We connected with Erica Huss, co-founder of Earth & Star, a functional mushroom brand, about why mushrooms her amazing, the taboos behind psychedelics, and how she manages life as a serial entrepreneur.
My partner Zoe and I are longtime wellness industry veterans and serial entrepreneurs. We created BluePrint Cleanse, which was regarded as the original cold pressed juice cleanse, way back in the day. We scaled that company and sold it, and then went on to explore other avenues in the wellness world. We launched our podcast, Highway to Well (HTW With Zoe & Erica), to be able to engage with experts, doctors and thought leaders on meaningful topics in the wellness world without all the preachy dogma that sometimes arises and makes wellness feel exclusive.
We believe wellness products and information should be accessible to the masses! With that philosophy, our next product idea took us from the kingdom to the fungi kingdom when we discovered the incredible powers of functional mushrooms. We were both users of other brands and products, but we found we didn’t like the forms that existed–popping pills or mixing up messy powders that ultimately didn’t taste delicious. So we designed Earth & Star to be a whole line of products that could deliver the incredible benefits of functional mushrooms like Lion’s Mane and Reishi, in the everyday products that folks are already consuming, like chocolate bars and ground coffee, to make it as delicious and convenient as possible to incorporate functional ingredients into the daily routine. And to make it fun and accessible, so more folks can benefit from these amazing organisms!
Functional mushrooms are adaptogens, which literally help you “adapt” to your every day–but it’s a loading process, it’s not a one-and-done, so you really need to have them in your system regularly, so creating a craveable and easy-to-use product was key.
Shouting it from the rooftops! We’ve created a full suite of delicious and incredibly efficacious products–ground coffee, chocolate bars, daily gummies and tinctures–and now we just want as many folks as possible to understand the power of these fantastic fungi and how they can benefit from them.
The beauty of entrepreneur life is that no two days are exactly the same. I make sure I move my body or sweat every day, usually in the morning, which is key for my own mental wellbeing and helps me focus my mind, and then I tackle any number of projects that are on the table.
As founders we’re still wearing all the hats, so there’s truly never a dull moment. I try to take a quick break every 90 minutes or so when it’s possible, and always try to get outside for some sunshine and at least a quick walk before wrapping things up. I’ve also tried to factor more reading into my day, 30 minutes of nonfiction and 30 minutes of fiction before bed. It’s a good goal, at least…
I love routines! I like waking up early and having some time to myself before getting caught up in daily chaos. I don’t check emails, texts or social media until I’ve done my little ritual–I light some Palo Santo to try to create clean energy around me, I meditate for about 10-15 minutes, sometimes in silence and sometimes with guided app like Insight Timer, and then when I’m done I try to get outside to get direct morning sunlight for 5-10 minutes, but if it’s really cold or still too dark in NYC winter mornings, then I use a morning light box–bright light is amazing for helping your circadian rhythm stay in check, and while I’m doing that I’m listening to the UpFirst podcast on NPR. After those 30 minutes I feel ready to start the day with a clean slate, I’ll check in on any urgent needs to tackle and then I’ll head to the gym/yoga mat/pilates class, etc.
My morning meditation is my practice. It’s not super specific, sometimes I use mantras, sometimes I listen to chimes or singing bowls, sometimes it’s a specific guided practice around joy or abundance. It’s probably not the most impressive practice to serious meditators, but for me, the most important thing is keeping consistent and never missing a day.
I’ve learned the hard way that no one will ever prioritize you before you prioritize yourself, which can only lead to some serious negativity and burnout. So I try to make sure that I’m feeling balanced and in check with myself before I can get to anything else. If I’m feeling like something is weighing me down or I’m feeling fragile, I’ll do my best to at least be able to name and identify that, and be gentle with myself until I feel like I have the focus to get things done. I have an amazing network and support system of friends so oftentimes just connecting with one or two folks to get out of my own head is just what the doctor ordered. Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, etc…
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I went through some tough times last year with my physical and mental health, and I was at a place where I was really open to trying anything. I’ve never experienced a true crippling anxiety before, or anything like an ongoing depression, but that was 2022 for me in full force. I had experimented with microdosing psilocybin for a few months, and I found that it helped me feel a bit sunnier and less weighed down, but I was still having major anxious episodes and pretty frequent panic attacks in the middle of the night. And then lack of sleep would make everything worse, etc. So I decided to try ketamine therapy and see if that could shake up the snow globe a bit more. My first session was not super transformative, it was more to gauge the dosage and I was nervous about the intramuscular delivery, so I went for the lozenges alone. I felt brighter and much more still when I left the session, so I decided to take it further when I went back. I had two injections in the second session, I think it was a total of 80-100mg, and it was fascinating. I remember feeling that I was simultaneously in the room and also in a completely different dimension. I was happy, (I kept telling the doctor I was so happy!) and weightless and I felt like I could see many of the challenges in my life in a totally different perspective. I truly understood what I had heard about “ego dissolution” and it helped me to put into context how truly vast the universe is, and how small we are as individuals. I never thought I’d hear myself say that I understood infinite beauty and consciousness, but that’s exactly what happened. The takeaway for me was a sense of stillness that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I think it really just opened my eyes to different ways of experiencing challenges in life and keeping things in perspective. It sounds so cliche but it’s really meaningful to me, to be more intentional and actively aware of how precious and short our time here can be, and hopefully I can be inspired to use it well.
Indeed! I have experimented with a few different schedules and a few different strains of psilocybin and I have found a couple that are really great, so I am eager to keep up that exploration.
It’s nothing new to this audience at this point, but Michael Pollan’s book How to Change Your Mind really had a profound impact on me. I didn’t think the Netflix series really did it justice–the book was 19 hours of audio and a hard copy three inches thick! They had to edit out quite a bit of the content that I found really compelling, about the nature of neural pathways and how they can be reset.
On the fiction front, Richard Powers’ The Overstory was one of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read, and its themes speak to the relationship between humans and the natural world; he writes stunning prose about the idea of mycelium connecting plants and fungi, as well as humans.
Because they are the solution for almost everything! Theycan help humans prevent disease and decline—and improve our mental health. Theycan help to regenerate agriculture and create new life out of decay. And, theycan serve to replace leather, meat, and plastic in our consumer economy.
I feel like it’s another meaningful tool to have in my rapidly expanding self-care toolbox, that allows me to slow down and check in,and take stock of what’s important.
Low and slow! We have to do better to eliminate thestigma around plant medicine and psychedelics, so that people feel informedenough to make the leap and try something new. But it shouldn’t feel likea leap. There’s a fear factor associated with trying ANY new modality,and a certain amount of fear and concern is totally normal and natural. But knowing the incredible positive impact that psychedelic medicine can haveon folks who feel like they’re out of options in the traditional world, a bit ofuncertainty shouldn’t stop someone from taking the first baby step towardsgreater health and sense of self.
Last, but not least, we've got a giveaway of Erica's delicious functional fungal fun. Head over to our Instagram [click here] and enter to win an Earth & Star gift pack, with adaptogenic chocolate, drops, coffee, plus a killer "Funghi" fleece and hat.
Learn to microdose with our free guide.
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