When trouble comes, it is rare to find individuals who surge forward instead of dropping back, and it is rarer still to find a whole family that rolls this way. That, however, is the force behind Lokahi Leaf: a small, tight-knit family who has come together to create a company that is helping more people to enjoy the healing properties of CBD. As you read the story of the family, ask yourself whether you identify with Rochelle, a single mom who raised three children, including one with cerebral palsy; Crystalyn, a young woman who refused to let her condition stop her from playing a vital role in the company; or Niko and Mateo, two men who have selflessly helped their mom and sister reach their dreams. Whatever your answer, you are sure to agree that success and happiness are determined by what we choose to do, not what happens to us.
“I was 21 when I had my twins, Niko and Crystalyn,” Rochelle recalls. “I was incredibly excited, like any new mother, and, yes, a little nervous because I had so little experience with kids. They were premature, but I was told that they were otherwise healthy.”
Over time, Rochelle noticed that Niko and Crystalyn were developing at different speeds and that Niko was walking while Crystalyn wasn’t, but it wasn’t until they were 18 months old that she was told two words: cerebral palsy.
“I didn’t hear anything after that, honestly,” she says. “On the drive home, I pulled off to the side of the road and just flat-out panicked. I didn’t even know what cerebral palsy was! Then when I got home, I researched everything, and that’s when I really felt terrified.”
Rochelle believes that nothing can prepare a parent for the moment when they are given a dramatic diagnosis for their child. “I felt so much guilt,” she remembers. “Then I realized that I was the only one who could take care of Crystalyn as well as Niko, so I got to work. I hit the books, educated myself about my daughter’s condition, and decided that one way or another, we were going to make it.”
As you would expect, the coming years would not be easy. Rochelle and Crystalyn both lived in a world that did not understand those with cerebral palsy and underestimated what they could do.
“I battled schools on a regular basis because there was a lot of discrimnation,” Rochelle says. “I even used the Office of Civil Rights at one point to change schools 26 times and to get basic ramps and bathrooms built. There were always excuses and loopholes used to not do the right thing. I also fought with teachers all the time because I saw my daughter pushed to the side for music circles and engagement activities. I wanted Crystalyn to be given every opportunity no matter how inconvenient they found it.”
At home, the family worked hard to help Crystalyn do anything she dreamed of doing. “We went surfing with her and helped balance her on the board,” Rochelle says, smiling at the memory. “She loved that! Niko and Mateo took turns carrying her as we went hiking in the mountains, and neither one ever complained. Everytime life tried to slam a door in her face, we all kicked it open again.”
While the family helped Crystalyn to explore the world and have adventures, they could not find help for her cerebral palsy. “We went to doctor after doctor, seeking relief for her seizures, tremors, and stiff muscles, but nothing helped,” says Rochelle. “After ten years, we decided to try CBD oil, and it turned out to be exactly what she needed. It did for her what prescriptions could not, and she is free of prescription medication today.”
Seeing how beneficial CBD oil was for Crystalyn led Rochelle to use it herself. “My brain is very hard to shut off because I am always thinking, planning, organizing, and evaluating,” she explains. “I began using CBD as a natural way to relax, and now it is a vital part of how I take care of myself emotionally and physically.”
Lokahi Leaf, Rochelle says, was born when she reached an intersection in her life: she was ready to leave the corporate world and strike out on her own, and she wanted to bring CBD to people who needed natural products, healing, and healthy options to take care of themselves.
“Mateo, Niko, and Crystalyn were 100% on board,” she states. “They said, ‘Mom, you have done so much for us over the years. Now it’s time for you to step into this next stage of your life and reach your full potential.’ They have been by my side the whole way.”
While Rochelle is the CEO of Lokahi Leaf, her children are crucial to its running. Niko is the Chief Information Officer, and he and his team handle all IT implementation, software, hardware, system improvements, and website technical aspects. As Chief Marketing Officer, Mateo handles all aspects of brand management, label design and requirements, and other design projects.
Crystal plays an integral role in everything, Rochelle explains, as her story is what inspired the journey. “She participates and works with her brothers in their designated areas of expertise. What makes her happiest is when she picks orders out of fulfillment to hand-package and then writes notes to customers. She feels a sense of connection with people and wants to share a personal touch. She wants our brand to always be personable, approachable, and in touch with humanity.”
Crystalyn has her hands full with her Crystalz.store business, Rochelle says. “However, she wants to learn so much more about business and reports and to truly grow as a person. It is inspiring, and that essence that she brings is what we hope Lokahi Leaf always brings to the table.”
Rochelle is up every day at 5:00 a.m. to run her company and process orders for hair care, bath & body, wellness, skincare, and other products, and she is loving every minute.
“I work harder than I have ever worked in my life, but I enjoy every bit of it!” Rochelle laughs. “I am using everything I learned when I worked for large corporations to pave my own way. The last few years have been everything I dreamed of and this corporate world journey of mine built me for. I was built for this moment in my journey.”
She says that as a single mom, she had to take jobs she didn’t always enjoy due to pay, hours, or tasks. “Each one taught me something I needed for this journey,” Rochelle believes. “I feel energized like I am twenty again! It has lit a fire for this chapter of my life.”
The biggest challenges have been being part of an industry that is going from taboo to mainstream and navigating the constant change in rules and regulations. “I have always handled change well, however, so it hasn’t been to my detriment. Challenges are just like jumping hurdles: if you have focus, determination, and technique, you just glide right over them.”
Crystalyn, Rochelle believes, has been a huge help. “Being part of Lokahi Leaf has helped her evolve into a big personality to the outside world. She keeps me motivated and gives me a drive to keep it moving and not give up. She has great ideas and sees things differently when we are brainstorming.”
Mateo and Niko remain Rochelle’s biggest advocates and supporters. “They are absolute rocks,” she affirms. “I ask them for their insight into everything no matter how basic it might be. When I decided to launch Lokahi Leaf, I recall that Niko said, ‘You know you don’t have to share this with us – it’s okay to just let it be yours. You have sacrificed enough, and it’s okay to have something just for you.’”
Once Rochelle was done crying, she appreciated the sentiment but responded that without Niko and Mateo, she wouldn’t have had the fuel to arrive here. “My fuel comes from each and every one of them, and our journey will always be together,” Rochelle believes. “Even those that work with us are like family, and sometimes it is hard to tell who is and who isn’t. I like that!”
Today, the family continues to carefully plot the future of Lokahi Leaf, envisioning a company that helps thousands enjoy the healing properties of cannabis. “We are growing quickly,” Rochelle confirms. “Our most popular products include our CBG Tincture Drops, which help to regulate your mood and improve cognitive functions.
We are especially excited about launching our new line of hair care products, which can assist with hair rejuvenation and nourishment. Cannabis truly is an incredible plant.”
Ultimately, Rochelle wants Lokahi Leaf to be a catalyst for healthy, balanced living in the United States and other countries. “It has helped me and my family to find so much peace,” she says. “If Lokahi Leaf can help other people experience that same contentment and harmony, we will have accomplished what we set out to do.”