WTF is Wellness is a brand new series that takes us alongside our Founder, Beryl Solomon, as she talks all things modern wellness with some of the most exciting and influential minds in the space. From CBD and cannabis to mind, body and lifestyle - let’s navigate this crazy world we live in one conversation at a time.
Meet partners and collaborators Selena and Sajjad. Selena- fashion model, mother, clinical nutritionist and holds a certification in cannabinoid science and Sajjad- visual artist, producer, entrepreneur, are wildly different yet totally in-sync.
We talk the “green rush”, a new series of CBD workshops called, Hand, and plans for a ‘gallery meets CBD pop up concept that’s rooted in community and conversation. The duo has big plans for the world of CBD with their emerging beauty and wellness brand LENASE – but not until they hear from you first.
Beryl: What does "wellness" mean to you guys?
Sajjad: I think I should go first, because your answer is going to be so good. (Laughing to Selena). For me, it’s about just being aware. Aware of your sleep patterns, being aware of the food that you’re putting in your body, are you living harmonious with nature, garbage, recycling, composting- all of these things, holistically.
Selena: Job well done!
Sajjad: I like rules of thumb that are easy to apply. Just being aware and that will change the way you move through your life.
Selena: Wellness is the awareness of bio-individuality. And understanding what works for your constitution, what works for you.
Beryl: And also, what works for you at one moment in your life, isn’t necessarily going to work for you at other moments in your life.
Selena: Completely. I was vegan/vegetarian for 15 years. But it also made me awfully ill…my constitution was very weak. I needed animal protein. Awareness allowed me to reassess who I am, what do I need today, to help build the muscle strength.
Sajjad: It’s not one thing - it is about checks and balances. Selena, she’s definitely much more knowledgeable in this space, so I’m learning from her constantly. And she also keeps me in check. But then there needs to be...
Selena: It’s ok - Wellness can includes mac n cheese!
Sajjad: You have to be able to enjoy certain things. There’s a balance.
Beryl: Wellness can sound very uppity, but it exists uniformly. Everyone can have a connection to their own wellness. What it means exists in everyone and is unique to everyone.
Sajjad: I was raised in New York, specifically Queens. Where I lived was basically landlocked because the subway didn’t come in. So that meant a lot of culture didn’t make its way to us. When I moved to Brooklyn, all of a sudden I was exposed to more culture and influence. I make it a point to find a way to bring that back home to my community in Queens. Even if it’s small things - like bringing my long-time friends out here and saying “let’s go to this Vegan restaurant, check it out.” And before you know it, they’re calling me saying “hey, I’m at that restaurant.” At first, I joke to myself thinking, “how are you going there without me??” But I really know it is a good thing. When you find things that are effective in your life, you should pass them on.
Selena: Life is about community and sharing what we know. It’s your Grandmother’s wisdom - if you know better, do better.
Beryl: Ah - sounds so simple, right? So, let’s talk about CBD. How is CBD a part of Wellness?
Sajjad: I do what feels like 3-4 jobs and that’s created a pattern of bad sleep habits. So taking CBD right before I go to sleep has really been beneficial just to normalize my sleep pattern. You’re sharper, you feel better, you’re energized. And when you wake up, you don’t feel groggy. It’s a really good solution.
Selena: I get asked often why cannabis or CBD, when my background is a clinical nutritionist. 7 years ago, I learned of CBD. It was a potential treatment for a pathology paper I was researching on PMS. It continued to surface in my research as a possible treatment… for pain management, hormonal balance, inflammatory response. And I began experimenting with it in my daily routines. And quickly realized that I needed to to educate myself about this plant and the medical benefits.
Beryl: Was anybody else talking about it - 7 years ago?
Selena: No, absolutely not! It was difficult, challenging to overcome the barriers of entry. People were like “I don’t want to feel high...I don’t believe you...”
Beryl: Now, fast-forward 7-years…
Selena: I think it’s an exciting, emerging field. It’s a carriage - connecting people to their body, their inner voice. We physically don’t know how it works, but we also don’t understand how Aspirin works. We just know that it works and you feel the results.
Beryl: Again, it comes back to community. You want to share things that make a positive impact on your life - why shouldn’t other people benefit???
And now, CBD is a whole business - there are so many brands out there!
Sajjad: Now that you have venture capitalists coming into this space, and all this big money – “the green rush” - I just hope that the integrity of the plant stays intact.
And - we have to talk about the fact that people that look like me have been incarcerated for distributing the plant. There needs to be some way to seal records or programs to lower barriers of entry into the industry. Because they created this underground industry. The marketing and branding behind it was created by the same people who are incarcerated now. They should be able to have some sort of return on the culture they created.
Beryl: How do you make sure, no matter what you look like, that you still are able to have a voice in those conversations that’s appropriate?
Sajjad: It’s about removing all these different borders. And the free flowing of information and ideas. Often it feels uncomfortable to talk about certain topics and enter that space, but we are willing to, because we’re trying to create something that will really heal people.
Beryl: So tell me a little bit about the project.
Selena: It’s looks like a gallery and sells things like a store.
Sajjad: The project is called HAND. And it’s a series of workshops and pop-up shops that we do locally in the community to engage, have conversations about CBD. We basically combined both of our talents to come up with this project.
Selena: We are currently in research and development space for the next two months and really concentrating on the user, on the consumer... Asking the community, “What do you need from us? What do you want? What are your concerns?”
Beryl: That’s why Poplar didn’t start with our own products. Because I don’t just want to create things just for the sake of creating things. The whole point is to create things that people need and fill a void.
Sajjad: Yes! When we do our pop-ups, this is our display.
Selena: We have this tagline in a sense, “THIS WILL NOT GET YOU HIGH”.
Beryl: So do you have favorites from your line?
Selena: The bath bomb. There are receptors on your skin that cannabinoids stimulates. I wanted the formulation to be effective and calm and take only natural ingredients. There’s only 4-5 ingredients.
Beryl: What do you think is the next phase of CBD? Where do you think the next 7 years will take us?
Selena: I think precision medicine is at the horizon, creating formulations and blends that target specific elements, rather than one-size-fits-all approach. As we develop the skill set and knowledge to understand cannabinoids as therapeutic agents and bio-individuality, we can now select the cannabinoid specific to our ailment.
Sajjad: Also, it’s good to see men finally tapping into taking care of themselves. Because for so long, the culture in this society has been, ‘you have to be strong, push through it.’ And that’s not sustainable. We’re not in that time anymore, so now let’s begin to focus on men taking care of themselves.