¡Hola! Today I’m excited to kick off the re-launch of Comadres Corner – a monthly series of interviews with inspiring entrepreneurs, artists, and creatives. I’ve met each one of these interviewees personally and trust me when I say that they all have such unique and interesting stories. ¡Espero que les gusten! Once you read their online interviews, join me in going out to support them in the real world!
XO – Lola
Today I’m sharing an interview with Jessica Gonzalez, founder of Happy Organics and millennial beekeeper, whose product line includes CBD-infused raw sage honey, chocolates (yummy!) and massage oils and balms for the mind and body. I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica at the 2019 We All Grow Latina conference in Long Beach where she was one of the select group of creative entrepreneurs invited to showcase her products at the Latina Makers Market. I love that she has created a space for herself in the hemp-derived CBD industry and that she keeps her father’s memory (and bees) alive through the cultivation of raw honey.
Please walk us through a typical day in your shoes as founder of Happy Organics.
Typically I wake up and check on the bees to make sure everything is ok with them. For example, we’ve recently had a hard time controlling the ants so I’ve been trying to find different ways to stop them from invading the hives. The challenge with using natural methods is that you have to be consistent to see results.
The latter part of my day usually consists of filling orders, answering emails, working on future products, researching new information on bees, or working on the website. Every day is different and that’s what I love about having my own business.
What was the initial inspiration for you to start Happy Organics?
A few years ago I was working as the CTO and co-founder of a tech company in agriculture based out of Salinas. I decided to move back home and work remotely so I could be closer to my family. My mom passed away shortly after I moved back and a few months later I decided to leave the company. After this I didn’t work for a few months and decided I would give myself the time and space to find my own path. I worked selling fruit (my family has a wholesale produce business), I sold the honey my dad harvested from the few hives he had on the property, and I basically just let myself try anything and everything that sounded interesting. During this time I started helping my dad take care of the bees and he taught me everything he knew about beekeeping.
The following year my dad became sick with cancer. We did a lot of research into alternative methods and cannabis for pain relief. My dad had a big sweet tooth and he loved honey so I would mix the cannabis oil in the honey to give it a better taste. I then started selling the honey to friends and family and decided to run with it. It was the perfect way for me to generate an income because my dad’s care required so much of my siblings’ shared time that it wouldn’t have been possible to have a regular 9-5 job. My passion for the bees comes from being a third-generation beekeeper and because it was the way my dad and I were able to bond.
What would you say to people who think CBD products are laced with marijuana (get you high)?
It’s a common mistake! The CBD oil used in our products is derived from hemp. Hemp is different than marijuana and has very low levels of THC. Our CBD honey is non-psychoactive so you can be at ease. Two main benefits that may come from CBD include pain relief and help with anxiety. It is also important to ask a company for test results to make sure what you’re consuming is free of bad chemicals, pesticides, or heavy metals.
Share a recent accomplishment or success that makes you proud.
When I first started selling products I did it because it helped me stay positive and it gave me something to look forward to. I never set out with the intention of starting a business. Happy Organics slowly came to be what it is now because everything seemed to line up perfectly into place.
We started selling our Sana Salve on Amazon recently and we’re already getting 5 star reviews. I still can’t believe how far the company has come and I’m forever grateful for everyone who has supported the vision.
Please share three goals or projects you would like to accomplish in 2020.
In 2020 we will be focusing a lot of our energy on the growth of Jardín Eterno, our latest project. It’s a garden that helps both the bees and the local agriculture. We are implementing something called restorative agriculture where we are basically taking depleted agricultural land and planting things that will help restore it. We are hoping to use mostly native plants and automate as much as possible to reduce waste. This will give our apiary a variety of plants to forage from and in turn, our organic produce will be pollinated by our happy bees. We will also be introducing more events and meet-up opportunities. They will range from social gatherings to educational tours of the apiary.
Describe a challenge you’re currently facing as a business owner.
Right now I’m at a point where I need to start hiring more people and delegating some of the work I’m currently doing so it has been a challenge letting go of some things and trusting people to do quality work.
If you could travel anywhere next summer, where would it be?
I would actually love to take a road trip to the Grand Canyon and make pit stops at other parks along the way. Summer is usually very busy with the bees so I tend to take time off in the winter.
How do you practice self-care?
I make sure to get enough sleep every night – that’s very important for me. Cannabis also plays a big role in my self-care. I use it sometimes when I exercise or feel like my body needs help relaxing.
What are three must-haves you always pack when traveling?
I always take sunscreen, one of the moisturizers I make because my skin is always so dry and sensitive, and CBD oil for my anxiety.
What’s something you’re currently obsessed with?
Currently I’ve been obsessed with this book about seeds, The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History.
What’s one of your favorite Mexican dishes?
I currently love enchiladas with mole!
Photos by Melanie Smelcer
Lola Wiarco Dweck
Lola is a Mexican-American recipe developer, writer, and cooking instructor who loves sharing her culture with the world. Growing up in California and spending summers in Mexico, Lola celebrates her family’s Mexican recipes and vibrant culture through Lola’s Cocina.