Editor’s note: As part of International Women’s Month, we’re highlighting some of the inspiring cannabis women professionals who are part of the Eaze Momentum program and our greater Eaze community.
When Cynthia Boedihardjo co-founded Nouera, a soon-to-be-established conscious cannabis lounge, she chose a location in San Francisco’s Japantown, in the heart of one of the city’s thriving Asian communities. As an Indonesian-American, Boedihardjo wanted to help normalize cannabis use and help bring its restorative properties to her own community. At Nouera, Boedihardjo combines cannabis with immersive and interactive experiences like sound healing, dining, dance, meditation, and more. She talked to Eaze about her journey to cannabis and what the Momentum program means to her.
Why don’t we talk a little bit about where you grew up, what was your family life like? Kind of the backstory, if you will.
I’m originally from Indonesia. I was born in East Java in this little town called Malang. My parents decided to move us to the States when I was seven. My dad at the time had lost his father and was given the family hotel business, but he was a doctor. He wanted to take some hotel management classes in the U.S. and he was awarded this internship through the Indonesian government and Marriott, and basically that’s how we got to the U.S.
We didn’t know we were going to stay here. We thought [the program would be] six months. We didn’t know English at the time and went through ESL for two years. It was really tough because we were made fun of,. People thought we had a learning disability. The first sentence that I learned was, “Will you be my friend?”
How did you originally get connected to the cannabis industry?
I was at Google for seven years and in Silicon Valley you basically [eventually] do a sabbatical. You get so burnt out, and I knew within the first year at Google that it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was doing advertising and working with publishers.
I felt like I needed to do something that was going to support my community. It took me seven years to leave because of the golden handcuffs but when I left, I got a chance to travel around the world and one of the places that I visited was South America and I was able to learn and research plant medicine, specifically ayahuasca. That was how I got connected to the plant, and other sacred plants.
That was in 2017, and Prop 64 had just passed, and what I felt within my body was that this was the time — cannabis is getting out of prohibition and we need to tell the right story. The stigma around cannabis needs to stop. People are going to be conscious about consuming cannabis. We want to teach them how to use the plant properly and to understand that it’s a tool for checking in versus checking out.
Why was it important for you to join Momentum? What was it to help people or was it further your business, a little bit of both?
I’ve been following Eaze for the past few years. I knew they had the ability to propel our business forward. I feel like we’ve struggled so much for the past two years.
We’ve secured a space [for Nouera] in Japantown. There’s still such a huge stigma [in the Asian community] that Chinatown put a moratorium on cannabis in San Francisco. Given that the Asian population makes 60% of the planet’s population, we thought this would be a really great way for us to tell the story around this plant, how healing it is, and how it’s used to connect communities essentially.
And we thought that by being part of this Momentum cohort, not only can we work with other operators that are within this community, but also get the support of Eaze with their marketing, policy and legal resources to help us move forward.
What does the future look like for your business?
We’re called Nouera for a reason. We see a future where people will understand how healing this plant is. There’s so much collaboration that we see in this industry that I’ve never seen in the tech industry or in finance. I feel like the future will be bright, the future will be collaborative, the future is female, and the future will be green.
Last question, so this relates to kind of where you’re at now in your life as far as your business, what are you most proud of?
I’m grateful every day that I’m here, that I’m healthy. I’m most proud of doing this with my business partner, Jessica. It’s really been a struggle — two years — so I’m most proud that we’re still standing and I’m proud that this is just the beginning.