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March 06, 2020
The Food Writer and Chef Who Started a Gourmet Treats Brand

Marshmallows aren’t the first treat that comes to mind when you think about cannabis edibles. But in a sea of gummies and chocolates, Stephanie Hua’s confections stand out as an innovation. Her brand, Mellows, began in 2015 when Hua graduated from culinary school and found nothing that spoke to her as a low-dose cannabis consumer. She decided to combine her pastry training and love of beautiful design to create a line of infused marshmallows that contain 5mg THC each. With flavors like Birthday Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, Brown Butter Sage, and Black Sesame, they’ve become a fun, giftable favorite.

Read on to hear why cannabis is the best thing for a prickly mood, her biggest challenge starting up Mellows, and her love of ice cream. 

On why she uses cannabis now: I’m a low-dose kinda gal and I love it to help me relax or get a good night’s sleep. It also takes the edge off when I’m feeling prickly. A lot of people have been scared off by edibles because they’ve overdone it in the past -- we’ve all been there! A little can go a long way and it could be just what you need to shift your perspective.

On her first cannabis memory: I consider two different occasions to be my first time. The official was when I was a sophomore in high school at a house party. I tried a joint being passed around and I didn’t feel anything so it was pretty unmemorable. The second time was completely different. It was a different house party and it involved a vaporizer. It looked like a crazy crystal ball and I got way too high. Things went into slow motion and I was couch-locked, terrified it was going to last forever. It definitely scared me at the time but not forever thankfully!

On her best advice to women in the industry: Do your research: Read up on the regulations and compliance requirements, have a business plan, and understand how much start-up capital you’ll need. Get hands-on experience. Test, iterate, and test again. 

Talk to people in the industry you admire: There are so many incredible, talented, inspiring women out there who are growing this (female) plant, advocating for her, and making high-quality goods for other women in mind. It is up to us to shape and define, or redefine, what the cannabis industry is and who the consumer is. 

On how she got funding: When we first started, it was tough convincing a lot of dispensaries that people wanted a 5 mg gourmet edible. With the recreational market opening up, more customers are looking for products that are low-dose and approachable. It takes persistence though, and really believing in your product.  

That said, our company was bootstrapped for a long time. We received our first investment towards the end of 2018, and aim to close our seed round this year. Our investors are a mix of angels and funds that have invested in cannabis before.

On her favorite munchies snack: Fancy ice cream! Humphry Slocombe, Three Twins, and Jeni’s are a few of my favorites. That said, I’m not above digging into a bag of cheesy poofs. And don’t even put chips and dip near me: Danger!

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