Featured Canna Artisan:
Jared Relyea, Founder and Creator of L-evated
Feature: Jared Relyea
Company: L-evated (IG: @levated_products)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Cannabis is starting to play more and more of a role in people’s everyday lives. People are becoming innovative, creative, and kicking stereotypes to the curb. One of those people in particular is Jared Relyea.
I saw a really awesome wooden box at a friends house and I opened it up being the nosy person that I am. I looked inside and thought, ‘this is genius, what a great idea!’ The box has all these compartments in it to store anything you could ever need that’s cannabis related. I had to know where the box came from and was so curious to learn how this idea came into existence.
There are people across the country and across the world doing cool and creative things in the cannabis space. I had to get in touch with this artisanal craftsman creating the cannabis containers with real practical use for the everyday cannabis lover.
I was put in touch with Jared, the man behind the box, and he allowed me to come over and see how it all started. Here is a look into yet another creative idea from a Cannapreneur and what he is doing within the industry.
CM: Hey Jared! Thank you so much for letting me come over and hang out with you today in this awesome space you have created. I cannot wait to hear about the journey that got you into this industry but before we dive into all that can you talk a little bit about where you are from so we can get an idea of how all this started?
Jared: I was born and raised in Poway, California, right outside of San Diego. I moved to Las Vegas in 2008 to go to UNLV. I’ve always been kind of solo, I like to do things on my own, so when I moved here seven years ago I started creating new hobbies to keep me busy. Being on my own for the first time I realized I didn’t have the normal set up I had in high school, this included different social aspects so one of the first hobbies I started was painting. (Jared points around the house as he says this; his walls are covered in paintings that he has done over the years). I had never really painted before, I didn’t have a background in it, just thought I would enjoy it and picked it up.
CM: Man, San Diego, I feel like that is a place you have got to miss! I do have to say growing up Blink-182 was my favorite band and I was obsessed with Tom DeLonge and I remember him being from Poway.
So, I sm curious, what did you study at UNLV, and how did you decide to pick up wood-working after painting?
Jared: (laughs) yeah, they used to perform at my high school back in the day! Blink is the culture of that town! I do miss San Diego but I had to try something new after being spoiled living there for eighteen years.
I went to UNLV to study Hotel Management and Hospitality. Not to say I didn’t want to go to college, it was just something that my mom always pushed. And of course I was going to go because that is just what you do right? At one point before I started my fifth year she decided I was going to be in charge of the payments. I realized then I didn’t really see myself doing that forever. People ask me all the time why I don’t just go back, but I still don’t see the point of finishing something I’m not passionate about. I mean it would be great to have my degree but I am much happier building in my garage. That is how I’m truly happy.
So, as far as getting into woodworking. I took one wood-shop class in high school but that was it. My dad always worked construction and he has such a passion for it so he helps me out a lot, but back then I just played a lot of sports. I really didn’t even have time for a creative outlet it was mostly just school and sports. After I stopped playing, I had more time for myself and that was when I got more into hobbies like painting and wood-working.
CM: Wow, that is crazy to just decide to pick something up, and you are so great at it! You are the perfect example of what they mean by ‘you’ll never know if you don’t try.’ So you have tons of paintings around the house as well as a garage full of materials and tools, can we talk about some of your first wood pieces and how you decided to start making these beautiful L-evated boxes?
Jared: The wood-working started about a year ago. The first thing I built was a ladder (points to ladder in the corner that is an awesome book shelf)! I built that with just one tool, a skill saw. It was cool and really fun but it was a learning piece. The next thing I built was a bed frame, it was about 6” off the ground and I did that with only the skill saw as well. After that I tinkered with different ideas and made an ant farm. So, the story behind that is I saw a colony down the street and the idea popped into my head. I made this box, but when I finished I felt so terrible looking at them. I didn’t want to destroy their colony and what they have probably spent years building. But that is the first actual box I made.
In terms of getting into building the L-evated boxes, I’ve thought on so many occasions I want something to keep all my stuff in one place. I couldn’t just go buy a box because I had specific ideas of what I wanted as far as little compartments for different things. Plus, I’m always losing stuff and I figured everyone else was too. I made my very first box just for myself and I LOVED it! It was so exciting I didn’t know why anyone wouldn’t want something like this. So that was about six months ago and since then I’ve been building between one and three boxes a week. I’ve just been getting better and better.
It’s fun to create things you have a passion for!
CM: I want to talk about this space for a quick second, you work out of your garage, the whole thing has been converted into a workshop, its amazing! Is this where you have always found your creative space?
Jared: I actually started doing this in my back room; a 10×10 space where I began painting. One day I cleaned out my garage, shortly after I made the bed I mentioned earlier, and added more tools to my collection. I started painting on the walls of the garage to make it feel more like my own creative spot. I think the best out here so it’s perfect. Its not fully insulated though so when I came home last night it was about 105 degrees! So unbearable! I just turn up the air and wait until it cools off and then get to work. Usually I wait until its pretty cold so I can shut the door. I have a roommate and I like to listen to music pretty loud and I’m using power tools. I’m generally done working around 8 o’clock as a courtesy factor.
CM: How long does it take you to create a box from start to finish?
Jared: If I am just making the box itself and not going into detail with the painting and stains then I can get it done in about six hours. I’m pretty quick now and I have gotten a lot better at repetition and the cuts. I have it all planned out so I can get exactly what I need as fast as possible. It makes them faster to expedite. Having a background in painting makes it a little easier for me to be quick with the varnishes and stains but waiting for that to dry is what takes the longest. The glue takes some time to dry as well. So playing the waiting game with drying is the most time consuming. I’m building about three boxes at a time though and I can get them all done in about a day and a half max!
CM: Are you doing different size boxes?
Jared: I started with three sizes. One was primarily for pre-rolls, the other I call the All-in-One. That one can fit anything and everything you want inside. The trays are all removable (in all the boxes) to create the space that you need or want. The third one hasn’t been as popular, those two are the ones people have expressed interest in the most.
CM: Some of your finished boxes have paintings on the under side of the lid, is this a customizable feature with your product?
Jared: Definitely, I want the consumer to have options. However, I will never paint the boxes Rastafarian colors or anything like that. I want to keep them within the realm of that natural look. I want them more refined and out of the stereotypes. You will be able to pick different stain options. If you want something specifically painted I can try. I am not the best artist and my work is more abstract but I am always down try new things that people are looking for. Also if customers have favorite quotes or lyrics those can most definitely be placed on there. A lot of my pieces already include quotes/lyrics because I find them very inspirational throughout my day.
CM: Where do you see this product going in the next few years, what do you want for it’s future?
Jared: I want it to be a household item that you want to have. It’s what you use, its what you like, you have your L-evated box. I don’t need it to be the most popular item in the world and I don’t want to own some multinational conglomerate that sells these. I just want to make a living doing what I love. It’ll be something that makes people value other things. You spent the time to make the money you used to purchase the L-evated box. You love it because you worked for it and you see that I put in hours to create the perfect shape for you. It would be cool to eventually have them in local dispensaries as well. I just want it to give people the same type of enjoyment it gives me when I open mine up.
CM: Earlier you mentioned the stereotypes of cannabis, can you elaborate and explain how you got into this industry yourself?
Jared: There seems to be a lot of negative stereotypes about cannabis and I don’t believe them to be true. Growing up most people try it out when they are young and I remember my mom saying ‘it’s illegal so you know you can’t do it.’ Even she has tried it since it was made legal in California. For me it never had the same effects as alcohol where you feel horrible the next day, with alcohol you are literally putting poison into your body. I think a lot of people feel that with cannabis you just sit there and eat while you watch t.v. But for me it has always been something that keeps me moving.
It is a positive effect on my energy, I never stop moving, I’m always doing something, always creating!
I also feel that it plays a huge role medically. I have never been one to even take an aspirin. Cannabis has always seemed a much better way to go. I’m not saying cannabis is going to cure the entire world but the effects of taking prescription pills and things of that nature have shown to be devastating and even deadly. Doing the research yourself and deciding what works best for you I feel is the better route.
CM: What do you hope to see happening within the cannabis industry, especially with it becoming recreational?
Jared: I’ve always been a little nervous for the commercialization of it. What if Pepsi just came in and ran the whole thing and there ends up being two strands for the whole world (laughs). I want it to continue to be a movement taken up by the people and the entrepreneurs. Hopefully with the new laws we see more innovative products! I hope it opens up more peoples minds to all the possibilities we have in front of us. Cool things are definitely going to come from it, you realize how you can help the world as opportunities arise with its availability. Like I said, cannabis may not cure the world but it definitely won’t hurt it.
The acceptance of people to the industry is what’s going to get the wheels really spinning and I am doing my part one box at a time.
CM: Well, thank you so much again Jared for spending some time with me this afternoon, it was a pleasure!