Name: Brittany Carbone
Instagram: @btric / @tonic_cbd
Profession: Founder of Tonic
Neighborhood you currently call home: Ithaca, NY
Originally from: Wantagh, NY
Fun Facts - Speed Round :)
Yoga or Cardio - yoga
Workout Buddy or Solo - solo
Heels or sneakers - sneakers
Beach or pool - beach
Tap Water or Bottled - bottled
Night out Dancing or a Long Dinner - long dinner
Ski Vacation or Beach Vacation - beach
An all expense paid trip to SF, LA, Portland, or NYC - portland
CBD, THC, or both - both
Edible or Flower - flower
Question: Tell us about founding Tonic - what was your aha moment and what is your mission?
Answer: TONIC was born out of necessity - I was seeking something to help manage my depression and anxiety while I was working as a personal trainer at Equinox gym on Long Island. Cannabis had always been what I turned to for those issues, but I needed something that would allow me to stay functional throughout the workday. A friend had told me about CBD in late 2016 and honestly I was skeptical. I didn’t really understand why I would need to be taking *more* of a cannabis compound if I was already consuming cannabis (enthusiastically) every day. I then came to understand that the kind of cannabis I was accustomed to consuming had barely any CBD content - all THC. Living in NY, I didn’t have the luxury of going to a dispensary and asking for specific ratios - you get what your dealer has and that’s that. So, now that I understood that CBD actually wasn’t something I was getting from my usual consumption, I decided to give it a shot. Again, this was late 2016, so it was barely anywhere let alone to the point of saturation that we are seeing today. I had to go to a seedy headshop and pay $99 for a 350mg glycerin tincture. This did not feel like I was purchasing a wellness product. The whole experience was shady and uncomfortable and didn’t make me feel good about what I was about to take. I started to incorporate the CBD into my routine and it wasn’t until one of my clients said to me during a session “what are you on why are you so happy today?” and I was like oh yeah I am really happy today … and my energy is solid… I feel good… what am I on? And then I realized the only difference was CBD.
Previously, I had used adaptogens like ashwagandha in my routine pretty consistently and it was always something I felt really made a difference in my energy, stress levels and mental clarity, but it never got me all the way where I needed to be when it came to anxiety and depression. Once I took notice and started paying attention, I was noticing that CBD was helping with not only my anxiety and depression, but my mood, sleep and workout recovery. I was blown away and needed to learn more about this molecule that I was neglecting throughout the 10 years I was consuming cannabis. That is when I really started to understand the ECS and how it worked and how CBD acted within that system and various systems throughout the body.
That was my aha moment.
I realized that CBD was an adaptogen just like ashwagandha - they both work towards the ultimate goal of bringing the body to homeostasis; defending against the effects of chronic stress to maintain a stable internal environment despite a changing external environment. Both CBD and ashwagandha work to decrease stress and anxiety, balance mood, decrease inflammation, support immune function, and restore balance but they take different pathways to get there. So, I figured that by combining them they could essentially cover more ground while working towards that common goal and create an adaptogenic powerhouse … that is exactly what happened. The results were life changing.
I decided to start sharing this formula with my clients and I was seeing the results replicated with them. I saw day after day how much stress and imbalance can impede achieving the health goals my clients set out for themselves; I knew that this was a huge problem that needed to be solved and that this plant medicine might just be a huge part of the solution.
From there, I dove deep into the R&D and created our core product line, incorporating things like Black Seed Oil to improve the immune-boosting, inflammation-fighting and antibacterial effects of CBD. It was hard to find reliable sources for raw material at that time - it was such an unregulated and chaotic industry - so we decided to start our own farm. We planted our first 5 acres of hemp at our family farm in Upstate NY in 2018, expanded to 10 acres in 2019 and now in 2020 we just opened Bardo Artisanal Extracts, and completed our vertical integration!
Question: WTF does wellness mean to you? And what role, if any does cannabis play in “wellness”?
Answer: Wellness is connecting to your true self - whoever that may be. It is not about always eating healthy and working out like crazy … although movement and nourishment should NOT be overlooked because that is what allows you to actually connect and ground your energy. Whatever allows you to let go of your ego, even momentarily, should be a major tenet of your wellness routine. Cannabis is so tremendously important in that process for me. It is not only an act of wellness for my mental health and helping me get to a level baseline, it is a connection to nature and a connection to something larger than myself. I get that during meditation or when I am at the park with my dog, Cheech, or just spending a lazy Sunday with my husband (and Cheech). Wellness is about listening to yourself, knowing what *you* need, and setting the necessary boundaries to allow those needs to be satisfied.
Question: Aside from being a female founder, what is your super power? (Don’t be shy.)
Answer: My connection to my greater purpose. I commit myself to my mantra of “I can and I will” that doesn’t mean I always believe it, but it means that I refuse to give up and I take the risks necessary to achieve greatness. That isn’t necessarily greatness in the sense of monetary success, but greatness in the sense of fulfilling what I believe to be my true purpose in this iteration of my soul’s journey - to help people heal.
Question: If the universe could wave a magic wand and grant you something that would help your business, what would it be? And how does it help! We are super into manifesting :)
Answer: Do I have to choose just one? LOL … $500,000.00 and FDA clarity! Honestly we need capital to be able to expand our team, launch new product and be able to capture and execute a strong enough marketing strategy to stand out in an increasingly competitive market.
Question: Now drop some knowledge - if you could give other women advice on starting a business, what would it be? Can be cannabis related or industry agnostic.
Answer: Arm yourself with knowledge and education - the best way to defend against condescension or a lack of respect you feel you may face in [any] male dominated industry is by knowing your sh*t. It creates real confidence that is very difficult to break. It also will help your business succeed because you are knowledgeable and prepared to make good decisions that will put you on the right path. The other thing you need is thick skin - there are going to be a lot of day (probably most days) where you feel like you don’t know what you are doing and that you are failing. You are going to feel a lot of pressure and want to give up. That confidence that is built by knowing your shit and putting in the work will do you very well in these moments too.
*THE ISOLATION EDIT*
We are getting through this time as best as we can while trying to also learn what we are supposed to learn from it. Like most other businesses, we have had a bunch of events canceled or postponed; we are concerned about the long terms effects on the market and consumer spending; but most importantly we are really trying to tap into the collective consciousness of our community, understand and empathize with everybody’s unique situation, and provide whatever we can to bring more peace, more levity and remind them that they are not alone.
While my day-to-day has only changed slightly, I understand that is not the case for most. We have the unique situation of having our own facility that houses our extraction, production and fulfillment and only contains 5 employees, not counting my husband and I… the rest of our team already works remotely! I did make the decision to send those 5 employees home on paid leave this week, so it has just been Erik and I here fulfilling orders on top of our usual duties. While a big part of me is scared for what this all means for business long term, I am trying my best not to operate out of fear, but rather out of love.
Leading with the heart rather than the head in situations like this is really all you can do because uncertainty is all there is. In the absence of logic, there is only love. I mean think of the symbolism of it all - the biggest risk for most people is the risk that they can pose to others. That’s life, man!!! Everything we do affects the people around us, now there is just a tangible way to measure that effect. The stats that are coming out about the reduction in China’s pollution levels during the quarantine; the water and air in Venice, Italy being cleared up from lack of boat traffic - there are even dolphins and fish swimming freely in them again! THAT is the effect that human action has. The lead up to the condition we are in environmentally and as a society was gradual, and then we just got so used to it, so we weren’t really forced to take extreme action to rectify any of it and it was easy to push it aside as “not my problem” but now we are being forced to confront the impact we have on each other.
So, yeah as a business owner it’s a crazy time. But as a business owner it is always a crazy time. I am trying my best to keep my perspective clear throughout all of this and just take it one day at a time and use it as an opportunity to shift my own energy in a positive way so that love and unity spread quicker than a virus.