I was recently interviewed by CanvasRebel Magazine about myself and the brand. This interview can be read on their website here, but you can also just read it all right here:
Lian, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today. To kick things off, we’d love to hear about things you or your brand do that diverge from the industry standard.
When I first stepped into the world of herbalism back in 2014, it was a world draped in natural dyed linens smelling of homemade deodorant, dappled in golden hour sunlight peeking over a homestead garden. It was about sipping herbal tea, slowing down, and knitting by beeswax candlelight.
As I scrolled through meticulously staged scenes of sourdough loaves with adaptogenic rosehip jam, I wondered: What about the person in the city who missed their bus? The musician hauling gear across town to their third gig of the week? The person behind the bar on a Friday night making your drink after YOUR workweek was over? Not everyone has the luxury to relish a quiet evening with a handmade ceramic mug of herbal tea.
The herbal market felt too insular. It catered to those already in the know – those familiar with the subtle notes of every herb, the discerning individuals who could tell their ashwagandha from their astragalus. Little glass bottles of some type of liquid with cute, hand drawn labels whispered their secrets only to those who already spoke their language. But what about the uninitiated? The ones who would, most likely, benefit from herbal medicine the most?
That’s when Puff Herbals came into existence. The brand that could help slow down those who weren’t already slow. Smoking, a universal gesture, became our medium. At our local herbal conference, amidst rows of delicate concoctions, stood our table unapologetically with herbal cigarettes. People stopped, stared, and questioned. Some skeptically, some curiously. But they noticed.
People everywhere, regardless of culture or creed, seek solace in the act of smoking. Be it the occasional indulgence while drinking, a cigarette after sex, or the daily ritual to calm the nerves. Recognizing how reached-for plant smoke is in this world, Puff Herbals aims not just to provide an alternative but to shift the perception of herbalism entirely. We’re not here only for the enlightened, sandal-wearing hippies; we’re here for everyone else who smokes, too.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.
I’m Lian (pronounced “lee-AHn”), the founder of Puff Herbals. I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm with a wild side.
Puff Herbals is built on an academic foundation: I got my bachelor’s in anthropology from Ithaca College and then dived into ethnobotany through a master’s in museum studies from the Harvard Extension School, writing my thesis on the hallucinogenic plant collection of R. E. Schutles.
I’m also a clinically-trained herbalist. During my 3-year clinical herbalism apprenticeship at CommonWealth Holistic Herbalism I made lots of different concoctions like syrups and elixirs, but it was the smoking blends that my friends fancied the most. This became the spark for Puff Herbals.
After seeing clients and selling smoke blends around town for a few years, I founded Puff Herbals on the belief that working with herbs through smoke can be a vital and legitimate part of a holistic wellness practice.
I write all of our content, I’ve had work published in various media outlets, and in 2020 I was honored to receive the Cosmic Sister Emerging Voices Award as the brand started gaining traction. I’m also either art directing or actually producing all of our creative: web design, packaging design, social media, product photography, you name it. Everything you read, see, or smoke from Puff Herbals comes from me.
I know it sounds cliché and pretentious to say Puff Herbals offers more than just a smoke, but with people often leaning on their smoke to cope with life’s challenges we aim to provide alternatives that can really help. Whether you’re navigating social pressures, striving for a mindful escape amidst a hectic day, or embarking on the journey to quit tobacco or cannabis, I’ve crafted our blends to address the core reasons so many say, ‘I need a smoke.’
I feel our commitment to herbalism and harm reduction education sets us apart, along with the fact that we’re an herbal brand, not a cannabis brand, operating in the smokables space. Education has always been a priority and I’m looking forward to offering our first online course next year.
I’m most proud of every single person who’s worked with our products to kick their tobacco habit. That sh*t is hard – that’s real change right there.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
I learned pretty quickly that academic writing does not equal writing that resonates with people. One of my herb teachers once said ‘everyone is drunk on the internet’ when teaching us how to market our offerings: short, sweet, and really obvious.
We’d love to hear about how you keep in touch with clients.
Whenever possible, I’ll always crack a joke.