Davis Clayton Kiyo of Myster: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis or CBD Business
Authenticity. The Cannabis Industry is highly regulated so therefore you want to stand out in a good way. Create products and ideas that have not been done before. Set yourself apart from the competition.
As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Davis Clayton Kiyo.
Davis Clayton Kiyo hoped to go down in history as the disruptor of pot culture. To him, cannabis culture is “business-class and gainfully employed.” Kiyo is the founder of Myster High-End Accessories, a company that specializes in modern and innovative cannabis hardware. Davis’ mission has always been to change the negative stigma associated with being a cannabis user. He opened his first Myster shop in Petworth, DC, and his next one in Bethesda, MD and things were going well; until the cops showed up.
Police raided Kiyo’s Bethesda shop, seizing $53,000 worth of inventory. He was then charged with three felonies based on his CBD operation－Maryland law states that THC is a controlled substance, and Kiyo’s CBD products contain it, even just trace amounts. This was not his first run in with authority on a cannabis-related charge.
In his early 20s, Davis had a clash with the federal government pertaining to cannabis, where he ultimately beat the charges leading him to double down on his passion and dive headfirst into the industry, spending years on product development and advocacy. Myster was born out of his frustrations with the lack of clean-cut products and brands in the industry. Myster is a high-end accessories company that elevates cannabis culture by designing accessories that look classy, feel good, and work well. Beyond innovative design, Myster is on a mission to reframe outdated stereotypes about being a cannabis enthusiast. Today, people from all walks of life use marijuana medicinally and recreationally. All of their products are designed with professionalism and sophistication in mind so you have products that you’d be willing to show off, but that you can also store discreetly. Myster’s signature product is the Stashtray Bundle where the kit includes everything you need for an efficient ritual — a container for your flower, a grinder, an ashtray, a magnetic lighter case, and a magnetic rolling tray. Having all the parts magnetically attached to the tray makes it effortless to use on the go and less likely to have things get dropped and spilled.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
In my early 20s, I had a clash with the federal government about cannabis where I ultimately beat the charges. After that, I decided to double down on my passion and dive headfirst into the industry, spending years on product development and advocacy. Myster was born out of frustrations with the lack of clean-cut products and brands in the industry.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
“Based on my own experience, and luckily, my co-founder Ben Kovacs and some of my other friends work in the legal cannabis industry, so I had great insight into the challenges of the industry since we started. This includes 280E, banking, compliance, licenses, and the list goes on. We purposefully focused on hardware in part due to the strict regulations in the cannabis industry.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are currently working on new products and accessories, expected to launch in 2021, so visit https://www.getmyster.com/ or follow us on Instagram for new product launches and updates.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.
- Authenticity. The Cannabis Industry is highly regulated so therefore you want to stand out in a good way. Create products and ideas that have not been done before. Set yourself apart from the competition.
- Finances. Banking and marketing have been a challenge because of our industry. We’ve had multiple payment processors drop us because of it.
- Marketing. We must be very creative with most of our marketing because we can’t spend money on traditional online advertisements, therefore, we make content that gets attention organically.
- The industry is more complicated than it seems. It’s very difficult to deal with customers that own brick & mortar retail outlets. I didn’t realize how time consuming it would be selling into stores, collecting payments, merchandising, etc.
- Don’t be naive. This industry can be very judgmental. You can’t just come into the game and throw money at it and expect to win. Since the world hasn’t opened up yet to cannabis legalization, it is important to be strategic yet authentic.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
- Endless possibilities. I often joke there are so many opportunities and not enough time to accomplish them all. Even though the industry is exploding, I believe it is only 5–10% of where it could be. Some day, it’ll be bigger than the tobacco and alcohol industries.
- Creating new products. It’s a hard, yet exciting process to think of something, prototype it, mass produce it, sell it, and ship it around the world to customers. It’s not about the money for me, I just want to change the way the world gets high. Innovation is out there, and i am so excited to see these opportunities emerge in the next coming years.
- United States moving towards federal legalization. It is about time cannabis is removed from the banned list. Accepting cannabis and it’s benefits is the first step.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
- The stigma around cannabis. It is important for the world to be educated about the endless benefits of this plant. We’ve made a huge mistake by prohibiting and criminalizing this amazing plant. People don’t really talk about the practical utilities that are possible with hemp and hemp-based materials.
- The taxes. Taxes are disproportionate compared to other industries and that limits growth.
- The lack of standardization. One main example of this is edibles. People overestimate and underestimate how much to consume/the power the product has. Nightmare situations are reportedly common for those who are experimenting or trying for the very first time. What is important to remember is strains can differ vastly. One high for someone can be a totally different experience for another. The lack of standardization and legalization allows for inconsistent experiences.
What are your thoughts about federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?
If I was talking to a friend, we’d discuss research and medical benefits, loosely. If it was a Senator, I would discuss revenue. We are going to miss a large opportunity to become the cannabis capital of the world if we don’t act sooner. Similar to how Germany is known for having the best beer in the world, the United States should be known for being the leaders in cannabis legalization. California is known for having the best cannabis but we need to hurry and legalize to be known as leaders. If we don’t step up and do this first, someone else will beat us to it.
Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?
In my opinion, cigarettes have far more health repercussions than cannabis. I find cannabis to be creative. Cannabis is a different status than cigarettes and there are numerous health studies that show the benefits of cannabis use. Cannabis saves, cigarettes kill. Weed is natural, cigarettes are not. The world needs to start thinking like that.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My own favorite quote is “you’re either a maker or a taker.” We used to be a super industrious country and seeking opportunities left and right. Now, it seems there are a lot more middlemen becoming more successful than before (i.e bankers). Produce more and be proud of what you make.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Cannabis changed my life. I’ve always felt it was important for the world to be educated about the endless benefits of this plant. My mission has and always will be to change the negative stigma associated with being a cannabis user.
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!
Davis Clayton Kiyo of Myster: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.