Nice Times with Maya Shaw ✨
Photographed by Tom Newton, interview as told to and edited by Charlotte Palermino.
The first time I heard about Maya Shaw was when I got tagged in an Instagram post. There in my feed was a shirt that read;
AROUND 17,500 PEOPLE ARE ARRESTED PER YEAR FOR CANNABIS POSSESSION CHARGES IN NEW YORK CITY. BLACK PEOPLE ARE EIGHT TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE ARRESTED FOR LOW-LEVEL CANNABIS CHARGES THAN WHITE PEOPLE AND HISPANIC PEOPLE ARE FIVE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE ARRESTED FOR THE SAME CHARGES. DUE TO DECADES OF BACKWARDS LEGISLATION THE DRUG WAR IS CONTINUING TO HARM MINORITY COMMUNITIES WHILE BIG BUSINESSES PROFIT IN STATES WHERE ADULT CONSUMPTION IS LEGAL.
WE DEMAND A STOP TO THE WAR ON DRUGS. WE DEMAND LEGALIZATION WITH JUSTNESS AND EQUITY.
It was signed SHAW. The caption noted that 100% of proceeds would be donated to Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that fights the War on Drugs and addresses inequity in cannabis. In an industry that likes to ignore the thousands of people, majority Black and brown, that are incarcerated while praising the mostly white, privileged people making money off weed it was incredible to see something so blunt but also, well-designed (I.e. it was an easy regram). Side note; the decriminalization bill in New York doesn’t go nearly far enough, so this shirt is still incredibly relevant.
I sat down with Maya Shaw, the creator of *the shirt* and Shop Shaw; a cannabis lifestyle e-shop. Keep reading to learn more about how Maya uses weed, how wellness equals time and why smoking out of "dick-shaped" bodega pipes inspired her to reach out to ceramic artists to make a better pipe.
Leo / she-her / Bedstuy
Put it this way. I’m a weather maker, if I’m in a bad mood I can change how everyone is else is feeling.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m from Richmond Virginia, the good old south and recently made the decision to move back. I have a fashion background and moved to New York after school to work in the industry. As soon as I got here I found it was too cliquey and wild and it just wasn’t the move or the mood for me. So, when I moved to NYC I ended up helping Lulu Lemon with opening their first lab and have been here ever since.
How did you get into cannabis?
After living in New York, I sensed a wild anxiety building that couldn’t be fully addressed with yoga or medication. The first thing that came to mind was I need to start smoking again. I smoked through high school and in college and was like; “lets revisit that.” Those were goods times! I stopped smoking when I moved home to Richmond so when I came to New York I knew it was time to pick it up back up.
In Richmond—it’s hard to find good weed and that’s the main problem; where do you get good supply? Every time I smoke when I’m home I’m like this shit is wack I’m going back to New York. If I smoke sour diesel ever again I’m going to run away.
When I got to New York and found decent weed I didn’t have a pipe so I started smoking out of a homemade apple pipe until I broke down and got a bodega one. But then I was like this looks like a penis. I was high and smoking and thought to myself “why am I smoking out of a dick?” It was phallic and weird and I had a revelation. What if there’s a smoke shop that’s beautiful and crafted and dedicated to women? So, I made it.
A lot of the artists I’ve worked with had never made pipes before. I’d get stoned and go on on Instagram looking for any ceramic artists that had a beautiful aesthetic and just emailed them asking “would you make a pipe?” Most of them said yes and now I’m seeing their work in so many other stores, that makes me so happy. It was rad to give them a platform that jump-started their career in cannabis. And also, they felt really open to talk about cannabis which was cool.
It was a little scary because I didn’t know how people would react to a stranger asking them to make a pipe. I made sure my brand deck was so on-point that there couldn’t be any doubts or questions to what I was creating. I didn’t want these artists thinking the project was sketchy and because of that deck, people were on board the second they saw what I was creating. I was scared! But after a year I found a bunch of artists that love weed and make beautiful shit.
How did the War on Drugs t-shirt come about?
I was at a spot with Shaw where I was uninspired. It’s supposed to be an inclusive space for everyone and I didn’t know how to navigate it so I sat down with one of our head designers at Lulu Lemon for advice. He said;
“Design something that people have in the home is accessible maybe wearable and donate that money. Have it say what you want it to say.”
I thought only a few people would buy it, then it went viral and we were able to donate money. It’s such a great feeling that there’s work to be done and people want to be in the work and help, you just have to give them the opportunity and show them where the money goes. This industry is racist and problematic… put it on a shirt! Donate the money!
What are you proud about right now?
I’m in a space of transition in life, career and a lot of things. I feel really good about it. I was crying most nights thinking “I’m 26, I’m scared, I don’t know what I’m dong” and I felt lost. I went home for vacation to our beach house recently and when I got back I thought “I’m moving South, I’m buying a house, I’m elevating the cannabis scene there. I’m going to smoke my weed and wear flowing skirts.”
I’m proud of being self aware of burning out before I actually do and acknowledging a transition not as a failure but a shift for the better. There’s a cannabis scene in Savannah with SCAD but it needs to develop and I’m excited to build it out there.
What was your first experience with weed?
Honestly it was smoking in High School out of an Arizona Green Tea can.
It was a wild night, my friend’s Olivia’s 16th birthday. We were the party squad and and she was cool. Her house is so nostalgic to me, I’d get too drunk and too high but I lived around the corner and my parents would come pick me up. They knew what was happening but were happy I’d call. The first time—the Arizona tall can—didn’t feel anything or I thought I didn’t. I didn’t know and was really drunk. I also had a situation with a senior lady which went around the school. It was a wild night, I was like “everyone experiments right?” And so, that was my first time smoking. From there on out it was more classic situations like smoking at bonfires.
In college I had a crazy weed experience. I was at a Lacrosse house and I got a laced joint. It was not good. I want to consent and if I see you smoking a joint, and I ask for a puff, I assume it’s just weed. Now I have my dad’s words in my ear “if you didn’t roll it, don’t smoke it.”
That joint sent me running through the university campus screaming for help. Let’s just say I only roll my own joints now and everyone should listen to my dad.
What do you like using? Any favorite brands?
Pure Beauty, hands down. I had that cigarette joint at the one year anniversary of Shaw and people still talk about it. It burns fast and you’re done and you just say “thank you.” I want a preroll to hit me, last and feel really good. Hate it when a preroll makes me sick and too high. It’s gorgeous and good weed. The brand is LA and New York so of course it’s going to be perfect.
For CBD, Tonic, duh, no brainer. Will stan Brittany forever. For topicals I love the Chronic Tonic roll on, my mom has arthritis and it’ has helped her not use Tylenol. I trust a brand that’s community driven with a good product. Kisanu body ointment is so nice and it smells amazing. I also love Barbari because I can cut my weed with it and people think I’ve made this amazing joint but it’s just masking how terrible I am at rolling.
What does "wellness" mean to you?
It means back to basics. Because I work for Lulu Lemon I have so many opinions, but it really means from the earth. For how I take care of myself, I take herbal supplements. That goes back to how I was raised and it’s about looking to the earth and movement. The industry has become so whitewashed and when these learnings and techniques come from indigenous and Black cultures it’s frustrating to see. Wellness is access, education and tradition. Blend that with a therapist ensuring you have downtime.
Time is my legit answer and recognizing when you need to step away and breathe and take a look at what’s happening.
To me wellness isn’t an ointment, it’s mental with mental fixing the physical.
What skincare products do you swear by?
Skincare happens at night, not in the morning. Learned recently I was washing my face too much at two times a day! I had acne and the over washing was was causing inflammation. I wash at night with Kypris Cleaning Concentrate which is so expensive for no reason but Iove it, I put on my retinol (A313), and if I have breakouts or spots I use my Gigi Bioplasma 15% azelaic cream. Then just a random moisturizer like m-61 powerspot moisturizer . When I wake up I use Geu Thermale Avene tinted face sunscreen with, and this will crack you up, a sunscreen by Solid and Striped which I know is random but the texture is great. It’s almost like a serum and is a darker color which means I won’t have ashy-ass skin.
Not too long ago II found out that face oils aren’t for my skin, once I stopped using my skin did a 180 for the better. Oils aren’t for everyone! I also feel like people don’t talk enough about body care, Midsummer Night Cream by Trader Joe's is the best lotion for your body, you can’t forget that.
What do you wish people understood about weed?
Two things; I wish restaurants stayed opened later, I want to be catered to when I get the munchies. The fact that my Chinese restaurant closes at 9:30PM is a slap in the face. I need later in the night and earlier in the morning options.
Also, the stoner stereotype is not real. When I tell people that I have a cannabis brand people are surprised like “you do so much and are good at your job.” Weed is a healing plant for me and to have fun, not who I am as a person or how I work. My potential is not defined by me being a pothead and that stereotype that it stops you rom reaching your potential needs to be crushed. It’s going to continue being a barrier to people getting jobs.
Right now Im in a battle with my grandma to use weed for her pain and her depression. She’s sad because she knows she’s old, all her friends are dead and she’s in pain. I’m like, you need to smoke weed. She still thinks it’s going to kill your braincells and ruin your life and that's just not true. It would help.
What do you admire most in your friends?
I love how weird they are. I have some of the weirdest friends; not because they’re into anything *odd* but they are just expressive and honest as to who they are. They don’t hold back no matter the situation. It’s so inspiring. If we go out and there’s a dance floor it doesn’t matter how you dance we’re going on. In fact they’re already waiting for you. My friends celebrate themselves, live happy lives are down to clown and that brings me so much joy.
Pringles. Just regular. When I do the flavors it gets weird. I had cucumber flavor, it was so strange and I threw them right in the trash after eating three. Maybe if I’m feeling spicy BBQ. There’s no better feeling than pulling that top back with a clean peel. It’s my favorite. The only issue is they need a Pringle can where you can open it from the top and bottom, sticking your hand in is a terrible experience. I use chopsticks, it's a lot cleaner.
If you're not feeling nice, what do you do?
I put on Kacey Musgraves and dance around my room and smoke a joint. It works 100% of the time every time.
What's the advice you want to listen to more?
Boys are dumb. I put a lot of pressure into what boys think, I’m single and looking. You can control a lot of things when you’re around them, and I give in to a lot of self esteem issues even though it’s not true, I’m awesome and I need to listen to that more.
Dream presidential candidate in 2020?
Elizabeth Warren, I want to be realistic and she has a plan. The one thing is she needs to hire a new graphic designer. Her merch is terrible. ELIZABETH if you’re listening, I’m here.