This Latina Entrepreneur Used to Sell Weed. Now She Sells CBD Products at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Yvonne Perez Emerson is carving out space in a whitewashed cannabis culture with her luxury CBD beauty and wellness company
Doing It My Way is a candid ZORA Q&A series with newsmakers and changemakers in our community who are charting their own paths with conviction and defying convention.
When Yvonne Perez Emerson was a young, single mother making homemade lotions, balms, and tinctures for her family, she had no idea she was laying the foundation for what would one day be a luxury brand carried at Saks Fifth Avenue.
“I was a young, good-looking girl but I didn’t have a lot of money, and I wanted to feel good,” says Emerson, founder of CBD beauty and wellness company Make & Mary, based in Portland, Oregon.
A multi-hyphenate creative, Emerson has had a long career as a maker, artist, graphic designer, creative director, and instructor. She also managed to found two nonprofits along the way. When Oregon legalized cannabis in 2015, Emerson knew she wanted in. She had a lifelong relationship with the plant, and began hosting cannabis-friendly workshops and events under the name Make & Mary. In 2018, calling on her years of experience making all sorts of potions and lotions, she expanded into other products.
“I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve been making this stuff for years and I only wish I knew about putting weed in my products way back when!’” Emerson says. Today, her product line includes serums, shimmery moisturizing wands, and aromatherapy products. Make & Mary also offers inhalers made with cannabis essential oils and terpenes. Emerson designed the packaging, which she describes as “a little sexy, a little witchy.”
Taking the call at her studio, Tillamook Station, Emerson chatted with ZORA about her earliest memories of marijuana, the whitewashing of the cannabis industry, and how she cares for herself.