Happy World Menopause Day Weed Queens!
Today’s interview is a super special one because we are interviewing two dope women making moves in the weed world by bringing menopause to the front of the conversation: Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas, founders of Hello Again.
Upon their first visit to a dispensary, Carrie and Patty were surprised to see nothing specifically marketed towards older women, a demographic notably consuming more and more cannabis. Fast forward a year and a half to February 2020, and the two have successfully launched a first-of-its-kind product Hello Again – a THC and CBD vaginal suppository designed by menopausal women for menopausal women.
Along with THC and CBD, the vagitories contain natural ingredients with proven benefits like green tea extract, aiming to relieve symptoms like hot flashes, brain fog, interrupted sleep, pain and more. Carrie and Patty were delighted to find that cannabis was an all-natural solution to this age-old condition – plus at $54 for a pack of 8, it’s much more affordable than their competitors. Users are also finding that it’s great for endometriosis, period pain, and even hangovers!
- Available in two varieties: Everyday (16mg CBD: 2mg THC) and Sleep (5mg CBD: 20mg THC); retails at $54/pack of 8.
- Ingredients also include: apple cider vinegar, avocado oil, cocoa butter, green tea extract, rosemary extract, vitamin E, lavender, Roman chamomile and more
- Available at The Farmacy (Santa Barbara), Sherbinskis (LA), The Pottery (LA), Bud and Bloom (OC), LA delivery via Emjay and Tokr, Columbia Care (San Diego), Society Jane delivery (SF)
Check out the interview below where we talk about their journey as women navigating a new and exciting industry, what it takes to be successful in the weed world and how you can do it too! Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive content and make sure you share this with someone who might learn a thing or two from this interview with Weed Queens, Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas.
How would you describe yourselves and what you do?
We are longtime friends, first-time entrepreneurs, enthusiastic students of plant-medicine, women’s health disruptors, and women in weed.
What have your personal experiences with cannabis been?
Neither of us had any real relationship with cannabis before 2018. We weren’t pot smokers in high school or college and we still don’t smoke or vape. We remember pot being a bit of a boy’s drug in high school and college and were a product of our generation: we drank beer and wine coolers at high school and college parties and graduated to wine and martinis.
In 2018 all that changed when we went to a dispensary, out of curiosity, for the first time. The budtender we met methodically and patiently answered all our questions and we saw that the range of products collectively addressed many of the unwanted effects of menopause that we (and our friends) were experiencing. Anxiety, mood, temperature regulation, sleep issues, pain, energy and focus were all being addressed with cannabis, but there was no product to be found that was truly for us.
One night we decided: our grandmothers tolerated menopause, our mothers medicated it. We want to celebrate this phase of life and help other women to do the same. That was the night we decided to create the product we wanted. We created Hello Again, Everyday and Hello Again, Sleep cannabis-based vaginal suppositories.
What is your company about? What do you guys do?
Hello Again not only provides relief from many of the unwanted experiences brought on by menopause, but also seeks to educate women about menopause and cannabis, support them during this phase of life which was formerly endured in isolation and silence, and bring a hopeful, light, playful spin to life as a more mature woman. We believe this is a fantastic time of life if you feel your best.
What makes Hello Again Unique?
To date, we are the only cannabis product formulated, designed and crafted especially for women in menopause. There are other vaginal suppositories on the regulated cannabis shelves, but ours is unique because of the additional botanicals (lavender, rosemary, chamomile, hops to name a few) which help our product target the specific unwanted effects of menopause. The base of our product is also designed to not only deliver the more active ingredients, but also provide soothing relief for vaginal dryness and address pH balance in the vaginal tract.
Did you ever expect a career in the cannabis space?
Not only did we not expect a career in the cannabis space, we never expected to become first-time entrepreneurs in our 50s. We were each stay at home parents and raised 5 children between us. Our outlook on cannabis was more rooted in our 1980s upbringing during the War on Drugs and the egg-frying-in-the-pan PSAs we saw as kids. We only recently became aware of the long-standing historical use of cannabis for wellness and this changed our entire outlook. We are honored to be working in the regulated cannabis space.
What inspired you to start your company and when and how did you get started?
Our lightbulb moment happened when we visited that first dispensary and saw how cannabis was being used to address mood, energy, focus, pain and sleep. That was enough to engage us in some real research about the body’s cannabinoid system, the wider experience of menopause, and the vaginal suppository as a delivery system. At that point, we knew we were on to something, which justified the expense of hiring a professional formulator. From that point on, each step organically led to the next. Everyone we talked to in the industry was supportive of the idea. The initial prototypes were viable and effective. There was white space in dispensaries where our product would live. Dispensary owners were showing interest in the concept. Manufacturing chains were starting to become apparent.
Our next financial bet on ourselves was purchasing a pharmaceutical grade suppository filling machine and developing our brand identity and packaging simultaneously. At that point, our total commitment to Hello Again began.
What is your vision and mission for Hello Again?
From the very beginning we’ve been committed to creating a pure, effective product as well as reflecting a positive, uplifting outlook about this phase of life. We wish to support and celebrate women of all ages while we educate women about menopause and cannabis.
Were your family and friends supportive of your venture?
We have 5 kids between us and their initial surprise and enthusiasm about us exploring the cannabis business hasn’t wavered (despite the product concept shifting to a vaginal suppository!). Our husbands have also supported the idea from the beginning as well as supporting us in what has become a more-than-full-time career. We took on the commitment of a startup business right when our youngest children left our houses and our spouses had more flexibility in their work schedules. This illustrates our total belief in the product and desire to support women in this phase of life.
Did you ever feel like you weren’t taken seriously because you are women or because of your age?
In life, of course. We’ve been in social conversations about our business when the man in the conversation turns to OUR HUSBANDS to discuss Hello Again. We’ve also seen men become squeamish because this is a vaginal suppository and leave the conversation to “let you girls talk”. Long comedy monologues about the “vagina weed” are another way some men bypass dialogue and bring the social attention back to themselves.
However, within the cannabis industry, we have experienced the opposite. Perhaps we remind the ubiquitous 30 year old males in cannabis of their mothers, because we are often afforded great respect and generosity of spirit. We have found the entire industry to be very generous in making introductions, offering assistance and answering questions. It makes us so happy when we can do the same.
How/do you think your involvement in this industry is going to positively impact your community?
For centuries women have used cannabis and plant medicine to care for themselves and for their families. The chain of generational knowledge of how to use this plant for wellness was broken by prohibition. We hope our product can help recalibrate the collective understanding of cannabis and be one brick in the path back to the healthy incorporation of plants generally and cannabis specifically into healthful living.
We also know that our grandmothers had to tolerate menopause. Our mothers were presented with an option to medicate through hormone replacement, sleeping pills and antidepressants. Our generation shouldn’t have to settle for those two options. We created Hello Again so that women could CELEBRATE this phase of life. We believe that when women are at their best, their entire community thrives. This is the message we are sending on our packaging which is a call to action for women to “strengthen the V-force”.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry to date – and how have you overcome it?
Covid has been a huge obstacle for us as getting into stores and talking to women was a big part of our sales plan and mission. We were poised to gather women together in Menoposiums to expose them to experts from gynecology, cannabis, and other fields of study pertinent to thriving at every stage of life. We have pivoted to virtual events and have created digital training materials for budtenders. Both will probably remain a part of our business plan once life returns back to “normal”.
What factors have contributed towards your path of success?
Neither of us believes we could have started a business, in a burgeoning industry, which is dominated by men, in our 20s, 30s or even 40s. There is something wonderful that happens to women as they reach 50. All of a sudden the deeply-rooted concern for what other people think evaporates. Confidence rises and voices are more easily accessed. This, combined with the wisdom that comes with a host of life experiences. has allowed us to trust our guts, size up situations, not take no for an answer, be tenacious and speak our minds.
What’s the biggest change you want to see in the cannabis industry?
The challenges with banking are outrageous. A legal business, which pays astronomical taxes, was deemed essential during the pandemic, is providing much needed jobs, and is still having to compete with unregulated markets cannot access basic banking services.
The legal cannabis industry needs a crackdown on illegal cannabis shops. Legal, regulated cannabis sales represent only about ⅓ of all cannabis transactions. Legal cannabis needs to capture 100% of the market and receive a lower taxation rate.
As women, what challenges did you encounter (if any) building your business in a male-dominated industry and how do you plan to create change and inclusiveness for future WOC joining the industry?
Sexism is inherent in our society and, no matter how enlightened or well-meaning people are, it does soak into the norms of interaction. Of course we’ve dealt with men doing the verbal equivalent of patting us on the head and bypassing us for other men in the room. We are 50 year old women and are frequently referred to as girls. The thing is, we could direct our energy toward being offended, but instead we choose to direct our energy toward being the most informed people in the room, using any underestimation of us to garner our desired outcome, and having the last word.
Change and inclusiveness comes only if women show up and suit up to the best of their abilities every single day. Our product was designed to help women do just that. Our company culture at Hello Again parallels this ethos. Our staff consists of women and we spend a lot of time reaching out to and supporting other women in cannabis. We believe there is no need to bring the zero-sum ideology to work. We don’t need to elbow each other out for a bigger piece of the pie. We need to work together to grow the pie; grow it into a very very large pie and feast together. That would be, as we like to say, GYNOMITE.
What would be your best piece of advice for fellow WOC looking to pursue the cannabis industry?
Do it. This industry is still in its infancy, with a lot of growth to come. Future federal legalization will force yet another rebirth and opportunity to not only carve your career path, but also define the culture of the industry. One of our internal Hello Again tenets is “Go Slow Until You Know”. We love this because it is a riff on the rules of microdosing, but for us it means don’t react to the information you receive too quickly. There is no one path to developing your brand and seeing it on a shelf. The opinions and practices of others can inform, but shouldn’t dictate your next move and in this industry, you do have a lot of wiggle room to carve your own path. GYNOMITE.
What would you consider to be the most effective way or initial steps of breaking down barriers and ceilings to pave this path for women in the industry?
Women should work together and support one another. Our collective vote can affect change in banking and regulatory issues. Our collective voice can educate our communities about cannabis and wellness, while our collective spirit can help shape the norms and values of the cannabis industry.
There’s still a perception or stigma attached to the people involved in the cannabis industry or just consumers that partake in recreational or medical use, as being stoners- if you have encountered this kind of close minded perspective, what would your argument be to shift the conversation to one of the importance of the weed market and why it should be celebrated/normalized?
We come across this all the time. Everyday. Multiple times a day. A good portion of our product’s demographic thinks back to high school and is fearful or judgmental of cannabis.
We respond specifically with a comparison to the other options. The OTC pharmaceuticals, the alcohol, the prescribed medicines, the hormone replacement therapies all come with real and potentially harmful effects. Why wouldn’t you try a plant-based, pure solution?
Generally, we’d say that the more dialog about cannabis use, the more it becomes normalized. Already our children’s generation is much more accepting of cannabis as not only a recreation option but also a therapeutic one. We’ve been so happy to find that young women are using Hello Again to manage their endometriosis pain, anxiety and menstrual cramps. Honest sharing about cannabis use can negate shame and open doorways to wellness.
Do you have any suggestions on how we can help normalize cannabis?
Federal legalization will help tremendously. When products are on the shelves at Target and Walmart, they will become normalized. But, before that happens, we would love to see media outlets improve their coverage of the cannabis industry as well as the cannabis products available on the market. Some media outlets have dedicated sections for cannabis news. Others won’t cover the topic at all. Advertising and social media space is currently restricted to an industry that was deemed essential during the pandemic.
What’s your favorite part about your job? Least favorite?
As is true in all aspects of life, it’s the people who matter. We each love going to work each day. Having the right business partner is key and we wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t doing it with each other. Our daily climb up the learning curve has been very invigorating. As first time business women we had a lot to learn about starting and running a business, not to mention one in cannabis. The people we meet each day have been a joy to know and have made our lives interesting and fulfilling. Lastly, the joy we feel when women tell us how the product has helped their daily lives is indescribable. The whole reason we are doing this is to bring women relief, lift their unwanted experiences and help them feel like themselves again. When we hear we are doing just that we are ecstatic.
No one likes budgets, taxes, regulations, legal documents, or days when nothing goes your way. We are no exception.
Where can we reach you? IG? Twitter?
www.helloagainproducts.com please sign up for our newsletter!
Name 4 of your favorite women in weed that you’d like to give a shout out to.
Shuli Suman owns and heads a testing lab,True Science Laboratories in Los Angeles. Shuli has brought her medical field testing expertise to the cannabis space. She is passionate about accuracy and integrity in cannabis testing and is a champion for cannabis consumers and brands who care about purity. GYNOMITE!
Jennifer Chapin and Amanda Jones created Kikoko, a THC tea company that, in our opinion, paved the way for not only luxury brands, but also brands marketed to the discerning female customer. For us, Kikoko was the first dispensary product we tried and the first step in learning that use of THC was not a direct line to getting stoned. GYNOMITE!
Sue Taylor, a former Catholic high school principal, is now not only a cannabis advocate for seniors, but also the only black, female dispensary owner. She has her own line of products, speaks all over the country, and has testified to Congress in support of deschedulization. GYNOMITE!
Aliza Sherman is the CEO of Ellementa, a woman’s health company focused on cannabis and CBD. Part of our mission has always been to raise awareness about the use of cannabis for wellness and Ellementa is doing just that. Aliza is also the publisher of HerCannaLife.com, which showcases women in the cannabis industry. The first step in working together is knowing what other women are doing in the cannabis space. Aliza is shining a light on women in cannabis and we applaud her for this. GYNOMITE!
Key Takeaways from Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas:
- Trust your guts and size up situations
- Don’t take no for an answer, be tenacious and speak your minds
- Show up and suit up to the best of your abilities every single day
- Work together and support one another
- Our collective voice can educate our communities about cannabis and wellness
A huge thank you to Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas, for taking the time to share their experiences, her journey as women entrepreneurs in the weed world and for sharing super helpful tips advice on how to jump into the weed world as well. You can learn more about Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas and Hello Again here.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more interviews! If you have a Weed Queen in mind that I should interview next, drop us a line below in the comments and we’ll check them out.