We had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our favorite Ganjapreneurs, Mechelle Ellis, Owner of Dope Arrangements last week. This young businesswoman is carving her way through the Cannabis industry one custom creation at a time! Keep reading the interview below to learn more about how she created and developed her company and became a Ganjapreneur in Las Vegas!
Tell me a little about yourself!
My name is Mechelle and I started Dope Arrangements two years ago! I make custom, handmade wooden rolling trays, as well as custom painted ashtrays, grinders, and lighters. If it’s not Dope ish, that ain’t it! I also just moved here to Las Vegas from Atlanta in February.
Why did you start making rolling trays?
About a year ago, I was smoking with a friend and the ash of a blunt fell on myself and the bed I was sitting on. At that moment we were inspired to start make rolling trays that keep all the bits where they belong and help keep your smoking area cleaner!
How long does it take you to make a rolling tray?
It depends on the design, but a simple design could take me up to 2 days, whereas more complicated or detailed designs can take me anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks to complete. I always communicate with my customers to let them know if their custom order is taking longer than anticipated though.
What has been your most exciting moment working in the cannabis industry?
My most exciting moment was meeting Snoop Dogg and showing him a picture of a custom tray that I made for him. I went to a meet and greet to see him and I wasn’t even supposed to show him the picture because as I was walking up, the security guard told me that I cannot take my phone. I said that I just wanted to show him a picture and originally the security guard told me no, but I looked a little sad and he came back up to me and said that it was okay if I just took my phone. I was like yessss! I walked up to Snoop and told him that I make custom rolling trays and I showed him the picture of the one I made for him. He asked where it was and I told him it was back home in Atlanta, but someone will send it to him. He really liked the tray though and approved of it so that was very exciting!
The second most exciting moment was having a booth set up for Herban Expo! I got to be able to really explain to people what my brand is, how to use the trays, and I was able to put myself out there more. I received quite a few orders and commissions from that experience and I was able to network and meet so many great people!
What is one of the weirdest things you had to do to complete a tray, or as an entrepreneur in general?
One of the weirdest things that I have done was when I tried to give Wiz Khalifa a custom tray that I made for him. I may have stalked him at a nightclub just a little bit…I was waiting outside for him. It actually happened twice. The first time I actually saw him getting into an elevator, his security asked if we were with him and he was like “…no”. I should have been like “Hey! I have rolling trays!” Something told me to get in the other elevator, and there was actually a person from his entourage in the other elevator. I asked if he was with Wiz and he said yes so I was able to give him a business card!
The second time, I was waiting for him outside of a performance again, I had the actual rolling tray with me that time though! I heard him near me and tried to find him to give him the rolling tray but I ended up losing him. I always keep an eye out for when he is here though, I’ll get that tray to him eventually.
What would you say is your biggest struggle, or the hardest thing about what you do?
I think that as me being an artist, I am a perfectionist when it comes to my art. So that can have an impact on how long it takes me to create. If it’s something that I know has to be really dope, but I haven’t necessarily done it before, it’s like sometimes I don’t know what I am doing, but I have to do it and it has to be perfect. Anything I touch absolutely has to look perfect, especially my art.
What would you be doing right now if you weren’t managing Dope Arrangements?
I would definitely still be doing something art related. I do other things like custom painting shoes, shirts, hats, and jackets.
Would you still be in the cannabis industry?
Probably, I’d definitely still be smoking weed!
As a business owner, have you run into any problems from working in the cannabis industry? Or do you feel like your job is a little bit different since you do not actually handle “product” per se.
No I have definitely run into a few problems, that I did not necessarily understand why they happened. I had a website up on BigCartel for my trays and I was asked to take it down because I was selling “paraphernalia”. I was also not able to fully promote my trays the same way that I would promote other artwork that I have done, because many platforms will not allow me to market through them. I had to do a lot of research to try to find a platform that would allow me to be able to sell my rolling trays. Right now I have my own website, www.dopearrangements.com. I also sell through Etsy and Instagram, @dopearrangements.
Has being an entrepreneur or your work in general had an effect on any of your personal relationships?
No, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. Probably since the second grade. My mom would always ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would tell her that I always wanted to be a fashion designer, or an artist, or a singer. Every year the one thing that would stay consistent was that I wanted to be a fashion designer. My grandmother was a seamstress and she taught me how to sew and bought me my first sewing machine. I would make these little felt purses and I would take them to school and sell them to girls in class!
Due to being in the cannabis industry, does it affect how your family and friends react to your business?
Oh yeah. My mom is still mad to this day. She got mad because I had a booth at Herban Expo, she called and wanted to make sure that I had someone with me and told me to be careful. Being a young, black, female in the cannabis industry worries her for my safety. She also does not approve of me smoking weed because she thinks that it is bad for me and that it kills brain cells. I actually took an IQ test before I started smoking and then after I had been smoking for a while, and my IQ was actually higher the second time. So I try to do research to show her that cannabis is not hurting me, but overall she just worries about my safety. She is very supportive of my art however, and the rest of my family is very supportive as well!
What do you think would help the cannabis industry with the negative stigma that it has?
I think that being more open and up-front and actually providing useful education is very important. I would like to be able to include a fun, educational blog for Dope Arrangements in order to provide information as well as to provide different content that will reach all kinds of people. People are very scared of what they do not understand, so I think that it is important to provide more education to help with that understanding. I also think that cannabis is a lot more acceptable now than it was in the past.
Has cannabis helped you with anything personally or how did you find yourself in the cannabis lifestyle?
Personally cannabis helps a lot with anxiety and depression as well as it helps me to express my creativity and to be my full and complete self!
Is there any advice that was given to you as an entrepreneur when you were younger that you chose not to listen to?
Yes, I always wanted to be an artist and a lot of people in my family would tell me that that is not a real job or a career, and that I would not make money from it. I did a lot of research about the fashion industry to see how these artists were able to build their brands from essentially nothing, going through different shops in New York and taking their pieces around. Seeing these people being successful with their art helped me to believe that I could make something from mine as well. Even though people would tell me that I would not make money from being an artist, I would see all of these artists being successful and making money, and the people that were telling me that I would not make anything from it were actually buying clothes and designs from these artists that started from nothing, so I knew that I could do so as well. A 9 to 5 job has just never been for me because I have always been too creative.
What are some things that you have learned being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
I have learned that there is a lot more to the industry that we know as general consumers. There are a lot of rules and regulations that need to be followed, even if you are not actually selling products that use cannabis. I have also learned that just because you are in a legal state, there are still a lot of rules that need to be followed in order to be able to consume legally.
Where do you see Dope Arrangements headed as a company within the next five years?
I see Dope Arrangements having a full-on dispensary as well as a vegan edibles food truck! I see the cannabis industry expanding and my goal is to be able to expand Dope Arrangements with the industry as well. I would love to be global, and to give my customers the option to go into many different dispensaries and to see Dope Arrangements brand merchandise, whether it’s a rolling tray, an ashtray, a t-shirt, or a grinder. I would also love to have my own Sativa strain!
Do you have any advice for any entrepreneurs that are just starting out or getting into the industry?
Don’t give up. Make your own path. Do not listen to anyone outside of yourself because you are the only person that can hold you back from your own success. You hold the keys to your own destiny.
Would you like a DopeArrangements Rolling tray of your own? Head over to https://www.etsy.com/shop/DopeArrangements to check out her work! She does custom pieces for all walks of life. Go follow her Instagram too @dopearrangements for more examples of her creatively gorgeous work!
On behalf of The Social Weed Team, Thank you Mechelle! Keep up the amazing work!