INTERVIEW: BERYL SOLOMON
Beryl Solomon is the founder of Poplar
, an ecommerce shop specializing in all things CBD. Poplar is expertly curated with tons of products touting a number healing benefits and all with covetable, design-minded packaging. We met up with Beryl at her lovely home in Brooklyn to chat about how she got started, what's next for her growing business and cannabis as self-care.
What inspired you to get into the world of CBD?
A life-changing personal experience… I know that sounds dramatic but its true!
In 2017, on my annual well-visit with my doctor, I asked about “natural” alternatives to my SSRI (anti-depressant).
Note: At that point, I had been on a dosage of prozac since tragically loosing my younger brother in 2011. Don’t get me wrong - I am not a totally “natural" person - but ever since becoming a mom in 2013, I have moved up on the natural scale.
I had read that in legal cannabis markets, people were reporting successfully replacing standard anti-depressants with cannabis or cannabis derivatives. I was intrigued. I hadn’t “smoked pot” since college and “stoner" was the opposite of my vibe - but I was eager to try something new.
Long story short, with the help of medical advisors, I significantly decreased my anti-depressant dosage, added cannabis to my wellness routine, and improved my physical and emotional wellbeing. I eliminated the IBS, significantly decreased my quarterly crippling migraines, became a more patient mother, and a more affectionate wife.
While I was on my journey, however, I couldn't find a trusted resource that provided easy understand content and product that fit into my lifestyle. Everything was either, too stoner, too “witchy”, or too medical. So - I decided to build one. In May 2018, I left my position as CEO of an Accessories Company and ideate Poplar.
We launched commerce November 1, 2018.
Tell us a little about how you select the brands you carry at Poplar, what sort of checklist does a product need to meet for you to back them?
This is so important. A huge part of Poplar is the concept that we vet ALL the products. We do the heavy lifting so customers don't have to.
- I personally receive packages and screen/personally use/review products.
- We require 3rd party test reports for each product and confirm total cannabinoid content, that all products have less than .3% THC and that product is FREE of solvents, heavy metals, toxins, pesticides and bacteria.
- We require all of our vendors to provide additional information via our Brand Questionnaire - we send it out quarterly and add new questions and requirements to ensure we are curating the best of the best.
- Additionally, we have a group we affectionately call The Poplar 10 - a multi-disciplinary group of experts that weigh in - eastern medicine, western medicine, scientist, wellness expert, fashion executive, etc. It takes a village!
While marijuana is legal in a number of states and CBD is now a household name, what are your thoughts on the very clear inequality and barriers of entry for people of color in the otherwise booming cannabis industry and how do you address that in your own business?
I am so glad you asked this question. Cannabis, the new industry developing before our eyes, is inequitable. The data shows that The War on Drugs has disproportionally affected minority communities and people of color.
While concepting Poplar last summer, there was no question that my business model needed include a give-back component. I wanted to give a percentage of proceeds to an organization focused on bail reform. Unfortunately, that has proven more difficult that anticipated. Many non-profits can not/do not want to take “cannabis money”. Others will take my money but are only looking for monetary contributions and directed me to make a donation on their website. We want to give our money but also our time. It is critical that the Poplar Team also is able to volunteer time affecting change. If anyone is reading this and wants to chat about making a partnership work - please reach out!
As a mother and business owner, when do you find time to relax and decompress? Any self-care rituals?
I believe cannabis is a form of self-care - so I’ll start there. Lots of chatter around Sunday self care rituals - but for me (and a lot of moms I think) weekends are harder to carve out time from than the week.
With that said, my Sunday Self-Care Ritual is smoking a joint post my kids bedtime. Sometimes solo, sometimes with my husband, sometime just CBD, sometimes not. This is the perfect moment for me to reflect on the weekend behind me and the week ahead. It's a bit like my mediation.
Other self-care go to’s are exercise, manicures, and blowdrys.
I use all natural (many with CBD) products, I don't wear makeup, I am usual in flats - but I feel “done” with a blow dry. I have learned to stretch it to last 4 days - ssshhh don’t tell, I still shower!
I need to work out a minimum of 3 days a week to stay sane - 4 is stellar. I like a combo of Heated Yoga and Soul Cycle with a bit of bar, pilates, or dance cardio mixed in.
Lately my husband and I have been experimenting with a weekly digital Sabbath. Jury is still out - but so far I am into it.
What is a go-to look for you on a busy day? Has being a mother impacted your style?
I am all about basics that can be totally changed with accessories. I will wear the same black jeans and sweater to a day of meetings, a cocktail party and a Saturday with my kids. Just tweak the jewelry and/or shoe - and off you go.
I have always been pretty quick at getting dressed - but now that I am a mom I may be a Guinness World Record Holder. It’s amazing how fast I can get dressed and get out the door.
Anything new and exciting from Poplar that we can look out for this summer?
We just launched our Poplar Pot Luck Series - and people are loving it. Think new-age Tupperware party. I bring the CBD and the snacks and I partner with different hosts to invite their friends. Very grass-roots but we are committed to building a brand with a strong underlying community.
Then lots coming for Fall - updated website, some exclusive products…. We are hard at work!
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