Today we’d like to introduce you to Imelda Walavalkar, Irwin Matutina.
Imelda and Irwin, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We wanted to create something that we ourselves would want to buy, as well as be a part of. Both in terms of actual product as well as helping define its larger significance. We also just love weed and wanted to be part of its evolution. With that said, the journey to get to this point hasn’t been the easiest. We started with no outside funding and built our brand for about two and a half years before we hit a ceiling and it became necessary to raise money. What we have had working for us is a tremendous amount of support from within our community. We have been incredibly fortunate to find partners with whom we are philosophically aligned. Having these relationships and networks has not only been a lifeline but has propelled us to where we are now. We owe so much to so many people who have just believed in us and what we are doing. We hope to honor this by not losing sight of the historical injustices that exist in this industry, particularly as it grows and becomes increasingly monetized and homogenous.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not a smooth road at all. A lot of our friends outside the cannabis space read a lot of the headlines and assume we are minting money. They don’t understand how hard this industry actually is from a practical and financial perspective. With the introduction of the recreational market came all kinds of stringent and often hard to interpret regulations. As you can imagine this has been stressful and expensive. Not to mention the high level of taxation. We are essentially still competing with the black market–which is still thriving in California–and is paying nothing in taxes and is, of course, not subject to any regulations. We spent a few thousand dollars and a ton of mental hassle the other day removing a word from thousands of labels because the regulations on CBD labeling had changed the week before; yet the unlicensed shop around the corner from my house is doing just fine. Fortunately, we have come out of this even stronger. The unfortunate part is that most companies need to have a lot of money to survive and that is not fair. We want to be part of changing this inequity.
Please tell us about Pure Beauty.
We pride ourselves on our flower. This is largely due to our cultivation practices. Our flower is grown indoors in one of the most eco-sustainable cultivations in the country.
All water used to grow our plants is captured from the air using dehumidification, saving millions of gallons of water a year. This is a huge deal for a state like California. A closed loop system means no fertilizer nor other harmful runoff, ensuring surrounding waters and land are kept clean and pure. And, all-natural soil – made up of friendly bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes, coupled with macro-organisms like earthworms and roly-polys – creates both healthy plant food and helps prevent disease and plant-eating predators.
We give the same love and attention to our pre-rolls. We have spent a lot of time iterating to get them perfect. From mastering the grind to researching and experimenting with so many different papers and crutches. Our cigarette paper is made from flax and has been produced since the mid-1500s in Wattenpapier, Austria. It took us a long time to find it!
We are also committed to criminal justice reform. A portion of our sales go towards programs for current and formerly incarcerated populations via Defy Ventures, a not for profit providing multi-disciplinary support and training to incarcerated populations with the goal of reducing rates of recidivism.
Aside from trying to make the best product possible, we feel our creative and branding has a unique voice within the industry. This is because we support and champion ideas and artists that are personal to us. So, everything we do is coming from an honest place. It may not be an idea that appeals to every single person but that’s ok. We want to treat our audience with respect and want the respect to be felt. We will never dumb it down for the consumer.