“Can you hear me? I’m hiding from my children,” Claudia Mata answers the telephone for our call, not long before she’s set to leave for a trip. The mother to two young children and the fairer half of wellness brand Vertly, which she started with her husband Zander Gladish, is educated as an herbalist, and is a Nor-Cal based New Yorker at heart. She kindly took our request to speak for a few minutes about her background and her path to Vertly as part of our effort to highlight and amplify the stories of some of our many powerful women-owned companies on this year’s International Women’s Day.
Standard Dose: What led you to starting a wellness brand with your husband?
Claudia Mata: It came about in a roundabout, but also quite natural way. My husband wanted to return to his roots in California after our second child, where eventually my interest and study of herbalism lead me to enroll in some cannabis university courses (not an uncommon occurrence in Northern California), and it continued from there. When Vertly was taking shape, we really found a holistic way to synthesize our skills and backgrounds.
How did you decide to incorporate CBD into your products?
My husband has been treating himself with CBD and CBD-THC topically for years. He has a very active, green lifestyle and is focused on wellness. And as a native Northern Californian, he had more than a little localized knowledge about cannabis with his family working in the industry for more than a decade. That, and his personal experience with CBD, made him look differently at the gap in the market.
How do you use the Relief Lotion in your daily routine?
It’s funny because my husband and I both use the Relief Lotion really differently. To be frank, I’ve found it super great for post-pregnancy body restoration, as the mother of young but giant children, and I like to use it on targeted areas. My husband on the other hand, who has a mild form of eczema, uses it all over his body every single day post-shower to keep his skin inflammation at bay.
As a business owner, where are you seeing the most promise for the CBD industry's future?
Right now I am most excited about experimenting with terpenes. You can adjust terpene variables in CBD, and it definitely is an area of interest for us, as well as learning about other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG as they become more thoroughly understood.
Can you speak to importance of wild-crafted herbs in your formulations?
Rather than treat CBD as a cure-all, our approach is harnessing botanical power by combining CBD with other plants, because then it can be especially beneficial. In our area [Northern California] there are so many herbalist farms and communes, and the people who work in my lab are all herbalists. It’s important to us to make our own herbal infusions to ensure quality and potency. Our oils are not bought; it’s the difference between buying concentrated, frozen orange juice and fresh-squeezed. They can both be called orange juice, but are they the same? We make fresh, small batches weekly in the lab.
What do you think so many female-fronted businesses adds to the wellness space?
When I first started, it seemed the marketplaces were small collectives of women sharing info and knowledge with each other. You learned a lot from others’ experiences. Today I’d say the industry at large is still mainly run by men, but I’m proud that Vertly is one of the fishes moving the current in a new direction. It feels powerful to know there are so many of us working toward shifting the needle.
Tell me about Vertly's proudest success as a wellness brand.
We are lucky to have experienced some early love in the press and, subsequently, we have reached every goal we have set as a company. It has been a steady climb. We are still pleasantly surprised with every next step. Right now we are really feeling support in mainstream stores, which is exciting. I am also incredibly proud to be able to connect on a personal level with customers via direct feedback, and then actually apply that to my formulas and hear about their experiences. It’s so rewarding. Every step of the process, I can do. I put on my lab coat and get to work.
What's next for Vertly?
Our schedule includes about three product launches a year, and on the horizon is another fitness-focused product coming out that we are excited about. I’m also considering a section on the site specifically for seasonal and limited-edition botanical concoctions, so stay tuned