Inspired by Maya from Shaw BK: on the healing energy of cannabis, starting your own business, music and feminism

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Good Morning everyone!! Wherever you are, I hope you're taking good care of yourself and that you're staying cool in this heat!! Make sure to wear sun screen and drink lots of water! I was actually very happy that it rained a little bit Monday night in Brooklyn... the heat can be a lot as our bodies are still transitioning to the summer, but definitely not complaining. My mood is so much better with the sun out and everything feels a little bit lighter on my body. So, I am happy. And I am very stoked to finally share Maya's story with you all as she is creating a unique and wonderful space over at her shop Shaw BK. I met Maya at a Lululemon Lab event... it was a wellness panel and I was intrigued and curious when I found out that she is starting her own business! Yes, it's up and live and CONGRATS again on the launch dear!! Cause starting your own thing (whatever it might be) can be hard, you need some guts and courage, and a strong support system... but before I tell you all too much, let's get right into it. This is Maya and this is Shaw BK!

So happy to have you here, would you like to introduce yourself?

Hey everyone, I am Maya Shaw, 24, from Richmond, Virginia and I am the owner of Shaw BK. 

Amazing, so what is Shaw BK?

Shaw BK is an online space for women who indulge in cannabis usage where they can find everything they need from curated pipes to CBD oils to beauty products. And all of the products are made by women. 

Why did you decide to open up such a space and platform?

This has been a year in the works and there are all these other shops opening in California and not necessarily here in New York and a piece of me was just like: where are the women in this? I know there are so many women artists out there and I wonder if their things are in these shops, if their things are being sold there or are we just overlooking a lot of these women artists. So many women use cannabis, why aren't they being celebrated. I thought, you know what, I am just going to start my own shit and support these women and see what happens! It was really scary because when I first started reaching out to people, I wasn't sure about their reactions. I thought they’d be like “No! I don't want to make pipes, this is illegal!” But every single person was on board and super stoked and excited to have space where they can see themselves in something that has been so taboo, especially for women where it’s been a stereotype of what the woman stoner looks like and who she is. It’s either like a joke… the mum that gets high when her kids are playing outside or it’s over sexualized when really it’s just something that so many women use either lying down or have fun or cure their illnesses.

What do you think is the importance of such a space? 

The importance is representation, so with any space that there is now, it’s so important that people see themselves and then that will help normalize and de-stigmatize the plant, especially when everything is beautifully done and there is beautiful branding and it’s curated. People will see it less of this thing that has been so illegal and stereo typed. Everything that has been said about it, it being the category 1 drug... and it’s totally not on the same level as heroine and cocaine and all of these things that are also category 1 drugs. That’s why I think it’s important that people can see that it’s actually just like a healing plant. Something that we need and when it’s beautifully done that helps… people are more open and it’s more digestible. 

Who is your inspiration?

My inspiration has been… not necessarily one person or anything… but all of the different artists that I am inspired by through the years and my personal design aesthetic being minimal, light and airy, so bringing all of that to the website but then, also the social justice aspect or the aspect that it is a women only shop. I am always inspired by the reading that I do. A lot of the times, Maya Angelou... I know this might sound like… of course Maya reads Maya Angelo... but I am just obsessed with her work and recently though, I went to the Women's March for the first time this year and my friends in that setting were ready to go, ready to spring and ready to fight. I was buzzing the whole time and just being surrounded by all these activists, was such good energy. There is work to be done in so many different fields and someone’s gotta do it regardless of the field. You just gotta do it.

 via Shaw BK captured by Virginia Stroh

via Shaw BK captured by Virginia Stroh

So, when did you make the final decision to start Shaw BK? Like what was the process?

Honestly, the tipping point for me was pretty selfish actually. It wasn’t necessarily the platform, it was more like: what am I doing with my life. What can I tell my kids that I did to make a difference? Instead of working, working, working for a corporate company doing the usual, so what can I say that I actually did to help. I was thinking about this one night and then I was like: fuck it, I am doing it because this is work that I am passionate about obviously and it’s something that I want to be proud of and I want to show it to other people. I want to show the world that there is work to be done and that there are people doing the work. I can't wait until I am finally done doing the branding and the beautiful stuff because then, I can really get into the social justice aspect and the hard conversations about what’s happening in the cannabis industry to really blend the two to really show that you can make a difference. It can be beautiful but also YOU can be doing the work. That was kind of my tipping point where I actually woke up one day and thought: I got to!! It was around this time last year. So, I had this idea and I told it to a co-worker and he was like: just do it! 

How long have you been using cannabis?

I have been using cannabis since High School and of course then, at high school and at house parties, someone has weed and they are smoking but as a healing plant, I’ve been using it for two years. When I say as a healing plant, I mean using CBD oil to help with anxiety or using a THC / CBD blend for my shins after I work out for too long and don't stretch, or vaping for getting rid of a headache or rubbing something on my stomach for cramps. It’s crazy how it is a natural plant that can literally grow in our backyard and has all these healing capabilities and yet, there is so much legislation on it. It’s like we actually can be doing some cool work… if you make it legal. In the past 4 months, the cannabis industry has grown so much, the stereotypes are really starting to fall away now and the governments are trying to change these legislations state by state and city by city and it's really awesome and I am so excited to see when it’s legal across the board. You hear all these stories of people using it to help with their chemo. Like they have chemo, but they don't have an appetite and they smoke weed and then they have an appetite again or curing epilepsy. It really is healing. I mean of course, I also smoke it to get lit and have fun, but also you can come home from work after a high stressed day, you take a few drops of CBD oil and completely melt, that’s incredible. Without any prescription, without any chemicals, you can cure yourself. That’s incredible. 

So, tell me a little bit about your own fitness and wellness journey.

I have always been active, I did dance and ballet, theater groups and was always running around. Going from one thing to another. I was never a sports person. I know when I was little, I tried soccer and instead of running, I was skipping down the field. And now… the thing that got me into fitness as an adult was spin and yoga. So, yoga came first and it was just a practice that I did in college every single day. I would practice every day on my own because it was just a great way to decompress from school and stress. It also helped with my grades. I was on the Dean’s list for the full four years throughout college and I seriously blame it on yoga because I was so focused on my practice. I mean I still went out and had fun, but if I was ever stressed I just did a handstand real fast and get re-grounded and work on something and then, it also really inspired me to work in design and being able to use fitness to help fuel my creative side. After yoga came spin, soul cycle and I just got hooked on soul cycle and that opened up everything and then moving to New York… there are so many studios…

 via Shaw BK captured by Virginia Stroh

via Shaw BK captured by Virginia Stroh

When and how did you move here?

I moved here 2 years ago to work for Lululemon. To work at the Lab. 

How do you like it so far?

I have a love hate relationship with it. I love nature and I love being by the beach. It’s like one of my most favorite things. Whenever I am by the beach I feel like my true self, just being by the water and in the sand. There are a lot of plants in my apartment because of that. But I also love New York, there is so much going on and you meet so many people. There is always a sub culture somewhere doing something that you can tap into and that's like forever inspiring. 

What is your advice for other women who would like to start their own thing? What was the hardest part?

The hardest part was getting people on board especially when it is something outlandish to people like Shaw BK. I would tell people and people didn't get it, but when I made my branding deck, created my business plan, started taking actionable actions, made an Instagram account, and I had an aesthetic and I had something to show, business cards whatever, people were warming up. It took an actual year for people to get it because I was very strong and secure in my idea. My advice would be to stand behind your idea no matter what people will say. People will say that it will fail and that it might not work, but that's the whole point. Of course it might fail, but you try and you try again. Then, you go back to the drawing board and let's try again. You can't be afraid of that. You can't let other people drag you into the dark, you can't let other people stop you. You have to fight for your idea, you have to fight for yourself.

What are your three self care rituals in your every day? 

My number 1) thing is CBD oil. I don't know where I would be without it. It is life-changing. I take it every morning and I use it for anxiety. I take a few drops and I put it into my matcha every morning. So yes, CBD oil is topical or edible. And this one that will be on the shop as well is from a woman owned company up here in New York. She's so dope.

Number 2) and number 3) are music and dancing. That's all I need. We can use the face mask, the ointment and burn some incense, the Palo Santo, I am here for that but I need to move and I need music in my life. And that's it. Those are my self-care rituals.

What is your favorite music? Or what are you listening to right now?

I am listening to a lot of old disco. And right now I am listening to Steve Lacey and I am obsessed with him. He plays the guitar I think and he sings. His music is a little bit funky and a little bit disco. A little Frank Ocean vibes. I also like Mac Demarco. It sounds like it's really bad, like he is not trying at all. It sounds like he is in his bathroom and just recording it, but I love it.

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Would you say you're a feminist?

Oh my god! Hell yeah!

Why is it so important to you?

Because I am a woman and I think that every woman is a feminist whether or not you call yourself one or not, you step into this world as a woman, you're a feminist. Everything that you do impacts woman power. So, absolutely. Every single thing I do. What I wear, what I say, how I act, everything. What I shop, what I eat, everything is about woman empowerment. Regardless if I am doing it intentionally or not. 

Do you feel the need to give back, teach, educate?

Yes, absolutely. We're seeing more now which is awesome but I think a couple years ago, you didn't see as many young girl empowerment groups, big sister, little sister... I think that's super important just because... you know we see everything in the news right now. If we are supporting each other whether it's in our offices, where we work, our churches, where we shop and we band together, we can really make a difference and can be strong together. You see it with the #metoo movement... like hell yeah! How come it took us this long to figure it out!

I always feel weird saying that the website, the shop supports women artists, especially to men because their response is always kind of like: huh ok! I also had women asking like: why is it just women?! I have to explain... because there are so many women artists out there and they need a platform that they are not getting and that's why! If the shop supports only women businesses doesn't mean that men can't shop it. It doesn't mean that you can't be an ally. It just means that this isn't the space for you to sell your stuff. And that's okay because you as a man can go anywhere else to sell your shit. Do that, cause you can. I want to fight for women and I want to give the space to sell their work. There are so many women artists that sell their work through them, like they are selling their own stuff. They are not in a store or anywhere. Some of them are, but I just want to celebrate them! 

Thank you again so much Maya, this was amazing! So much fun chatting about all things cannabis and learning more about its healing powers, your own health and wellness journey, what it takes to start your own business and why it's important to you to be a feminist.

Very proud of you sister for taking the leap and inspiring all of us! Follow Shaw BK here and come out this Saturday, June 23rd as Maya is having a Pop Up Shop at Sincerely Tommy from 1-5pm.

I'll definitely be there, so come join us!

Hope to see you this weekend and keep the stoke high!!

Huyen