craft in the cannabis-safe zones of America’s western states.
“GRAV itself was born out of a diverse artist community home to welders, painters, ceramicists, and more in the early 2000s in Austin, Texas,” said founder Dave Daily.
While many organizations suffer from a lack of fresh ideas, GRAV has benefited from its diverse creative community. Along the way, the group realized something critical about cannabis consumers: Just like for artists, there is ritual involved but no one size fits all.
“GRAV recognized the ritual of consumption early on,” explained Daily. “There is a time, place, and process for smoking. But whether you’re hitting one-hitters on the beach with your friends, or ripping a bong on the couch by yourself, everyone has a preferred device for each occasion.”
Although GRAV has grown over the years, much of the early days’ vibe remains in its DNA. Today, the brand still considers itself to be a conglomerate of artists supporting fellow artists (and “keeping Austin weird”). GRAV showcases the work of local Austin muralists including Candy & Fish, who contributed to the brand’s new headquarters. And unlike other websites in the space that have a transactional or e-commerce feel, GRAV’s website feels like a destination for those who appreciate artistic flair. GRAV’s blog also highlights the work of many other artists including New York City’s ggggrimes and Austin’s genre-bending musician Jake Lloyd.
For those looking to execute their own artistic visions, GRAV allows aspiring designers to submit their own ideas. But visitors to the company’s website may be doing themselves a disservice if they don’t spend a little time with Senior Designer of Product Development Micah Evans. Evans’ videos showcase his expertise and glass blowing techniques, but what sets him apart is the insight he provides into how he approaches each unique design.
Evans’ creations are truly unique, with some resembling everyday items including cocktail shakers, coffee cups, and milk cartons. His designs are meant to have a little fun, but never at the cost of functionality.
“I approach each piece with the respect it deserves,” Evans said. “When designing glass consumption devices, the considerations at the top of the list are form and function. The delicate balance of designing a beautiful object without sacrificing performance is where I spend most of my time.”
While many companies market their products as works of art, many pieces come with a price tag that most artists could never afford.
“‘Pipes for the people’ is what we say,” Daily said. “GRAV strives to make products that are accessible and affordable to reach a range of consumers. We want people to actually be able to afford our products.”
It’s a refreshing philosophy, considering the high-end trends that have dominated much of the industry’s marketing in recent years. The cannabis movement, at its core, is about increasing accessibility, not creating barriers, yet a distressing increase in consumer prices and licensing fees, along with slow-moving criminal justice reforms, leaves many consumers and potential entrepreneurs unable to benefit from the thriving cannabis economy.
“Diversity cannot be a buzzword you throw out into the world as marketing,” said Madison Butler, GRAV’s vice president of people and impact. “It has to be baked into the foundation of your organization, your policies, and your product.
GRAV Chief Executive Officer Brandon Miranda knows meaningful change has to start at home.
“The area we have the most direct impact on is our team,” he said. “We are the cannabis community, and the cannabis community is us. As an organization, we strive to always be a company that is committed to building a diverse and inclusive team that represents and reflects the core cannabis communities.”