Mothers have been a part of Potli’s DNA from the very beginning. So much so, that the company’s original beehives were started by co-founder Felicity Chen’s father as a way to source the best all-natural, wildflower honey for Chen’s mom, an asthma patient. Along with Christine Yi, the two real-life best friends continued to think through products that would be mom-friendly as they developed Potli, focusing on developing approachable, high-quality products, powerful enough to overcome the negative stigmas of cannabis. This year, in celebration of Mother’s Day, Potli founders Christine Yi and Felicity Chen decided to switch things up with a founder-to-founder interview, with Christine asking Felicity about her own mother, and what it’s like to start a parent-approved cannabis company.
Christine Yi: So Fel, tell me about your mom. What kind of woman is she? When you think of her, what comes to mind?
Felicity Chen: My mom’s story is pretty amazing. She is the eldest of four children, and the only woman to succeed her family’s food manufacturing business. Even though she’s really quiet and shy, she’s incredibly organized, strong, and smart.
CY: Do you feel like as you get older, and have started a food company, that you feel more connected to her? Or that you’re becoming more like her?
FC: In truth, I think I take after my dad. He’s more outgoing and creative, whereas my mom oversees things as an operational workhorse, someone who can manage the day to day operations of a warehouse. You rarely see women in that capacity. She works the hardest out of anyone I know, and I try hard to emulate her, though I feel innately like my dad.
CY: I think it’s interesting that you say you take after your dad more, because when you describe your mom and how hardworking she is, and how she steps up to the challenge, I really think of you. The way you describe your mom is exactly how I would describe you.
FC: [laughs] No way, that’s cool!
CY: We formed Potli in part because of the honey supply your parents had put together to help your mom’s asthma. What more to the story is there?
FC: Well we definitely wanted to create a cannabis product that our moms would understand. Growing up Asian-American, smoking is seen as really unhealthy and taboo. Consuming cannabis was tied to someone who was never going to be successful. But I grew up in an Eastern-Asian medicine household. Whenever someone didn’t feel well, we thought through what kinds of foods and herbs could be taken to restore the chi and flow of your health. Eventually, positioning cannabis within this holistic narrative was something my parents could understand.
CY: And now, how does your mom feel about you working in this business?
FC: My mother isn’t very outwardly affectionate, which can be pretty common in Asian-American households. But I have asked her if she’s proud of me — and the answer is of course, “of course.” She’s happy that we took the initiative to start something of our own. Coming from her, that means so much, because if anyone knows how hard starting a business is, she does.
CY: I think what’s really surprised us is how we made Potli with people like our moms in mind, but it’s also translated into who our clients actually are. There are so many strong female narratives, including mothers, in our story and among our buyers. Why else do you think that is?
FC: Potli’s branding is simple, accessible, and straightforward. I think our ingredients-first philosophy is contextualized in a really nurturing and nourishing way, in a way that is really important to our clients.
CY: I think another part of our accessibility comes from the fact that we talk a lot about self-care and self-love, and whenever you think about the person in your life you want to feel their best, it’s mom. Who else deserves pampering, undivided attention, or relaxation more than our mothers?
FC: That’s true. Moms are always putting others’ needs ahead of their own, but it’s time to put them first!