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Meet Megan Stone of High Road Design Studio in Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Stone.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Megan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I founded High Road Design Studio in 2013 and since then have provided interior design and brand identity services to over 60 licensed cannabis retailers and brands in more than 17 different states across the US. I am honored to say that High Road’s work has helped usher cannabis onto Main Street and into the mainstream and has played a key role in forever changing the international conversation about the retailing of “vice.” High Road’s work has been lauded for altering thoughts, feelings and behaviors worldwide. We have been blazing a trail in cannabis and retail, earning awards and commendations for design excellence along the way. Our work has been integral in achieving significant industry milestones in states such as New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida, to name a few.

As the industry has grown, I have tailored High Road’s services to meet the needs of the nuanced cannabis market, offering architectural design, branding, visual merchandising, store fixturing, lighting design, storefront design, and marketing strategy. I continue to build my team of specialists who understand the intricacies of retailing. Our work has supported the success of dispensaries and elevated the reputation of cannabis, all while helping cannabis receive recognition as a legitimate retail segment. Our dispensary designs have been honored alongside prestigious retail brands, such as Coach, Chanel, Target, T-Mobile and Macy’s, in national and international design competitions from the top retail design institutions and publications in the world (VMSD, Retail Design Institute, design: retail and Shop!). In 2018, design: retail recognized High Road as a Design Firm of the Year alongside legacy design firms Gensler and FRCH, demonstrating the distance we have taken a retail segment that until recently was globally condemned.

In 2014, I was honored to be the first to bring cannabis retail design to the stage of a major design conference. Since then I have been a speaker, contributing editor and quotable expert in both the retail and cannabis industries. design: retail magazine named me a Design Influencer in 2017, and I received 40 Under 40 recognition in 2016. I was also honored with a 40 Under 40 award by Marijuana Venture in 2016.

I have presented work at GlobalShop in 2017 and the International Retail Design Conferences (IRDC) of 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2018, I was the co-chair and keynote speaker for IRDC’s inaugural pre-conference event—Elevating Cannabis Retail. I have been part of the National Marijuana Business Conferences in 2015 and 2016, and a panelist for the discussion—Exploring the Future of Dispensaries: Design, Sustainability and Customer Experience at SXSW 2019. I was also on stage at HDexpo 2019—Wellness Today: Designing Well, and in October was a keynote speaker at Marijuana Venture’s 2019 Retail & Dispensary Expo (RAD Expo).

I am a contributing editor on design for MG Magazine and have been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Architectural Digest Online, High Times, Marijuana Venture (cover January 2019), Interior Design Magazine, and The New York Times’ 2019 Design Report—Design’s New Leaf. I am also a contributing author for a chapter of a soon to be released healthcare design textbook, one of the first academic writings on medical cannabis design.

While my cannabis journey started as a patient and budtender and I have dedicated my business to the success of numerous dispensary owners, I now also understand ownership challenges firsthand. I am the co-founder of Royal Highness, a cannabis boutique in Palm Desert, CA, which opened in 2019.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I am very grateful that the business has been successful and profitable since the beginning of 2013. However, that doesn’t mean it has been without struggles along the way. Six years ago, cannabis dispensary owners were not typically seeking design services. I started High Road to exclusively serve this market, but part of the challenge was selling the value of design, and at the time doing so without a portfolio of work to serve as an example. Our client base and portfolio of work have grown, yet we are still constantly educating dispensary owners about the value of design and monetizing what we do. It is a constantly evolving process. Furthermore, the nature of working in the cannabis industry includes constantly changing regulations, licensing and permitting issues and a long list of considerations and stigmas that have to be overcome on each and every project.

I am thankful that we have accomplished so much, so quickly and am always energized to keep up with this unique industry which is a constantly moving target.

Tell us about your work.
Since 2013, The High Road Design Studio has helped arm cannabis retailers with the power of design to combat stigma, overcome stereotypes and reinvent people’s perceptions of cannabis and its users while providing efficient, compliant retail design strategies. High Road’s services meet the needs of the nuanced cannabis market, offering architectural design, branding, visual merchandising, store fixturing, lighting design, storefront design, and marketing strategy. We have built a team of specialists who understand the intricacies of retailing and cannabis.

I am proud that our firm’s work helped make cannabis retail design a searchable term and that our award-winning work has helped usher dispensaries onto Main Street, and into the mainstream. We have helped to forever change the international conversation about the retailing of “vice.”

Contact Info:

  • Website: highroadstudio.com
  • Phone: 4807601825
  • Email: hi@highroadstudio.com
  • Instagram: @highroadstudio
  • Facebook: @highroaddesignstudio


Image Credit:
Portrait: Caleb Alvarado
Portfolio: Richard Cadan

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