Shopping Small This Holiday Season.
After I ran my 5K last Saturday I went home and tried to recover. Not so much from the run but from my allergy attack that still was affecting my nose. I was invited to a pop-up shop by the fabulous Shift Thifty sisters and I knew it would be fun. However, I knew I was going to wear a mask the entire time and I my jaw was killing me from having my mouth open while wearing my mask the day before. But I couldn't miss it. I knew I had to check out the pop-up shop with different Latina businesses. I got ready and really wanted to wear by first purchase from them, my fabulous red leather blazer. I put on my New York uniform, all black everything but that red made it pop! I jumped on the train and headed Uptown to Spanish Harlem.
I arrived to the townhouse and it was the same spot where Shift Thrifty had the Vintage Runway Show. This time they set up the inside with the vendors and the outside was set up like a lounge with balloons as a cool backdrop for the perfect instagram photoshoot. They wanted to create a space that was fun and also allowed social distancing. There were a few tables of Latina Women Owned Businesses and I was ready. The first person I saw was the fabulous Rosa from Mott Haven Bar. I call her The Boss since she also owns Kreate Kafe, 31 Agency and is constantly working on multiple projects. I gave her a big hug. She had a table set up with her 31 Agency products, one of her trademarks being "I don't fit in a box" products with her hashtag #IAMME . I saw the sisters Maelean & Tyan from Shifty Thrifty and I tried not to head to their table right away because I knew I would be tempted. They gave me wine (they know what they are doing) and I started to make my rounds around the space. The lovely Nathalia from Nlove Jewelry was there and last time I bought a beautiful ring from her. She was tempting me with new pieces. Then there was Blooming Soul offering delicious smelling candles. I strolled over and there was a table that looked like candy but in fact it was CBD from a brand called T's Magic Leaf.
I started to chat with some of the designers and ask them questions about their brand. Their stories were so interesting and their products are top notch. Below are a few that shared their story with me.
My first conversation was with Puerto Rican & Ecuadorian business owner Thalia from T's Magic Leaf. Both business women are named Thalia and are cousins.
1. Why did you decide to sell CBD?
We decided to sell CBD to show our family and community cannabis can be an alternative remedy to a variety of ailments, from chronic pain to skin diseases to epilepsy to PTSD and many more. We’ve seen many people in our family suffer more than they needed to and knew that CBD can provide relief. Cannabis is a natural herb that has a bad rep due to stigmas stemming from a discriminatory background. Propaganda over the years have left people uninformed and afraid of cannabis, when in fact, it is nature’s best offered medicine. We wanted to help our family and community heal by providing knowledge on how CBD and hemp can help, while presenting such products at an affordable price.
2. Who's idea was it, you or your cousin?
It was my cousin’s (Thalia Montalvo) idea. She invited me (Thalia Gamboa) over one night and said she had a business proposition. We both agreed that our purpose in life was to help people. We didn't want to just sell them on a trend either but we wanted our company to be authentic and genuine; to really educate and empower the need to take care of our first home, our body. So we took something we were fairly educated on and thought about how we can provide CBD products to more than just cannabis lovers. We started with skincare products to catch the attention of non-cannabis advocates and worked our way up to selling cbd oil, joints, and Hemp flower. Then the rest was history.
3. How did you come up with the name? I know you are cousin's and have the same first name per our conversation but anything else you want to add?
Originally, we decided upon the name, T in the Morning. This name arose from our first idea of opening a CBD café; however, due to certain regulations, we were not able to go through with this plan as the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets doesn’t allow CBD to be added to food or drinks. We didn’t allow this to deter us, as our main focus was to spread awareness to our community of how CBD/Hemp can help and show them how it can through the products itself. We felt our name needed to capture the natural essence of cannabis and hemp and portray it in a positive light, hence ‘magic leaf’. The plant is magical in the sense that it interacts with receptors in our bodies to bring about overall homeostasis, offering relief to so many people suffering from all kinds of ailments. Simplifying CBD/hemp to a ‘leaf’ was intentional to remind people that this so called ‘drug’ really is just a plant, a plant put on this Earth to help its people.
4. How long have you been doing this?
This idea was birthed last January in 2019 and took full effect afterwards. We launched our online website August 29, 2019. Since then we have gained 600 followers and attended 6 markets. The journey has been amazing connecting with so many different creative minds and business owners in NYC. We've made some great friendships and collaborations along the way.
5. How is it working with your cousin?
Working with my cousin is great; we have always been very close and to be able to support each other in this has been a blessing. We have fostered a much more transparent relationship with one another throughout this journey. We’ve learned so much about one another and ourselves, as our fears, hopes, setbacks and wins, have brought us closer together. It helps tremendously to have someone to lean on and work with, especially when adulting becomes hard to manage. Also, it makes it a lot easier to explain this business to your somewhat-conservative family, when you have someone backing you up. We are each other’s support system and motivation.
6. Is there anything else you want to share with me/the audience?
As CBD is becoming all the craze right now, I believe what really sets us apart is our mission, which has our community at the forefront. We aim to empower our BIPOC community by providing knowledge of Cannabis and hemp benefits to offer alternative relief, the way nature intended. We strive to inspire communities to live a healthy lifestyle and put self-care first at an affordable price. Our vision is to help reduce health disparities and physical/mental struggles induced by health diseases, allowing urban communities and its people to THRIVE.
7. Where do you sell your products?
On our website and we attend markets over the weekend to reach out to a broader audience.
I then spoke Dominican designer Yomair, who goes by the name Mairi Bloom from Blooming Soul.
1. Why did you decide to sell candles?
It started with being something my mom and I both LOVE. Candles and Flowers. I wanted to create some candles because the ones we kept buying were no good and fell in love with the creative process and the candles that lead me to a whole business.
2. How did you come up with the name?
The word Soul has followed me since early college when I first started a blog. When started this business I wanted it to represent growth, evolution, our souls living to their best potential, and that is what a Blooming Soul is.
3. How long have you been doing this?
The business will be 3 years old in February 2021
4. Is there anything else you want to share?
Being a business owner is non stop work. But there is fulfillment in bringing your ideas to life and i enjoy this creative process so much. I am forever grateful for all the support that allows me to continue this journey.
5. Where do you sell your products?
I sell them on my website and they are also sold in store in @SpirituallySparkled a wellness center in The Bronx and at @Kreatekafebronx a Coffee Shop in The Bronx. I am currently looking for more shops looking to carry the candles.
Needless to say I had a great time and I love their products. As you know I worked in luxury fashion for years and one of my favorite things from my previous world was discovering new designers. You get a unique product, everyone wants to know who it's from and your are supporting a new brand. I especially love that they are all Latina. The fashion market is tough when it comes to diversity, there is incredible talent out there but somehow the world can't seem to catch up or doesn't want to.
These ladies created a brand from necessity or desire to create something better. They are flourishing and I recommend you go to their pages immediately. Their products are perfect, price points are great and their packaging is beautiful. P.S. I ended up getting a "I Don't Fit In Box" sweatshirt from 31 Agency and of course Shifty Thrifty tempted me again. I purchased a vintage cropped leather jacket. I had to put the other things back but I am still dreaming about the vintage green leather Dooney & Burke handbag.