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If you’d asked me to envision my future during the 12 years I spent as a fashion and accessories editor (most recently at W), I definitely wouldn’t have pictured a life that revolved around plants and farmers. And, yet, my road to starting my own CBD-based skincare line has unfolded quite organically.

My husband Zander’s brothers have been in the cannabis industry for over a decade, so I’ve regularly learned about and discussed the plant’s benefits for a long while. Even before moving to California, when we were living in New York City, we always had CBD and THC at our apartment because my husband used it topically to soothe his athletic injuries. I didn’t know any other yogis who lubed up their bodies with cannabis after teaching classes, but it was pretty normal in our house.

In 2016, we decided to leave the East Coast and move our growing family to Northern California, where Zander grew up. While seven months pregnant and with a 2-year-old in tow, I left the career and city that I loved for an unknown path.

It was a major life change, but I instantly fell in love with our new home, surrounded by nature. And, in typical driven New Yorker style, I felt compelled to stay busy, immediately launching myself into an herbalism course/education. To my delight, I found myself completely in my element and did a deep dive into learning how plants can help our bodies heal and thrive. Part of those studies involved cannabis and the beneficial role it can play in wellness.

Since I was fortunate enough to already have family in the game, the idea of starting a CBD brand was not a scary step; in fact, it felt natural. I partnered with my husband, whose knowledge and experience in health, nutrition and cannabis was invaluable. And, just like that, the concept of Vertly was formed: pairing complementary healing plants with CBD for body and skin wellness!  

In 2017, when I started Vertly, CBD was relatively unknown, so I faced many hurdles, but I was armed with the personal experience of how it helped my husband for so many years and the desire to share this ingredient with the world. I also wanted to focus beyond CBD and build a different kind of skincare company: I believe skincare options should be as carefully considered as our food choices—it matters how fresh they are and how the ingredients are grown and processed. 

I found local Northern Californian farmers and herbalists to grow our fresh herbs and we built our own laboratory to slowly extract these herbs (for up to four weeks) to create the potent, therapeutic oils used in our whole line. There are much easier and faster ways to create skincare products, but, having studied plants and understanding the process needed to extract the most benefits from them, I knew the slow way was the best and most effective way. I touch all the plants that come through our facilities and am proud to be such hands-on founder.

My recommendation to other women who are looking to jump into different fields is to take the leap. Stepping into the unknown requires a little bit of faith in the universe and trust that, whatever the outcome, everything will be okay in the end, whether that means building a thriving company or simply developing new skills. Study and learn as much as possible about your new path, but don’t let inexperience hold you back. If you have the vision, you can orchestrate the right players to come together and bring your idea to life. — Claudia Mata

Learn more about the wonders of Claudia Mata and Vertly here.

Cover image via Alexis Christodoulou

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