The Panther Group
Felicity Chen

Five questions with Fel Chen of Potli

The California brand Potli first appeared on our radar when Margaret Jackson was exploring creative edibles. We were intrigued–both by the tasty-sounding products and by founder Felicity Chen’s spirited panache. We wanted to know more about this young entrepreneur who built a credible edibles brand out of her family’s Bay Area backyard. Here’s what we found out.

What drew you to cannabis? Honestly, Potli started by accident. My father had started to beekeep for my mother, who had asthma that was made worse by her allergies. Hyperlocal honey is an antihistamine and a natural way of treating allergies because of the local pollen inside of the honey. My mother ritualizes this honey into her daily routine: She starts each day with hot water, lemon, ginger and honey! There was no way that my conservative Asian immigrant mother was ever going to smoke a joint with me, so I put some weed into her honey to introduce the health benefits of cannabis without the walls or stigma attached. To this day, Potli Honey helps my mother control the inflammation in her lungs. That’s how we made our first jar of infused honey, which we still make and harvest in my parents’ backyard. 

Did your past work experience/education adequately prepare you for running your own cannabis business? I grew up in my parents’ food manufacturing warehouse, so the small business grind and entrepreneurship has always been playing in the background. After I graduated from college, I worked for a few startups in the food space that were venture backed…But truly nothing prepares you besides getting your feet wet, trial-and-error, and learning from those mistakes.

What achievement are you most proud of? In 2020, we started to explore the different and powerful effects of minor cannabinoids. Our Dream Honey quickly became a bestseller and just won 1st Place at 2021 Emerald cup in the CBD Edibles category – along with our nano-emulsified Sriracha Sauce that won 1st Place in Savory Edibles. Both of these products are intimately tied to my heritage while bridging the gap to many first-time users who look like my conservative Asian immigrant mother. The honey is harvested locally in my parents’ backyard in East Bay, and our sriracha is a family heirloom recipe. I live for these stories and reviews from customers who traditionally would reject cannabis and are benefitting from our product because of the format it comes in. I’m also extremely proud that Potli is fully female/minority-owned and operated by a team of ladies who lead with empathy and inclusivity at the heart of what we do. 

What are your favorite duties as founder of Potli? I genuinely love creating experiences for people. Potli is an extremely experiential brand focused on building a stronger community through food within the cannabis industry. It’s about rituals and self care. It’s about breaking bread with friends, old and new, who are all connected through the plant.

So let’s talk about self care and breaking bread…How do you unwind? Before I cook for you, I must warn you that my dinners are almost always medicated. Here’s an example from last night — I made a sesame cucumber tofu salad with our apple cider vinegar, olive oil and chili oil. An hour later, after I have finished my bath (always with OM bath salts) and have situated myself into bed, the edibles and the delicious concoction of cannabinoids (CBD & THC) start to kick in. I listen to bedtime stories through my Calm app and am drifted into sleep.

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