HED: How a First-Generation Latina Grew Her Name in the Cannabis Industry

Marijuana and CBD use may be legal and less taboo in most places these days, but that doesn’t make the cannabis business less challenging. In fact, if you’re a BIPOC or female business owner, the obstacles are likely harder. There are complicated federal regulations, advertising restrictions, banking and payment processing issues, and a tight grip on the financial resources needed to establish a viable and respected company. But at the heart of every hurdle is someone willing to push boundaries and move the needle for not just themselves, but others around looking to thrive in a similar fashion. In this case, that person is hustle + flo™ founder Jamie Galvis, a Venezuelan-born, New York-based female business owner who understands the importance of physical, mental, and spiritual wellness, and is focused on bringing the best CBD has to offer to local communities.

Galvis comes from a pharmaceutical sales background, but always preferred more holistic and natural methods of healing over traditional western medicine. Thus, it’s not hard to understand her interest in our favorite green plant and its stimulating cousins. But her story is so much more than that—it’s a raw, personal documentary of her battle with mental health and the steps she took to seek treatment, the non-traditional way. And now, with a plethora of CBD-based products on the market—pre-rolls, sprays, softgel caps—she’s looking to help others do the same.

To spread the word, Budega NYC sat down with Galvis to understand the ins and outs of running a minority-owned CBD business, the plant’s wellness impact, and the correlation between marijuana and mental health. So breathe in, breathe out, and flow along on her journey.

Beginning Her Relationship with Marijuana

It started in my teenage years, [in] high school. It was through friends. That’s how I discovered [marijuana] and I would partake. But, I can count the number of times on one hand that I [smoked] it because I had a very strict father…and I was very terrified of him. As I went to college… Everyone smoked. All of my friends smoked, and I became more of a consumer of cannabis, but only recreationally. I didn’t really know until just the past few years that there are benefits…to the plant. And throughout college, it was just like, Hey, everyone, come over. I’m going to cook bistec and chicken, and we’re going to eat brownies afterwards and we’re gonna laugh and we’re gonna watch funny movies.

When I entered into my adult life, it was seldom for me, [but] there [are] a few ways that that I consume cannabis: either recreationally, the way I’ve done pretty much all my life—like if I just want to have like a night with friends and we’re going to order food, or, one of my favorite ways to [consume the plant]…is to meditate. It’s the one way that I can really go deep into meditation. It opens up a different portal—[that’s] the best way I can describe it. If I’m meditating and maybe journaling…I’m just there. And it’s so difficult for me to just be fully present with anything because of everything. But I’m sensitive to [marijuana], so my limits are more like micro-dosing. We’re talking about 2.5 to five milligrams. However, I think that all comes just through knowing oneself and really experimenting with different doses and knowing how it serves you in different circumstances.

Understanding Her CBD Journey

So I didn’t know about CBD until 2018. Okay. So it’s interesting because it has been legal in California for a number of years. Right. And, um, obviously it’s been around…I mean, an ancient Chinese medicine remedy or it has been around for so long and the way that it’s been used, but I didn’t know about it until really 2018. The way that came about was when I had a panic attack in 2015. There was a life event that happened—and I had never suffered from depression. I’m Capricorn, so I’m type A; I’m like a go getter; I’m motivated. [Then for] the first No time format has been specified of my life, I felt depressed. Not sad and having a bad day, but basically depressed [where] I couldn’t get out of bed for about six months. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t do anything. It was a tough year. When that happened again, my world just changed, and I’m like, Oh my God, this is terrible.

I was just in such anguish and despair for so long, and knowing who I am as an individual, several months in, I’m like, I can’t keep doing this. I have to change. This is not like it’s not enjoyable. So, I entered into a personal evolutionary journey…my sleeping pattern for the first time became really terrible. I went to the doctor, they gave me prescription pills, and four days into the sleeping meds I had suicidal thoughts. I was like, Oh no, this cannot happen. So I flushed the pills down… and I kept looking for different things. This is a journey, right? Like nothing really happened overnight. So, from 2015 to 2018, I kept looking for different ways to help me.

Eventually, I ran into a friend of mine who said, “Oh my gosh, I just took CBD, take some.” It will help you sleep. I took it and I was like, Oh, this is incredible. I actually slept, I woke up refreshed, and I wasn’t groggy. So, I started researching and learning more about the plant and its history. I decided to enter the industry at that point.

The Challenges of Running a THC Business in a (Almost) Legal Age

While CBD is legal, and THC is on its way to becoming federally legal…the narrative we’ve been told from the beginning of time is still there. It’s a barrier that we constantly need to keep working to chip away at more and more little by little. From an industry perspective, [platforms like] Facebook, Instagram, and Google don’t advertise our products. When it comes to payment processing [and] banking, there are so many hurdles there. Then you have people in the industry—large industrial companies—that don’t produce quality products. In turn, what that does to someone who tries CBD or if they try cannabis…and don’t know anything about the product, dosage, or what it does…will buy a spray that is $20 for example, but the dosage only displays one milligram. [They’re] going to be like, I’m never taking this again because it did nothing for me because it’s one milligram. It is nothing.

Large companies are there just to make a quick buck without really caring about the plant or the consumer.

Life as a One-Woman Show

I am a very disciplined human being. That’s just something in my nature. That’s not to say that it’s not a challenge—it’s very challenging sometimes. The past few months have been a struggle because. It’s been hurdle after hurdle, roadblock after roadblock. When people ask me, what’s your number one challenge? I say money because if I had $1.2 million today, my entire world would change. And not for me to use this money for my personal [life], but to be able to hire marketing, PR, [and] all the things that the company needs.

I have terrifying moments, but for me, it’s how do I build Hustle and Flo to be this wellness brand?

I have to reflect and understand that this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes perseverance, it takes discipline, it takes commitment, and if the vision is still there, and if I see it and if I feel it, then I keep going. And I do.

All About Hustle and Flo

We sell incredible products. We collaborate with artists. We’re bringing the conversation for mental health. We’re doing partnerships. It’s not about sell, sell, sell the product, and push it in front of people. [It’s about] let’s bring information, let’s bring community, let’s bring collaboration.