By Erin Willis
ONDA CBD Entrepreneurship & Focus
Jessica Ilalaole is a born and raised Hawaiian native shaped by the love of nature, art, and exploring. After relocating to Oregon, Jessica continued to explore art, inevitably falling in love with metalsmithing. She now lives in a small mountain community in Northern California working out of a cottage studio and spending her free time backpacking in the wilderness. Jessica is most inspired by mountains, folk art, mysticism, traveling, natural beauty and the mysteries of old. CobraCult jewelry is owned and operated solely by Jessica with occasional help from friends and loved ones.
Last week I sat down with Jessica to explore the parts of her life that lead her into her ideal lifestyle- off the grid, surrounded by nature, making gorgeous, instantly sold out jewelry, and how ONDA has helped her through the daily struggles of sole entrepreneurship.
Who was the first person to inspire you and why?
That’s a good question! This is kind of going to sound cliche but I have to say, my mom. The reason being is I wasn’t always necessarily inspired by her. When I was a kid and teenager I didn’t want to do anything my mom wanted to do. She made me go backpacking and hiking and like, a lot of nature stuff and I was very resistant. But then I came of age and turned about 18 and thought, huh this nature stuff is actually pretty cool.
Now I’m like.. turning into my mom basically. Every day I’m like, oh…huh. Super resistant to the path that my mom wanted me to go on and you know, I just ended up on it anyways.
She’s just always been really connected to nature and backpacking and was never scared to get out in the backcountry. Never scared of bears or anything. The drive to go on an adventure is stronger than her fears. I like my mom. She’s cool.
Really, she’s the best. She is just a really connected lady and really into trees and nature. She just wants to get out there in the wilderness, and now that’s kind of my obsession, too. Going backpacking as much as I can and I’m like, oh I’m my mom now- nice !
What inspired and lead you to start a jewelry-making business?
It was kind of by accident. Well, at first by accident. I just did it as a hobby. I had a pair of earrings and I lost one and I was talking to a friend and they were like, “you can just make another one”. And I was like oh, okay!
I’ve always been artistic but I’ve never focused on one thing. I sort of had art A.D.D. and was like ‘ this and that, and this and that ’ and could never focus. So I made the earrings and I was like, oh this is fun! So I made some more. Then some friends started asking if I could make them pairs. And these were like feathery pieces… way back when I was living in Portland.
I wanted to do silversmithing so I just took some adult classes at a community college and the more I learned the more I did it. I took the leap five years ago to do this as my job because I was really unhappy working at New Seasons, a nice grocery store. It was a good place to work but I like being my own boss. So I just set out to make it happen five years ago, and it was hard. But now the more years under my belt, the more successful I am. I’m at a pretty good spot now.
How is it being a woman running your own business? What challenges did you overcome in starting this business?
I think the biggest challenge is self-doubt. Like overcoming your own doubt. Waking up every morning and being like, ‘what am I doing? Do I even know what I’m doing?’ Anyone who runs or starts a business, I think, feels that whether they’ve made it or not. Just self-doubt and I just had to talk my self down, you know? Don’t quit. Just keep going.
I still get days like that, even with where I’m at now where I’m selling out my website. It’s helped me build confidence as a women-owned business owner. I do everything myself. There are also those things maybe I wasn’t good at, like getting ready to do my taxes or the accounting. Still not good at that stuff! You just have to overcome it and teach yourself and enhance the areas that are lacking through education and help from other people. I feel powerful though. I can make my own schedule. I can travel. I work from home so I have lazy mornings and then I dive into work once I feel prepared for the day. Being able to do that, I have a lot of freedom. But at the same time, you’re tied down by all the other millions of things you have to do.
I feel the biggest challenge is overcoming your own fears and self-doubt. Now here I am! I’m making decent money, living on a property that I own. It’s pretty cool!
What is the struggle that lead you to try CBD?
Uh, sleep! I am a horrible sleeper, which I also got from my mom. I’m just restless. So when Stephen told me that I should try CBD for it, I was like okay! So it really did help me sleep, but I also have a lot of anxiety. I actually quit using marijuana and THC products because they were giving anxiety. They weren’t calming me down. I didn’t really know that CBD was different than, you know, smoking weed. So when I tried the CBD, I think I first tried the 50 mg capsules. I would take them a little bit before bed and I slept really well, but I didn’t wake up feeling groggy like you would if you smoke pot. I actually really like the tincture because I can take it during the day for anxiety. I think the anxiety just comes from thinking, am I going to finish everything I need to do? I have so much on my todo list… my mind is just racing. The CBD just really helps me focus on the task at hand, then I’ll get through each step. It helps me zero in on what I’m doing right now instead of getting overwhelmed by thinking all the things at once.
So yeah, mostly ONDA products help me with sleep and anxiety, and if I feel I have a heavy day ahead of me, I’ll take a dropper of my 600 mg tincture in the morning and it doesn’t make me tired or groggy!
Have you explored other CBD brands prior to trying ONDA?
Not much because Stephen was the first to introduce and convince me to try CBD. I have used some of my friends’ here and there but I honestly couldn’t tell you the brands because I don’t remember.
I will say, where you’re sourcing the ingredients and how it’s processed, I trust that. That’s how I buy anything really, I need to have some background and trust in the brand. I don’t go through the store and just buy something because I think the packaging looks cool. Yeah, ONDA is pretty much the only brand I use and I like it, so I haven’t felt the need to try anything else.
Would you recommend ONDA to a friend?
Absolutely, yeah! When I was more consistent about posting on my Instagram, I got a lot of people asking you know, what’s that CBD you use again? And I think part of that is like where I’m coming from like oh, I feel like I know her so I trust her and If she’s got a product she likes, then I’m going to try it. So that’s kind of neat to see that people are going to try something for the first time because I’m telling them about it.
Any advice to young women who want to explore creating their own business?
Advice to young women: Just go for it. Just don’t give in to your fears.
I think if you think too much… I have a lot of friends who want to start their own businesses, but it’s been years of just them thinking about it. Obviously, you want to be prepared. Maybe organize your thoughts into a business plan, but just go for it. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out and you find something else you’re passionate about. I don’t know, I just think there’s a little too much of us giving into our fears. It is scary. It’s supposed to be scary and it’s supposed to be hard. So I think if you’re down to like, maybe not suffer but persevere through the beginning, you’re going to be a lot happier that you took the risk than if you just sat around planning it for years and never did it.
I feel nowadays it’s really cool with Instagram and, well it’s the only social media I use, but now there’s a lot of support even from other brands, and like with what we’re doing here right now, and a lot of other jewelers on Instagram- we really lift each other up. It seems really daunting to start a business, and it kind of is *chuckles*, but it’s about taking a leap of faith. Also, learn how to do your accounting early! Take an accounting class. Have two separate banking accounts. Someone gave me that advice when I started my business and I never took it until later and I thought, oh my god.. this is so much easier, why didn’t I do this in the beginning?? There’s a lot of good advice out there but I think the main thing is just overcoming your own fears and realizing that yes, it will be hard, but it’s going to be a great reward.
How does ONDA affect your entrepreneurship?
It’s really cool because I’m seeing ONDA grow, you know? I’m seeing all of these other small business owners using this product, well for me the tincture mostly, like my friend Cate Havstad who has a lot on her plate, too. It just helps us focus and it calms the mind. ONDA’s CBD actually helps with what I was just talking about with those fears like, what the heck am I doing with my life? Okay, I’m going to take a little CBD and it‘s to calm down all these negative thoughts… And obviously, your own mind has to take part in that too, but I just think it’s helpful with the overcoming the stress of running a business. And it’s just cool that I’ve been watching ONDA grow, too, alongside my business. I’m happy to be supportive and get the word out. It’s a cool duality happening right now.
To learn more about Jessica and Cobra Cult, visit her Instagram @cobracult, or visit her website www.shopcobracult.com. Be sure to sign up for her shop updates as her work sells out in a day!