Claudia Mata's Green Road to CBD
When it came to our series debut, it seemed only natural to start with Vertly’s very own co-founder, Claudia Mata.
Though many of you reading this may know her as the sun-loving, garden-tending mom of two behind your favorite CBD beauty products, just 4 years ago she was living in New York and working as Accessories Director at W magazine—a job that involved selecting incredible jewels for photo shoots and which was likely just about as glamorous as it sounds. However, her husband (and Vertly co-founder) Zander had always known they wanted to raise their family in Marin County, where he grew up. And so, in 2016 they packed up their East Coast life and moved across the country. If that wasn’t enough of a life 180, shortly after settling in, Claudia traded in her career as a fashion editor for one as a CBD entrepreneur. From the outside, it seemed like a total life change, however, as those close to her knew, Zander’s family had been in the cannabis business for well over a decade and, as a practicing yogi, he had been using cannabis as a wellness tool for just as long. Combined with her continued interest in herbalism (she even went back to school) and their shared passion for green living, it all came together quite naturally. The impetus for launching Vertly was far larger than a single ingredient: It was a desire to build a different kind of skincare line. Sure, they include CBD with freshly extracted botanicals which is special, but where Vertly really stands out is in its process: Everything is made fresh weekly in small batches, they work with farmers whose names they know, they are transparent with their ingredients and they test each product for at least a year before it actually hits the market—ensuring promises of relaxed and radiant skin are ones they can keep.
You went from fashion to CBD skincare—that was quite the leap! Tell us about how Vertly came about.
When I arrived in California, I decided to go back to school to study herbalism—it was something that had always interested me and was supposed to be my “me time” before my second baby. Every day I would come home from school and talk about the plants I was studying and their power to help our bodies heal—I wanted everyone to know about it! Meanwhile, Zander, who had trained as a nutritionist/yogi/health coach, had been applying cannabinoids topically for relief from soreness and other athletic injuries and had been preaching for years about using cannabis for wellness. One night in the middle of my daily “plant talks,” he said, “You’re starting to sound like me and CBD.” This was our A-HA moment, so we merged our worlds and Vertly was born.
Any tips for budding entrepreneurs looking to change careers and start something new?
I’ve always been guided by the expression “Leap, and the net will appear.” It requires a little bit of faith in the universe when stepping into the unknown like a new career and trusting that whatever the outcome, you’ll be okay in the end—whether it’s with a successful company or developing new skills. Practical tip: Arm yourself with knowledge. In addition to herbalism school, I went to a cannabis university in Oakland to learn as much as I could about cannabis. I also found people who were more experienced than me to collaborate with because it can take a village for an idea to manifest. I partnered with as many experts like botanical formulators, seasoned herbalists, master gardeners and chemists so they could further advise me. If you have the vision, you can ultimately orchestrate the right players and make it all come together.
As you know, CBD is a newly trendy space. What makes Vertly unique?
Being newbies in the skincare field almost freed us from any preset notions of what our brand should be and allowed us to create something that reflected our lifestyle. We wanted to be a true garden-to-bottle brand, getting our hands on the plants we use and focusing on what goes inside each product. Working with local farmers, slow-infusing our herbs for a month and making small batches weekly makes sense to us because what goes on your body should be just as considered and fresh as what goes in your body.
As a mother and entrepreneur, I’m sure you’re always juggling a million things. How do you maintain the balance between work and family?
Prioritize and set boundaries! A new business’ growth can take over your life if you let it, especially when it’s so intertwined with our lifestyle, as Vertly is. But at this point in my journey, success is not only about work, but it’s also about my family’s quality of life. I’ve accepted that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done so instead of experiencing anxiety over how to handle it all, I set priorities based on what kind of life I aspire to have. I want to be present with my family, so I don’t check my phone or emails when I’m spending time with my kids. Our entire office has a short work week because I hired mostly mothers who, like me, wanted to have more time with their children. As a founder, I’m trying to make up my own definition of what success is, which includes working hard and having ambitious goals, but also not needing to be on a hyper-growth path just because everyone else may be. I’m opting for a steady, happy + balanced journey on the way up!
Did you deal with any stigma when starting a cannabis company?
I realized that if I was serious about our mission, part of that entailed putting myself out there fully and standing behind what I believed in. My husband and I live in Northern California, have a healthy, green lifestyle; we have young kids, are both active people—and are very open about sharing our personal use of CBD for wellness. When I first launched in 2017, the most commonly asked question was regarding whether CBD will get you high (it doesn’t)—so I knew there were a lot of misconceptions out there and we needed to educate people on the benefits of CBD. There was (and still is) a stigma around cannabis and CBD, but I wanted to play a role in helping to broaden the perspective beyond an outdated stereotype. It can sometimes take just one person you know sharing their experiences on something that could expand your mindset. I’m very open about how and why I use CBD, which I think most people can relate to: for the beautification of my skin, for soothing my body post workout (or my feet for after a day in heels) and I also use tinctures at night before bed.
What’s your favorite Vertly product and how does CBD fit into your daily routine?
The Vertly products I’m loving the most right now are my Essential Nutrients Face Serum and my Tinted Rose Lip Butter Stick. I use the serum every morning and night and it leaves my skin with such a healthy glow—I’m obsessed! The tinted rose stick is in my purse, car, nightstand—everywhere! It’s the most perfect shade of sheer pink, leaving my lips looking fresh and happy. I also use a CBD-infused collagen powder from Daily Habit CBD in my morning green shakes, and I take a delicious JUNA tincture at night for a more restful sleep.