Women Leaders In Cannabis: “Authenticity is key” With Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas of Hello Again

Len Giancola
Mar 10, 2020 · 11 min read

First and foremost, we believe that authenticity is key. Neither of us was initially interested in breaking into the cannabis industry, but we saw that cannabis was uniquely suited to address a problem that millions of women were experiencing. From the very beginning, we were dedicated to creating an effective product in order to help women feel and be their best. We also seek to challenge the existing negative connotations around menopause and celebrate it for what it can be: a powerful, vibrant, rewarding and enjoyable time of life. Our intent shines through every aspect of our packaging and marketing because we truly believe in this product and in the potential for menopausal women.

had the pleasure to interview Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas of Hello Again.

Carrie earned a BA in History and a MEd in Education at UCLA. There, she met her husband, John, and they married after graduation. Carrie taught in private and public elementary schools and has instructed students with learning differences at a private college. She also wrote and published teaching guides. Once her children were born, Carrie became an active mom, volunteer, board member, and artist. Carrie served as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line to provide one-on-one crisis support through texts. Carrie and John live in Los Angeles. Her son Michael is a senior at UCLA, and her daughter, Abby, is a sophomore at Duke. Carrie thought their departure to college would result in actively pursuing her art, but she has taken a turn into the world of wellness, women, and cannabis.

Patty Pappas was born in Argentina, lived in Washington DC and completed most of her schooling in Los Angeles. Patty returned to the east coast to attend the American University in Washington DC. There, she earned her BA in Communications before returning to Los Angeles to work as a Collegiate Fund Raiser. On the beach in LA, she met her husband, George, and they married in 1995. Patty and George had three girls in three years, which required Patty to pivot from her career outside the home to focus on raising her family while helping George grow his entrepreneurial businesses. Patty was an active volunteer in her girls’ lives as well as in her community. Her youngest daughter, Georgia, was the last to leave for college and is now a sophomore at SMU in Dallas. Christina is a junior at the University of Colorado, Boulder and Emily are a senior at the University of Wisconsin. Patty is enjoying applying her well-honed managerial skills to Hello Again.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?

We are longtime friends and have five kids in college between the two of us. Our youngest two left for school at just about the same time cannabis became legal in California. Neither of us was pot smokers when we were young but we were curious about its health benefits and went to a dispensary to learn more about products that could be helpful to us. We went through each product and very quickly discovered that while almost every product addressed symptoms we were experiencing, yet there was nothing that was specifically developed or marketed toward women in our demographic. When we were educating ourselves about the medical benefits of cannabis, we learned that for thousands of years, cannabis has helped ease symptoms like mental fog, trouble sleeping, low mood and energy, temperature volatility and sleep issues. These collective symptoms are synonymous with menopause but the cannabis industry had not jumped at the opportunity to cater to this specific audience. We decided to take matters into our own hands and develop a product for our own demographic to help women feel like themselves again.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Very early in our development stage, we thought our product would be a lozenge and were doing some market research by trying different products on the market. We misunderstood the dosing information given to us by a budtender about a particular edible and accidentally took the maximum legal amount of THC instead of a CBD edible with .3% THC. We got very high and it was not a good day to be very high. Meetings were canceled, husbands were texted, Ubers were called, and college kids home for a break were alarmed. The evening’s social events were sheepishly attended, but not properly experienced. Our accidental high illustrates common problem consumers have with cannabis labeling and their concerns with accurate dosing. Our experience also illustrates the fear many women have about turning to cannabis for symptom relief. It’s not surprising that our final product utilizes a delivery system that provides a more predictable outcome.

Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?

When we told our family and friends about our new venture, the collective responses we heard followed the same pattern: “Wait, what?…No way…YOU are in the pot business?” and then, “…a vaginal WHAT !?”. We essentially managed to take the cool factor out of your mom being in the cannabis business. Having said that our spouses and all five of our children, and their friends, have been very supportive and enthusiastic about this. It has been really fun to talk to them about our challenges and successes in creating and developing this product.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There are two people that we could not have done this without. Carrie and I were stay-at-home moms who had an idea for an innovative product but did not yet have industry expertise. We found our way to Saman Razani and Jeff Miller from Glass House Farms and Lost Horse Supply Co. They were seasoned manufacturers in the cannabis industry and played an instrumental role in getting us resources to help us develop the product. We started this business together over a year ago and during that time, we sent our youngest children off to college, as Saman and Jeff each had their firstborn daughter and son. We now give each other advice on things the others knew nothing about: parenthood and cannabis!

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We have plans to expand the Hello Again female wellness line. Collectively, we have four daughters and have conceptualized products for women 21 and over that currently do not exist in today’s cannabis space. We also plan on offering more educational resources about menopause. In our experience, most women don’t realize their symptoms are related to the hormone changes of menopause, nor do they understand how long perimenopause (the running head start toward menopause) can last. Women are used to turning to their physicians for guidance, but studies show that most medical school programs spend very little time discussing menopause. Hello Again will be hosting Menoposiums to further educate women about menopause and the benefits of incorporating cannabis in their treatment plans. For centuries, women have learned about their bodies from each other and have experimented with including cannabis in healthcare. It’s time to say Hello Again to that!

According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?

We think this is a great time to be a female cannabis entrepreneur. The market is full of products that skew very young and male and dispensaries are looking for niche products to capture new demographics. We have found the cannabis space to be full of men and women who are generous in sharing resources and advice. This is encouraging as the success of a variety of cannabis brands means the healthy growth of our industry, which benefits everyone.

To that end, we encourage women with product concepts to stop worrying about what they don’t know and instead concentrate on learning everything possible about the industry. Talk to everyone who will meet with you. Read everything you can. Go down blind alleys and ask questions. You will be surprised by how many industry experts are willing to meet and share.

In order for the cannabis industry to fully develop and embrace female markets, female cannabis professionals will need to represent a bigger part of the industry’s landscape. For Hello Again, we needed to clearly get our product messaging across to distributors and budtenders. Currently, we have to rely on predominately young male representation to explain and sell our product to clients and retailers. This puts extra responsibility on the two of us to be present in the sales of our product to dispensaries and to educate budtenders on our target demographic’s needs. We are also using social media to educate our potential customers about our product so that they know what to look for before ever stepping into a dispensary. We happily take on these additional responsibilities but look forward to a day when our product can be better understood at all steps in the supply chain.

You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.

First and foremost, we believe that authenticity is key. Neither of us was initially interested in breaking into the cannabis industry, but we saw that cannabis was uniquely suited to address a problem that millions of women were experiencing. From the very beginning, we were dedicated to creating an effective product in order to help women feel and be their best. We also seek to challenge the existing negative connotations around menopause and celebrate it for what it can be: a powerful, vibrant, rewarding and enjoyable time of life. Our intent shines through every aspect of our packaging and marketing because we truly believe in this product and in the potential for menopausal women.

As the product developer, you are the expert of your own product. From concept to distribution, you have to surround yourself with experts in cannabis, product formulation, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. Talk to a variety of potential distributors early. Their feedback about the wholesale pricing of your product can help prioritize expenditures. Along the way, you will hear a lot of advice about what your product should be, how it should look, who it should target and where it should be sold. Listen to the advice, as most of it is helpful, but always follow your own gut before making a final decision.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to work with anyone you don’t trust. As business partners, we have been completely in sync about who we trust at every step of our business operations. We’ve found that one of the benefits of our age is confidence in judgment.

Don’t be shy to precede conversations with Non-Disclosure Agreements. Having said that, first to market doesn’t mean best to market. Take your time to do the work your product requires.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?

This is an exciting time to be a cannabis entrepreneur. The reemergence of a highly demanded legal cannabis industry offers the opportunity to rebrand how cannabis is perceived. Products like Hello Again prove that cannabis has a wide application beyond the previous stigma of solely providing a recreational high. Hello Again also demonstrates that health and wellness can be addressed with natural and holistic ingredients as opposed to mainstream pharmaceuticals. It brings us joy to know we are advancing cannabis as a viable option for individuals looking for natural medical alternatives

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

Right now, the regulation and taxation of the industry is too unpredictable and burdensome for small businesses. It’s resulting in higher production costs and higher product pricing which is diverting demand back to the unregulated market and pricing out more socially conscious legal ventures. Passing the SAFE Banking Act would also tremendously support the industry’s financial system. Education and research are already playing a big role in legitimizing the benefits and vast potential of the cannabis plant but the industry ultimately needs regulatory support at the federal level to solidify the cannabis business.

What are your thoughts about federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?

As founders for Hello Again, we are most excited about the medical potential for legalized cannabis. We believe that targeted FDA-approved research will reveal a multitude of therapeutic uses for cannabis and its many cannabinoids.

We also want to point out to our lawmakers that cannabis can generate jobs across the nation. In recent years, several American industries have been outsourced to foreign markets, and the effect across American communities has been devastating. Nationally legalizing the cannabis industry can create an open and innovative space that can provide millions of new jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and sales. One of our biggest frustrations at Hello Again was that our largest manufacturing investment was not American made. Our only choices were made in China and Italy. We would love to see cannabis provide employment to American workers at all phases of growth, production, and distribution.

Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?

While cannabis and tobacco share similar social and regulatory constraints, we don’t think it is fair to conflate the two products. Cigarette use, including those associated with second-hand smoke, accounts for 1 in 5 deaths in the United States and is directly linked to cancer and respiratory diseases.. Cannabis, on the other hand, has proven medical benefits and federal legalization would enable research for its broad applications in health and wellness. Cannabis is still highly regulated because lawmakers and voters often fear the unknown. We want to show everyday consumers that cannabis can bring relief to chronic health problems when used appropriately.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Better Ever than Never” is our mantra. We are in our early 50’s and putting ourselves forward in a way we never have. This phase of life is often represented as a time to slow down, reflect and rest on our laurels. We decided to reclaim this period and make it the most active and rewarding time of our lives. We have the energy and wisdom to be productive in whatever way we see fit.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

We want to be at the forefront of advocating for women’s wellness. In our research, for this product, we learned that until very recently, clinical trials and studies for medical devices, therapies, protocols, and medications were all conducted on men. The NIH only mandated the inclusion of women in clinical studies in 1993, which makes this policy close to the ages of our own children! We want to provide women with resources and alternative treatments that help them feel like their best selves.

Our product is aimed at helping women feel like themselves again. Menopause can often rob women of their sense of self, which is why naming the product prompted a conversation between the two of us about when we first became “ourselves”. We each identified being 8 or 9 years old when we first recognized the essence of who we were in terms of our values, personalities, and sense of independence. We want to bring our clients back to the time and place when they believed they could do and be anything. Back to when we raised our hands when we knew the answers and spoke up without hesitation for what we believed in. We want women to say Hello Again to that.

Authority Magazine

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Pop Culture, Business, Tech, Wellness, & Social Impact

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Len Giancola

Written by

Founding Partner of MJ.com

Authority Magazine

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.