Breaking the Taboo in Austin, Texas: An interview with Jae Graham of MaryJae Smoke Culture
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jae Graham of Mary Jae Smoke Culture, a high-end smoke accessory and CBD boutique in Austin, Texas back in September. We discussed her experience in the cannabis industry, where she thinks it’s headed, and also how women in the industry are leading much of the change.
Jae has been in the smoke industry for over ten years and stumbled into it by accident. She was a buyer for an adult store and during that time was given a small case to fill with smoke items. “They gave me one little case and I just thought I needed to fill it so I get could get back to buying the rest of the items that I normally bought.” The shop ended up sending her to a trade show in Denver and she said, “It was the most eye opening thing I’ve ever been to. It was amazing to see the culture, everyone in it, and how everyone supported each other. I thought I had found my passion by helping people with personal problems through the adult toy industry, but after visiting the Denver show my passion quickly switched to the smoke/vape culture. Before I knew it, one case turned into 30 cases, and 30 cases turned into buying for over 16 stores.”
During this time Jae’s father became terminally ill and Jae introduced him to cannabis. “At first he was not open to the culture at all, but towards the end he decided that it was something he wanted to try and it brought him so much relief”, she says. Her father urged her to share his experience with the world. Shortly after his passing, Jae’s partner suggested she sell the home her father left her as a way to start a business. This was a struggle being that her father had taught her that purchasing a house is part of the American dream and she knew how hard he worked to buy his home. But after some time passed she had that ‘aha’ moment where she woke up, looked at her partner and said, “You’re right, I need to do this, I want to help people.” So they both quit their jobs, sold the house, and traveled for a year and a half meeting with an array of CBD, smoke, vape, and glassware companies to carefully curate and bring to life the chic Mary Jae Smoke Culture shop.
According to Jae, the industry is maturing very quickly. Products are not one size fits all anymore, but rather come in a multitude of formats, styles, potencies, and mediums. She pointed out that products are now catering to all sorts of specific of ailments. They are being created specifically for PTSD, anxiety, muscle/joint pain, and even relief for ladies during that time of the month. There are a variety of ways to consume the products. They provide topical lotions, sublingual tincture, vape options, and my favorite, candy. If you stop by the shop they can point you in the direction that you need. Here in Texas we aren’t familiar with the term “budtenders” quite yet (essentially they are the people behind the counter at dispensaries that have the expertise to lead you to the product that will be best for you). Jae and her team are pioneering this practice in the Austin market. Not only does Jae serve as your main budtender here she is also the curator of the entire collection. She tests each CBD product personally and only brings in the ones that meet her standards. After over 10 years in the industry, lots of trade shows, extensive research, and personal practice you can rest assured that the staff at Mary Jae have done their research and are waiting to help you.
Needless to say, Jae and her partner are a pair of badass women helping to lead the cannabis movement in the Austin Texas market. When visiting their shop it is easy to see that in addition to their high-end assortment and stunning aesthetic, they are also building a community. A place where they are “breaking the taboo” and also featuring the work of women in the smoke and cannabis industry. They are carrying innovative women’s products and highlighting merchandise from women-lead companies. Jae and her partner are building a foundation for the industry here in Austin that is focused on uplifting each other and helping one another.
The week after this interview they celebrated their 1 year anniversary and threw an amazing event at the shop. There was a 2 hour wait to get into the store and people were happy to wait. I know we were, particularly because there was a DJ, free CBD coffee, and CBD beer samples! It was awesome to see so many people come out and support these women. These ladies are quickly becoming pillars in the Austin community and we are so grateful to kick off this blog with an interview with Jae herself. We can’t wait to see how our paths will cross again as this industry keeps growing, especially here in the Lone Star State.
Here are some of our favorite products that can be found in Mary Jae Smoke Culture on South Lamar: