Shayda Torabi builds a powerful business in cannabis after a debilitating car accident.
By Shayda Torabi, Photos by Breezy Ritter Photography
As a born and raised Austinite, never in my wildest dreams did I see myself working professionally in cannabis in my home state. It’s no secret that Texas has more conservative beliefs when it comes to cannabis. On top of that, cannabis is still really under researched federally. As an industry we are just scratching the surface on the power and potential of this plant.
Of course, I recreationally consumed cannabis in my teenage years. (I did grow up in the “live music capital,” after all.) But it wasn’t until I was confronted with navigating chronic pain in my mid-20s that I started to see cannabis beyond just “getting high.”
I was hit by a vehicle as a pedestrian in 2015. This resulted in me fracturing my pelvis in two places. I was 25 years old. And I went from being completely in control of my body and movements to excruciating pain in a matter of seconds.
Prior to the accident I was working in corporate technology—for one of the fastest growing startups in Austin—and traveling all over the world for my job. I was establishing my personal brand, networking and public speaking for my employer.
It was an exciting opportunity. I am very grateful for the experience it provided. It helped shape me and prepare me for the role I am in now. But there was always a voice in the back of my head wondering what my true purpose was. What would be the thing that I would do in my life that could make an impact and leave my mark?
A Cycle of Pain
It was during my recovery from the accident that my mother started to have open and honest conversations with me about my pain management. A believer in organic and natural wellness, my mom wasn’t personally a cannabis consumer. But she wasn’t afraid of it either. I believe her openness is what helped pave the way for where I am today.
She knew I was partaking recreationally. But in between follow-up doctor visits, steroid injections and opioid refills, she began to question the prescription of Western medicine her daughter was following. Not because it was bad, per se. But because she was aware that if not taken with caution, the combination of chronic pain and prescription medication is a recipe for disaster.
My mom had heard of Cannabidiol (CBD), but at the time the market was nonexistent and I was skeptical. Hemp (the plant from which CBD is legally derived) wasn’t even federally legalized until 2018. But as a cannabis consumer, I wasn’t even sure what the differences were between CBD and THC (the psychotropic cannabinoid found in marijuana).
What Is CBD?
As the first-born daughter of three, I revere my parents. When they suggest something, I generally listen and try to adopt it. So at my mother’s recommendation, I began to use the homemade CBD products she was crafting for me. Topicals, sublingual oils and edibles.
At the time I was honestly just blindly taking it. But within three weeks I found myself sleeping on the side of my body that had been impacted without compounding pain for the first time since before the accident.
I knew this wasn’t just a fluke. My curiosity and passion for digging further really began. I learned of our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems; of our CB1 and CB2 receptors; and that there are over 200 cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that combine to give us the effects of cannabis.
I would learn that CBD is anti-inflammatory, which is why it was providing me tremendous relief with my pain management.
That was the beginning of my path toward cannabis education, and was ultimately the foundation for launching Restart CBD.
We launched our brand in 2018 right before hemp’s federal legalization. It was a little daunting leaning into the unknown. But I knew this was the conversation I wanted to have, every day, with anyone who would listen. I started by having that conversation right here in Austin.
I founded and now operate the brand with my two younger sisters. We are a women- and family-led brand that is rooted in education. I believe the biggest impact we can make is in our own community. So we invested in making a welcoming space and experience for the Austin canna-curious consumer through our retail store, through the products we create and by being involved in organizations to help further cannabis legalization in Texas.
In these last three years in business we’ve accomplished a lot. We’ve been voted the #1 CBD dispensary in Austin; I’ve been named as the leading cannabis educator and influencer in Texas; and I’ve gotten to speak all over the country at different cannabis events.
My hope is to inspire you to see cannabis in a new light and be a reflection of the power of this plant. I find myself full of gratitude, for the journey from surviving to finding balance and relief to actually thriving and finding purpose in helping champion cannabis one conversation at a time.