Fierce Boss Ladies

This Latina Entrepreneur Wants To Create The Birchbox For Cannabis

Rachel hasn’t always been a cannabis enthusiast.

“When I was younger, I was very anti-cannabis,” she tells Fierce. “I had an ex-boyfriend who would spend all of his money on it, and we slowly drifted apart due to his lack of maturity.”

She didn’t know much about marijuana at the time. The little she did know was from anti-drug speeches that she’d heard from teachers and family throughout her upbringing. But that all changed when the 22-year-old entrepreneur discovered the potential medical benefits of CBD and THC, like helping with relaxation and pain relief.

With so many women increasingly turning to weed for medical reasons, Rachel couldn’t ignore the major shift taking place.

“That’s when I was finally hooked,” she says.

But as she learned more about the cannabis industry, she recognized a glaring hole in the marketplace. An entire demographic had long been overlooked, and she wanted to change that.

“What’s really shocking to me as an entrepreneur is that there are already subscription boxes built for women that are cannabis friendly, but they’re very much geared toward that ‘stoner girl’ vibe,” Rachel said. “There wasn’t anything for a consumer like myself or my friends. There isn’t an extensive brand that offers discreet packaging and simple, feminine and curated monthly essentials with products that we can leave on the coffee table next to Harper’s BAZAAR when mom comes to visit.”

Enter Vabe, a brand for the empowered, modern woman. Rachel launched Vabe to provide products and services that allow women to engage with, learn about and enjoy cannabis consumption in a way that’s comfortable and familiar to them. What’s more, it’s reflective of their lifestyle.

“As a woman who personally dreads the monthly 7-Eleven runs or sticky encounters at the smoke shop, I needed something elevated,” the Mexican-Irish-Scottish Latina explains. “Many women dislike the term ‘stoner girl.’ Even though cannabis is a part of my own life and the lives of many women I know, we aren’t potheads.”

Vabe challenges those stereotypical labels that mischaracterize weed smokers as lazy and unmotivated.

“I wanted to build a brand that was exciting for the women dominating in grad school, the lawyers who come home and kick off their heels, the mothers who need some me time,” she said. “Vabe wants to provide not only the essentials for consuming cannabis, but the products, information and space where she can feel safe to do so. Our goal is to cut out all the stress and hoops she’s jumping through to find the product and services she needs and wants.”

What, exactly, do those products and services look like? At the moment, Vabe is taking pre-orders for its inaugural set, an “Her(b) Essentials” monthly subscription box. At $10 a month, each box includes “classy and feminine” rolling papers, matches that “she’ll love getting lit with,” fresh mints for that post-hit breath, a sticker of the month and one recipe for all the kitchen savvy folks out there.

As a Latina, Rachel said that she’s uniquely positioned to advance the conversation surrounding marijuana and people — specifically women — of color. She mentions President Donald Trump’s now-infamous speech in which he announced his presidential candidacy and simultaneously proclaimed that Mexico was bringing drugs, crime, and rapists to the U.S.

“High-functioning, successful women and Latinas do not want to continue to potentially perpetuate a narrative that our current administration stands behind,” she explains. “In fact, they will do everything in their power to separate themselves from that identity. That’s why it’s so important to re-educate ourselves and come to terms with our own identities and how they interact with cannabis.”

Rachel aims to roll out the first batch of pre-orders by June, with Vabe’s second product launch — Rx jars that include 4 oz glass “prescription” jars that are tailor-made for the vanity or bedside table — following.

“For Vabe, the end goal is truly rewriting our own understanding of our relationships with cannabis so that it can help influence policy and community.”

Read: Women In Mexico Are Marrying Trees — And It’s Actually Brilliant

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Meet Michelle Poler, The Venezolana Inspiring Women To Face Their Fears

Fierce Boss Ladies

Meet Michelle Poler, The Venezolana Inspiring Women To Face Their Fears

According to Michelle Poler’s checklist, her life was close to perfect. After graduating high school in Caracas, Venezuela, she moved to Savannah, Georgia to study advertising. While there, she said “I do” to her then-boyfriend. Once she received her bachelor’s degree, she relocated with her husband to Miami, where she swiftly landed an ideal industry gig. But as she fulfilled each life goal, many of them feats for immigrant women of color in the US, she didn’t feel as gratified as she’d been told she would her whole life.

In fact, Poler, who had always lived life according to the safe and secure to-do list society created for her, didn’t start feeling happy until she ditched the rule book entirely and started uncomfortably facing her biggest trepidations through Hello Fears.

A social movement, Hello Fears empowers people to step outside of their comfort zone, engaging in activities that make them a little uneasy, so that they’re able to tap into their full potential. The project, started in 2015 when Poler was a graduate student at New York’s School of Visual Arts, uses storytelling and media content to help people embrace fear and realize the joyous life they fantasize about.

“The core of this project is to inspire people to tackle daily fears,” Poler, 30, told FIERCE. “We discovered that courage is contagious, so by me sharing my story and other people’s stories, others reading are more willing to face their own fears.”

But before the Brooklyn-based entrepreneur started encouraging her more than 30 thousand followers to be courageous, she had to confront her own terrors. While earning her master’s degree in branding, she had a class assignment that required her to do something, anything, for 100 days. The self-described scaredy cat used the opportunity to help her confront the anxieties that were limiting her from success and pleasure. From there, “100 Days Without Fear” was born.

For the next 100 days, Poler tackled a new fear each day. Starting small, the New York transplant, who at the time was scared to ride the subway alone or be out late at night, found herself conquering those apprehensions. She also ate foods that freaked her out. She experienced the torture of a Brazilian wax. She faced rejection passing out flyers on city street corners. And she dined at a bar alone.

“I started getting confidence as I was facing my fears,” she said. “Achieving those small things and gaining that confidence helped me move to more complicated fears.”

Soon, Poler was tackling horrors that few brave individuals would even dare to think about, from holding a tarantula, to skydiving, to posing nude in front of an arts class. Once she completed the physical tasks she thought she was never capable of doing, she moved on to a bigger feat: facing the fears that were getting in the way of her leading her most fulfilled life. That meant quitting her secure but unsatisfying job in advertising and confronting problems in her familial relationships.

“One of my biggest fears was losing my parents, but I wasn’t going to kill them for this purpose,” Poler jokes. “So I decided to write a letter, a very honest letter as if they were dead, telling them all the things I love and appreciate about them and also things I would like to change in our relationship so we can enjoy life together on this planet.”

The experience was emotional, both for her and the now thousands of followers she had as her project went viral. But the tough and tearful conversation, which Poler shared in a video, were worth it. When it was time for her to face her 100th fear, speaking publicly about her experience at a TEDx Talk, her Panama-based parents were in the crowd, being more present and expressive, just as she had asked of them in her letter.

With her class assignment complete, and now jobless because of it, Poler was inspired to turn her personal journey into a business and movement, one that could inspire others to lead their best lives just as she was starting to. Through Hello Fears, the Latina now helps thousands of people take the first step of welcoming the things that make them uneasy and provides them with the tools to conquer those trepidations. She does this primarily through storytelling, from original, empowering Instagram content, a digital course, a blog where people share their own fear-defeating stories and through keynote speaking engagements. Poler averages about 70 conferences a year, bringing her powerful message of triumph to teenage girls as well as big corporations like Google, Facebook, Netflix and Microsoft.

“Fear is so universal. Everyone can relate. I speak to people of all ages, backgrounds and genders, and all relate to fear and courage,” she said, noting that most of her talks are for girls and women.

In speaking with tens of thousands of people around the country, she has found the thing most people are afraid of is failing the people they love. Unhappy wives don’t leave toxic marriages because they’re worried about how divorce might impact their children. Talented artists don’t pursue their passions because they’re scared of disappointing their parents. Partners with academic dreams don’t apply for graduate school because they fear losing income could put their relationship in turmoil.

“The fear of failing others, that’s the thing people take into account the most before taking a risk. But when we think like that and stop taking risks because of our fears of failing others, we start failing ourselves,” she said.

According to Poler, there are two types of fears that keep people from realizing their dreams: personal and culture. The former, which also includes not wanting to fail loved ones, is avoiding hurting your ego. Rejection is painful, and trying and failing is a bitter death to the soul, so we protect ourselves from that hurt by refusing to face the fear. Similarly, cultural fears, the worry of what society might think of you for behaving outside of the status quo, also keeps people in unhappy situations.

But Poler says when we remain in our comfort zone, we risk never evolving into the people we have the potential of being. For her, we grow when we challenge ourselves and we accomplish our goals the quickest when we look fear straight in the eye. She would know. Before embarking on her “100 Days Without Fear” class project, she was tasked to write a ten-year plan for her life. A year later, by braving her fears, she made all the ambitions she thought were slightly unfeasible to complete even in a decade happen in 365 days, from being paid to speak publicly, to starting her own company to building a brand with her husband. Now, just four years later, she started a relationships podcast with her husband, is writing her first book and had her story picked up for a series on Fox.

“If you have any goal in mind, if you face your fears, the probability is you will get to your goal faster and you actually get there at all,” she said.

For those hoping to conquer their fears but are unsure where to start, Poler suggests making a list of the rewards that facing their fear could bring them, from tiny outcomes to possibilities that might at first seem unrealistic. “Ask yourself, what’s the best that can happen? Fill your mind with rewards and positive thoughts that take you back to the reason you wanted to do this in the first place,” she said. She also proposes keeping an accountability partner, someone who will remind you of what you stand to gain by overcoming your terrors and will inspire you when you feel like giving up.

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Yesterday I had the honor to speak to a group of 500 certified Emergency Nurses. And I thought: fearless! The things they see everyday ???? I could not be able to handle it. They have to deal with loss, tragedy, blood and pain (emotional and physical) day after day ???? . What can I teach them? I thought ???? . For some people it takes courage and intention to be at least 10% “selfish” and take care of themselves, for once. These people spend their lives caring for others, so much, that they forget to find the time for themselves. So THAT was my mission yesterday: to challenge them to do something for themselves and not feel guilty about it. . Same goes for entrepreneurs and their work. So many hours working to make it, saving all of our money and investing it back into the business. But, what about us? . When was the last time you got yourself a massage at a spa? Or took a night off to do something by yourself that you LOVE to do? Or splurged at a restaurant that you’ve always wanted to go? Or bought tickets to see a show or a concert? . It is OK to do these things once in a while. Spoil yourself, you deserve it. You worked for it. #noguilt . When we take care of ourselves we feel happy, we bring our best selves to the world and then we will be able to help others, because happiness is contagious ♥️???????? #selfcarefirst #courageis #hellofears #mentalhealth #behappy

A post shared by Hello Fears (@hellofears) on

For Poler, facing her fears not only allowed her to live the joyous life that degrees, a career and marriage couldn’t do alone but it also showed her, for the first time, how mighty she is.

“One thing I learned is that I’m way stronger than I thought. I perceived myself as a fragile person who was going to break at any point and needed someone to rescue me. I’m way stronger than that. Maybe not physically — I should probably go to the gym for that — but mentally I’m way stronger than I thought. I can handle myself. I can survive on my own, if I wanted to,” she said.

Read: Venezolana Verónica Sanchis Bencomo Started Foto Féminas To Promote Women Photographers In Latin America And The Caribbean

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Here’s Every Ballot Measure That Will Affect You As A Latina Directly

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Here’s Every Ballot Measure That Will Affect You As A Latina Directly

If you’re not completely unplugged from all forms of communication, then you know that the mid-terms are coming up this November. And these ones are important, to put it lightly. It’s no secret that a lot is at stake this upcoming election. After the surprising results of the 2016 election, so many prominent personalities have made it their personal mission to spread the word that voting is the most powerful way that we as citizens can make a difference. But with all this talk of politicians and campaigns, it’s easy to forget that many of us not only vote for representation to enact legislation, but some of us must decide on the legislation itself.

What we’re talking about here are Ballot Measures–155 proposals that voters in 37 states will decide upon in November.

It can be hard to keep up with all the complicated jargon in current affairs, so to put it simply, ballot measures are pieces of proposed legislation that we, as voters, have the power to approve or reject. The coolest thing about ballot measures is that Americans can practice direct democracy when voting for or against these proposals–there’s no “middle man”, so to speak. If you believe in something on the ballot, all it takes is a check mark for you to make your voice heard.

In the past, Americans have used the power of their vote to legalize marijuana, same-sex marriage, and expand abortion access. That is why it is so important to educate yourself, not just on the representatives you’ll vote for, but the ballot measures that will show up on your ticket.

Take a look below to find out more about this year’s ballot initiatives and their corresponding states so you can be completely confident when you check that box!

Women’s Health

If you’re fed up with paying taxes on feminine products when other male-centric products related to sexual health (like condoms and Viagra) are un-taxed, then pay attention to Question 2 on Nevada’s 2018 ballot measures. This proposal will exempt tampons and pads from state and local sales taxes. This is an issue that many Latinas are very passionate about.

On a more controversial note, three states will also be prime battleground for advocates and opponents of reproductive rights. In both West Virginia and Alabama, legislators have introduced ballot measures that, if approved, will completely criminalize abortion in the event that Roe vs. Wade is overturned. Criminalization of abortion to this extent could send women who have done the procedure to jail.

Additionally, Oregon has proposed legislation to prohibit public funds from being spent on abortions, except when “medically necessary or required by federal law”.

All of these measures have the potential to affect Latinas directly, especially those of low-income households and those too young to access reliable methods of birth control.

Marijuana

Like the nine other states before them, North Dakota and Michigan have introduced ballot measures proposing the full legalization of recreational marijuana. Additionally, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah have introduced proposals for the legalization of medical marijuana, which, if approved, will have them joining the 30 other states where medical marijuana is already legal.

Considering how Latinos and other people of color are disproportionately affected by drug-related arrests, marijuana legalization is an issue that may be near and dear to the hearts of many Latinas.

Immigration and Immigrants’ Rights

If you’re a Latina living in Florida, educating yourself on the ins and outs of 2018’s Amendment 11 is a necessity before you cast your vote. According to Ballotpedia, the passage of Amendment 11 would delete the language in Florida’s constitution that prevents non-citizens from owning property. However, wrapped up in the proposal is the repeal of the requirement for a high-speed rail and reduce penalties for crimes committed before a law has been changed via legislation. This is one of the more complicated measures and if you’re a Florida resident, it would be in your best interest to do some research of your own and draw your own conclusions!

In Oregon, Measure 105, or the “Repeal Sanctuary State Law Initiative”, hopes to repeal the current law (the Sanctuary State Law) that forbids state resources from aiding in the apprehension of undocumented immigrants. A “yes” vote on this measure would support the repeal of Oregon’s sanctuary state law. A “no” vote would keep the status of Oregon as a sanctuary state status as is.

Victims’ Rights

Although you may have never heard of it, Marsy’s Law (aka the “Victims’ Rights Amendment”) will be a ballot measure in six states this November–Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. Named after Marsy Nichols, who was murdered in 1983 by her ex-boyfriend, the law aims to provide guaranteed constitutional rights to crime victims. Some of these rights include the right to be notified about and present at proceedings, the right to be heard at proceedings and the right to be notified about the release or escape of the accused.

If you feel better-informed now, then we’ve done our jobs! Go out and vote on November 6th and make your voz heard!

Read: Cholas x Chulas, A First Generation Latinx Beauty Brand That’s Smashing Stereotypes One Eyeliner Kit At A Time

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