The history of the American healthcare landscape and medical system is not exactly something to be proud of. Whether it is the egregious birth control experiments on Puerto Rican women, the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment, the founder of modern gynecology known for experimenting on enslaved black women’s bodies without pain medication because of the racist belief black people don’t feel pain, the forced sterilization of Latina women in Southern California, or the horrific statistic that America has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world which disproportionately impacts black women. It is clear the mostly male-dominated (and white-dominated) medical industry has a lot of reckoning to deal with.
With the growing number of stories of women talking about their health concerns and pain being ignored by doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers, it is no surprise we are living in an era where women, and especially minority women, are working to empower themselves and find the best health solutions without the “middle man”.
One of these women is entrepreneur Angela Arena, CEO of Kind Lab – a female-owned company with a mission to empower women to say ‘yes’ by putting their wellness first with a line of CBD-rich hemp-infused solutions. A stressful job and many sleepless nights led to Angela’s discovery of cannabis and its many benefits.
Angela provides an earned perspective that 30-something entrepreneurs simply cannot. She can be trusted and knows the power of a supportive friendship because that is how she was introduced to cannabis when stress was destroying her life.
Through empathy and understanding, Angela reaches a generation of women who are canna-curious because doctors have failed them. Perhaps they have lived through the DARE years and still have hangups and questions about cannabis. Perhaps they don’t want to be perceived as stoners. Perhaps they are worried about setting an example for their families.
Angela’s story is relatable. It is not unique because women across the world are coming to terms with the emotional load of “having it all” — the careers, families, and lives that they always wanted but struggle to find a balance as they age.
Today Angela is a thriving entrepreneur and mom who has known for a number of years that wellness was the arena she wanted to enter.
“I call them the “golden years”. I was fresh out of college, a newly minted adult, enjoying the independence I had dreamed of since high school. Weekdays were for finding my way in a new career, and weekends for having fun with friends. I loved complaining about the onslaught of weddings, only to be followed a few years later by baby showers. My parents were relatively healthy, my expenses were low, and I felt pretty healthy. Plus I didn’t have anyone depending on me – life was good,” she told us.
“Then suddenly, parents started falling ill. A peer died of a disease I thought “only older people get”. I had a mortgage. Responsibilities. Living my “best life” morphed into living my real life, and I discovered that my wellness wasn’t something I could take for granted. My body & mind needed care & feeding or, like any machine, they would wear over time and not function correctly, and my quality of life would suffer,” Angela continued.
It was experiencing an immense amount of stress at a job years later that became the start of the idea for Kind Lab. She was introduced to cannabis and essentially the rest is history!
“My second wellness wakeup call was the catalyst for me to start Kind Lab. Being stressed out beyond belief at my job was causing an endless string of sleepless nights that nothing could break. It didn’t take long until I became so sleep-deprived that I was useless at work and at home – I had given absolutely everything I had, and my cup had run dry. It was then that I discovered cannabis – which finally helped me sleep & become a functioning human again – as well as the importance of keeping my own cup full,” she explained.
The additional cultural and societal pressure placed on women was also part of what enabled Angela to realize how important it was to put her own health first.
“As women & caregivers, I feel like we’re somewhat conditioned to put everyone’s needs ahead of our own, and taking time for wellness is selfish. I want other women to understand that it’s exactly the opposite: putting yourself first is a powerful act of self-love, and ultimately makes you a better person,” she said.
Along with the aim of empowering women to take control of their own health, Angela wanted Kind Lab to also be a company that works to dismantle negative messages around cannabis.
“I founded Kind Lab with the mission of encouraging women to prioritize their own wellness, as well as de-mystifying/stigmatizing cannabis (hemp & marijuana), which is an incredible natural wellness resource that we’ve been taught is everything but. Kind Lab products are intended to be accessible to people interested in pursuing a more natural lifestyle, and looking for solutions that elevate their quality of life through relatable goals – feeling healthy, calm, energetic, balanced, and beautiful – and can help them feel their best wherever they are in their journey in life,” she said.
Today her business is adapting not only to an environment that is burgeoning with cannabis companies as legalization becomes the norm across America, but also dealing with the way COVID-19 has forced many individuals to look at access to health solutions in a new way.
“The onset of COVID has definitely increased interest in natural solutions, and helped people realize that health is more than just the absence of disease. Health & wellness are things that need to be maintained and guarded. I’ve certainly seen an uptick in people looking for relief from stress, sleep support, and body aches & tension. The pandemic, as well as politics and social issues ongoing worldwide have people questioning what they’ve been taught, so I’ve focused a lot on pushing out education & resources to help people navigate hemp & natural wellness, as well as actively support causes that are important to us right now,” she explained.
Kind Lab is prepared for a newly disrupted marketplace and is keeping their mission of empowering women with their health firmly at the center of what they are doing.
“I anticipate supply chains and business continuity will be at risk of additional disruption as the world churns from the pandemic, politics and social issues. I’ve tried to stock up where I can to ensure I don’t run out of my best sellers, and used the bump in sales to give to organizations that share our mission of social justice and improving the lives of girls & women locally and around the world,” she said.