Twenty years of friendship led these two women to a product that lasts a lifetime.
Two recent empty-nesters and long-time friends walked into a
Now, a year after launching, their Everyday and Sleep suppositories can be found in dispensaries across California. While Hello Again was initially created to increase feelings of wellness for women dealing with menopause–they quickly realized their products can do so much more. Not only do they help ease other discomforts like endometriosis, period cramps, and vaginal dryness, they can also help anyone deal with the stress of daily life. From helping people get more restful sleep to giving them a boost of energy during the day, their two formulas can do it all.
We spoke with Hello Again co-founders Carrie Mapes and Patty Pappas about their mission within the cannabis space, their perspective on aging, taking a big leap in their careers at 50, and their desire to help people with vaginas feel more comfortable in their bodies.
The first of Hello Again’s mantras is, “It’s not you, it’s menopause.” This sounds like something you must have told yourselves when seeking a product like Hello Again. Could you expand on this a bit?
Patty: When we initially went to dispensaries, we weren’t thinking about starting a cannabis business, we were just exploring because our kids had all gone to college and we thought it’d be a fun thing to do. We didn’t even discuss menopause with each other as something we were going through, but when we got there, we started talking to the budtenders about the various products and the symptoms they help alleviate. We looked at each other, and we quickly realized they were things we were both going through as women in menopause.
“It was just like ding! This is everything we and our friends are struggling with because of menopause!”
Carrie: Not only us, all of our friends too.
Patty: Nobody escapes menopause. There are varying degrees, symptoms, and experiences, but when we both realized we were going through the same phase in life, and everybody that we know is in that same phase, that’s when we made the connection to cannabis. We weren't initially looking for a product to help us with menopause, we just got there and made that connection and realized there wasn't a product available to help us that we were comfortable consuming. We didn’t want to smoke or vape, and the edibles were a little inconsistent for us, so after a little experimentation we thought we’d just make it ourselves.
Carrie: I’ll never forget the budtender. We’d ask what different strains helped with, and when we heard, “That’s for anxiety. This one’s for sleep.” It was just like ding! This is everything our friends and we ourselves are struggling with because of menopause!
So you took what you saw existed and paired it together with what you needed, and created a product?
Carrie: Yes. We are customer founders for sure.
One of you has said, “Menopause is not the end, it’s just the middle.” Meaning no one should think menopause means the best years of their life are behind them. Can you expand on this mentality, and how it aligns with Hello Again?
Patty: Somebody mentioned to us that we are the first generation of 50 year olds that have 50 good years left. Most generations behind us maybe lived ‘til 75 or 80, and they’d go downhill from there. But we can be pretty vital and productive until we’re 100. I’m planning on it, anyway! I meet 90-year-old ladies who are completely “with it” and travel and live full lives, so we are not winding down. Especially Carrie and I–starting this company at this time in life, I feel like we’re just beginning.
Carrie: We are so grateful for this product because we just feel so good. It’s also opened up this entirely new chapter that we’ve yet to experience. We’re learning everyday, and that energy is growing and resulting in us feeling less like we’re 50 years old. I feel younger now than I did when I was 30, actually. And a lot of that has to do with Hello Again, with climbing up a learning curve everyday, and being with friends while we’re at it.
I think in this “later” phase of life for many, perhaps you’ve raised your kids and your parental responsibilities might be different than what they’d been for a long time. Your circumstances in life have shifted, and there’s a new abundance of opportunities. But, if you don’t feel good or you don’t feel like yourself and your confidence is down, you just can’t take advantage and maximize these chances. We talk about strengthening the V-Force–which is kind of what we mean by helping women feel strong and feel like themselves. We want to help them re-engage with what it once felt like to be themselves.
Strengthening the V-Force?
Carrie: Yeah, and that really is one of our missions, to strengthen the V-Force in the world. To empower women, and to normalize the topics many find hard to talk about.
“We want to empower women, and normalize the topics many find hard to talk about.”
Patty: More people are starting to talk about menopause, but for a long time it was an almost taboo subject with limited dialogue surrounding it. With menopause, you’re achy, you’re in a bad mood, and you’re not talking about it because you think it's your own personal problem. And that doesn’t lend itself to, “Let’s start a business, let’s embark on an adventure!”
Starting a dialogue about menopause is definitely our mission, too. Putting it out there and giving everyone a chance to participate, and then offering different ways to solve the problem other than what the medical community has been offering us for the last 30 years. Which has been a bevy of terrible drugs with unpleasant side effects, or the plan even prior to that, just grin and bear it. We’re excited to be a part of a more natural answer to a problem that has persisted for women since, well, forever.
You’ve said, “It’s not you, it’s menopause,” which is an empowering way to look at this natural life phase. It’s just something that’s happening with your body, and there are natural ways you can aid your body while it goes through this process.
Patty: Like puberty, your voice changes, your skin changes–it’s the same thing only in the opposite direction. Instead of a sharp increase in hormones, you’re experiencing a steady decrease in hormones.
Carrie: As mothers, when our kids went through puberty, we read 15,000 different books about why they’re behaving this way, how to handle them best, how to boost them up, how to help them feel better. Yet when it’s ourselves, we hardly call a doctor. And when we do call a doctor, the options we get are to medicate it, either pharmaceutically or through self medication, or to just tolerate it, which unfortunately is what a lot of women do. A lot of women just go it alone, but we want them to know they don't have to. We decided there needs to be something in between, an ability to celebrate this phase of life and feel good enough to do just that.
Do you feel like there’s any shame associated with going through menopause?
Patty: I think there’s an attachment to aging. We’ve talked with people who say, “I have these symptoms, but I’m not old enough for menopause.” They’re associating menopause with feeling like life is almost over. But, we’re 50 going through menopause with kids in college, and I have friends with young kids who are getting divorced and dating again. In the old days, you wouldn’t associate menopause with a vibrant woman, and I think that’s why people don’t want to admit they’re at the age where they could be going through menopause. That dialogue needs to change. It’s not a shameful thing to be moving through a different phase in life, and there are no set guidelines or age designations to any of it.
Carrie: I think there’s also another kind of shame women go through as they approach menopause. They don’t realize they’re feeling all of these ways because of the onset of menopause, all they realize is that they’re not as patient as they want to be, their libido’s not what it used to be, they’re not at their best, their thinking is foggy, and they’re not sleeping well. Before they even realize there’s a hormone change going on, they’re beating themselves up because they’re not the wife they want to be, not the mother they want to be, not the friend, the sister, the daughter, or simply the person they want to be. They feel as though they’re falling short in all of the roles they play, and they’re blaming the wrong thing.
When men's libido goes down they immediately come up with 10 products to solve it. But when women say my libido’s low, they go, “Oh that’s nice.” *pat on the head*
Your product is wonderful for a wide range of consumers of all sexes and ages. Many middle-aged people were raised in a society where cannabis use was deemed a detriment to daily life. How are you working to educate people to counteract this perception?
Patty: I think the cannabis industry’s doing a lot to help us. When I grew up, you bought cannabis on the street corner, and who knows how it was grown and what pesticides and chemicals were hidden in there. Now, the industry’s doing a great job of setting standards. As far as changing perceptions, I still think it’s going to take a little longer to get all of the information out there so people our age can become a little less afraid of it, but strides are being made.
Carrie: The testing that any cannabis product goes through is rigorous, and we hold higher standards for our product than the standards set by the California Cannabis Bureau. This is important to us to ensure our products are pure and completely safe for Hello Again consumers. As Patty likes to say, your normal tea bag or organic apple really wouldn’t pass the level of testing that happens for a cannabis product in California.
Do you remember anyone using cannabis for medical reasons when you were younger?
Carrie: My dad died of stomach cancer in my 20s. I was home, taking care of him and someone who was also going through cancer approached us and talked about cannabis. He said it helped with his appetite and overall helped him feel better. My whole family, myself included, were like, “No, no, no. That’s not for us.” It breaks my heart when I think back on that because it could have helped a tremendous amount, and probably could have prolonged my father’s life a little bit.
Thirty years later, you’ve created a product to help people with their discomfort. That must be a beautiful full circle moment for you.
Carrie: Yes, it’s come full circle! My mom is still alive, and she’s stopped drinking completely and sometimes has a cannabis beverage when we’re all socializing as a family. Her husband, who’s in his 90’s, uses a cannabis balm on his knees. I took her to her first dispensary, and she had her first cannabis delivery. Gosh, what a journey, right? When we first had the idea for Hello Again, Patty and I each had a handful of friends who thought this product was not for them. COVID has certainly helped with that a little bit because sleep is at a premium, anxiety is high, and people are realizing there are other options besides drinking and pharmaceuticals.
Hello Again launched about a year ago at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, and you’re now stocked in 19 dispensaries. That’s incredible growth during the course of a very uncertain year. What do you lend all of your success to?
Patty: When Carrie and I walked into the dispensary and didn’t see a product we felt comfortable using, we created one. Hello Again is the only product like it out there. Formulated by, and marketed for, women our age. Our message to dispensaries is, “You’re not fulfilling this need and the market of women we represent.” Our product is unique. And when women like us go into dispensaries, we’re also buying products for our family or CBD treats for our dogs. We’re good customers.
Carrie: Our most successful dispensaries are where the budtenders try our products and have personal experiences they can share with their customers. On the same note, we’re really thankful for organic word of mouth. We’re starting to see the effects of one person using Hello Again and telling their friends. It’s really beautiful to behold as we watch it all unfold.
Patty: We get email testimonials and requests to buy our product outside of California all the time. Now our challenge is to expand into more states. That’s our next goal.
“When we didn't see a product we felt comfortable using, we created one.”
Your second pillar statement is, “You’re not too young for this.” You describe Hello Again as an octopus that has many arms, or ways to reach and help people. Tell us a bit more about these testimonials.
Patty: One is endometriosis, which I had no idea was so prevalent in young women. There’s an influencer who has endometriosis, and she found her way to our product and posted about it. All of the sudden we started listening to budtenders in the dispensary say, “I have that!” or, “My sister has that!” and we’re actually finding that this helps alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with it. It makes sense. It relieves pain in that area, and it helps with menstrual cramps, too. I have three daughters, 20, 21, and 22. And Carrie has a daughter that’s 21. They were good guinea pigs for testing Hello Again. The budtenders also told us that it was helping all ages of women with vaginal dryness, which doesn’t discriminate.
Carrie: We’ve also heard about someone using it for recovery after thyroid surgery.
Patty: We heard from one woman that had hip bursitis and she could never roll over, but when she uses a suppository, she can roll over. I actually had a young mother of a 3 year old tell me she takes it to just be more patient with her kid. It’s a lot of fun to get this feedback, and we’re so happy it's helping so many people!
Carrie: I think that people are just a little more anxious, a little less patient and they aren’t sleeping as well as other generations in the past—and there are probably all kinds of external reasons for that. And when something helps with anxiety, sleep and focus, it’s for everyone. It’s really a wellness product. The mixing of cannabinoids and botanicals helps with inflammation and pain relief to promote feelings of overall wellness.
To touch more on that, in addition to THC and CBD, your suppositories contain herbs and botanicals offering even more holistic benefits. What are these herbs, and what do they do?
Carrie: From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to include botanicals. Women have been using them as medicine for thousands of years, and both varieties have the same base of cocoa butter, avocado oil and vitamin E, so they feel good, they’re nourishing, and they help with dryness. A lot of doctors, including our medical consultants we approached when formulating our product, believe this could help with recurring UTIs or yeast infections because when the vagina is dry, it has micro cracks that give bacteria room to cling and stay longer than it should. The vagina needs to be slick and moist, and our products really focus on that by having these three ingredients at their core.
Patty: Both the Sleep and Everyday suppositories have a little bit of apple cider vinegar for acidity and pH balance, too.
Carrie: The Everyday suppository also has green tea and rosemary to boost energy, schisandra to help with concentration and mood, hops extract to aid with focus and temperature regulation, rose geranium for relaxation, emotional stability, and optimism, helichrysum for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and of course THC and CBD.
Patty: The Sleep suppository features valerian root, which can aid with hot flashes and promotes restful sleep, hops extract to help with temperature regulation, melatonin to help with sleep, lavender to calm muscles and soothe skin, chamomile to promote calmness, neroli oil to help with emotional distress and inflammation, and you guessed it, a perfect balance of THC and CBD.
I used to wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, and I’d have to sleep with a towel underneath me. The hops extract, which is in both the Sleep and Everyday suppositories, has been a blessing to help combat recurring hot flashes.
It sounds like these botanicals kind of fill in the spaces that the CBD or THC don’t really touch on.
Patty: We weren’t seeing anything besides straight CBD and THC in dispensaries, but we knew with these botanical ingredients, we could cover a wide spectrum of symptoms.
Carrie: Cannabis is really just one plant in this product. It’s an herb that has positive effects on the body just like all the other herbs we’ve included. Viewing it that way can help to normalize the idea of cannabis, and get help to more people that need it.
Hello Again was created to increase feelings of wellbeing for all people with vaginas. Do you have any future plans or initiatives to help increase the hiring of women and women of color in the cannabis space, or within your company?
Carrie: You’re looking at the bulk of our company right now. We’re a very lean machine, for sure. There are so many bright women who stop to raise children that are boxed out of the workspace even though they have tremendous skill.
Patty: As we grow we want to keep that in mind and try to be representative of all women.
Carrie: We have another woman that works for us who found us because she entered early menopause. She was in her 30s, and because of radiation for her cancer treatment she entered early menopause. She found our product, really liked it, and messaged us, and now she works with us. Everyone that works here is authentically connected to the product, which is something that’s deeply important to us.
Your final pillar is to, “Feel like yourself again.” The symptoms Hello Again relieves, like chronic pain and discomfort, can be exhausting to experience. How did you both experience this feeling of “coming back to yourself” once you started using your product.
Patty: I hadn’t slept through the night for over 25 years. I just got used to slugging it out during the day and sleeping poorly at night. Getting a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis turned me into a different person completely. It was a game changer. If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, you don’t realize what effect that’s having on you in other areas of your life. For me, finally getting quality sleep was everything.
“I sleep through the night, I don’t have hot flashes or night sweats anymore, and my brain fog is gone.”
Carrie: I had the classic menopause symptoms. I was just tolerating them. But what brought me to my knees was brain fog. I felt like I was losing my mind. My grandmother has Alzheimers, and that was on my mind when I started feeling this way. I had to repeat myself all the time. I had to have my kids repeat themselves all the time. I would go to the grocery story and come back with 5 things, none of which were what I went for in the first place. I wasn’t articulating myself well, and I was just having a hard time finding my words and hated the way I sounded.
I actually went as far as having my cognition tested. It was in that process they said, “This isn’t cognitive, it’s probably related to your hormones.” I had no idea that memory fog and brain function were related to my hormones. I called my doctor and he said, “Oh yeah, let’s start you on estrogen.” I started it, and it worked, but then when we developed Hello Again I went off the estrogen and really tested the product to see if it would work for me. And it did. I sleep through the night, I don’t have the hot flashes or night sweats anymore, and my brain fog is gone.
Patty: Women don’t always have the nicest voices inside their heads. We beat ourselves up. The better you feel the more strength you have to take on anything.
Carrie: Remember when you were a little girl and how confident you were, how you would say anything and try anything? You were like that until you were 10, 11, 12 years old, and then the hormones started kicking in. Then, you have a lot of years where you really care about what other people think, you don’t speak up, you don’t take risks, you fear looking stupid, and you beat yourself up inside. And then ta-da! Your hormones start declining because of menopause. And for me, thanks to Hello Again I honestly feel like a different person. I feel very much like that 10 year old who felt like they could take on the world.
Patty: We’re 50-year-old women in the cannabis business. What did we know? We had to stop caring what people thought about us. We made a vaginal suppository. I mean, our kids were so bummed. We were thinking, “There’s gotta be a product we can make, maybe it’s an edible!” And the kids were like, “Oh my God! That’s so cool!” And then we made a vaginal suppository. We took a not-so-popular application method and not-so-easy subject to talk about, menopause, and put them together.
Carrie: And we believed in ourselves. We know there’s a market for it. I don’t think our 32-year-old selves would have had the confidence to carry this out, but as we said, we’re in our 50’s, we just launched a cannabis company, and we’re just getting started.