With a master's in government and public policy, Beryl Solomon began her career as a consultant in the public sector. Frustrated with the bureaucracy and her inability to truly initiate change, she refocused her energies on another passion of hers, fashion and retail. Following a specialized degree from Parsons School of Design, Solomon worked at Theory, Kate Spade, Pamela Love and Alexis Bittar, all of which allowed her to develop her professional craft in branding, design, merchandising, marketing, operations, logistics, sales and international expansion. After 15 years of working in the corporate world for large fashion companies, Solomon took a step into the start-up space to challenge herself even further.
With a keen sense in business development and an interest in the CBD and cannabis markets, Solomon discovered a major void in product education and launched Poplar in late 2018. What started as a passion project, immediately transformed into a lucrative, digital platform that not only provided insight to the “canna-curious,” but offers curated CBD products with expert insights on how they work, what they do, and ultimately, how it will benefit specific health and wellness needs. Solomon resides in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons. We chatted to the founder...
Tell us about the inspiration behind Poplar
BERYL SOLOMON: I always start the Poplar story with the following—like many other people, I wear many hats. I am a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, New Yorker, full-time working professional… the list goes on and on. I am constantly juggling all the priorities and demands associated with each role.
In late 2017, I was feeling exhausted and stretched too thin. I thought my personal health and wellness routine needed a reboot. I have always exercised, found some time for self-care (aka manicures), but I was itching for more. Meditation and yoga were difficult for me. I couldn’t quite figure out how to quiet my mind. So, I reached out to my first line of defense, the Internet. I was stressed and overwhelmed and looking for things to add to my routine to take things “down a notch.” To my complete surprise, CBD and THC kept popping up. So, I asked my doctor but my New York medical providers had few answers. So, I embarked on my own research project. Using myself as the guinea pig. I reintroduced cannabis into my routine, slowly and cautiously, while having coffee with every insider who would meet with me: growers, brands, consultants, scientists, politicians, doctors.
And then while I was on my own personal journey I had an aha moment, why was there no online destination selling products and providing information that fit with my lifestyle? Everything out there was too stoner, too witchy, or too medical. So Poplar was born.
What's the biggest misconception around CBD?
BS: That it will get you high, and, that it is a cure all! CBD will not get you high. The definition of CBD is that it has less than point three percent THC-which is the psychotropic cannabinoid in Cannabis.
And while CBD is a powerful ingredient and it can positively improve people’s lives drastically, it is not a cure-all or panacea. I am not a fan of the memes that proport, you take CBD and you are cured. That misguided belief will give cannabis a bad rap and leave people disappointed.
And - as more and more research comes out, most likely, we will see proof that CBD works best with small amounts of THC. So, I am especially cautious of shouting CBD (vs. THC) as the solution from the rooftops. I think cannabis, in general, is a tool that everyone should be able to have in their wellness toolkit.
Where should newbies to CBD start
BS: Slow and steady with regularity-is what I recommend. Based on the research we have (which is at its beginning stages for sure), CBD works best taken daily-like a vitamin. I think starting with a daily tincture—before bed—is a great way to begin experimenting. It typically takes 5 to 10 days for the effects to set in—and most people report, “I didn’t feel anything so I stopped taking it.” Then they have a bad day, they feel off. That is the beauty of CBD; it helps you feel like the best version of yourself. It simply takes the ambient noise of life down a notch.
I love everything we sell-we curated the site so that everything exists for a reason and you could actually buy EVERYTHING we offer. With that said my favorite products range from daily Hemp CBD Drops, this Wildflower Vaporizer, Calivolve chocolates, Sen Face Serum and Muscle Freeze. That covers all the bases-indigestible, edible, skincare, and topical!
What's the best thing about being a female entrepreneur in 2019?
BS: Two things: I started my career in the early 2000s at IBM—dress code was a big deal. I remember seeing my male counterparts dressing down in schleppy jeans for “casual Friday” while me, my female peers and my female bosses kept our clothing on the professional spectrum. I am glad that as a female entrepreneur I can express myself with my style and still be taken seriously. We aren’t all the way there - but the change in the last 15 years has been impressive! Secondly, the overall feeling of girl power and the existence of formalized womens’ groups cheering me on! I am surrounded by badass groups of ladies supporting each other. I am a member of the Wing, Hey Mama, Not Safe for Mom’s Group, Female Founder Collective. It is incredible to have these support systems.
What are you excited about brand-wise this summer?
BS: So much! Poplar really soft-launched in November-so I say we are kicking it into gear with Poplar. This summer we will relaunch our website with an upgraded look and feel and incredible functionality. In the year I have been working in cannabis, so much has changed. I am excited about the evolving legal landscape and what that will enable Poplar to accomplish. Our ride is just beginning.
Photography by: Photography Courtesy of Beryl Solomon