Sky High Smoke Shop is one of the most buzzed about online head shops to arrive on the scene in 2017, so I considered it a duty to my people that I get a one-on-one with founder and CEO John, and find out what this guy is all about.
Q: My readers like to know the people they shop from, so can you tell me a little about yourself?
A: I’m 35 and a Colorado native. I have a dog named Scooter and a girlfriend who rocks my world.
Q: I’m still finding it hard to believe how a guy as young as you has had so much success in creating these mega-popular businesses with a devout customer base—how do you do it? Are you a witch?
A: Not a witch, but I do take that as a compliment, if you think I’m crafty and have magical powers. No, but really, it’s just about finding a business you believe in and can get behind and taking it all the way. You really have to put yourself behind it and put in the work. You also have to be good to your customers and they’ll be good to you.
Q: So, are you yourself a glass aficionado?
A: I consider myself a casual smoker and someone who appreciates fine glass, both the way it feels in use and the qualities and properties of unique pieces that are truly works of art. And on the subject of art, with me and glass, it’s like that old saying, “I don’t know art, but I know what I like.” But don’t let that worry you. I have some great glass guys (and gals) on my team who really know their stuff. They look at it from every viewpoint from origin to manufacturing process to chemical composition to quality control to aesthetics and more. They are the true brains behind this operation.
Q: It’s kind of annoying that you’re so modest.
A: I’ll take that as a compliment.
Q: So, how old were you when you dreamed of opening your first online headshop?
A: I actually never dreamed of opening an online headshop. The process of starting skyhighsmokeshop.com unfolded much more organically than that. My friend was the one who wanted to start a business with me—any business. He left it to me to pick what kind of business we went into and skyhighsmokeshop.com came into being from that discovery process of just finding something that was a good fit for both of us.
Q: A little birdie told me you naturally have business savvy, that you are the Doogie Houser of the business world. Is any of that true?
A: I think someone has been telling you stories. First of all, Doogie Houser was a kid, and I hate to burst your bubble, but I’m no child prodigy. I didn’t even start my first business until I was 26.
Q: You do know that most people are still living with their parents and working as a barista at 26, right? Becoming a business owner at 26—one that is actually successful, I might add—is a bit unheard of these days. [Editorial note: I’m not making a jab at Millennials here; you can’t help the circumstances you were born into. I’m just saying, though.]
A: Are you buttering me up so I give you free glass? Is that’s what’s happening here?
Q: I wouldn’t say no if you were offering, but my boss is going to kill me if I don’t ask some serious questions, so here goes: What did you major in in college?
A: I studied programming. I wanted to design my own independent video games and be all edgy and cool and stuff. It didn’t pan out so well.
Q: Do you have any formal business education at all?
A: None, and while we’re on that topic, I think that actually helps. I don’t think like a business tycoon—or a wannabe tycoon—I think like a customer. I know what I want my ideal experience to be when I shop somewhere, and that’s what I aim to give to my customers—an experience of all-around quality from products to customer service to everything in between.
Q: Are your parents disappointed that you didn’t go into a field that you actually studied to go into?
A: I think they’re beyond thrilled that I’m a proud business owner. My dad is old-school. My parents had me when they were older, so he is of a generation of dads that are a bit older; my friends have grandpas his age. So, he’s a big fan of American made products and patronizing American businesses, and he’s happy I’m committed to both of those things with skyhighsmokeshop.com.
Q: What are your future plans, short-term?
A: Honestly, I just want to go home and take a nap. I’ve been working since 5am!