Celebrating Women's History in the Making : Conversation 5

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It’s Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, all month long we’re highlighting some of the women that are creating the history of CBD.

To continue our month-long celebration of women, we sat down with Yvonne Perez Emerson, founder of Make & Mary.

WLM:  Tell us about what got you started with CBD?  

YPE:  I have been smoking weed most of my life and in 2016 I started a workshop series called Make & Mary that combined high-end craft making with cannabis. It was an all around heritage craft, like how our ancestors made it but modernized. At that time I was considering getting into the cannabis industry. I was starting to use CBD for chronic pain in my back and needed to stabilize my energy. It worked really well for me so I've been making natural products for myself and my family for twenty years. I was worried about my skin aging so I focused on topicals for inflammation and pain but also beauty products.

WLM:  Did you use CBD religiously before starting your own company?

inside Yvonne’s studio ion Portland, OR

inside Yvonne’s studio ion Portland, OR

YPE: Definitely, I take a lot of CBD, about 50mg of oil a day. We grow our own plants here in our backyard and I make a lot of tinctures. 

WLM:  How has CBD helped your day-to-day life?

YPE:  CBD has helped me stop drinking. This March I am 2 years sober from drinking and that's all because of CBD. It keeps me mellow and I like to add it to my kombucha. I run 4 businesses and CBD is what keeps me chill and going. It's played an active role in keeping me stable. 

WLM:  What makes your CBD company unique?

YPE: I'm very conscious about what I am blending and what my formulations are. I source my materials as locally as possible. All the CBD is sun-grown, tested, free of pesticides, third generation farm, CO2 extracted right on the farm, etc. I use all organic ingredients and my products are Leaping Bunny Certified.

WLM:  What is the best advice you were given when starting your CBD business?

YPE:  To start a cannabis business but to only use full spectrum CBD. It’s super important to be transparent and to test your products.

WLM:  What’s your recommendation for using CBD for the first time? What advice would you give new users on how to dose and what to expect?

YPE:  It depends on your size, weight, other sociological situations, and nutritional value you're trying to reach. I think 10mg a day is nice and it would be good to start with a tincture.  You aren’t going to feel anything immediately but in two weeks you might notice your back isn’t hurting anymore if you were having chronic pain.  Take CBD like vitamins, it works over time.  For pain management, I like topicals because it reacts faster and is more focused than taking it orally. 

WLM:  What do you have planned for your company in the next year and 5 years in terms of new developments, products, expansion?

YPE:  We are narrowing our focus but expanding on what we are doing in terms of beauty. Focusing on wellness and balance of the body and how adaptogens can stabilize the balance on different levels to help you throughout the day. I notice a difference with my face serum. 

WLM:  If you had to pick one product of yours, which would it be? 

YPE:  My face serum. It relaxes, renews, and restores. I have to stay hydrated, girlfriend!

WLM:  Have you noticed skin conditions such as eczema and acne improve with the use of your Make & Mary beauty products? 

YPE:  Yes, I have gotten such great feedback form customers. So many people use it for eczema, rosacea, and even anxiety. Daily use really helps to relax the muscles in a good way. I have people who use it on their hands and body just for breakouts. Personally, it has really kept my skin feeling soft, and nourished. I can't imagine not having it.

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WLM:  This is Woman's Month and the theme is the better the balance, the better the world. #balanceforbetter. What tips would you give fellow women to help them achieve more prominent roles in the workplace?

YPE:  Find your voice. The problem with a lot of women is we don’t want to feel like we are bragging or boasting – stand-up and be a boss! Be confident. If you aren’t moving ahead, then you're being quiet. Insert yourself in situations even if it makes you uncomfortable and if you're having a hard time finding your voice then maybe other women can help you express yourself. Use everything in your toolbox.

WLM:  Have you experienced any barriers as a female in terms of leadership? If it has affected you, how did you overcome those barriers?

YPE:  Absolutely, when I was an Art Director at an agency, there was a Creative Director role coming up and they ended up pulling someone from the outside instead of coming to me. That person would always come to me for answers and I finally had to stand up for myself and stop helping. I wanted to be a leader and I've seen the barriers to leadership. Sometimes you fake it till you make it and other times you put your foot down.  

WLM:  Who are your female role models?

YPE:  My mother really taught me to go after what my heart desired and to do it without the help of a man. She wanted us to be independent and creative and brave. Other female role models have been people like Joan Jett because I loved that she was punk rock and played guitar like the dudes back then. Frida Kahlo was a badass that loved deeply and her inspiration for nature, identity, gender and the Mexican culture was really inspiring. In today’s world, I admire women like Serena Williams, she's amazing, determined, strong, and she learned to defy the odds at such a young age. I like that she could give a f-ck half the time. There are so many women who are amazing that I have looked to and thought if she can do it so can I.

WLM:  What keeps you up at night?

YPE:  Currently, I am working on getting my business ready for investment, so I am writing a lot and thoughts come to me in the middle of the night. Most of the time I am thinking about things I need to tackle that week or formulations I would like to make. I am a creative person so often times I wake up with ideas or sayings that I have to write down right then and there. I don't sleep much.

WLM:  What keeps you going during the day?

Yvonne’s motorcycle in her Portland studio

Yvonne’s motorcycle in her Portland studio

YPE:  Business. I have been working for myself most of my adult life. The hustle is real. I don't have time to wait for the next big job to come in or an account to land, I have to be proactive and go out and get it. I'm currently trying to transition from owning a design studio to owning a fulltime CBD Beauty business. I am moving, and thankful I have so much creative energy!

WLM:  What advice do you give women who are trying to get ahead in their career? 

inside Yvonne’s office

inside Yvonne’s office

YPE:  I think you have to be really true to yourself and what you want in life. You have to be brave and do what makes you happy. When I began my career in design, over 20 years ago, I was told artists don't make money. But my momma's words fueled me. I knew who I was and if I didn't work on developing myself as a damn good designer, I wouldn't be satisfied or happy. I have won many awards since starting this career, and I did it because I am passionate and have a lot of moxie. I never got a degree in design but I have worked as a creative director in a large agency and taught at The School of Art & Design for Portland State for over 6 years. My design business works with Fortune 500 companies and small startups. I think passion and trusting my intuition has really driven me the most. When I was starting out, I taught myself and asked others who knew more than me to share their knowledge with me. People will be pretty good at doing that if you ask. Now that I am repositioning into the clean CBD beauty world I sometimes feel like I am just starting out again, as well. I have to remember to trust my instincts and rely on the folk methods and trainings I had with plant medicine so many years ago. I have to walk the walk and talk the talk and to do that I need to make sure I am educated in every way I can. 

inside Yvonne’s studio ion Portland, OR

inside Yvonne’s studio ion Portland, OR

So long story short: trust yourself, have passion, follow your heart and your instincts, be kind, be brave, be humble, explore more, make better, create community, trust yourself. Don't listen to the bullsh-t, ignore the nay-sayers, take risks, take risks, take risks. Have faith in yourself, have an open mind, give zero f-cks, relax often, leave work at work, share, love, set intentions, love yourself, and make mistakes while you're young so you have stories to tell when you're older. I wrote this for a talk I had a while back, it's nice to be reminded of this in my new journey.

WLM:  Thank you so much for your insights and your leadership in our industry. Before we wrap up, would you strike the #balanceforbetter pose?

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