A One on One with Good Feels Founder: Jason Reposa
Zero sugar, zero calories, and flavored with essential oils from real fruit; Good Feels is keeping it clean, simple, and sustainable. Good Feels is a minority-owned cannabis beverage manufacturer that launched a fast-acting line of ready-to-drink cannabis-infused seltzers and go anywhere beverage enhancers in dispensaries across Massachusetts. This is one reason I wanted to sit down with the company. There are many more though: employees don’t have to work their way up for years to earn a living wage, they manufacture their products in a carbon neutral facility using 100% renewable energy, and well- the obvious- they are a minority owned company in cannabis!
Q&A with Good Feels: Cannabis Infused Seltzer’s
From humble, grounded, blue collar beginnings; Jason Reposa discusses the early years, his teenage years, his journey to cannabis consumption and cannabis business owner, all about Good Feels line of beverages, and how Good Feels “feels” about employee wages and social equity.
Tell us about Jason: your childhood, your young adult years, your favorite place to travel to, the village that raised you, what you learned about cannabis when it was prohibited.
“I come from a blue collar background. My parents moved out of the city because city life was pretty hard. They were able to move when my father got a job for a local phone company. When you say vacation, it’s funny because our favorite places to travel were super local. The White Mountains in New Hampshire were really, really popular for us. I can specifically remember two other trips that we took. One was to Disney when I was pretty little and the other was to Washington, D.C.
My parents did what they could within their means. I grew up in a house that was only about 900 square feet. It was an old cottage that was converted into a house essentially. Shelter and food were taken care of. It was more of the nonessentials that were not feasible. I remember really getting into computers at a young age and my father would say to me, ‘Well, it’s just going to be obsolete. By the time you buy it, it’s already obsolete. Why even buy one because it’s a lot of money.’ Of course I understand that perspective now, but it was difficult at the time watching all my friends using all this new technology. I got my first computer around 18 when the ‘.com’ bubble was starting to come up.
When I first learned about cannabis, I was in high school. I’m part of the D.A.R.E. Generation. It was very much like if you do drugs, you’re a loser and you’ll always be a loser. They weren’t even talking about rehabilitation at that point. They were just saying don’t start because it’s a gateway drug to everything else. I totally abstained, but occasionally I would see it around in certain groups of friends. We were binge drinking every weekend like a lot of high school kids do and occasionally someone would bring out a joint and pass it around. I would always abstain. I’d be like, ‘No, I can’t do it. I can’t do it.”
I remember D.A.R.E and police officers coming in with all those… scare tactics. I was always the kid that asked why, but on this topic, it wasn’t because I wanted to consume, I just wanted to know why in all areas of life. Did you ever think you’d consume later, when you were an adult?
“I remember my brother had a poster of Howie Long, the football player. It said ‘Don’t do drugs’ or something like that. I remember looking at it and telling myself, ‘Oh, he would never do drugs, so I can’t do it.’ As I got older in high school, I tried cannabis and was the person who wouldn’t feel anything. I convinced myself, ‘I guess I’m just not built for it.’ You know what I mean? It just didn’t resonate with me. I tried it a few more times throughout my 20s and just never connected with it.
For me specifically, I saw some of my friends [using cannabis] and not making good choices. That almost reinstilled the idea of, ‘Oh, I would never do drugs.’ Right? I’m not a legacy consumer, but a lot of my friends who were in that world ended up in bad circumstances. At the time, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s because of cannabis.’ In the back of my head I would say, ‘Oh, it’s because they use drugs.’ I was that judgy person, right? Fast forward to 2019 and I’m dealing with a medical issue that forced me onto a liquid diet. None of the medical treatments I received were working and cannabis presented itself as an option. That’s really when my research began and Good Feels started coming to life.”
Shifting to the product, can you provide some insight into what essential oils from fruit are and how those oils make it into Good Feels beverages?
“We work with a flavor house and they process the essential oils for us. There’s nothing artificial about this. It really does come from fruit. For our Black Cherry seltzer, the extract itself is a dark purple because of the fruit itself. Same thing to be said with our Blood Orange. It has an orange hue to it because it’s really right from oranges.
The way [the extracts] make it into our beverages is based on our formula and there’s different ratios for every flavor. Some flavors stand up really well inside of a seltzer and some flavors need an extra boost. In particular, Black Cherry was one of the trickier ones because you had to add enough that you could taste it and it was delicious, but not too much where it started to taste like a cough medicine.”
What is the purpose of the enhancers and what are those made of?
“The beverage enhancers are an on-the-go kind of infuser. In other words, you can bring it with you on your next adventure. It’s super discreet and portable. One scenario I like to use is if you’re going to visit your family; you pack it in your luggage, show up at your family’s house and you don’t have to go outside and smoke a joint to get high. You can literally just put a couple drops in whatever you’re drinking and drink it there. Nobody even has to know that you’re getting high. You don’t have to make an excuse for it. You just consume it with the ultimate discreteness.
They’re made of the same [ingredients] the seltzers are ultimately made of. There’s our base cannabis oil, we process it and make it water compatible, then we add flavoring. They’re just slightly different in the sense that you can’t necessarily purchase a lemon-lime seltzer. We make a lemon-lime beverage enhancer and that was intentional because the lemon-lime is really like squeezing a lemon in your beverage. It’s that lemon essence you would add into your water.
The flavorless version is actually the most flexible because you can put it in anything: coffee, tea, soda. If you like to drink Mountain Dew, you can infuse your Mountain Dew. That’s just how easy it is. The flavorless uses a little bit of masking technology we’ve developed to allow it to be fairly inert at a certain dilution. If you take it straight, it’s going to taste more like a sour gummy. We don’t recommend it and it’s actually not something that you can do according to the regulations. When you put it into a certain amount of dilution, it will be completely masked by the beverage you choose. People even put it in their breakfast cereal. It’s insane how versatile [the beverage enhancer] can be.”
Any chance flat water lovers will have an option?
“Oh, we are totally hydro homies. I mean, I’m drinking water right now on this call. I consume so much water. The flavorless [beverage enhancer] is where it’s at. We mask it to make it really just fit into anything. But yes, the flavorless beverage enhancer will go into your flat water. However, the lemon-lime is also a nice option because we’re using the essential oils from lemons and limes to be able to give that a little extra citrusy boost. Picture it as if you were squeezing a little bit of lemon into your water.”
I’m going to shift a bit because I’m so curious about this! In a country where $15 minimum wage seems impossible to get to, why did Good Feels decide to do more with $20 minimum wage?
“I don’t feel that anybody should have to work two jobs in order to just live. Anybody who works for us deserves to be able to take care of their family on one salary alone. We’ve done some studying and we’re going to adjust this up due to inflation so that we’ll be continuing to make cost-of-living adjustments or COLA adjustments every year to ensure we’re paying a livable wage. Eventually, our goal is to get it to a thriving wage, but it depends on the performance of the company. Right now, our ‘Livable Wage Pledge’ is the start to taking care of everybody the best we can and places sustainability of the business over pure profits. Every time we post a job, we get around 100 applicants because they see how passionately we talk about our brand and our commitment to each member of the team.”
There’s such a huge focus on social equity in licensing and funding; Good Feels has taken a social equity approach by way of employment- as discussed above. Can you take us back to the discussion the team had on this and how and why you all implemented these social equity initiatives?
“This is something that Massachusetts did right, though others will say it didn’t go far enough. The entire cannabis industry in Massachusetts has to have a plan for positive impact. So our plan is based on a number of factors, but the biggest reason is that people who have been harmed by these unjust laws in cannabis are the people who should be able to take advantage of all this new capital that’s flowing into the industry. There are some things Massachusetts did wrong when looking at a state like New York, which has mostly been in a very good position to be able to right those wrongs.
I personally know people in which these laws have been severely detrimental to their quality of life, whether that is because they can’t find employment or are marginalized to specific jobs. The fact that as a convicted felon you can only get specific jobs or other jobs requiring you to get a drug test, is insane. They still do that in Massachusetts. I’m waiting for some rules to come into place where it says, ‘Well, if it’s legal in Massachusetts, that means you shouldn’t be able to test for it.’ Why is there a drug test for [cannabis] if it’s legal in Massachusetts? Not as a company per company thing, which means it would have to come through the state to say it’s no longer legal to test for something that is actually legal in that market in Massachusetts. We’ll see where that ends up.
In short, it has had such an impact for me seeing people go through these hardships. I feel that it’s only right to do my part. The Big Hope Project is a grassroots project in Massachusetts and they’re on the ground helping with expungement cases to right some of these wrongs. At the end of the day, it’s all about providing an equitable entrance into the cannabis market for us. We choose specific places to do business that allows us to use some of our impact in a positive way that will target people who have been designated as social equity [operators].”
Who holds the passion for saving earth? I ask because the intent is very clear, keep earth safe; the press release states: “All Good Feels products are sustainably manufactured in infinitely recyclable glass bottles within a carbon-neutral facility using 100% renewable energy.” Can you all speak to this and how the decision was made?
“Our entire team is passionate about this. I am a member of the local energy and sustainability committee in my town. I do feel like you have to act locally in a lot of these cases to do your part. Now, there are other people like John Doerr, who created like the 10 biggest things we should be trying to reverse climate change as well as all the other bad things we’re doing to the Earth right now. When it comes to what we’re trying to do, I always said from the beginning that every new business has to put sustainability first. If you are not doing that, I don’t believe you should be starting your business because if you only take from the earth starting this business, it’s not sustainable. It’s just not. You have to at least be net zero carbon or better, in my opinion. Sustainability over profit is the easiest way to say it.”
Complete the following: 3 years from now, Good Feels will be….
“The number one beverage in Massachusetts. Beverages are a long-term play. There’s no short-term with beverages because if you look at the data today, you don’t see the full story. If you’re trying to introduce somebody to cannabis, maybe they’ve heard of it and they’re like, ‘Oh, there’s some benefits here. Maybe I should look into it.’ When they walk into a dispensary today, they’re going to be like, ‘All right, let me buy this pen or this flower and now I have to go get rolling papers or a bong or a pipe.’ It’s not sustainable at a mass scale.
I like to say that education takes time, money, and lots of effort. It’s better to enlighten people. In three years, we hope that most people have been enlightened. All you have to do is show them our product and it’s obvious what to do. You crack open the top and you drink it. There’s no confusion. There’s no additional equipment. The future is here and this is a sentiment that I’m starting to use now: ‘The future is here. It’s just not widely known yet.’”
Written by: Veronica Castillo
Herb of Life Cultivation, LLC
Peacock/ Wunderkind CBD
Just Bee Kynd
I Slang Sea Moss
The Bitchy Hippie
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