Interior design is a skill that is highly utilized in homes and businesses across the globe. Homeowners seek to instill certain feelings or themes within their dwellings, while business owners look to appeal to specific clientele or markets. Usually to get into the business of interior design, one would need to have a background in the studies of interior design, as well as the nuances of operating a business. Fortunately, the owner and lead interior designer at The High Road Studio, Megan Stone, has experience in both. Megan’s skills have procured her many awards since she opened her business, and her impressive resume has provided her deserved notoriety.
Megan Stone got her beginnings in the cannabis industry the same way as many others—as a patient. She got her start in Orange County, California, where she moved up from budtending to being the General Manager of two dispensaries. Megan talks about how within a couple of shifts as a budtender, she fell in love with the process of working with the patients and the product. She cites her employment at dispensaries as, “Providing the opportunity to witness firsthand the impacts that proper interior design and branding can play in growing a successful cannabis business.” For the last three years, she has worked exclusively with cannabis retail stores.
When asked about her own personal style, Megan admits that she leans more towards the modern, clean, minimal look. Such can be seen in many of the retail stores and dispensaries she’s designed, which truly appear as professional businesses catering to patients. For the most part, Megan says that often times, clients don’t come to the table with design expectations. They’re looking for help, direction and coaching in regards to how to design a space in a new, sophisticated way and she helps provide that foundation.
While her business is based out of Tempe, Arizona, Megan has overseen the interior design of retail stores and dispensaries in 13 states. She recalls some of the retail stores that have been career highlights, many being associated with firsts for her. She cites her work in Orange County, with Minerva Canna Group in Albuquerque and the Tru|Med dispensary in Phoenix as projects that were most near and dear to her heart. Some other places of note for Megan are New Hampshire and Florida. In New Hampshire, she designed three of the four dispensaries located within the state. In Florida, she worked on Trulieve, the Sunshine State’s first dispensary. They have plans to open 30 stores eventually, and intend to replicate Megan’s designs. Her clean, minimalistic look appeals to many markets that want to portray themselves as legitimate healthcare alternatives.
“The business of design is a business, it’s not only a hobby. It’s a highly regulated business—the creativity in my job has as much to do with problem solving, not just creating beautiful spaces. My job encourages me to find different ways to design and be creative.”
But The High Road Design Studio does not rely solely on Megan—she often works with a team on her projects. Megan mentions that she assembles other creative people she’s worked with in the past, based on the needs of the project and clients. She will typically have one or two other designers working on a project as well. When asked if her business provided the opportunity to satisfy her need for creative expression, she explained her point of view. She stated, “The business of design is a business, it’s not only a hobby. It’s a highly regulated business—the creativity in my job has as much to do with problem solving, not just creating beautiful spaces. My job encourages me to find different ways to design and be creative.” She comments on how design is a multifaceted challenge; not only are you trying to bring someone else’s vision to life, but also trying to make sure the business is profitable. To Megan, design is about balancing the different challenges and issues presented by each project.
Since the inception of her business, Megan has received many awards and accolades for the work she and her team have accomplished. Besides being awarded VMSD Magazine’s 2015 Designer Dozen award as a top retail designer under 35, she’s also spoken at numerous business and cannabis conferences.
When Megan has time away from work, she enjoys spending it with family and friends, as well as traveling. Despite her love for her job, she says that she does try to get out of town and away from business as much as possible. Of the places she frequents most, Megan says she’s seen many of the national parks, though a lot of her trips are spent lounging on Orange County beaches, absorbing the beauty of nature. She runs into the same struggles as everyone else—while she may be away from work, her phone is never off. Megan says she doesn’t know how to turn her phone off because she’s a true millennial. While that may be one reason, what’s also equally likely is that she has a true dedication to her work, even when she’s taking a break.