There’s still a bit of mystery surrounding CBD, but Dominique Pastorello wants to demystify it.
That’s part of the purpose of her business, Your CBD Store, in Ithaca on Seneca Street, which is celebrating its first year in business this month. CBD’s moving at a rapid pace these days, both legislatively and its public perception. Pastorello has even seen the changes in mindset among her own family.
“My mom got arthritis in her knee about five years ago, and found a CBD salve that was really helping her with the arthritis,” Pastorello said. “She used to call me and say ‘Can you go to the smoke shop and pick this up for me?’ [...] There’s been a lot of progression in the industry this year, it’s getting a lot more mainstream.”
Along with more businesses sprouting up, and thus more people testing the product, Pastorello said the growing popularity is largely thanks to a federal ruling last year that legalized CBD from dried hemp, which opened the door to plenty of research and, though states can still regulate the substance, helped lift some of the stigma as well. For instance, in New York State, CBD products must be recognized as a dietary supplement and contain less than three percent THC (otherwise known as the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana; Pastorello clarifies that none of the products at Your CBD Store are psychoactive).
Pastorello said she was inspired to start the business by her own natural interest in alternative medicine. While majoring in plant science at Cornell University, she became more interested in the possibilities of CBD, and her mother’s experiences only furthered her curiosity. Once she discovered a consistent line of products that she could use to supply her storefront, she took the plunge and opened her business, the first (and until recently, only) CBD storefront business in the city, in the space formerly occupied by PokeLand.
CBD entrepreneurship started as an almost-universally male field, something Pastorello know from her work in similar roles beforehand. But with the benefit of time, she’s seen that trend begun to turn.
“I used to work in the medical marijuana industry in California, and it was all men out there,” Pastorello said. “Once in a while, you’d see a woman. So that was a bit challenging, but something I learned to navigate. Now, women are all over the industry.“
Your CBD Store, which sells SunMed products exclusively, has avoided selling its products at other local outlets yet, a conscious decision by Pastorello. She said that because it’s so early on and so many customers are experiencing CBD for the first time, she wants to keep her products in-house and have the opportunity to pass on some education to customers when they first buy CBD, especially if they are dissatisfied and want help choosing a different option. Education, Pastorello said, is likely the most effecitve way to get more people to try CBD options, and that’s what the staff has been aiming to provide.
“It’s really important to know what you’re doing to get the greatest amount of benefit,” Pastorello said. “The most rewarding part of the last year is seeing repeat customers come in and tell us their success stories. It’s been really fulfilling [...] The community has really received us very well.”