Texas Hemp Reporter: Who is Happy Karma Hemp? Can you tell us a bit of your origin story?
Laran Snyder: I started my business to be unique and different and to really help others, but also from a completely non-business like standpoint, my degree is in opera and while I was getting my degree I was studying minors in psychology, art and German and I also went to massage therapy school while I was going to university, this was in 1996 and 97. It’s just so funny, because even though I always knew that music was something that I wanted to study and have as part of my life, I’m like a Jill-of-all-trades, so to speak. I know a little about a lot of things, and they all go hand-in-hand and they have cohesively formed this circle that has become what my life is right now. When I started my business, I wanted to do so debt-free, so being a musician and a massage therapist, I took tips and extra income and saved, from the ground up, and that’s how I’m still running my business, so I chose to run it very small and go slow, kind of like what you do with CBD! You go slow and low, and slowly go up on your dose. And that’s what I’ve been doing with growing my business.
THR: Many people turn to CBD as an alternative to standardized medicine. Have you received positive feedback from your customers?
LS: I believe there are SO many ways that people can heal themselves and enlighten themselves and some of those are through music, massage, natural medicine and cannabis (CBD), hemp especially, being this amazing and miraculous plant that can heal the planet itself: the ground, the soil, the air, and then, of course, its inhabitants.
I’ve always believed there’s a symbiotic relationship between different things in life that all work hand-in-hand toward the betterment of human life, the energy of the world and how the planet resonates in positivity and experiences. It just kind of allowed me to be Superwoman. Using CBD topically on clients allowed me to go beyond the ability I already had as just a massage therapist, by relaxing and relieving muscle tension and pain, I didn’t have to work as hard to get those muscles to relax, so I didn’t have to take them closer to a level of pain, so to speak.
And personally, I’ve used CBD for myself, with the help of both of my doctors, to wean off of a lot of my medication that I had been on for decades. I had childhood depression with underlying anxiety and PTSD. Starting at the beginning of my 30s, the depression kind of got better, but the anxiety reared its really ugly, terrible head. I was a completely different person and was full of anxiety all the time. It was kind of like the Tasmanian devil, running around. That’s kind of how my anxiety presented to other people. CBD actually helped me remove myself from that storm that was around me constantly, but it also helped with so many other aspects of my life, including pain and inflammation, so I was able to replace those medications. That was when I knew that I had to go into this industry. Being on medications as a child when your brain is developing, that’s already a really difficult time. And with children who have problems being themselves and being insecure about who they are as people, it’s just really tough for kids. Even though I believe that things happen for a reason, I do wish that CBD had been around and prevalent and available to that little Laran because it’s been like an emotional support dog. It’s like a big supportive hug!
I’ve had a client who said that she was sitting in traffic and she was thinking “man, I can’t wait to get home and have my CBD” because she was really stressed, and she said she started salivating just thinking about it, like she couldn’t wait to take it because it tastes really good, as well. And just by doing that she felt her stress come down a little bit. I was like, “hey, that’s really cool!” I’d never thought of it that way until she said that.
A lot of my clients use my topical for their children because it’s an all-around multi-purpose salve as well as a super-duper pain relieving salve. What’s cool about it is that it’s 100% natural but also organic herbs (I call them yummy herbs), they are meant to combat inflammation from all sides. That, in correspondence with full-spectrum CBD or full-spectrum hemp extract with CBD, can be used even on sunburns and bug bites and boo-boos. This one girl burned her hand by picking up a curling iron from the hot end (not the handle) on its highest setting and burned the living tar out of her hand and she was going between this wedding venue and her hotel and she stopped on the way and I gave her a sample of CBD under her tongue to help combat the inflammation and the shock and she also applied my salve to the site because it’s loaded with arnica. Arnica is one of those things that, the minute you have a burn or some type of trauma on your skin, as long as it’s not an open wound, you can coat it with arnica and that starts the healing process immediately and it helps remove the trauma so that you can start healing. We can’t heal when we’re in a state of inflammation. She came back an hour later, wanting to buy the salve and a CBD oil because she said she was already feeling more relaxed, and she’s kept in touch on Facebook (she lives in Buffalo, NY). So, it’s little things like that-little coincidences. The universe brings people that I’m able to help to my booth, and that’s the beauty of it.
THR: From where do you source your CBD? Where is it tested?
LS: People still aren’t completely educated on CBD, and so I do feel like maybe some people, just to try it, are going to spend less on the lower-end products that maybe got their hemp from Romania or China, where they use Roundup to make the plant easier to cut. Even though they have to do third-party testing on the final product, it doesn’t mean that the actual testing of the hemp didn’t show some type of pesticides. It’s a little scary to me because it’s so unregulated. That’s why I get my hemp from my farmers in Oregon. They have a GM-free certified USDA organic certified and kosher-certified extraction facility. I’ve been with them since Day 1. So every single product uses the exact same strain from the exact same farmer every single time.
I did the research but then I chose to formulate our products so that our formulation is different from everybody else in the industry, so we do NOT white label, we don’t resell other brands. Every single ingredient, I vetted where they were coming from to make sure that not only are they ethically sourced from sustainably grown farms, but also ethical (meaning, not taking from Indigenous peoples, leaving them with resources to continue to support their families. Instead of taking everything and then they don’t have something else to grow), we never use palm oil because it contributes to the deforestation of the rain forest. We don’t use soy, because not only can it contribute to hormone imbalance in men, women and children, but also it’s one of the most genetically modified plants on the planet. Things like this to some people don’t really mean anything, and that’s okay. But to me, being an ethical and sustainable and even hopefully becoming a regenerative energy company where we choose farming that’s regenerative. But what it does is it actually helps reduce the carbon footprint we create and have created. People don’t realize that corn and soy and even strawberries are some of the most genetically-modified plants. And I LOVE corn and I LOVE strawberries, but I make sure that I always buy organic and it’s really hard to find organic corn because it’s usually genetically modified.
THR: What is the market like in Texas for CBD?
LS: A lot of people don’t know that we’ve actually been around since the beginning in Austin, which makes me chuckle when they start realizing it, because we didn’t have the budget for the marketing and lots of advertising and exposure, and so now it’s really word-of-mouth, which I think is a wonderful way to grow anything, it builds so much more trust and loyalty.
When I was researching and doing the formula for Happy Karma, I hadn’t even completely decided on the name yet. And there were no other CBD companies on the radar in Austin. Other than a couple of pharmacies and a couple of smoke shops, nobody was an actual CBD store yet. Rawsome was the very first and then we opened a month later in March of 2018, so we are one of the first Austin-based and women-owned CBD companies, which is something I’m really proud of as well. Being a pioneer of the industry has been pretty amazing. So much has changed in three and a half years.
There were tons and tons of obstacles being in this business, before it was federally legal, before it was state legal, before there were (and still aren’t completely) the banking laws that we need, not having a way to do merchant accounts and all of these things that we were having to skate around and figure out. It’s so much easier now for new people to get into the industry. It’s been an interesting ride so far. For me, it’s not about going out and meeting hundreds of people in the industry, it’s about the people who are not in the industry whose lives can be impacted.
THR: You’ve recently been recognized in your field and awarded Best Texas E-Commerce Retailer and Best Texas CBD Manufacturer at the Texas Hemp Awards. What do you think sets you apart from your competitors?
LS: It’s such a huge honor to know that more people follow and get word-of-mouth and know about my company than I ever thought did, which is humbling in and of itself. In the very beginning, I planted a seed and I’ve been tending to those rows of plants and I know that they’ve been growing, but I had no idea how much they’d grown. The seeds blew off into other fields that I didn’t know about. Three and half years later, I’m just now hearing about those plants that are growing in other people’s plots, so to speak. I’m learning how many people actually have been following me and my business and the reviews and the success stories. So for me to have had the votes and to win the Best CBD Manufacturer and the Best CBD Retailer, I was originally in the Best CBD Manufacturer and then she decided the last day of voting to make an e-commerce category. But to win the best CBD manufacturer was amazing! I didn’t think that was going to happen. And then, we made the top five of the “Best of Austin” Chronicle issue, which was huge! I was told that thousands upon thousands of votes were cast. The fact that enough people nominated us to get us into the top five was so amazing. It blew my mind, I had no idea. I mean, that’s a lot of people!
At the very beginning, when I opened, CBD wasn’t that well-known yet, and so there weren’t all these shops around that carried a white label brand. There were all these shops that were looking for CBD suppliers, and they were calling me and asking me, but the thing is, my products could’ve been sitting next to five other white labeled products, and they could’ve all theoretically come from the same manufacturer, from the same generic formula. To me, that dilutes the quality of my brand. Someone did say to me, though, “Laran, when you go a store, you have your low-end products and you have your high-end ones, and it’s up to the consumer as to whether they’re willing to pay for quality or quantity, getting something for cheap.” You’re getting what you pay for, I guess. I really prefer being there to educate and tell people, relaying the difference, for them to make a decision.
THR: Can you explain the process of infusing Reiki into your products?
LS: Reiki is an energy modality. Everything is energy and energy is everything. Every single thing, even a stone, everything is made of energy. Just like the experiment where the kids “bullied” one plant and complimented the other, it’s the same thing with everything. There have been scientific studies about how positive energy changes the freezing structure of molecules making snowflakes. Energy can really help everything. The same is true with intention, for example, somebody who’s Catholic might get some holy water or get a blessing from a priest or something, this is not a religious thing, it’s just a belief that by putting intentions into the body, it’s a body modality. It’s something that massage therapists can be trained to do for their clients. But then, you can take that and put it into anything. Almost like saying a blessing over your food before eating it, it’s the same kind of principle. So, what happens is everything is made and manufactured and tagged and labeled, and then a third-degree Reiki master infuses them with intentional energy.
THR: Where can our readers buy your products?
LS: Having my booth at SoCo Maker’s Market, I get to meet so many amazing Austinites that come by and shop on south Congress. Me being a world traveller, I love being able to meet people from all over the country and the world!
I don’t do anything like anybody else. I don’t like to be a crowd-follower. I’m either a crowd-starter or I like to stand on the sidelines and be completely different, I always go against the grain. I get SO many calls asking where I’m located. At times I do wish we had a storefront so that we could accommodate the people who want to come in and browse, and the people that want to come in and meet me, the people that I spend hours on the phone with. They’re always shocked at how much I’m willing to give them, but I do that because I think it’s important that they feel validated, even if I’ve not been through what they’re going through, I can still empathize. It’s not about a sale to me. And that goes all the way back to what I said before about me running a business totally NOT like a business!
That’s the nice thing about being the owner of a company, I’m able to help my fellow musicians and other people when they need it.
THR: That’s the rewarding part, right?
LS: Yeah, we can get so wrapped up in ourselves and “me, me, me” and it just feels so good when you’re able to help somebody. There are times when someone’s injured or hurting or they need emotional support and you know that, especially during COVID, you can’t be there, you can’t bring them food. I have a friend who lost her mom during COVID, and I couldn’t be there to give her a big hug. I felt hopeless, and I thought, “what can I do to help her?” and I thought, “wait, I’ll give her an emotional support dog!” So I gave her a bottle of CBD to try to help her through. It’s a nice way to be able to help other people, to give them the gift that keeps on giving.
THR: Where do you see the future of hemp as a renewable resource?
LS: People say we have a lumber shortage. No, we have a tree and forest shortage. One acre of hemp can replace three acres of trees in three to four months, instead of 30-60 years. Let that sink in. That’s not only sustainable, it’s part of regeneration. Those plants are taking a lot of crap out of the air, and they’re pulling it into the soil, and the soil is re-nitrogenated by the plants and it’s helping with the water runoff because all of the water is going down instead of running off. It’s helping to put microbes and fungi and all of these great nutrients back into the soil. Just doing little things. We don’t have to do everything the right way or whatever we think is the right way. Just taking little steps for our bodies and for the planet is something. Just because I use compostable gloves when we’re manufacturing, and doing things that I know are going into the compost or into the trash and the recycling, doesn’t mean that everybody has to do that. It just makes me feel good at the end of the day, doing something a little extra.
THR: What is your impression of this unprecedented time, where we may finally feel safe to spend time with our friends and family again?
LS: In getting older, when you make a decision or when something happens in life, you don’t always know what kind of waves and ripples you put out until sometimes several years later, and then you start hearing back from people. So, sometimes we plant a seed and we walk away and we don’t know whether it caught and grew or if it created other plants and that’s how this whole process has been for me. And then of course with COVID, it just got much more deep and energetic.
Me being a massage therapist and a professional vocalist (I’m in the Patrice Pike band), before COVID, we had a residency at the Saxon Pub every Thursday for eight years. So, the Saxon was my second home! Everything’s changed. That was a source of income. But with my business, I’ve never had to impose sales quotas on myself. I want to be able to go to the market and introduce myself and explain the amazing things about this plant. If I meet new people, and I give them a business card and share some information and they leave with a smile, then I’ve done my job. It’s such a rewarding thing to come home every day and be able to tell my wife about all the great people I get to meet. That’s how I built my business, by not just thinking about money, and it just rolled back into itself and it’s still such a pleasure to be able to go and meet people and talk to people. I hand-write a thank you note for every single order that goes out. The slogan for Happy Karma Hemp is “Create Happy Karma”. I believe we can create happy karma by helping others first. By doing good things or having good intentions, by going above and beyond, whether people ever know it, is not the point. The point is that, energetically, it’s a positive, kind, intentional thing. It’s not necessarily up to those people to reward me back, the universe takes care of me. God, the universe, takes care of us in a plethora of ways that we may never even notice or know.
We just had our first post-quarantine performance at Saxon last week. One of my posts recently on Instagram was about being kind to oneself, and a lot of people have grown and changed over the past 15 months and change is not bad, it’s just change, it’s just different. A lot of people have become a little more enlightened and a little more sensitive to energy and more in tune with nature and they’re vibrating on a different frequency. So, for some of these people, the thought of going back into big crowds is too much, myself included. I have been, most of my life, what I would consider a super-extrovert but I changed over the pandemic and I enjoyed being home and being in the back yard and being around nature. And my sensitivity became heightened, so my very first show back at the Saxon was very overwhelming, just to see all these people that I used to see every week. At the same time that it was a wonderful, glorious reunion, it was also intense being around so many people and feeling that energy. The pandemic and the events over the past 15 months have brought up some controversial issues. Hopefully, people will recognize that it’s so much easier to be kind than to be right. My first gig back was just really overwhelming and I was realizing that at least half of the people I was talking to were having the same struggle. Over the next six months, some people will just sort of tiptoe out and some people will come out with a vengeance, and that’s okay.
It’s amazing after three and a half years of my company, to be able sit back and go, “whoa, I created all of this completely from nothing, all by myself, from scratch.” And when someone says it’s helping them, it’s amazing to stop and remind myself that I helped somebody.