Behind the Products: Q&A with Asha Carroll of Phasey

Two years ago, Asha Carroll started Phasey out of Tinmouth, Vermont, to make functional food for better periods. “Once upon a time, the world taught us to feel bad about our periods, and Phasey is here to undo that,” she said. It was Asha’s vision to build a broader brand around the ups and downs of the menstrual cycle, a phase-by-phase place where there could be open and honest dialogue about the “hormonal rollercoaster of our lives.”

Her method? A distinctive brand voice; edgy, vibrant, nostalgic visuals; and a line of modern functional pantry staples as the vehicle for driving that conversation.

Here at Ceres, we proudly support Phasey’s mission for less painful periods – and better conversations surrounding them. Recently featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Phasey continues to be part of these larger ongoing conversations about female reproductive health.

Asha’s background is in holistic nutrition. The products Phasey develops are food-based solutions to help regulate your hormones. They are created with organic ingredients, hemp and companion botanicals to provide nourishment through different phases of the menstrual cycle. Asha works with herbalists and registered dietitians to make the connection between a targeted, nutritious diet and the positive effects it can have on a woman’s experience of her periods.

We carry Phasey’s Seed Cycle Blends, Period Chocolate and the recently introduced Sex Chocolate in our stores.

Want to try Phasey? All Phasey products are 20% in store and online today through Sunday, 10/24.

Recently, we spoke to Asha about Phasey’s mission, female reproductive health, and what we can look forward to from Phasey next. Read on for our full conversation with her. 

Why Phasey? What was the impetus behind developing a line of products to support menstrual health?

I’d had painful periods my whole life, including during my career as a pro opera singer, where I often had to reschedule performances due to unbearable period pain. I worked with several gynecologists, and we couldn’t reach a diagnosis. Period pain became my normal, and so did the shame that came with it. Sick of spending half my months MIA, I started experimenting with cycle-supporting herbs and functional foods under the guidance of both an herbalist and a registered dietitian, and they worked!

I went on to study holistic nutrition, and I began helping my friends and family work through their own hormonal hurdles. I became obsessed with connecting the dots between my periods and the foods I consumed during each phase of my cycle, and I developed Phasey’s unique approach to phase-based nutrition. After that, I started selling homemade adaptogenic chocolates and seed cycle blends to people I knew and then to people at farmer’s markets. Once I added CBD to the mix – ours comes from Luce Farm right here in Bethel, Vermont – customer interest and demand taught me that I had to bring these to market in a real way.

How do your values shape Phasey?

I’m not afraid to say where I stand, and neither is Phasey. It was important to me that honesty, integrity, and education around the efficacy of our products be at the center of our work. We feel we have a responsibility to educate people on our products and debunk disinformation – in the big wide world of wellness, things can get murky at times. IMO, there are too many brands out there making false promises, and thanks to them, we have a clear idea of who *not* to be in the period and sexual wellness space.

When I was first building Phasey, I looked around the period space and felt that there was still something muted about even the most innovative brands, something discreet. Part of the rebuilding of my relationship with my period and cycle was working through the stigmas I’d learned as a kid in Minnesota. We didn’t talk about periods or hormones, the messiness and the feelings of it all. But how were we going to build a community where our customers felt safe to break through taboos unless it was a place of openness, creativity, candidness, and emotion?

So I created a brand that was a world where I wanted to hang out. Our cycle isn’t just one week of the month. It’s what we eat, it’s how we feel, it’s who we are. We’re also not afraid to speak up on issues of social justice, gender and sexuality, human rights. As a brand with a platform, it’s important to me that we show up and amplify the movement. Imagine where we’d all be if period brands had been so brave in the 60s and 70s. 

With more discussion surrounding menstrual health, have you seen a coincident rise in feminine wellness products in the marketplace to support this? If so, how has that affected the development of your brand?

Yes! We recently celebrated our 2nd birthday, and the space has changed so much in such a short time. I think that menstrual health stigma has reached a tipping point, and with it, we’re seeing a rush to market to meet the increase in demand. What’s exciting for me is that the consumers are really driving that. They’re demanding more from their period products. They’re seeking new ways of understanding. It’s a moment for the movement. I think it’s empowered us to make bolder choices and push the envelope even further in the work that we do; for example, we expanded from menstrual wellness to also supporting sexual wellness this year. There’s so much shame to untangle there, too. We’re here for it all and so excited to be right here right now.

We love Phasey because of the way you recognize that nutrition plays a key role in supporting the specific phases of the menstrual cycle and your focus on using organic ingredients. What are your favorite ways to incorporate the seed blends into your routine?

I love this question! Every morning, I toss our seed blends in my morning smoothie – frozen mango, blueberries, cinnamon, coconut milk – that’s an easy way! I also love sprinkling it over salads or combining it with peanut butter and our Neat-O! Instant Moodmilk powder (made from supersmooth hemp heart protein) to make sweet little seedy protein balls. 

Period Chocolate is your first product to introduce cannabinoids into your formulations. What brought you to this decision?

I developed Period Chocolate to soothe my own period cramps. While I’d been developing food-based solutions to support my hormones to great results, I discovered that on certain days of the month in my own cycle – for me, it’s Days 1, 2, and 3 – I needed something more powerful to provide pain relief, something that would really center me. I learned that full-spectrum hemp extract was that for me – what a discovery. So, I was having intense chocolate cravings while I was sampling out several premium full hemp extracts – thanks in great part to Ceres, actually! This was around the time your College Street shop first opened in 2018. I’d been guzzling Advil eachmonth for years and couldn’t believe it when I finally was able to put down the bottle. It was a huge game-changer for me, so I started mixing up my own chocolates for friends. Eventually, I got in touch with my favorite Brooklyn chocolatier, Fine & Raw, and they were into what I was doing. So we partnered up, and the rest is history. I launched Phasey. Nothing hits like these chocolates, IMO. I’ve been known to enjoy a few even when I’m not on my period.

For people that have never used CBD to alleviate period pain, how do you recommend they start?

I recommend starting with a half or a quarter of a truffle and taking it from there! Take some space and time to notice how you feel; you can always have more later. I think it’s important to note that just like us, each of our endocannabinoid systems is unique. The way we each experience CBD – in this case, full-spectrum hemp extract – is unique, too. I like to keep a little cycle journal where I monitor how I feel on each day of my period, including what I ate, how I moved my body, how I slept. It’s a great place to monitor the CBD experience, too. 

Will we see more products from Phasey incorporating cannabinoids beyond CBD?

We’re leaving the door open for it! 😉  

What do we have to look forward to from Phasey?

We recently launched Neat-O! Instant Moodmilk, our hemp heart protein powder answer to the omega 3 shortage happening in so many of our bodies – roughly 70% of menstruators are nutritionally deficient in omega 3 essential fatty acids, which is directly linked to mood swings. Wild. I’m vegan, and many of our customers are, so it was even more important to me that our protein really supports the whole brain and body. So we’re doing that in three flavors: Chocolate and Strawberry, both sweetened with Vermont maple sugar, and unsweetened “No-Frills” for those who like to keep it simple. Think Nesquik, but for hormones. Once again, hemp to the rescue!

We’re also working on tea infusions, our first lifestyle products, and of course… more CBD! May or may not include chocolate.

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