James Kim, Chief Managing Officer & Co-Founder of Shryne Group, originally helped to build one of the most popular vaporizer brands on the market, STIIIZY. Now, less than 2 years later he is helping to create a vertically integrated corporation with his co-founder Brian to help really re-define cannabis culture.
We sat down with James to talk about his inspiration in cannabis and what the future of the brand is in this exclusive interview.
MRR: Just to start, you’ve helped build an incredible company. Can you walk us through what made you originally want to get into the cannabis space?
James Kim: Well, my background was within the vaporizer industry originally. I was just looking at the technology in cannabis as it was in 2017 and trying to provide something that would be efficient for the cannabis oil in the space. I really wanted to introduce something that would not only have great flavor, but also give great vapor production and a great experience. Being born and raised in southern California, I also wanted to tie in a lifestyle aspect to the whole brand.
MRR: Lifestyle is definitely a forefront of the Flagship STIIIZY location. How did you settle on the design for the retail location?
James Kim: I’ve been to all types of dispensaries and i’ve seen a huge transition from 215 (Proposition 215) to recreational. Obviously a lot of recreational dispensaries are very welcoming, but I think they missed a lot of aspects that the consumer wanted, and that decision ultimately made them not as popular. One thing that I want to introduce was getting consumers the space that they needed to browse comfortably ,as well as help to manage high volume which is currently a problem at a lot of shops. Dispensaries are normally a high volume location by nature, right? So creating the space for consumers to not be constricted is important.
But one thing that I really wanted to introduce was the culture, the lifestyle, of the brand into the store. Because we were a brand before retail, I wanted the consumers to really physically feel what’s STIIIZY was all about. So from the art to the floors to the exaggerated sized pods it gives you a surreal kind of world to experience, and I felt that that’s what cannabis was all about.
MRR: Speaking to the art and culture, what did you consider when picking which artists to go with?
James Kim: Well we wanted to present the biggest names in the space and RETNA, being someone that was a friend of a friend and also one of the top five artists in the globe, gave us the opportunity to paint our walls and that kind of put the standard of what artists we would be using. In the lobby we have other big names like Risk and Mr Cartoon, but moving into the future we didn’t want to make what we have set in stone. We wanted to introduce something new every six months or a year where we would change the concept up. I think the next concept we’ll be showcasing is up and coming artists, giving them a chance to showcase their artwork within our platform which is incredibly high volume. I always felt that I was an underdog as an up and coming entrepreneur and I really wanted to give everyone else an opportunity like I had an opportunity.
MRR: Instagram pods are an interesting concept in a retail experience. Can you talk about what the idea behind that and the future plans for it?
James Kim: Being a millennial I grew up on social media, Instagram predominantly. That’s been a new trend. It is not looked at as art to the general public, but to the millennial’s it is and we wanted to introduce different types of art. Take me for instance, I love tattoos, but you can’t necessarily showcase that work on a wall. But Mr Cartoon is a tattoo artist who also paints. So showcasing his painting is one way for us to introduce that art, Instagram pods is just another. We also want it to be a discovery so it doesn’t even show that it’s an Instagram pod. We want the consumers to take pictures and Geo-tag the location and just let the consumer find out where it is. Almost like a scavenger hunt. Our goal is just giving all types of experiences as we want to make this retail something kind of out of this world, and at the end of the day I think that is what it become.