10 Women to Watch: Keyva King

For Marijuana Venture’s fifth annual issue highlighting women in the industry, we look at 10 leaders who will help shape the industry’s North American landscape over the next 12 months.

From marketing professionals and CBD producers to government regulators and community leaders, we are honored to be able to tell their stories.

This spring a new store popped up among the high-end retailers in Palm Desert, California’s El Paseo shopping district, known as the “Rodeo Drive of the Desert.” Royal Highness, a cannabis boutique, first opened its doors in April and unlike many cannabis retailers around the country, it does not at all look out of place among the Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Saks 5th Avenue and Tesla storefronts it shares the neighborhood with.

Keyva King, the company’s co-founder, CEO and general manager, says that was intentional. She says Royal Highness is a “shopper’s experience” like a high-end jewelry store, but she gets other comparisons too.

“A lot of people compare it to Apple Store,” she says. “But I’ve been in Apple Stores and our aesthetic is better than Apple Stores.”

Designed by co-founder and High Road Design Studio owner Megan Stone, the new store is the culmination of a long, winding road for King. Originally from San Bernardino, California, King worked in property management for 10 years prior to opening Royal Highness. After her sister died from lupus in 2014, King started a delivery service in Rancho Mirage for patients as a side job. She says her sister refused to use cannabis to help treat her illness because it was seen as “taboo,” but she saw the potential in the plant and helping those in pain became a passion for her.

“If I can help someone else not go through what she suffered for 17 years and get someone off opioids, I’m going to go for it,” she says.

King says she developed a clientele of around 300 people and learned about the industry while she kept her day job managing properties. At that time, her main focus was on helping people, not profit.

“I didn’t make a dime off it,” she says, noting that she sold most of her product at cost. “I did not want someone to suffer.”

With her heart and her gut telling her the cannabis industry was where she should be, King opened a dispensary in Cathedral City during the gray-market medical years. And when voters in California approved adult-use retail sales, she went to work on her vision of a high-end storefront.

While doing her research, she came across Stone’s work and reached out. In September 2018, the pair partnered on Royal Highness, though Stone’s primary focus remains on High Road Design Studio while King handles operations at the store.

In the future, King hopes to open additional storefronts and potentially franchise the Royal Highness brand, as well as producing a line of flower and concentrates. King also plans to help others find their way in the cannabis industry so that no one misses out on the opportunity to follow their dreams.

“It’s hard,” she says. “I wouldn’t want somebody to miss out on a dream or opportunity because they didn’t have the resources.”

She preaches perseverance and points to her own winding path as an example for others to never give up.

“If you believe in yourself, then everyone will follow and believe in you as well,” she says. “Doors have been closed in this industry for me before, but I didn’t give up. And now when I look back at it, it’s like, I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

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