This week we spoke with Stephanie Thompson, a licensed Aesthetician and Herbalist with a degree in Nutrition Therapy and an educational background in biology and physiology. Thompson has also worked in many facets of the marijuana industry from cultivation to finishing and recently wrote an essay for the Her(B) Life outlining 4 lessons she's learned from years of being a woman working in weed. Recently Thompson launched BathwoRx LA, a small batch, organic body product line that is infused with cannabis.
How long have you been making infused products? What led you to start working with cannabis in this capacity?
I began formulating skincare and body products around the time I was 11. I made soaps, oil blends and lip balm. When I began smoking cannabis around age 16, I learned to make infused butter and occasionally baked with it. I think I’ve always had an interest in chemistry and synergism between ingredients in recipes. In 2010, I entered the wellness industry through massage and bodywork. Three years ago, I became a licensed aesthetician, which was really the push for me to create a topical brand. I had already begun developing an infused skincare line. When I was approached earlier this year by my investor and business partner about a bath line, the transition was almost seamless.
Your website talks about how you use organic ingredients and make small batches, can you tell us a little more about BathWorx LA and your approach to body care products?
When I became an esthetician, green beauty and organic products were just beginning to gain attention in the conventional market. I have struggled with auto-immune dysfunction and related skin disorders since I was a child, so I could never use conventional products for skin or body care. I began using natural products very early on. It’s very important to me to focus on sourcing high quality, organic and wild crafted ingredients because they are what make a high quality, potent product. For me, more than the novelty of a colorful, scented bath, I want to help offer relief and efficacy. That is how I approach formulating our products - Is it natural? Is it effective? Is it safe?
What is Bath Mud? It sounds divine…
Our special bath mud is actually not a mud at all, but a luxurious medicated body mask for in shower use. I can’t share our secret recipe, but I can tell you it is chock full of active enzymes, raw chocolate, ginger, and a proprietary firming essential oil blend. We created our Bath Mud in response to the large chunk of our patients who do not have bath tubs!
So the company has literally just launched, congratulations! What was the lead up to this launch like?
Absolutely insane! We are only a month and a half in, from concept to introduction into the market. I cannot believe a month and half ago, BathwoRx LA was only ideas on paper and now we are almost sold out of our second production round. But I don’t want to downplay the amount of work involved. The first step was deciding on our first couple of SKU’s and developing recipes. Then, of course, there are the countless trial-and-error productions you do before you come up with anything actually worth bringing to market. When you are finally ready to launch, well that brings its own host of challenges to overcome.
What is your vision for the company going forward?
We want to diversify our lines a bit more. We are really focusing on doing limited release collaborations with other established cannabis brands. The ultimate goal is to push into the legal market with our CBD only products and eventually have a brick and mortar. We will also be planning women-centric cannabis events in California focused on bath, beauty, health, and wellness. Eventually, we’d love to license the brand to other legal states to share these incredibly healing products with as many patients as possible.
How will people be able to get their hands on your line?
We will have an online store for our CBD products through our website. THC infused products will be sold at major events and be distributed to compliant dispensaries and delivery operations in California very soon! We will be at Kush Stock in Downtown Los Angeles this year for 420 weekend.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced building BathWorx LA?
Long hours, not enough sleep, low pay, formula mishaps, reformulation mistakes, a lot of driving, strain on interpersonal relationships, standing in smoke filled exposition halls for up to 12 hours, losing my voice after every event, VERY LITTLE SLEEP, 2AM phone calls, holding onto a day job while developing a brand, Instagram (yes Instagram is its own challenge). But in the end…all worth it.
In what way(s) is your job most rewarding?
Every time I receive a message from someone in chronic pain or with a debilitating condition to tell me that my products gave them relief unlike anything else. Simple as that. It’s the reason I began this company and it means more to me than any number of zeroes, decimals, or commas.
Is there a woman in the cannabis industry who inspires you? Why?
Mary Jane Rathbun is and will always be my favorite badass “Canna-Babe”, may she rest in paradise. Brownie Mary was such an important activist in this industry and one of the first women to be defiantly pro-pot. She would illegally bake and distribute cannabis brownies to AIDS patients in Northern California and was also involved in the passing of Prop 215. She made an incredible impact on the lives of hundreds of people in need. I remember her strength and enduring mission every time I feel overwhelmed or tired.
What advice would you give to a woman interested in getting into the cannabis industry?
I think the most important advice I can give to a woman interested in getting into this industry is to think like a woman, to be unabashedly female. Beyond that, I can only share my own experiences. I’ve shared a few lessons I’ve learned in the essay I wrote for this issue, “4 Embarrassing/Enlightening/Emotional Lessons I Learned as a Woman in Cannabis in My 20’s”.
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