We had the good fortune of connecting with Angela Mou and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angela, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Life is a series of risks – some people play is safe and take little risk, and others will risk it all regularly. I fall somewhere closer to the latter, often letting fate and the natural course of life lead me to take risks. Having moved from coast to coast and across oceans without a set plan, I’ve developed my adversity muscles, and want to continue strengthening them. I like to make myself a little bit comfortable because I know that’s how I grow, it’s how I expand my horizons.
It’s easier to take risks at a younger age – I believe your 20s is the decade you take all the risks (within reason), and you learn about yourself and your limits. In your 30s, you take more calculated risks, based on what you’ve learned about yourself. I started Elevate Jane when I was 30 years old, at a point where, frankly, I didn’t have a lot to lose. I was less confident in knowing exactly what I wanted to do, but I was very confident in knowing what I didn’t want to do – which was working for someone else. Prior to launching Elevate Jane, I was in deep creativity mode, focusing solely on myself and exercising every idea that came to mind until a better one came along. When I conceptualized Elevate Jane, there was a burning desire, an obsession, that I’d never felt before, and I knew I had to take this risk.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Elevate Jane is a contemporary smoke shop, a curation of functional art pieces that both serve as a vehicle for your cannabis ritual and décor for your home. We aim to destigmatize cannabis by helping to change the aesthetics around it, bringing your pipes out from the drawers to be proudly displayed on your shelves. I’ve designed a bong named Mimi that we like to call a ‘coffee table bong’ – one that is incredibly functional, yet chic + elegant.
Starting Elevate Jane has been the *most fun* ride, but it certainly has not been easy. I launched the business with some money I’d saved, and have bootstrapped it the entire way. I generally enjoy challenges – it doesn’t always feel that way in the moment, but I genuinely love solving problems and learning how to make my way. In the early years, I spent many, many nights working alone until dawn (it’s the only quiet time of day when no one interrupts your work), just fully immersed and obsessed with accomplishing the goals that I set out for myself and Elevate Jane.
Now, I have a small team who execute our daily tasks, and bringing on these amazing women has been an integral part of growing the business. One of the biggest challenges for me has been to delegate – it’s one of the pitfalls of solopreneurship – and hiring people you trust is key to overcoming that challenge. I have learned that I can’t do everything myself, nor should I (want to).
We try our best to do everything here at Elevate Jane ethically. We are fully transparent about our processes. We only purchase products from artists and small businesses, nothing is mass manufactured, and we always give credit to artists. We never negotiate or haggle with our suppliers, as we believe people should be paid what they ask in return for their work. We only purchase recycled/recyclable paper materials for shipping. When we receive inventory, we reuse every bit of packaging that we can, and in turn, we have very little waste and trash. I am so grateful for our customers, who are genuinely the kindest, because their support allows us to continue doing what we do. In return, we try to hold the highest quality of customer service – in fact, I still answer every single customer service email, and we will never outsource that aspect of our business.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I had visitors from out of town, my picks would be: – Malibu at sunset
– Pool day at The Hollywood Roosevelt
– Stuff-your-face Sunday at Smorgasburg LA (I’m biased… Elevate Jane is in the shopping aisle every week!)
– Shopping + strolling Sunset Blvd in Silver Lake (stopping for natural wine and vegan Thai-inspired dishes at Night+Market)
– Airbnb-ing for a night in Laurel Canyon for walks and the perfect backdrop for day and evening joints
– Raves in the parks of DTLA in the summertime
– Vegan eats: Korean tofu houses and Taiwanese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose, Shojin in DTLA, Donut Friend, *Ramen Hood*, Dankness Dojo by Modern Times and Erewhon for prepared foods
– Hike in Topanga Canyon
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Firstly, shoutout to my mother, who is my rock and the best mom in the world. I have the utmost gratitude and love for my team – I couldn’t do this without these women who are passionate, smart, and dedicated: Nico, Mia, and Lily. Thank you so, so much for contributing your energy and for grounding me.
Elena Kulikova, Maria Calderon, Angela Mou