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    Canna Conversations: Lindsay French, Owner of Hippie & French

    Canna Conversations: Lindsay French, Owner of Hippie & French

    Hippie & French Boutique, Pittsburgh PA

    In our newest installment of Canna Conversations, our Founder, Jess Cadmus talks with Lindsay French, Owner of Hippie & French. Lindsay inspires us endlessly because she has drawn upon her experience with addiction and transformed it not only into a deep healing for herself using cannabis, but into a wellness boutique which offers healing to others. Hippie & French is a place where you can discover your own wellness solutions by talking to Lindsay and her knowledgeable staff and by browsing her highly curated collection of CBD products and beyond.

    Rogue Paq (RP): How was cannabis regarded in your household growing up?
    Linsday French (LF): My parents are divorced and each household had conflicting messages. My mom (who I lived with primarily) pretended that she was against it I think. My dad (who I lived with in my later teen years) thought that responsible consumption was a more realistic lesson for young people.  If I were raising kids; I’d probably land somewhere in the middle.



    RP: What was your first experience with cannabis?
    LF: I was 12 or 13…. Hanging out by the creek (also known as "crick" around my way) with neighborhood kids.  I don’t remember it being a negative experience or a positive experience…. Just an experience that introduced me to escaping the way that I felt.  I would go on to have a really tough battle with substance abuse later and then find a really healthy relationship with the plant. Really full circle.

    RP: You have an expertise in sales and have managed several Fortune 500 accounts. Do you feel this is your superpower as a small business owner?
    LF: I’m not sure..  I got really burnt out in corporate sales.  The industry taught me a lot about selling but it also taught me a lot of what I didn’t want to bring into my business. The industry forces you to be really aggressive to survive and I didn’t want to bring those sales tactics into my space. In my opinion people don’t want to be sold.  They just want you to know what you’re talking about and be honest with them.

    RP:
    Can you tell us about recovering from your addiction and what brought you to cannabis?
    LF: Yes! I love talking about recovery because I think so many people can relate. I was an active alcoholic by the time I was 15 which progressed to opiate use in my early 20’s. It was a constant struggle in my 20’s and 30’s for recovery.  I started using fentanyl daily and my life was really out of control.  I was going to either die or end up in prison.  Both of those situations were very probable if I didn’t change my lifestyle.  I woke up from an overdose, was facing charges that were going to send me to prison for several years… and I just had to get my shit together.  I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I’m California Sober now.  I don’t drink… or use other drugs.  But I do incorporate cannabis into my lifestyle in many ways whether it’s cbd for anxiety or cbd topicals for muscle pain.  I use some cbd and 1:1 (cbd to thc) concentrates for anxiety or sleep issues.. Also really loving these new delta 8 sleep edibles we put out a few months ago.  I am using cannabis for medicinal purposes today.  I'm not smoking 24/7 to escape the way I feel.  I think that's the difference between me today and me before recovery.  Honestly, I don't like feeling outside of myself because it just brings up bad juju.

    I was an active alcoholic by the time I was 15 which progressed to opiate use in my early 20’s. It was a constant struggle in my 20’s and 30’s for recovery.  I started using fentanyl daily and my life was really out of control.  I was going to either die or end up in prison.

    RP: Your store Hippie & French is gorgeous and very selective with its product offerings. Can you tell us how you think about product selection for CBD as well as accessories?
    LF: Thank you.  My target demographic is women so I buy things that appeal to me quite honestly.  I want to buy from other women and I think other women do too.  So that’s a focus in the shop; women & minority makers. 

    Rogue Paq Joie de Weed Collection featured at Hippie & French

    RP:
    Tell us about your customer in Pittsburgh. What lights them up literally and figuratively?
    LF: Pittsburgh people are THE BEST!! I have lived all over the country and it’s hard to find nicer people than the ones in Pittsburgh.  There’s not a ton of pretense…it’s easy here.  There’s a really great blend of “tell-it-like-it-is” East Coast meets “downhome” Midwest in the best possible way.  The attitude surrounding cannabis is really accepting here.  We’re using it as an alternative to drinking alcohol and for its medicinal properties. We want access to the best cannabis has to offer and we’re getting there… if the laws will eventually catch up with consumer demand.

    RP: Do you encounter any friction selling CBD and hemp products in a state which is not legal for recreational use? Of course CBD is legal but wondering specifically if the local mindset is open and evolved or if you face stigma?
    LF: Not normally.  We’re selling a lot of delta 8 thc products now and it’s a little surprising to see the people that come in to purchase.  It’s everyone from the 20 something college students to the 70-80 year old retirees.  It’s a sign that the prohibition era needs to end.

    RP:
    What’s your biggest challenge as a business owner?
    LF:
    Being a boss.  Having employees.  I have a DREAM TEAM right now but struggled with employees for my first year or so.  I struggled with employees because I didn’t know who I was as a boss.  Now that I know where my strengths and weaknesses lie a little better I can hire team members who compliment where I am lacking etc. 


    RP: It's PRIDE month. How are you celebrating?
    LF: Both of my employees, Critter Fink & Veronica Lee [pictured above], are part of the LGBTQ+ community. So of course we have a discount code active for pride month. It’s ‘PrideTFout’ for 15% off online... and wear your pride gear in store for 15% off in store. 

    RP:
    You are passionate about a host of causes. Can you talk to us about a few of them?
    LF: I’m passionate about being an activist.  I want people to know when they purchase something from Hippie & French that we donate to causes that we care about like ACLU,  Black Lives Matter.. Last Prisoner Project.  I think that as a woman-owned brand it’s important to not be hollow.  To stand for something… many somethings and to be about it.  So when people purchase from you they know their money is going in the right place and they also might be inspired to get active and raise their voice for something they're passionate about.

    RP:
    How do you view the position of women in the cannabis industry and how do you think it will look ten years from now?
    LF: Women are thriving in the space and creating the best products and accessories.  I think the cannabis industry will look like a lot of industries in ten years from now.  More women in leadership roles…more women owning their own companies.  It would make me really happy to see more female collectives looking out for woman-owned companies and women in leadership roles.  If we’re not supporting each other and pushing one another forward; who will?!



    I’m passionate about being an activist.  I want people to know when they purchase something from Hippie & French that we donate to causes that we care about like ACLU,  Black Lives Matter.. Last Prisoner Project.  I think that as a woman-owned brand it’s important to not be hollow.  To stand for something.

    RP: What is your favorite book and why?
    LF: Oh gosh… I feel like I haven’t picked up a book in a hot minute.  To be honest; I’m more of an audio book person.  I just don’t have the attention span to sit down and read.  I am really pro-personal development though.  So I listen to a lot of self-help books.  I almost always have one going in my car.  I finished John Kim’s “Single on Purpose’ earlier this year which I highly recommend.  I also listened to “Attached” which is really great if you want to figure out why you keep dating the same asshole over and over again.  Right now I’m on ‘Tao te Ching’ …. Reading about the tao and it’s interpretation.  

    RP:
    What lights your soul on fire?
    LF: I LOVE connecting with authentic people and sharing in their healing journey. Owning my shop has given me the ability to do that and feel fulfilled in a way that I didn’t realize was possible for me.

    RP: Do you cook? If so, do you cook with cannabis?
    LF:
    I used to really love to cook and would follow a bunch of vegan/vegetarian bloggers but I don’t really have the time anymore.  I eat takeout thai food every night.  Although I am experimenting with my own edibles ;)


    RP:
    You have a lot of beautiful cannabis items at your fingertips, what does your personal stash consist of - both CBD products as well as tools and accessories? 
    LF:
    I rarely keep things that I bring into the store and then end up regretting it later after they sell out.  I have a laundry day pink pipe sitting on my nightstand, a Rogue Paq grinder (the joie de weed one) and a tsubota pearl lighter. 

    RP:
    Talk to us about the power of CBD and what format is your preferred. 
    LF:
    I love all of them.. it just depends on the situation.  I use our Hippie & French Hot Mess CBD Oil Drops during the day for managing my anxiety.  I like vaping Tribe Tokes CBD throughout the day for a little added support but also a little extra energy (Juicy Fruit strain is my fave.)  At night I’m using our Delta 8 Sleep Angel Gummies to help with the sleep issues that I have.  I also have an old shoulder & neck injury that I use our topical for pretty regularly.  I’m obviously a huge advocate but it can fit into ANYONE'S lifestyle.  You just need to see what method is going to work for you.

    RP: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why? 
    LF: I saw an article about this company called Shefari.  They plan boutique trips just for women.  They have a trip coming up to Egypt that I’m thinking about going on.  I have never thought about going to Egypt before but I really want to get out of my comfort zone and try something different (like traveling alone) and this trip happens to fit into my schedule so I think I’m going to go.  Now that I’m talking about it; I better go. Right?! We have all been cooped up for so long I have the travel bug like the rest of the world right now.

    RP:
    You talk a lot about living your best life. What does that mean for you?
    LF:
    Living life like you aren’t afraid.  I have had issues with anxiety my entire life and it really crippled me for a long time.  I remember when I was first getting clean just feeling like I had had enough of living in fear all of the time and decided I would never let it stop me from doing something again.  I have to constantly remind myself of that promise and remind myself to be brave…. (CBD has been a huge help).  I never want to stop myself from having an experience because of fear.  I really want to get out there and experience all of the things before I’m gone… and to be more of a giver than a taker while I’m here.


    I never want to stop myself from having an experience because of fear.  I really want to get out there and experience all of the things before I’m gone… and to be more of a giver than a taker while I’m here.

    Canna Conversations: Cannabis Sweetheart, Rachael Arias AKA Karma Stoned

    Canna Conversations: Cannabis Sweetheart, Rachael Arias AKA Karma Stoned

    All Photos Courtesy of Ray Arias

    Right around Valentine's Day we asked America's Cannabis Sweetheart, Rachael Arias, to chat with us and share her cannabis journey. It's a very human story of setbacks and triumphs which makes this super beauty also super relatable. Enjoy.

     

     

    Rogue Paq (RP): How did the members of your household regard cannabis growing up?

    Rachael Arias (RA): I didn’t realize this until later in life, but my parents were always canna-friendly. My dad went to Humboldt State University and we’d always go to the area to visit his friends that became farmers. When I was about 15-16, my dad shared this aspect of his life openly with me and it was at that point that we first smoked together. My Mom, on the other hand, started out in the wine industry but migrated to cannabis when it became legal in Washington. It was a natural move given the direct parallels between wine and cannabis: both have a heavy agricultural aspect, also both draw on the senses for evaluation like, for instance, smell and tasting notes. She went on to develop her skills as an herbalist and to make edibles and topicals. She does a lot of education and consulting on best practices regarding the products she makes. It’s important to her to ask the right questions, understand her clients’ symptoms, and then guide them through different modalities and types of healing with cannabis. 

     Ray and her mom

    RP: We believe that cannabis is a healing plant with the potential to replace prescription medications in the proper application. Tell us about how cannabis has played a part in your overall health.

    RA: I started self-medicating in high school after being prescribed Adderall for lack of focus and disinterest. What floored me at the time was the high doses of quick release medication that I was being given: 20mg at 15-16 years old. It was revving me up as you can imagine. I began losing weight and couldn’t sleep and realized Adderall wasn’t a solution but just another problem. Then I discovered cannabis. Suddenly I not only could focus, but found that I could eat and sleep as well. When I was 22 I began experimenting with tinctures and found that an 18:1 CBD:THC brought me the ideal focus. 


    Interestingly, despite being an herbalist and educated on cannabis, my mom was initially against my using it. We lived in Redmond, Washington where cannabis was taboo and we were already the subject of negative attention for being a single-parent family and living in the YWCA women’s shelter. My mother simply didn’t want to instigate any additional negative attention. That time period was really difficult for me because I always felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb and frankly I was bullied because of my circumstances. It feels so good that a decade later I’m thriving and being courted by major cannabis brands like Mirayo by Carlos Santana and Willie’s Reserve by Willie Nelson. As far as my mom was concerned, by the time I was 17 she fully accepted my usage and recognized its amazing benefits in my life. 

     

    Adderall wasn’t a solution but just another problem. Then I discovered cannabis. Suddenly I not only could focus, but found that I could eat and sleep as well.

     

     

    RP: You are a judge in the Emerald Cup. Can you tell us how you got designated as such and also tell us what you appreciate about the competition?

    RA: I was living in LA in 2012-22 and earned a Yoga certificate and became very immersed in that culture. Then one day when I was long-boarding down at the beach, I got hit by a car which resulted in a spinal injury. I was on my own and honestly I didn’t know how to deal with an injury. As I mentioned, I was pretty ingrained in the yoga world and I was being told to continue to pursue pretty aggressive positioning which, in the end, injured me further. So, I decided to step back from the LA yoga scene and move back to Santa Cruz. It was there, by chance, that I met one of the founders of SC Laboratories (which practices analytical cannabis science). He loved my passion for the plant and he offered me a job as a community manager. Basically, I would meet with famers and I’d pick up their payments as well as samples of cannabis to be analyzed. It so happens that SC does the analytical tests for the Emerald Cup (potency, microbials, terpenes, pesticides for cannabis and residual solvents like butane and ethanol, used in extraction methods for concentrates). That was my link. But what really put me in position to be a judge was that I had been taking tinctures for my injury and therefore had a lot of knowledge and experience in that area; all this at a time when they were looking to shed light on other vehicles of cannabis consumption like tinctures and topicals. That knowledge and experience coupled with all that I learned at SC plus my background working on farms was what solidified my position as judge. This will be my 4th year judging and my 6th year involved with The Cup and I’m so proud to be a part of it. A big part of that pride is that The Cup brings light to people incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis crimes. The organization works hard to free prisoners. Not only that, but I really appreciate that it supports regenerative farming - cannabis that is bio-dynamic and grown outside in the sun. The Emerald Triangle includes Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties which are world famous regions for farming cannabis. The cup is held in Sonoma County which, along with Napa is known as Wine Country. It’s temperate, has lush soil, perfect sunshine, and the ocean breeze nurtures the terpenes. It’s so important to me that consumers are educated about where their cannabis comes from and how it is grown.

     

    One day when I was long-boarding down at the beach, I got hit by a car which resulted in a spinal injury. I was on my own and honestly I didn’t know how to deal with an injury.

     

    RP: You are a Cultural Brand Strategist. How did you make the leap from SC to this? 

    RA: Clients at SC were continually asking for marketing help and that’s when I branched out and began working on my own. The biggest parts of my job include social media management, photo shoot production, and copy writing. 

     

     

    RP: Given your role, what do you feel is the single most important thing that can be done to convey strong brand identity?

    RA: Cultivating your unique voice and story-telling. Be yourself. Develop your own voice. Have a solid message. When you have a story and an ethos, you will develop a strong community. Brands who make this a priority will have more success in the long run even if the burn is slower.


    RP: What is your favorite ritual?

    RA: I absolutely love French press iced coffee in the morning along with a tincture. I do a high 5:1 tincture if my day is more loose and creative and when it’s more intense, I opt for a 18:1 tincture. I always wait until lunch or later to indulge in a full THC joint or dab.

     

    Cultivating your unique voice and story-telling. Be yourself. Develop your own voice. Have a solid message. When you have a story and an ethos, you will develop a strong community. Brands who make this a priority will have more success in the long run even if the burn is slower.

     

    RP: What is your favorite strain and why?

    RA: I don’t discriminate. I’ve long moved away from the sativa/indica/hybrid framework because that simply refers to weed plant leaf structure and fails to convey how strains actually make a person feel. It’s much more about the terpenes and essential oils present in the plant. For me, I always lead with my nose. If it smells good to me then I will enjoy it. I gravitate towards orange creamsicle smells and also, on the opposite end of the spectrum, stinky cheese smells.


    RP: What are the top 5 questions a consumer should ask when shopping for cannabis at a dispensary?

    RA:

    • Is it single sourced? Meaning does the purveyor of the cannabis own the farm versus white labeling the flower. 
    • How is it farmed? Is it biodynamic? Was it raised outside, in a greenhouse, or mass produced indoors? Let me qualify by saying that Ember Valley is an indoor farm and they make an incredible product so any of these methods can yield a desirable output. Since we are talking brands, other brands I love are Coastal Sun Farms and Talking Tree which are both single sourced family farms.
    • Do they test their terpenes? If the answer is yes, you can be assured that they care about creating a great product and are keen on showcasing that aspect.
    • What kind of papers do they use on their pre-rolls? You’ll notice that if they use bleached and cheap processed papers the cannabis is usually inferior. If you are a farmer and are proud of your flower, then you‘ll want to use high quality hemp papers like Raw or  Elements (rice papers), for instance, in order to really highlight the superior nature of your weed.
    • This isn’t a question but I urge you to really inspect the label. If you find a ton of rich information, not just hype branding, you’ll know the product is good enough to brag about and that it was grown with care and pride.

     


     

    RP: What sets your soul on fire?

    RA: Knowledge - I love to learn and to educate. Knowledge is power and to be informed is imperative - especially now. I come from a line of healers, thinkers, and activists which makes it extremely important to me to be out in my community, of service, and always helping to educate. 

     

    I’ve long moved away from the sativa/indica/hybrid framework because that simply refers to weed plant leaf structure and fails to convey how strains actually make a person feel. It’s much more about the terpenes and essential oils present in the plant.

     

     

    RP: What's your favorite book and why?

    RA: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - I’m fascinated by the themes of censorship and combating fascism. More generally, it’s a beautiful story about how one young woman can alter the course of so many lives. It’s been incredibly impactful in my life.


    RP: Do you prefer to be in front of or behind the camera and why?

    RA: What I love most is the production of a shoot. I love creating the visual aspects, conceptualizing the vibe, hiring the photographers, and casting the models.

     

     

    RP: What was your favorite photo shoot of all time either produced by you or someone else and why?

    RA: Produced by me was at my old house in my clawfoot tub surrounded by 60 of my houseplants.

    Produced by someone else was David LaChapelle capturing Tupac in the bathtub. Also, there’s a famous shoot of Madonna somewhere in California walking nakes in heels smoking a stogie. For the life of me, I can’t find the credits for the shoot.

    RP: When you’re in the mood to create, what is your go-to medium?

    RA: Words - I love storytelling and writing poetry.

     



    RP: You are a California girl but you have dreams of one day living in NY. What does your ultimate NY life look like?

    RA: I would love to live in DUMBO (with my own driver because the train sitch there would drive me bonkers); I’d be in my own bubble working in cannabis to help emerging cannabis brands find and develop their brand voices.


    RP: We know you’ve been a life-long fan of the People Magazine segment What’s in your bag? So, tell us what’s in yours.

    RA: Wild Beauty Cosmetics tinted lip balm

    Stick of selenite to neutralize energy

    Bunch of gold jewelry

    RAW rolling papers - black organic 1.25

    MIRAYO weed by Santana

    De la Rosa candy (a yummy peanut marzipan candy)

    Hand sanitizer

    Second Wind mask

    Palo Santo spritzer 

    Navy Vianel lighter 

    Kurvana Calm Tincture 12:1 tincture ashwagandha, blue tanze and lavender

    Air pods

    Rohto eye drops

    Rebecca Campbell oracle Cards 

     

     

    RP: What’s in your Rogue Paq Ritual Case?

    RA: A few kinds of weed - Beard Bros Farms + Talking Trees + Coastal Sun

    Q tips

    Tiny vial of alcohol 

    Concentrates by Bossy Farms [Doc Greens] and Blue River

    RAW rolling papers

    Rogue Paq #SendNudes matches 

    Holy Palo Santo wood by Sacred Wood Essence 

     









    Canna Conversations: Tess Melody, Founder of TAYLOR + tess

    Canna Conversations: Tess Melody, Founder of TAYLOR + tess

    One of our favorite canna-photo shoots ever; shot by Jennifer Skog of the gorgeous MJ Lifestyle Magazine

    Tess Melody, Founder of TAYLOR + tess

    Please meet Tess Melody, Founder of TAYLOR + tess inclusive skincare and lifestyle brand, also house friend and inspo for our #SendNudes matches and candles.

    Rogue Paq (RP): You started consuming cannabis in your teens. What has your journey been like?

    Tess Melody (TM):  I started smoking weed in 9th grade in Heidelberg, Germany. At first, I was just experimenting; but by the time I was back in the states for my senior year and undergrad, cannabis was an important part of my life despite the illegality and stigma surrounding it in the south. Cannabis has always helped me find the coolest and most loving people, but it also continues to help me cope with trauma and ADHD while simultaneously getting off all prescription meds except birth control. Cannabis taught me self-compassion and balance in my lifestyle, which I now think of in a much more holistic way.

     

    RP:  Why did your parents choose Germany?

    TM: When I was young, I lived in a small town near Gettysburg, PA which was right on the Mason-Dixon Line. It was a place where I saw Confederate flags boasted on all kinds of surfaces and I knew that there was an active KKK camp 5 miles away from my house. My military parents, both civilian employees by this point, decided that I would absolutely not attend high school in that town and they moved me to Germany so I could live abroad as my siblings had. My father had already done a few tours there so was familiar with the country and its culture. This experience taught me that racism and xenophobia is 100 percent learned and passed down through generations. If racism and hate can be taught, then I reasoned, so can love and empathy; that is my goal for TAYLOR + tess and any future brand. It’s moral imperative must be rooted in love and empathy.

     

    When I was young, I lived in a small town near Gettysburg, PA which was right on the Mason-Dixon Line. It was a place where I saw Confederate flags boasted on all kinds of surfaces and I knew that there was an active KKK camp 5 miles away from my house.

     

    RP:  You mentioned earlier that cannabis helped to move you off of prescription medications that you were taking for PTSD and ADHD. Can you tell us more about that?

    TM: First let me say that I’m not against anyone taking prescription medications if that is their source of healing and if it brings peace to their lives. For me personally, once I began to use cannabis more regularly, I didn’t need the prescription meds. To take a step back, I found it curious that the first time I went to therapy, their first response was to put me on antidepressants. I wasn’t fully comfortable with that and ultimately found that talk therapy plus cannabis, plus intentionally and mindfully slowing down my lifestyle was a better formula. To be clear, I had to really experiment and practice things like mindful listening and deep breathing and cannabis aided me in this. I knew with certainty that I didn't want to be dependent on prescription meds and so I actively worked to construct this formula. Again, I don’t knock anyone for having to take medication but for me it was altering my brain chemistry negatively and wasn’t allowing me to enter a mind frame where I could be at peace with myself and within my interpersonal relationships. In short, it was doing more harm than good. This is why legalizing cannabis is so important - it can allow people the freedom to explore natural remedies and do it within a safe space where research and advice from cannabis professionals and bud-tenders about different strains are available to them. 

     

    If racism and hate can be taught, then I reasoned, so can love and empathy; that is my goal for TAYLOR + tess and any future brand. It’s moral imperative must be rooted in love and empathy.

     

     

    RP:  You have lived in many different spots and also love to travel. Tell us how moving around and traveling has impacted what you are currently doing.

    TM: My early years were spent in PA. At ages 8-15 I was a competitive speed skater and my first trip abroad was to Portugal to race. Then, as I mentioned earlier, I moved to Germany with my parents. During my childhood and adolescence, I traveled all over the world where I viewed cultural diversity and a social openness that I never found in PA, which really impacted the way I view inclusivity and its importance. That is something I bring to Taylor + tess on a daily basis. I bring it into every decision I make for the brand.

    I am a proud Texan (aren’t we all?), but I recently moved to Santa Monica (LA). I have always wanted to get into the cannabis industry and as much as I love TX and the south, I knew it wasn’t the right environment to pursue this particular passion. I knew I had to establish community quickly and felt I could do this in California. This was an important point for me because my mission has always been clear - I want to build social equity into everything I produce. So I knew I had to get my foot in the door so that I could begin creating a business that would focus on reparations and would become the living embodiment of what I have been seeking. That embodiment is Taylor + tess.

    One more note on travel and how it impacts Taylor + tess: I love to visit art and history museums all over the world, and I believe every day spent in a gallery has fueled my creativity for T+t and opened my mind to new perspectives and cultures. Some of my favorites are The Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMA in NYC, the National African American Museum + National Portrait Gallery in D.C., the Dallas Modern Art museum, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, and The Getty and The Broad in Los Angeles. 

     

    This is why legalizing cannabis is so important - it can allow people the freedom to explore natural remedies and do it within a safe space where information, knowledge, support, and quality products are available to them. 

     

     

    RP: You are the muse for our #SendNudes matches and candles. You are beautiful inside and out. What can you say to our readers about finding and being your most authentic self?

    TM: I think that it’s really important to read books. You can find your own story through the stories of others. Social media is in sharp contrast to this because you are just consuming content that entices you to compare and criticize yourself—like Instagram, for instance. You become lost when looking for external validation every moment, and you lose your own voice when it is drowned out by so many others. In my eyes, you become found in art and literature. I love who I am in that stillness within those different mediums. Reading was encouraged at a very early age in my household, and it helped me cope, grow, and find myself. 

    Another way to be your most authentic self is to surround yourself with good people and to learn to walk away from those who don’t make you feel good. For me it’s important to be open and expressive about the things that make me an individual. If I don’t, for instance, own my own sexuality, how can I expect others to respect that part of me? Don’t get me wrong, I want to fit in like most others but not at the expensive of sacrificing my true self. 

    By the way, thank you for calling me beautiful. I enjoy being told I'm beautiful because my expression and ownership of that beauty is fueled from within. It’s been a process for me - one of taking care of myself, owning my choices, and doing what is right for me by recognizing that the truest voice I have is my own. This is what propels me to seek out more knowledge, more life, and deeper experiences. I encourage everyone to look at life as a journey where you can do and be what you want. But first you must believe you are worthy—right now in this moment, just as you are. That's when you become your most true and authentic self. A resource for exploring this idea is Lacy Phillips’s To Be Magnetic

     

    My mission has always been clear - I want to build social equity into everything I produce. 

     

    RP:  You mention the importance of reading.  We are big readers. What are some of your favorite books?

    TM: The Alchemist - Paulo Coehlo

    Hippie - Paulo Coehlo

    Letters from the Earth - Mark Twain

    All About Love - Bell Hooks

    How to Know God - Deepak Chopra

    Giovanni’s Room - James Baldwin

    A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story - Elaine Brown

     I Am Not Your Negro - James Baldwin

    The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton

     

    You must believe you are worthy—right now in this moment, just as you are. That's when you become your most true and authentic self. 

     


     

    RP:  Your skincare and lifestyle line TAYLOR + tess is all about inclusivity, diversity, and the normalization of cannabis and hemp. You’ve told us how travel and culture have encouraged these principles. Do you think there are other roots as well?

    TM: I am a Black, queer woman who learned of Kimberle Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality and realized that this term could help bridge gaps among marginalized folks and present a clearer picture of our realities. In my opinion, recognizing intersectionality can lead to better interconnectedness and effective change in social justice, the disparities in our economy, and the holistic health of marginalized communities.  

     

    RP:  How did you come to formulate your beautiful natural products? We are OBSESSED with In the Buff as well as The Nightcap.

    TM:    I worked closely with a lovely Dallas-local named Tammy Carter of Carter Mill Soap Company to formulate our cleansing bar. She has an extensive science background and has been handcrafting artisan soaps for nearly two decades. Our moisturizer required a few attempts during the R+D stage with our manufacturer in Southern California. We wanted to keep the product vegan, full of vitamin c, nail the creamy consistency, and balance the essential oil scent so it was soothing versus overwhelming. It was an added bonus to find a CBD delivery method that is micro-encapsulated and time-released to penetrate layers of the skin faster for more noticeable results. It’s called ‘the Nightcap’, but it is lightweight enough for daily use.

     

    RP:  Do you have other favorite skincare products outside of your own line? What are they and why are they amazing?

    TM I am OBSESSED with SuperGoop’s SPF 50 Glow Stick! It looks awesome under tinted moisturizer and my CBD skincare products balance my oil production to give me glow, not oily shine. Some others:

     Glow Gelee by Undefined Beauty

     Aztec Secret - Indian Healing Clay

    Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste

    Any plant-based serum or oil that you put in front of me

     

    Recognizing intersectionality can lead to better interconnectedness and effective change in social justice, the disparities in our economy, and the holistic health of marginalized communities.  

     

    RP: So much has gone on over the last year. There is a revolution going on and we are very focused on change. Do you use TAYLOR + tess as a platform to promote change?

    TM: Absolutely. Representation is and will continue to be a top priority for T+t. I am constantly looking for gaps across the industry and considering how I can be the most inclusive. It’s embedded in every decision I make - in how I shape and develop my own business and which voices I listen to while doing so. I mentioned that I studied advertising which made me acutely aware of its societal impact, so my goal is to always be mindful of that and to create an inclusive voice. I’m always considering how I can give back and provide opportunities and support my marginalized peers. In short, I have a strong ethos and have worked hard to build a culture that reflects that at T+t.

     

    What I love about my Rogue Paq [Ritual Case] is that I can take it with me everywhere. I travel with it all the time. It’s so functional and holds all of the disparate pieces of my ritual. Not only that, but it’s beautiful and provides a polished way to present my ritual.

     

    Photo by Tess Melody featuring her vegan Ritual Case

     

    RP: What's inside your Rogue Paq Ritual Case?

    TM: I just checked out my new favorite spot down the street in Venice, Green Goddess Collective, and picked up some bomb flower to take hiking in AZ/UT this weekend: 24K flower by THC Design and Wedding Cake by BudBud. 

    Wyld gummies

    Rolling papers and the “Shag” herbal blend from El Cosmico in Marfa, TX    (my happy place)

    A Pax that I need to give to my significant other who will use it way more than me

    Rogue Paq #SendNudes matches (always)

    Inda Pipe Necklace

    Asche Joint Clip

    A gold cone for a special occasion or photo op

    Pretty Little Pot Co. lighter

    A couple of roaches

    What I love about my Rogue Paq [Ritual Case] is that I can take it with me everywhere. I travel with it all the time. It’s so functional and holds all of the disparate pieces of my ritual. Not only that, but it’s beautiful and provides a polished way to present my ritual, which makes me feel confident taking it anywhere. Also, I love the personalized aspect. Mine has initials as well as a tiny bong and tiny joint. So me!

    Last but not least, since this interview Tess has completed the Our Academy accelerator program and is now fundraising for the first time for her new venture in California cannabis, Saucy. Stay tuned, Paq.

    Canna Conversations: Jimmy Smith, Photographer and Founder of The Activity


    You all went wild when we shared the snap of our #SendNudes matches up in flames (above). The guy behind that capture? Jimmy Smith, Photographer and Founder of @theactivity We've been working with Jimmy for quite some time and find his journey with cannabis to be supremely compelling. Read our interview below to hear how cannabis continues to heal him.

    All images courtesy of Jimmy Smith

     

    Rogue Paq (RP):  How did the members of your household regard cannabis when you were growing up?

    Jimmy Smith (JS): We all pretty much agreed that it was a drug for criminals. This was a distinct issue in my household because when I was 13, I started skateboarding with kids who smoked a lot of pot. From that moment forward, my family was on alert that I would not adopt it into my life and honestly, at 13 I wasn’t interested.

     

     

    RP: We believe that cannabis is a healing plant with the potential to replace prescription medications in the proper application. Tell us about how cannabis has played a part in your overall health.

    JS: Cannabis has been critical to my mental health. I had a near death experience in Croatia in 2011. I was on a wave runner when a storm mounted and I got lost at sea for about 7 hours. It was a pretty traumatic 7 hours from which I developed PTSD. I didn't experience significant side-effects until about a year later when I began struggling with depression, severe anxiety, panic attacks, and social withdrawal. Then came alcohol abuse as a way of trying to cope which, of course, only exacerbated my symptoms. I got myself to a point around 2015 when I realized that I needed to quit drinking in order to get better and so I started to get interested in cannabis. As I began to experiment with cannabis, the up-front benefit was that it began to ease my depression; And then about a year in, it also started to combat my anxiety. I should note that in late 2015-early 2016 I was between jobs and lost my health benefits. This was a terrifying time because I was taking prescription medication to deal with depression, anxiety, and OCD. I was so scared because I honestly didn’t believe that cannabis would be enough to deal with my mental condition but, to my surprise, the benefits far surpassed any prescription medication I had been taking. As time went on, the benefits continued to increase as I learned to avoid Indicas (which seemed to trigger my paranoia and depression) and to rely on pure Sativas which lifted and focused me. I also became aware of dosage and how making adjustments to intake could really boost benefits. From that time period, I’ve never looked back. I am so grateful for this plant that quite literally has saved my life. I say that with no exaggeration nor hesitation.

     

    I had a near death experience in Croatia in 2011. I was on a wave runner when a storm mounted and I got lost at sea for about 7 hours. It was a pretty traumatic 7 hours from which I developed PTSD.

     

    RP: What is your ritual?

    JS: My favorite ritual happens now because I love fall and winter in Arkansas and the colder weather plays into my ideal way to partake. I get to put on my old-man sweater which is a chunky cardigan style piece that I love, and I pull out my antique tobacco pipe. I then start a fire in my wood burning stove and sit in my smoking chair. That’s the stage I love to set. Then I sit and smoke. The perfect time is right at sunset- it’s a meditative period where I reflect on the actions of the day past and formulate a strategy for the following day. I also use the time to contemplate any problems I may need to solve personally or professionally. It’s the most productive period of my day because I’m setting myself up for success.

     

     

    RP: What are the contents of your ritual?

    JS: I have three large grinders from Phoenician Engineering. I grind my sativa and indica separately in each of two of the grinders. Then I have a beautiful chrome plated grinder which I only use for special occasions. It’s like getting out the fine china and the crystal stemware.

    I also have a series of Boston brown glass bottles in which I store my grind - they are the perfect delivery system of ground flower into my antique pipe. Exactly the right size.

    I have my Rogue Paq Ritual Case, of course, but I like to look at it on my bookshelf and currently keep it strictly for photographic purposes. I can’t yet let myself use it into oblivion. That day is coming though.

     

     

     

    RP: What is your favorite strain and why?

    JS: I honestly don't remember strain names but I love pure Sativas. I’m a rather introverted person and Indicas put me too deeply into an existential state. Sativa is energetic and uplifting and it makes me want to learn and create. I use it as a vehicle for staying in the moment. Sativas are perfect for when I want to achieve a “flow state'' where my subconscious and conscious meet and where I can create intuitively without overthinking things. In short, it’s a productivity tool when I need to get the most done. 

     

    Jimmy Smith

     

    RP: As a photographer, what inspires you?

    JS: I’ve always been passionate about the moving image, film, and still photography but through my journey with PTSD I’ve come to use photography (and cannabis) as a recovery tool. PTSD robbed me, for a long time, of my sense of wonder and my appreciation for beauty. I remember a turning point at which I traveled to Big Sur and I was still very depressed and starting to crawl out of that hole. On that trip, I pulled out my camera and photographed what I was experiencing and I recall thinking to myself how beautiful it was. That was a defining moment because prior to that, I couldn’t remember having a positive thought. I was elated to realize I was even still capable of feeling that way and I vowed to chase that feeling. Photography has allowed me to dive back into the world and see it a different way and to rediscover beauty and through that, my vitality as a human. It’s given me a way to revisit pain points in my life and address them head-on. For instance, just two days ago I finally stepped back into the ocean again since my experience in Croatia. When I got close to the water I experienced extreme panic but I photographed myself stepping in and I held onto a good-luck stone and I did it. I stepped back out and felt nothing short of triumph.

     

    Big Sur
     Big Sur

     

    RP: What's your favorite book and why?

    JM: The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castenada. It purports to document the events that took place during an apprenticeship with a self-proclaimed Yaqui Indian Sorcerer, Don Juan Matus from Sonora, Mexico between 1960 and 1965. A highlight in the book is the passages devoted to peyote and its psychological benefits. It has changed my perspective of reality.

     

    Sativas are perfect for when I want to achieve a “flow state'' where my subconscious and conscious meet and where I can create intuitively without overthinking things. In short, it’s a productivity tool when I need to get the most done. 

     

     

    RP:  What photographers inspire you?

    JS: Bert Stern - I love his product photography. He is credited with the creative renaissance in advertising. He motivated me to get into product photography. As a side note, he photographed the last sitting with Marilyn Monroe.


    Joe McNally - one of the last photographers hired by Life Magazine. He was a portrait photographer but thought like a photojournalist. He motivates me because of the way he teaches. Everyone on the planet should watch Inspiration from Joe McNally.


    Eugene Smith - he is the most influential in my life as a photographer. He was a combat photojournalist wounded gravely in Okinawa after which he took no photographs for two years. Ultimately, it’s my interpretation that he dealt with his PTSD and wounds with his camera. The facts are that one day he took his two kids outside and grabbed his camera and photographed them walking out of the trees (below). After that he continued with photography. That moment, for me was photographing Big Sur. It just changed everything.

    Eugene Smith