Where do you live and work? Why did you choose this location?
On my hemp farm in the middle of nowhere, somewhere (as I joke) and I work at our warehouse/HQ/retail shop about 10 minutes down the road. Or, coffee shops in the little towns that surround us. The farm has been in my family for ages, but when my Dad passed last October, the farm was left to me, my sisters and brother. I moved back to my rural farm hometown in North Carolina from New Orleans in 2018 to start our organic hemp farm. The town I live in is called Connelly Springs and doesn’t really have a ‘town’, so It was a really hard decision to make because I still forever call New Orleans my soul’s hometown.
I was so happy there (I mean, it’s New Orleans!), so my plan is to always, somehow, move back down and keep SA and our farm operating without me always having to be there. There’s the whole trending vibe of living ‘off the grid’, which is definitely beautiful and has it’s perks (we’re about a little under an hour from Asheville! There’s a magical state park 5 minutes away! Waterfalls! The hemp farm!), but it can really run you down in other ways. I have some really beautiful friends this way, but being in a proper city provides the community aspect that’s really hard to feel when you’re truly living out there.
Tell us a bit about your history. How did Soul Addict come to be?
I feel like SA chose me in a way, I started the brand from a place I needed myself. It’s largely been my sharing about my own mental health struggles, how CBD/cannabis has helped me, my love of out-of-the-box education and sharing those lessons with what ended up being the community of amazing souls cheering SA and our farm on.
I grew up on a super small farm that my Dad started in 1995, we raised Black Angus (a breed of cow) and some vegetables here and there. It was a traditional farm on a very small scale, so I was exposed to the difference between my experience growing up and big agriculture/factory farming that’s pretty much ruined our connection with our food, working with the land and farming best practices.
While I didn’t realize my interest in agriculture then, I moved to New York City for college in 2007. Since that decision, I’ve really done a little bit of everything before starting Soul Addict in January 2017. I spent most of those 10 years navigating my mental health as I struggled with anxiety and depression since I was in my early teen years. I became fascinated and honored to learn about Ayurvedic medicine, the gut-brain connection and alternative traditionally indigenious plant medicines. Back in 2008, these weren’t respected topics and it frustrated me all the stereotypes of ‘woo woo mystics’, which stems, as we know, from racism and toxic drug propaganda to fear of the unknown. I just kept going and slowly began to find a lot of people in my community would ask me more and more questions about what I was doing and how I got off anxiety medications, etc.
I hit a wall working at a tech company in 2016 and it was my lowest of lows at that time, and was having frequent anxiety attacks that turned to panic attacks. I sourced a bottle of CBD from a small farm in Colorado and it truly changed my relationship with my mental health. I dropped everything from that week as far as my other plans, and slowly began working on turning this crazy dream into a real brand with zero experience evolving a product from scratch. I learned my way, and freelanced in brand and business development until turning SA into my full-time career in 2018.
It's so inspiring that you grow and create your own products in-house, why did you choose to be involved in all these aspects of your business rather than outsourcing elements?
Thank you! That means a lot to me. I think my brain and my personality has always been all or nothing- for worse or better. Often, I think it’s the latter. I think I could say a number of things here that could border being snobby about ingredients to the absolute privilege of already having access to farmland, but I think my drive has always been to learn deeply about my craft and to share that privilege with others. To be able to have vertical integration with our product line felt downright magical and I think that’s what makes SA, SA.
I could have outsourced, and still could, so much of our production and operational costs and save a ton of capital that would help us grow faster, bigger, better and stronger as big investment in hemp and all cannabis continues to heat up. It’s honestly becoming harder and harder to operate in this industry and be able to keep the lights on. Especially as a majority woman-owned agricultural company.
That said, I think staying true to finding the power in staying small and doing things perhaps the ‘hard way’- with an insane amount of integrity, honor to the land and to help others who are also interested in getting into the industry- is the beauty of our business. It’s why I claim being ‘conscious’ because while we’re growing slowly, we’re growing something really special and I think our community can feel that from us. You can totally outsource your ingredients as a product business and quickly scale to 6 figures because you simply have more time to market your brand, but that’s just not my place here on Earth. I’m a dirt, water and labor of love type. Stubbornness has it’s upside, I’ll continue to stand my ground and hope overnight brands and celebrity launches become less appealing as more of us see the importance of regenerative and organic agriculture. Whether it’s our CBD oil or our strawberries, we vote with our money on who we want to stay around.
Why do you feel passionate about CBD, in your experience what are some benefits of CBD?
I think the biggest reason is because personally it has helped me navigate my mental health from a safe place and to feel more in control of my feelings. That’s been huge for me, and now my biggest goal is to help education on both CBD and all Cannabis as more states seek to decriminalize the plant. It’s medicine, the end.
I also am big on sharing the rhetoric of ‘CBD is good’ and ‘THC is bad’ is not only a form of racism derived from the still relevant War on Drugs, but has also been shown to work better together within our body via what’s called the ‘Entourage Effect’. CBD and THC are the highest amount of cannabinoids (term for the healing molecules found in all cannabis plants) found in both hemp and THC cannabis. From a scientific view, molecularly they are the same chemical form from either plant- you can’t tell the difference. This type of education really gets me and comes from a lack of true education, so it’s really important to understand the nuances out there these days as CBD has become such a trend. I’m big on anti-trends, and more pro-equity for all.
Good cannabis education equals better policy as we get closer to freeing the plant, I want all of us to benefit from it’s healing, not a single few.
We love your pre-rolls and are so excited to carry them at Sounds Out East, please tell us about them! *pre-rolls and cbd not available on our website, please shop directly from Laura*
They are officially our best-seller here at SA since April 2020, I feel like it makes a lot of sense! Darrell, our amazing employee (and happens to be my BFFs husband! We keep it family-feels across the board here), hand-rolls them every week, so there’s no machine that makes them. It’s a process. I literally dreamed up the herbal mix back in 2018 after our first growing season on our hemp farm. So I wrote it down one day and we did some test runs after sourcing the organic herbs, seeing the best way to mix each herb with our hemp flower- it was an instant hit. We launched them at our first NYC pop-up over Christmas with the magical humans Marta + Charlotte of Nice Paper-now-cult fav skincare brand, Dieux.
Little known fact is that our prerolls contain the highest CBD flower amount that I’ve seen on the market, 50 milligrams of our flower, so they’re strong and you don’t need to smoke a whole one in one use, which is nice.
I think they’re the perfect CBD product, with the conscious smoking of CBD flower being the most bioavailable (read: fastest and strongest) way to ingest CBD, which not a lot of people know. The organic herbal blend of Passionflower, Mugwort, Mullein, Peppermint, Chamomile and Rose help our CBD flower work even more from a calming place and Mullein actually was traditionally used to help our lungs clear from tobacco use. People have been telling us for years how much they’ve helped them, from anxiety to simply quitting smoking cigarettes. That’s been a really really special feeling.
Tell us about something you have been listening to, watching, or reading that brings you joy and inspiration?
I’m not a big fan of signing up for random coursework that promises ‘x,y,x’ to help you along in your business (I think it’s peddled to us a lot from people who don’t have a lot of concrete biz experience- eick! honesty!), but there’s one resource that I think is insanely helpful and it’s Michelle Pellizzon’s magical creation and resource, Holisticism. If you feel pulled to the term ‘intuitive entrepreneur/human’ or someone who feels like your business/project/passion isn’t cut-and-paste, I swear her teachings won’t make you feel like you’re going to lose your mind with a never-ending back and forth of creative brain and total burnout from the way our minds work when we’re building something with heart and zero traditional guidance.
How do you stay balanced, inspired, and nourished?
Beyond the normals (eat intuitively! No diets! Move the way your body wants you to! Hydrate! Which I’m a big believer in etc), I try to be radically honest with myself these days. I’m now in my 30s, and while I still have zero clue what I’m doing (read: I regret to inform you, we’re forever lost if we’re forevering evolving because we’re forever becoming a more honest version of ourselves), I know how *I’m feeling*- and that’s an art you learn. Toxic positivity is a thing of the past and I think feeling our feelings and remembering often we’re not here on this spinning planet to work and worry our lives away, pulls a lot of stress away from our brains who want so badly to categorize our own successes.
Perspective is key and focusing too much on what’s going to happen next, steals all joy. I think in a way, starting Soul Addict was a greater platform to help other people learn from my own toxic patterns of, at times, numbing out and running away from my own feelings. CBD and cannabis is the ultimate ‘stay right here, right now’ plant to help us feel our feelings, a little easier.