Now living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Asha Richards, the striking, strong female founder of the groundbreaking MELLOW FELLOW and J’ADORE LA FLEUR cannabis wrap brands was born in Dominica.
She was raised in a traditional Rastafarian household, and even when the family migrated to America in her teenage years, she always remained connected to the island life, regularly returning to visit family and friends. “Both my parents were Rastafarians,” she says. “I grew up in a strict Rastafarian household – I’ve been vegetarian my whole life, and my siblings have as well. I grew up with the Sabbath on Saturdays…my entire life I’ve been Rasta!”
When asked to speak on what the Rasta life means, she says “Rasta is about clean living. Spiritually, mentally, it’s treating others the way you want to be treated. People think it’s a religion, but I wouldn’t say it is a religion – it’s a way of life. My father is the best man that I know, he is the epitome of what a Rasta should be. Kindhearted, respectful everything Rasta is. It’s basically living life the way we all should be, the way every human should be. If we were all Rasta it would be a better world!”
While her first career was in Human Resources, two years ago, inspired by Rasta clean living, Richards dipped her toe into entrepreneurship, founding, growing, and ultimately selling Escape, a company offering artisan water from the Caribbean to American consumers.
Then, on a trip to Colorado, the path of her life was changed.
It was the year after legalization. “Obviously I was ecstatic to be a part of such a historical moment, this is an herb that has been a part of my entire life. Growing up my parents used it as topicals, soaked it in alcohol, used as tea, smoked it. But I saw all kinds of black and gold, the colors of the Ethiopian flag, which are important to Rasta, regularly, being misrepresented. One of the things I saw was a lighter with red, yellow and green and a picture of a girl in a bikini – and it bothered me.”
A: “I also noticed there were no organic ways to smoke. The way we would smoke – my mom made the corn husks, my dad made the banana leaves – there’s no coughing it’s all-natural, it’s a clean high. My friends used to ask me for them. Then I realized, suddenly – no one else has this. I need to make this accessible for them and that was pretty much the beginning of starting the company that is my passion now – I knew I needed to bring this product out to offer a healthier way of smoking. And that’s what started Mellow Fellow. More recently, we incorporated the J’Adore La Fleur (I love the flower) line… a sleek, sexy, sophisticated wrap made out of actual lily petals.”
T: When asked how she feels as a power woman entering the emerging cannabis industry with her exciting new brands, she says:
A: “I find it empowering to be a women in this space! When you think of cannabis, people often place it in a taboo light, and because I grew up as a Rasta, with my parents using it in so many different ways, herbally, as a tea, as a topical… They respected the crop in such a way that I never grew up with the taboo that so many others did. In the cannabis world, I find it empowering that in an arena once dominated by men that we can really showcase that women make up maybe an even bigger part of it!
“Also, people often think that men are the only ones who use cannabis, but we as women – we enjoy the smoke, the relaxation – the peace.”
And now, thanks to Asha and the Mellow Fellow team, women (and men!) can enjoy their smoke in a clean, all natural, vegan friendly, GMO free, cannabis wrap made out of banana leaves, corn husks, veggiewraps …. and lovely lily flowers – with, Asha says, more exciting new products to hit the marketplace soon!
More about Mellow Fellow : https://themellowfellow.com/
More about J’Adore La Fleur : https://www.jadorelafleur.com
Professionally, Tracy Lamourie is the award winning CEO and Creative Director of Lamourie Media. Personally she is a long time activist and member of Canada's cannabis community. In her writing work she often combines her interest in cannabis and her interest in media, working to ensure a positive representation of cannabis consumers and cannabis business across North America and beyond.