Industry Spotlight: Stephanie Hua

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Recently, we had the pleasure of chatting with Stephanie Hua about her journey from foodie and photographer to her newest endeavor, Mellows: artisanal low-dose infused marshmallows. Stephanie’s new book about infused foods, Edibles: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen, came out on November 6th.

Oov: What did you do prior to moving into the cannabis industry?
SH: I was a food writer and photographer, and prior to that I worked in advertising and marketing. Food writing brought me to culinary school. After graduating from culinary school, I found myself getting involved in the cannabis industry, and that’s when Mellows came to fruition.

Oov: What was your motivation for getting involved?
SH: As a professionally trained chef with a background in food writing and photography, I felt compelled to meld my love of culinary arts with my belief in the goodness and potential of cannabis.  When I launched Mellows in 2015, there were not many products available that spoke to me as a consumer, so I took matters into my own hands! I wanted something low-dose that I could enjoy in its entirety without fear of overdoing it. I wanted something delicious, and I wanted something beautiful and giftable. Mellows was born from my desire to create an edible experience that is pure delight from the moment you pick up a box, have your first taste, and finally the experience of feeling imparted.

Oov: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to break into the cannabis space?
SH: My advice for people who want to start a business in the cannabis space is to do your research. Read up on the regulations and compliance requirements, have a business plan, and have an understanding of the start-up capital you’ll need. Talk to people in the industry who you admire. Learn as much as you can before diving in.

Oov: As a parent, how do you talk to your children about cannabis? 
SH: A major guiding mission of Mellows is to destigmatize and normalize the use of cannabis. It is my hope that people’s perception of what a cannabis user looks like will evolve. You can consume cannabis, be relaxed and elevated, and still be functional. You can consume cannabis responsibly, just as you can consume alcohol responsibly. As a parent, I’m vigilant about keeping cannabis goods in a safe place, out of reach of my very wily toddler.  She’s still a little too young to understand, but I’m excited about the opportunity to educate her from a young age about what cannabis is: plant medicine that is to be respected.

Oov: What are some of your concerns as legalization continues to spread?
SH: It’s hard being a small business owner. If you’re a small canna-business owner, another layer of complexity gets added on top. It’s my hope that as the regulated cannabis industry matures, small artisan makers and farmers will be able to keep doing what they love, and what they’re really good at.

Oov: Tell us about your first experience with cannabis.
SH: I was a sophomore in high school.  The first time I smoked pot I didn’t feel anything. The second time, however, was a different story.  I was at a house party, a vaporizer was involved, and the world went into slow motion. It was pretty terrible. I’m so glad it didn’t scare me off for life!    

Oov: What are your favorite products/strains right now?
SH: I’m a huge fan of Gold Seal’s Red Congolese. I love it so much that it’s what I use to infuse our Mellows. Everyone reacts differently to cannabis, but for me Red Congo feels very uplifting when I smoke it, and more relaxing (like the effects of a glass of wine) when I ingest it in Mellow form.  

I also have been really into Key Lime Pie from Flower Daze Farm, an incredible biodynamic regenerative farm/family-run homestead located deep in the Emerald Triangle.  It smells and tastes amazing and is the perfect nightcap.

I use Papa & Barkley’s 3:1 Releaf Balm pretty much every night. My hands and wrists get achy from the repetitive motions of Mellows-making, so this jar lives on my nightstand.  

When I want a good night’s sleep, Kikoko’s Tranquili-tea is my go-to.  It’s minty and delicious, and very calming. It’s like my insurance for restful, uninterrupted sleep.

Stephanie Hua is the founder and chief confectioner of Mellows — gourmet, cannabis-infused marshmallows, handcrafted in San Francisco. Her new book, EDIBLES: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen is being released on November 6th, 2018 by Chronicle Books. To learn more about Stephanie and Mellows, follow her on facebook and instagram.

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