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 dispensary. Curious and new to the cannabis space, they began educating themselves on the varying uses of the plant, and realized their menopause symptoms could potentially be treated with cannabis. When they realized nothing on the market truly covered the full spectrum of their needs, they started formulating their own special blend of CBD, THC, and botanicals to alleviate the uncomfortable side effects of menopause.
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.