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By: Shwa Laytart Photo: Rich Lopez   Joe Reed was born to build businesses. The entrepreneurial spirit in him burns bright and his track record is better than many entrepreneurs can admit with confidence. Even though business comes easy for Joe, life itself has been more of an act of survival. Joe spent his early […]

 In Main Feat

By: Shwa Laytart

Photo: Rich Lopez

 

Joe Reed was born to build businesses. The entrepreneurial spirit in him burns bright and his track record is better than many entrepreneurs can admit with confidence. Even though business comes easy for Joe, life itself has been more of an act of survival. Joe spent his early childhood living on the wrong side of the tracks in the ghetto of San Bernardino in a town called “Muscoy” where he spent more time defending himself than he spent doing his homework. Luckily, graffiti saved his life and became a big part of who he is today. By thirteen, Joe was a regular in the graffiti scene; street painting nightly, a craft he maintained for many years to come. 

Being from a low-income home wasn’t the only issue Joe had to deal with as a child, but it was definitely one of the driving forces for him to develop himself into the success he is today. Joe and his siblings also had to deal with parents who struggled with addiction and abuse, so money that came into the house was often spent to feed the habit and not their bellies. 

One of Joe’s first businesses that he pulled off successfully was selling chocolates. Joe designed a strategy to sell 100% of his chocolates every time he went out, door to door. You see, the state would often give underprivileged youth free tickets to the opera so that they get a sweet taste of what culture should be like, according to their bourgeois lifestyle. Joe decided to get a pair of these free opera tickets every chance he got. When he would go out with his chocolates, he would first ask the person who answered the door if they wanted to buy these pricey opera tickets, and when they would say no, Joe would follow up with, “Well, can you at least buy a chocolate bar.” And they would quickly pull out two dollars. One of those dollars from each candy bar sold was Joe’s to keep. 

At sixteen, Joe’s life took a major turn- he had a baby on the way. A girl that Joe met while doing community service was carrying his child. Nine months later, Joe became the father of a baby boy. As one would do, Joe got married. His wife was from the right side of the tracks, born to parents in an upper-middle-class working home. Joe’s new in-laws quickly became the supportive role models he had been missing at home. His father-in-law, particularly, became Joe’s mentor. It was Joe’s newly adopted father who taught him how to manage his money and be responsible. It was his community service that introduced Joe to the Freemasons, where Joe quickly rose the ranks of the Jr. Freemasons to become the Master Counselor. At twenty-one, Joe was officially initiated into the Freemasons, where he would go on to participate for many years as a member.

Joe has always loved music but preferred to be behind the scenes. Plus, he was a teenage father going to school, working a full-time job, with side hustles, which included working at his father-in-law’s construction company. Joe was a young man with a drive who needed money regularly. So he dropped out of the band and became a music promoter. By the age of twenty, Joe was booking bands all over Southern California, in bars that he couldn’t even drink in yet. In time, Joe ended up working for the shoe company, Vans, as well as booking bands for The Warped Tour. 

At twenty-four, Joe applied to and was accepted into college, even though he never had a love for school. But in the back of his mind, he still wanted to own his own business. Joe decided to become an optometrist, so he got his master’s in vision science. After graduating, Joe started working for an optometrist company, but after eleven months, he was let go. That was right after Joe and the company discovered he had cancer. At the same time, Joe was separating from his first wife, the mother of his son. Because of his cancer diagnosis, Joe also discovered that his adopted parents were growing cannabis and had been doing so for thirty-five years. Not only was his father-in-law growing weed, but he is also one of Southern California’s leading breeders, having developed strains such as Uncle Jerry and Mind Fuck. It was also his in-laws who saw Joe’s eye for business and suggested that he start something in the cannabis industry which he did, with the help of a mutual friend who was in a popular local ska band that had been dealing for Joe’s in-laws, along with a friend that Joe met years before who was already a delivery driver for another company. Without hesitation, Joe got his medical cannabis license and started a collective. Unlike cancer, the collective Joe still has and, as of today, is the biggest privately owned cannabis delivery company in California. But the company didn’t start successfully, and Joe was doing everything he could to keep the company afloat. Cash flow was scarce, so Ska Mark offered to pay Joe to run up to the Emerald Triangle, pick up a few packages and bring them down from Northern California to Southern California. Having to do whatever it took to keep the company going, Joe drove his Volkswagen hatchback to the Northern tip of California and picked up duffle bags with over 200 pounds of dank Nor Cal nugs. As he left murder mountain, Joe kept thinking about how dangerous this was. That he could end up in prison. That he was a college graduate who must break the law to save his company. Even though it worked, those thoughts lingered in his mind like ghosts. After much hustle, grind, and some uneasy trafficking, Joe’s company became a tremendous success. 

It was around that time that Joe was provided with an opportunity to become a partner at a dispensary in Las Vegas. This was early in the recreational days. So Joe moved to Las Vegas and started a whole new lifestyle. Predicting his future before moving out, Joe joked he would be a degenerate within six months of living in Las Vegas. With his immediate party life progressing seven days a week, it didn’t take long for Joe to develop an addiction to alcohol. In 2019, Joe went to see a show at the Hard Rock on the Strip. After the show, Joe was so intoxicated that the valet refused to give him the keys to his car. An argument ensued, Joe punched the valet and left. From that moment on for the rest of the night, Joe was in a walking blackout and remembered nothing. Luckily, he woke up in his bed. After discovering he had spent an enormous amount of money at TopGolf, he realized he must have gotten into an Uber, landing his body back at home. After trying to put the pieces of the night back together, Joe called a marketing friend he had worked with. The buddy offered a contact that helped him get sober. Joe called him. Jimmy answered, and after talking for four hours, Jimmy became Joe’s sponsor. A heavily tattooed pastor of a local Las Vegas church, Jimmy had been sober, free from his crack and alcohol addiction, for over eighteen years. Jimmy took Joe to his first AA meeting and challenged Joe to attend ninety meetings in ninety days. Now, Joe and Jimmy have partnered to create RZD X WLVS counseling and services for those in recovery.

The girlfriend that Joe was living with at the time mentioned kava, a drink she heard about on the show, Love and Hip Hop. Curious, Joe found 9th Street Island Kava and set out to try it. As soon as the calming effect of his first cup kicked in, Joe knew he would be doing something in kava. He wasn’t smoking cannabis at the time, but discovered that kava enhances the effect of THC and the overall feeling produced by consuming the plant. Not only had Joe found kava for himself, but he also started promoting it throughout California. Joe also converted a CBD shop he recently opened in Container Park into Guud Kava cocktail lounge. It was at Guud Kava that Joe would meet his wife. They crossed paths at an event Joe produced at Guud Kava called “Sober As Fuck Saturdays”. Three months after their first encounter, Joe married that girl. The newlyweds moved back to California where she had kids and Joe had his  cannabis business. 

When Guud Kava’s lease was up in Container Park, Joe knew he could renew it, but felt the place had become too small and a larger space was needed. His concept had been proven. But he put the business on hold, as he was too busy planning his new married life and focusing on his California business. 

Fast forward to nine months ago. A friend in Palm Desert offered space in their shop, Flat Black art supplies, for a pop-up kava lounge, which Joe set up and, once again, it became a success. Joe decided to call up 9th Street Island Kava, the first place he tried the beloved beverage. Joe told the owner that he was looking for a spot in Las Vegas to reopen a kava lounge. The owner suggested that Joe just take over the 9th Island Kava location. They made an agreement and what was once 9th Island Kava became WLVS Den Kava. Joe, his partner, and team traded the traditional Polynesian decor for more of a coffee shop or cocktail bar vibe. Joe and his team/partners have TVs, games, live music, stand-up, and karaoke. WLVS Den Kava has become a regular spot for so many that finding a seat is becoming more and more difficult. Riding this success, Joe is looking to open a new location in Vegas soon.

WLVS Den Kava offers more than just kava. They have teas and a proprietary kratom blend; not steeped nor an extract and made in the same way as some cannabis drinks. You can also get an assortment of mocktails, all made in-house from natural products. They use fresh juices and make their own syrups and ginger ale. “Good for you drinks,” Joe exclaims. I asked if he was worried about the stigma around kratom. “When you hear about people being addicted to kratom, it’s the extract that they’re using.” Joe has no issue with the extract being banned and actually would like to see the extract taken off store shelves. He had to detox from kratom extract and doesn’t want anyone to go through that. “We’re really, really big on education,” he says, “We’re a lot of people’s first experience with kratom.” With many new regulations coming down the pipeline, Joe stays ahead of the game. He’s already doing third-party testing and is part of the National Kratom Association.  

Joe recommends, “While visiting WLVS Den Kava, remember to stay hydrated when consuming kava, and the mocktails have cocktail prices because they do the job!” Saying proudly, “I love working with kava. I love helping people in recovery.” 

Joe and his wife plan to move back to Las Vegas, the city that they love, in a few years. In the meantime, I asked Joe if we’ll see WLVS Den Kava in cannabis lounges anytime. “I do believe getting into cannabis lounges would be a tremendous opportunity for everyone, and we plan on pursuing it very soon.” 

Fantastic! Because nothing is better than enhancing your high.

 

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