Today we’d like to introduce you to Judy Yee.
Judy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was working in the healthy food and beverage space for over 20+ years and was one of the early pioneers at Earthbound Farm that mainstreamed organic food. But my journey to cannabis first started when I wanted to get back into my active lifestyle. I had taken a few years off to raise my daughter and found my body recovery was longer and harder. Other remedies I tried – like acupuncture – either were not working or weren’t as effective. I was introduced by friends to cannabis as an alternative for her treatment. Incorporating cannabis into my life has been a true savior and it’s allowed me to return to an active lifestyle with more joy.
I soon realized it was the perfect time to leverage my background and my passion and advocacy for cannabis to create great tasting cannabis beverages and brands people will come to love and trust. I believe these kinds of stories will be one of many reasons more people will adopt cannabis into their daily routine.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I was born in Taiwan and we emigrated to the States when I was young. Growing up in a fairly conservative household had its challenges and I also had to overcome many cultural differences. My dad strongly believed in President Reagan’s war on drugs campaign “Just Say No,” so I had a very negative, but false, perception of cannabis — including its effect on people and the image it projected on those who used it.
Professionally, it was difficult moving away from the traditional, Fortune 500 CPG companies to being a public advocate for cannabis. I had to really familiarize myself with cannabis – in all its various forms and strains – and eventually partnered with a team of highly skilled food scientists where we started researching and experimenting with cannabis drinks.
Personally, it wasn’t easy. It took a while for me to get comfortable sharing my story publicly — especially as a mom to a young child who’s active in her school community. But telling my conservative parents was the most challenging. How do I explain that I left a thriving CPG career to start a cannabis beverage company? I worried about not only how I would be viewed by them but also how they would be viewed by their friends and other family members of their daughter making this big change. I jokingly told my parents to tell others that I was having an “early mid-life” crisis. They didn’t laugh, but they’ve quickly come to terms with it and my mom has now incorporated cannabis topicals in her self-care.
K-Zen – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m the co-founder and CEO of K-Zen, a leading cannabis beverage company. We’re passionate about creating healthy and delicious cannabis-infused products for every type of consumer. Our mission is to inspire the enjoyment and education around cannabis by creating trustworthy, tasteful cannabis beverages.
I believe providing familiar methods of cannabis consumption will inspire adults to safely experience it, building a more informed and conscious society. Consumers are moving away from alcohol and moving towards low- and no-alcohol beverages – there is nothing fun about being hungover. We’ve all heard of Dry January’ and ‘Sober October,’ traditions that are now more popular than ever. And the ‘Cali sober’ lifestyle is on the rise as well. According to a recent report by IWSR, wine consumption in the U.S. declined for the first time in 25 years.
Influencing the rise of this trend is a cultural shift toward health and wellness. And that’s what I’m most proud of at K-Zen. We know consumers make deliberate choices about what they put in their bodies, and we’re very mindful of that. That’s why our goal is to make delicious beverages you can feel good about drinking.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Learn something new each day: I see my life as one continuous learning journey. Try to take time each day to talk with someone who may not necessarily share your views (which is even more important during this time) or read up on a topic you’ve always been curious, but know little about.
Prioritize your self-care: I like to start each morning with meditation and a run or workout. I cannot be a thoughtful leader or caretaker of my family if I am also not taking care of myself and my physical and mental well-being — and that includes everything from my mind, body, spirit and heart.
Make a positive difference and live in the moment: I always ask myself, “Am I doing something each day that is making a positive difference with my team, family and community?” It’s about checking in regularly with my team on how they are doing overall (both professionally and personally) and how I can be of help or positively enable them, especially since we’re all working remotely these days. I also value quality time with my family to connect and do activities together — I like to set my phone down and just be present in the moment.
- Mad Lilly Spritzers are our premium cannabis refreshment for the spirit. We infuse real fruit juices and playful effervescence with 5mg CBD | 5mg THC to inspire an uplifting mind + body buzz. It’s a simple and tasteful alternative to alcohol. $9.
- Mad Lilly Tonic is the first of its kind — it’s the first cannabis drink made with CBN, a cannabinoid that promotes relaxation for your sleep routine. We infuse lemon balm and lavender extracts with real fruit juices with cannabinoids, like CBN and THC, to inspire calmness and serenity. $7.
- S*Shots are for the more experienced cannabis user. With 10mg THC per serving (at 10 servings per bottle), this product is perfect for when you want to blaze to the moon (or your couch), and for those who know life is simply better with cannabis. $19
- Website: https://www.kzen.co/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kzenbev
- Judy Yee (LinkedIn page): https://www.linkedin.com/in/