Darby Cox: Smoke Cartel Co-Founder & CEO


My Native Admission Statement: I think the most important thing I’ve learned - and continue to work on everyday- is fully embracing fear. Challenge is a part of life, and you’ve gotta learn to embrace and enjoy it if you want to build something great.

How did you get into the industry?

My business partner [at the time, roommate], Sean Geng, came to me and said, “Darby, I think I’m going to start selling bongs.”. I told him he was insane. I didn’t like the idea of working for Smoke Cartel until I went to my first industry event, and I realized the impact this industry was going to have. Nearly six years later, here we are, and I could not be more of a proponent for cannabis legalization and further research into our products.

Any emerging industry trends?

I think we’re going to start seeing devices that are more adeptly tailored to medical needs, especially as more and more research goes into the potential medical benefits of the cannabis plant.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

We’re going to see some hold-ups and changes in manufacturing with the changing import taxation laws and increased cannabis usage and demand. This is still such a young industry, and it’s learning a lot from how other notable sectors have grown, but the cannabis industry still faces banking challenges, advertising challenges, and a general public perception hurdle. I don’t think we’ll see a time in this space quite like this again, where internally, the industry is booming, but the outside image is still a world away.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

We want to continue to challenge and change the way the cannabis industry - and cannabis users, are perceived. Part of that includes product and website innovation. Part of it includes poking fun at ourselves. All in all, being open and continuing to educate in the industry.

How do you motivate others?

You can’t be afraid to admit that everyone’s learning - including yourself! It’s an outdated business belief to ‘check your emotions at the door’. Yes, don’t over-expose yourself, but check in on your teammates. Try your best to be authentic.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Solicit legal and tax advice sooner rather than later! So many first time business owners think they can wait until things “get serious” before paying for or acquiring a legal and tax team. It will save you so much time and headache down the line to go ahead and get your contracts written, looked over, your tax strategy in place [even before you make revenue!] so that you are prepared when the time comes.

What makes me the best version of myself ?

Knowing that every day is an opportunity to improve on something I’m not yet satisfied with. I learned at this point the importance of forgiving myself for not having all the answers at the start. Everyone is growing and trying, myself included.

What are my aspirations?

I’d like to continue to learn, both personally and professionally. Knowledge is power, and ultimately, the more I can learn about improving myself, the better service I can offer externally.

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

Savannah, Georgia is a wonderful place to live. It’s up and coming, it’s changed tremendously in the past seven years I’ve been here. We have a great food scene, a growing beer culture, and tremendous southern hospitality.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I’d highly recommend Foxy Loxy’s Sunday brunch - Try “The HayStack!”

My Pic of The Day:

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