Before Cindy Pinzon and Leone Posod were business partners, they were best friends. After high school, Posod began pursuing a career in law enforcement, while Pinzon explored the health and nutrition industry.
“I became a certified health coach,” Pinzon says. “I was very passionate about the healing properties of food and cannabis, and I saw that there wasn’t anything in the cannabis space that was really paying attention to the nutrition aspect of what was going into edibles.”
When Pinzon approached Posod about the concept of Treat Yourself, her friend was in the midst of getting certified as a yoga teacher. Having never tried marijuana before partnering with her best friend, Posod concedes that her transition from police work to the cannabis sector was an unusual one.
“It’s still a little shocking, even though it’s been a couple of years,” she laughs. “I started having some health issues, and my stress was mounting, so I was looking for different outlets to deal with that. Once Pinzon started getting into nutrition, I realized that I needed to make a serious career change for my health. At the time, I thought it would be more in the direction of yoga, but then Pinzon proposed the Treat Yourself idea.”
Treat Yourself, originally based in San Francisco and now operating out of Santa Rosa, has a business model that is perfectly geared toward a rapidly expanding demographic of potential cannabis users, many of whom may be unable or uninterested in edibles that tend to take the form of junk food. The current menu of a prominent Bay Area dispensary currently offers peanut butter cups, white cheddar popcorn, cookies, brownies, toffee, and chocolate bars. While these items are all are probably delicious, they leave much to be desired from a health perspective.
Pinzon and Posod’s answer to the problem are pop tartelettes, a twist on the children’s breakfast classic. Unlike the version you’d find on the shelves of a supermarket, Treat Yourself’s version is gluten-free, free of refined sugars, and vegan. They are also infused with superfoods like chia seeds and prepared with a flavor profile that compliments the taste of cannabis.
“Posod and I are both vegans,” Pinzon explains when asked how they decided on the pop tartelette as their flagship product. “We wanted to create something that was vegan, and at the time, we had a lot of friends that were paleo, so we wanted products that were accessible to anyone, and also, we wanted to use Treat Yourself as a platform to educate people about health and nutrition as well. We wanted to show people that healthy food can also be delicious.”
Currently, Treat Yourself’s products — which include pop tartelettes in multiple sizes and flavors as well as medicated mini-cakes — are available in dispensaries across California.
Having started their company in 2014, Pinzon says another major factor that inspired her to start a business was how underrepresented women were, not only within the industry, but also as consumers.
Recalling her first visit to a dispensary, Pinzon says it was “not the environment” she had expected. She remembers lots of products in Ziploc bags with stickers on them, many without much information on dosages and ingredients, especially when it came to edibles.
“When I walked in there, I was felt like there was nothing that appealed to women. I felt like women were very much underrepresented at the time, and it just didn’t feel like any of the products were safe. You never knew what kind of dose or high you were going to get. I saw that there was a great opportunity for us.”
As a cannabis enterprise run by two women, Treat Yourself now enjoys the company of many other businesses in the marijuana industry geared toward and led by women.
“It’s definitely becoming more commonplace,” Posod confirms. “In fact, it feels like most of my business contacts are women at this point, which is really exciting. There has been a big shift there, I’d say, since it feels like more and more women are entering the space.”
“It’s great for us to see dispensary owners and other people in the industry waking up to the fact that females are so involved in this business, not only as business owners, but also as consumers,” Pinzon adds. “There are a lot of female consumers, and it finally feels like everyone is paying attention and being more open to catering to those female consumers.”
In addition to targeting female cannabis consumers, Treat Yourself has been warmly received by users craving a healthy edible option amidst a sea of junk-food munchies. On a recent delivery to Harborside — the latest dispensary to carry Treat Yourself products — Posod was given a standing ovation from dispensary workers thrilled to have a vegan option in their store.
“We live in California, and in our bubble, we feel there are tons of vegan options,” Pinzon says, “but it’s moments like those that remind us how many consumers don’t have access to vegan cannabis options. Those dispensary workers were mostly vegan, and they were excited for a new product that they could actually consume. It’s exciting on a lot of different levels.”
To learn more about Treat Yourself, visit treatyourselfinc.com
Zack Ruskin covers news and culture for SF Weekly.