KA! Empathogens website here. Enter ‘HIGHGUIDE’ for 10% OFF at checkout.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: And then when it comes down to it, in order to not do harm while you think you’re doing good, it actually requires a lot of inquiry. Asking questions. Humility. Learning.
April Pride, host: Hi everyone. Welcome to The High Guide podcast. Where we continue our weekly exploration for women. I’m your host, April Pride. You just heard from Stephanie Wang, whom we met in our final episode, 2023. Stephanie is the CEO founder of KA!, which offers a tincture and gummies with the active ingredient Kanna, a non-scheduled legal to ship and consume plant derived. If you haven’t listened to this first episode, I encourage you and listen as Stephanie and I do Science of Kanna and how some people are using it to live with greater heart, improve focus, as well as increase patience. We also discuss why Kanna as an empathogen may be the right antidote to our isolation epidemic. What’s an empathogen. You’re going to have to find part one, so go back into the High Guide to find out today to indigenous use of kana and where its use stands with keepers, and how Stephanie is striving as CEO to create a transparent commercialization. We also learn more about Stephanie’s career origins, including her role in bringing New York City’s. And the inspiration behind KA! brand palette that pulls from the full spectrum of the Rainbow. As I talk shop with the CEO of one of the most exciting consumer brands in psychedelics. But first. I am really excited to tell you about Setset. It’s a deck of cards I designed with some partners in Toronto to tap into your inner child and create an immersive and playful trip experience. The game Setset is all about preparing and playing with critical components that set the path for your psychedelic experience, mindset, and physical experience. Success. When we take psychedelics, we’re often looking for an experience with a heightened sense of playfulness.
April Pride, host: A big part of the pleasure of a trip comes from being with our childhood, when we felt more carefree and to laugh and play. The Setset cards give you the opportunity to experience the world freed from the adult ways we’ve been conditioned to receive or stand it. Each card comes with three levels of prompts. The first level requires the least amount of vulnerability sobriety. The next two prompts get more complex or spicy. Whichever level you choose, these cards are fantastic way to break the ice and foster a sense of togetherness. You’ll get to know other players in new and profound ways. Trust me, I watch this unfold as we held several teas with cards at my home. It’s a journey of exploration, connection, and shared understanding. Though the cards are super cool all on their own, we have more for you of like minds getting ready to launch a series of sets at game nights in Seattle. Here’s how it works. Sign up for our newsletter at of Like Minds Co, so that you can keep up with our set, set nights and ticket sales. You’ll need to purchase a ticket and all ticket holders will receive a gift when they arrive so that they can safely and vibrantly enjoy game Night with a fantastic facilitator that will guide the group through the game. If you’re ready to embark on a journey of play and exploration, visit the of Like Minds website to get your deck today. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media at of Like Minds Co. To stay updated on dates for upcoming game nights.
April Pride, host: You won’t want to miss these.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: But this was like the time post, um, career as a film producer. And I was sort of at the end of because I had started a small sort of company doing digital content strategy, um, and didn’t. It was at the tail end of that, and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. And, you know, that’s when I met Conor and other plant medicine. And even though I was well on my, um, I had always wanted to marry my passion, you know, a career, and I couldn’t quite find a footing until I actually encountered plant medicine. And then things just kind of happened very organically. Um, you can say that where I am now was really, you know, maybe the plants have always been working through me to guide me or with you.
April Pride, host: But what was your first encounter with Canna?
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: Oh, wow. Um, my, it was actually my very first plant medicine journey was with Canna, and and, um, this was like 11 years ago now almost. And it was incredible. It was it took me by entirely because it opened my heart to the point where I had I mean, I felt that. Everything was love, that I loved everyone and everything around me. But I was keenly present. I wasn’t, you know, somewhere else. And it’s as if a layered had been lifted in the world that I could see it for what it really was, and the connective tissue that is actually made of love, that connects us with the web of life and everything that is in existence and that oneness feeling, right, that entheogenic oneness feeling that people often get with these kinds of medicines, but while still being super present. Right. And being, you know, um, I felt a deep sense of acceptance and belonging and peace. And it was really at that moment that it was where, you know, a seed was planted that I just really wanted to bring this to the world. And and that’s what it was like. It was just gorgeous this way. And Eloquent Journeys is how I actually got introduced to sort of my next life time in, in the world of consciousness and plant medicine when I started.
April Pride, host: Yes. Evolver came to me through the Alchemist Kitchen, which isn’t, um, for, I think probably the time that I was, um, uh, my previous cannabis buyer. Um, and so I found that so interesting because I couldn’t the Alchemist Kitchen really spoke to me. It was. It is such a special. I think it’s still in New York. Right? Oh, yeah. It didn’t close. Yeah.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: I don’t know.
April Pride, host: Yeah. It’s got a very active community. Um, that start your, um, the digital strategy and content strategy and Evolver. Did you ever work with them or did you help launch that?
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: Yeah, I was definitely part of the team that launched Alchemist Kitchen. Um, so when I joined, there was no Alchemist Kitchen yet. We were trying to figure out a business model. We had, um, just started doing retail. Not kind of right before I joined. And, you know, Evolver was going through, um, a lot of transformation, a transformation itself. Um, I think one of the big things, you know, in terms of consciousness and it was always there was there was at that point, there was reality Sandwich magazine as well. There was Evolver Learning, which had a lot of wonderful online classes. Um, I think a really tangible way to touch people is, you know, and like, and how do we sustain ourselves. Right? Because that was a big you know, that was a big question. Um, I think with a lot of, um, conscious communities, like, what’s the business model? And it just made a lot of sense that herbal, you know, herbs and plants and herbal remedies, botanical products just made a lot of sense. And, you know, Lou at the time was already had already started that process. It’s kind of in that through line. We wanted to create a container that was, you know, even more that was sort of a little bit separate from Evolver, because it’s a it’s a slightly different, you know, have a new brand essentially that can really encompass, encompass this direction. And that’s how Alchemist Kitchen was born. And also we found an amazing space down, um, in Bowery. So everything came together and there we go.
April Pride, host: Yeah. It is an amazing space. Um, the windows in the front, it’s light filled, but it’s huge. The basement is the lower level is huge. Treatment rooms in there. And yeah, it’s maybe changed.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: It’s changed because we moved. We moved to Crosby Street. So still big windows. It’s actually lovely. We’re not sharing it with, um, the service providers anymore like we had with, um, infrared sauna and all, all the treatment rooms downstairs. So it’s more it’s own, its own space now, but definitely it’s, it’s still I mean, it’s magical still. So. Yeah.
April Pride, host: And I mean, I think where I, where I felt you were going to go with Alchemist Kitchen was providing a place where the community that maybe started on Evolver or with Bowery Cannabis Club, because I think that that was in the works, could meet in the city. And that community aspect is really what’s always connected with me about what the work being done there is about.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: Yeah, yeah, for sure. And, you know, it was really rough through the pandemic. And, you know, I mean, Luke can speak to this much better himself, I’m sure. Um, you know, it’s pulled through and I think the, you know, community is strong.
April Pride, host: So with working with various brands that offered plant medicine remedies, we’ll keep it simple at the Alchemist Kitchen. Where did the seed start to plant that I want, I want, I, I want a brand that does I want to do this. Yeah. How did you get to this place with KA!?
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: Um, it was really through my own personal journey. I mean, it was wonderful being a part of Alchemist Kitchen and Revolver because I, you know, I obviously met some amazing thought leaders. We worked with extraordinary herbalists. Um, it was incredible. It was incredible atmosphere. Um, and, you know, being in a space that you could just be who you were and there was just a great deal of acceptance there. And it was it was lovely. And but I think for me, I had always wanted to bring the heart piece forward. And I there’s a lot of talk about consciousness, spirituality, a lot of body. Right. Because we’re always, you know, we kind of a lot of people are. Made aware that they need to shift their way of being when they get sick. Right? So it’s it’s our bodies that go, oh, wait a minute. And then people are often forced to because they literally have to to manage that, whatever the the situation is with their health. And that often is a is a starting point and a trigger for them to go into a deeper dive into what, what what it is to to be alive, right? And what, what life means to them. Um, for me, I just felt that there was and it’s great all this was happening, but there was a piece that was missing and or not emphasized enough, and it really in a in an accessible way. And I really wanted to I think I was also inspired by all the amazing herbalists that had their own brands that we were selling at the Alchemist Kitchen. I was like, you know, I want to create something, you know, that speaks to what I feel is lacking in the world. And I just needed to do that. It was a calling, plain and simple.
April Pride, host: And since then, I mean, that would have been nearly a decade ago or a little over a decade ago when you had your first con experience. And then so and I know that this is a plant that is indigenous to Africa. So tell us about the the due diligence and market research and finding your source. And yeah, that, that good stuff. Yeah.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: So um, I actually I did a lot of personal healing work with Kana first. And then about five years ago is when I met up with, you know, our chief scientist, Doctor Alex, who’s amazing. And we started to really look into the science and kind of, you know, figure out on the product development side what we wanted to create. And it was amazing because, you know, I encountered it first, not as a, as a, let’s say, a medicine for mental health. I encountered it as something that was, you know, in, in a ceremonial, uh, situation where it was more about consciousness, elevation and really understanding the spiritual aspect of it, the shamanic aspect of it. Again, I’m using language shamanic in a South American way. Of course, this is a medicine from from Africa, from South Africa. Um, so I had to do a deep dive into what that meant also. Right. Because here I am using a different, you know, uh, framework to refer to something that isn’t from, you know, originally from that lineage from South America. So, um, we went, we dealt, we dove deep into the science first, and it’s just. But like I said, it’s just what it does in terms of helping regulate our nervous system not being addictive, um, not having any tolerance build up. So that was that. We started creating, creating some prototypes and testing it of course. And, you know, it, it took us until a year and a half ago when we actually launched. And even when we were launching, we were still testing because this is like the first Africa, because we sourced, by the way, arcana from um, suppliers who do direct profit share with the Khoikhoi and the sun and the Khoi and the sun are the traditional stewards of contexts that have been, um, I would say, one of the earliest human civilizations in the world.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: So the relationship with Canna and the sun and the Khoikhoi and what I discovered was how. Actually, it was really difficult on, um, at this point who still is connected with this medicine. And it was really sad. And so all of the research that we, um, you know, European visitors, you know, the first time the Europeans discovered it that was documented was back in the 1600s. So, you know, you can read the colonial history of how this medicine was discovered and used. And there there are definitely some scholarly articles that talk about, you know, how traditional challenge, because that’s also leading to why I’m actually going to South Africa in February of this year. So because we want to find and we want to reconnect that again when we really want to share this information back with the people. And, you know, I don’t have to go into the history of why they’ve become disjointed, you know, kind of, um, a lot, of course, is because of colonialism. But it’s, you know, it’s it was very sad for me to, to, to realize that that was that was the case. And I’m sure there are still some elders somewhere who definitely know this medicine, but most people you talk to or most on inquiry, they don’t really know it anymore. So, um, so there’s, there’s that, uh, I hope question.
April Pride, host: It does absolutely answer my question. I am curious if you sense that there’s an openness for that reconnection. It’s. Is it just the right time for that reconnection?
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: Yes. You know, we connected with certain organizations. Um, and we’re going to actually go visit them. We had um, we had another colleague who went that I think that there’s definitely an eagerness, um, a desire to reclaim their own stories back. I think that’s super important. That’s. Yeah, I mean, I there’s more I’m sure I can say after I visit and actually spend three weeks there and I can come back and and share more, but, um, there’s definitely a desire and, um, but there’s also. Um, I want to say that there’s also, uh, I would say a keen awareness on their part to speak with people who have the right intent and not are just there to, again, exploit or, I don’t know, just pay mouth service and that’s it and just kind of have a sort of that indigenous greenwashing, so to speak, on whatever it is that the companies are trying to do. So we are very much cognizant of that. And we, we have we um, con a the medicine itself, the plant itself, with that respect. And we want to, of course, do the same for the traditional stewards, um, and the indigenous people of Southern Africa to do the same to, to, to be the same way. And there is a lot to learn. Um, and I cannot wait to, to share, you know, more of that wisdom and whatever it is that they are willing to share with us.
April Pride, host: It’s very rare to to talk to a founder CEO who is inspired to lead with heart, who is actually leading, truly leading with heart and thinking about all of your partners in a very humanitarian way. So I yeah, just it’s nice when you can point that out and make sure that listeners are also paying attention. So at that, that for me in psychedelics and in, in any of these modalities that we are marketing as healing, what you put into that healing, that medicine is really what the consumer is going to get. So that your energy and seeing you, meeting you in person, watching how the people that work with you every day interact with you and with one another, it’s all good. And the reports on the product, both myself, I try, I try not to report too much because you know, that can sometimes not be good. But with KA!, I’m happy to say it is nothing but glowing reviews from me and from so many people. So I think that what you’re putting in is definitely having its, um, very positive impact on the people who choose to, to consume it, to purchase it, to create a ritual around. So, you.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: Know, what often happens is there’s this there’s this beautiful intention. And then when it comes down to it, it’s.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: You can have all the intention of doing good. And then when it comes down to it, in order to not do harm while you think you’re doing good, it actually requires a lot of inquiry, asking questions, humility, learning. Um, you know, that’s what again, that’s why I’m going. No, I, I kind of know my itinerary, but I’m letting literally what needs to show up to show up. I’m letting the medicines, um, this company myself, our intention is to bring that wisdom to share it in the highest, most integrous way that’s possible, and also to give back and to find the appropriate ways of giving back that actually gets the people who need it the most in the right way. And that is a whole other business. Like literally, that is a whole other thing that I’ve, I’ve realized that that comes up and, and, you know, it’s it’s a it’s an interesting aspect, um, that I think a lot of companies who are trying to, or brands are trying to do this for real. I’m sure they run across this, come across this all the time.
April Pride, host: Right? Because there isn’t one right answer, because something that has little impact on one group of people may have, you know, a significant, contradictory impact on another group of people. And you’re like, oh, you have to weigh. Yeah, yeah. It is. It’s very difficult to do the right thing because it turns out it’s very difficult to do the right thing.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: It is. And at the same time, we got to try, right. We got.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: It’s it’s demanding of us and I but it’s, it’s the rewards are huge because you know what perspectives that end up getting shifted. Um, horizons that are broadened, minds that are, that are opened because of that and connections that are made and relationships that are, you know, beautiful that get created in the process is is life that, you know, the process then becomes the medicine, too. For me personally, you know, just being having launched this company and I feel so blessed, like I work with amazing people, my team is extraordinary. And just this this process is so is so nurturing is is just makes my life have much more meaning, you know and purpose on top of just simply the subject of what I am trying to do, right?
April Pride, host: Right.
April Pride, host: There’s ROI there for you personally, but I think the the quote, the ROI on making sure that we are helping people open their minds and change consciousness and, you know, work on the side of humanity for good is that’s an ROI that yes, yes, that we’re really searching for as well.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: So even the name car itself, car and then exclamation mark. So car is um, ancient Egyptian for life force. So there’s that car, you know, that energy, that life force, which is what this product brings, is bringing it brings that life force back to us. And our mission, um, for the for the brand and for the company is to restore full spectrum aliveness for all beings. So there’s that, that as well. Why the exclamation mark is because, uh, um, helps connect us to the language of the Khoisan. Um, and they have three different clicks that are in their alphabet, and the click is denoted by butchering it. It’s like, well, um, and because it’s the full spectrum of aliveness, we wanted to have colors that denoted coming alive, bright colors, full spectrum. So you have the full bow. Um, but in our end, um, you know, you mentioned chakras. That’s part of it as well, you know, because that is our full spectrum of humanity. It’s not one particular piece. So definitely in terms of the design and the branding, um, and the spectrum of colors, that’s so much of what we’re about and just bringing into aliveness, um, bringing in not just the joy. You know, people think, oh, joy, that’s great. That’s awesome. But connecting to our full spectrum of what it means to be human is also acknowledging our sadness, our anger, our frustrations, our, you know, dismay, our despair, you know? So that is something that we want to be always saying, because otherwise we’re just, again, being disassociated from our own feelings. And this is not what KA!’s about, Carl. And Karnas is more like, hey, sit with, you know, come back into the present, feel all your feels, feel your feelings, allow them to surface. Right. So let yourself integrate and process them. And that’s how we we thrive. It’s not about just putting something in a box, stuffing it away and not looking at it ever again.
April Pride, host: Thanks, Stephanie for your vision of how you plan to with KA! and to help others lead led life. Listen on as Stephanie tells you exactly how you can find KA! online and learn more about the brand on social media on our site.
Stephanie Wang, CEO KA!: Uh, at oh My KA, ohMyKa.com and our Instagram. Um, you can also also follow us there and get information is @ka.empathogenic. So that’s @ka.empathogenic. And you can do that as well. It’s um, we created a discount code. You just have to enter high guide h I g h g u I d E. And to get a 10% off.
April Pride, host: Thank you for listening to this episode of The High Guide. I’m your host, April Pride. Tune in next week for more stories of women optimizing their life thanks to cannabis and psychedelics. And don’t forget to visit us at The High Guide, where you can sign up for our newsletter. Because we’ve got lots of juicy information in there you’re not going to want to miss.
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