Many involved in the cannaabis industry are selling a message along with their inventory, and Elevate Accessories is one of them. Based out of Denver, CO., Elevate designs and manufacture gorgeous bubblers, dugout kits, pipes, and more. In the following interview with entrepreneur Alan Bader, we ask what it’s like to be a pioneer of the blossoming cannabis industry.

What are some habits that you’ve formed that have helped with the jump into successful entrepreneurship?

I have been working as a freelance designer for a number of years and through doing that I had to develop ‘strict’ rules for myself for how to organize my day. Basically, I told myself that even if I didn’t have paid jobs I needed to keep waking up early and working a normal day so that when I do have work it’s not a huge shift from my normal routine. I think that has prepared me well for running my own business.

What was the most unexpected aspect of your journey?

Working in the cannabis industry at all. I have been working in the industry for about 3 years, mostly with photography and creative development. Now, with Elevate, I am even more surprised at what I get to do for work every day. If you had told my 16 year old self that one day I would be designing classy cannabis accessories in a legal market (merging two of my passions into one), I would have said you were crazy.

Which piece or line do you feel most proud of?

As simple a it is, the little joint tip is what I am most proud of right now. It was a reboot of an old classic product and I approached it with this idea of using geometric lines/shapes. That piece shows the true level of CAD, machining and finishing skills that we have at Elevate. It is a glimpse into what some future Elevate products will look like.

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Which pieces are the most popular?

Right now the dugout is the most popular item. It was unintentional, but has been a really great learning experience for me as a product designer. While I only designed the dugout to fill a sku in the current line, it turned out to be so popular that it has somewhat changed my original views of what the future of Elevate’s products will be. I’m really happy with what that item has taught me.

What’s it like working in the cannabis industry now that it is blossoming into a new culture?

It’s a trip. Talking about cannabis in a professional and nonchalant manner is still a little weird. What’s most interesting about working in this industry and doing what I am with Elevate, is the conversations I have with some of my more conservative friends and family. I would expect them to be against it and yet they are very interested in learning more. I love to teach people the truth about cannabis and show them what the future of the industry will look like. I think being a professional in the industry, having adult conversations about it and educating others is helping to shape people’s opinions away from the old stereotypes.

What have you noticed that needs to change about the industry still? What progress still needs to be made?

I think it is important for other professional types (from all industries and cultures) to help the cause by ‘normalizing’ the plant. In order to do that I think we have to actually use cannabis (smoke, eat, dab, vape, whatever) in a responsible way, and do it on camera. If you see people drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette in a movie or on a TV show, they are often portrayed as normal people that also happen to drink or smoke. But when you see a cannabis smoker in the same movie/show, they are still stuck with the old tired stigma. By more people embracing their cannabis use on camera for others to see, proving that the old stigma no longer applies, we will start to see real change in mass acceptance. The government will change their minds when there is enough money to justify full legalization, but changing a social paradigm takes normalization within society as a whole.

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How does it feel to be a pioneer of a new culture?

It feels great to be on the front lines for a new culture. However, it also feels like it’s going so fast that we have to work extra hard to keep up or get left behind. That’s why I am excited to be in the Canopy Boulder program. There is no walking right now, it’s full speed ahead!

What do you think it’s going to be like in 10 years? From legalization and medicinal activism, we’ve seen a whole new level of talent that perhaps always existed. What else will we see in the coming years now that the public is changing their mind on cannabis?

The possibilities for cannabis are endless. I see full legalization coming soon and with that we will see larger and more dominating dispensaries becoming as popular as some of the large beer companies (Coors, Bud, New Belgium, etc). In addition to that, I would like to see social consumption become a reality with cannabis bars and restaurants. It would also be smart to talk about how Hemp will creep in and take over. While cannabis had tons of potential, hemp has even more. As both become legal I see some big changes in all industries. Some people may not be ready for it, but it’s a freight train now.