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High Country: From office burnout to mountains and motherhood, Two Cranes takes plant-based wellness beyond self-care

I caught up with the company's twin sister co-founders, who are hosting a CBD-infused hut trip for women in April.

Katie Shapiro
High Country

TWO CRANES IN TOWN

Two Cranes Botanicals is on the drink menus at JUS Aspen and Local Coffee House with Attune tinctures also available for purchase in-store to take home. And if you’re not in Aspen, you can order directly through its website: twocranesbotanicals.co.

JUS ASPEN

Vitality CBD Shot (blended with elderberry, Attune tincture, echinacea), $6

Sleep Aid CBD Shot (blended with melatonin, Attune tincture, lingonberry), $6

501 E. Hyman Ave., 970-710-7063, jusaspen.com

LOCAL COFFEE HOUSE

Attune tincture add-on to any beverage, $4

614 E. Cooper Ave., 970-880-1379, localcoffeeaspen.com

Throughout Asian culture, the crane is a symbol of longevity, happiness and good fortune. And when two of the birds are seen flying together, the meaning intensifies to combine love, cleanliness and purity.

Twin sisters Susun Chung and Hanna Yi, born in Colorado to Korean immigrant parents, have taken this mythical metaphor to heart in their venture as co-founders of Two Cranes Botanicals. The Denver- and Seattle-based CBD wellness company’s initial lineup includes organically sourced, full-spectrum Attune tinctures and an adaptogenic Super Drinking Chocolate.

But with CBD upstarts launching seemingly every day, it’s their brand ethos, commitment to quality, and holistic lifestyle approach that makes Two Cranes Botanicals stand out among an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Beyond personally helping cultivate their CBD from a partner hemp farm in the Rocky Mountains and bringing their products online and in-store to carefully curated stockists (88% of which are women-owned) in California, Colorado and Washington, Chung and Yi have taken their debut a step further by hosting pop-ups and special soirées in-person with retailers from Rag & Bone to Sweaty Betty, at events from Winter X Games to Seattle Veg Fest, and in studios from O2 Aspen to Equinox.

As Two Cranes Botanicals nears its first anniversary in business, Chung and Yi are prepping for their biggest endeavor yet: a full weekend of wellness at the off-grid Red Mountain Alpine Lodge in central Colorado’s San Juan Mountains formally dubbed “The Bliss Point Retreat.” The sisters, both 500-hour certified yoga and Lagree Method instructors, will be joined by professional ski-mountaineer and AIARE-certified backcountry guide Madeline Dunn and professional big-mountain skier Cynthia Johnson to host three days of mountain-minded programming from April 10 to 12.

Designed for 24 women participants (ideally aged 25 to 45), the all-inclusive adventure ($1,299) includes: lodging, a private chef serving organic and locally sourced meals, CBD-infused food and drinks, in-depth workshops focused on education and practice with meditation, yoga, breathwork and how to effectively use CBD in your own wellness routine. An avalanche course certification is offered as an add-on for those interested in participating in backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. All participants will also receive custom swag bags from sponsors including Topo Designs, Stanley, Ortovox, Vitacoco, GT’s Living Foods, JUS Aspen and more.

This immersive approach is at the core of Two Cranes Botanicals, taking the notion of CBD for self-care to the next level as an all-encompassing tool to create a balanced life. A product of the personal office burnout Chung experienced climbing the corporate ladder at two Fortune 100 tech companies and a long stretch at a Lehman Brothers asset firm, Yi joined her sister in building Two Cranes Botanicals from a shared journey in search of their true best selves.

I recently had the chance to take a few turns with Chung on Aspen Mountain (and with Yi via email), where in between runs we talked about how skiing, yoga and family fuel their entrepreneurial spirit.

Katie Shapiro: How did you discover CBD initially?

Susun Chung: During my finance career, I started searching for more balance in my lifestyle and I found yoga. But as much as that helped to improve my overall health and lifestyle, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder onset by excessive inflammation and extreme exhaustion. My daily routine then was so extremely stressful, I was advised to leave my job and take a break, which just seemed impossible. I made some major changes, starting with relocating back to Denver (from San Francisco), where I knew I needed to be closer to my roots…the mountains and natural elements…to fully heal my body and mind. I addressed my gut health, drastically changed my diet to help reduce inflammation, and thankfully, discovered CBD.

Hanna Yi: After noticing the benefit my sister had with CBD, I really wanted to learn more. Susun introduced me to CBD about a year after my second child was born. I believe that to survive and thrive after the amount of change your mind, body and spirit goes through with pregnancy and motherhood is nothing less than a miracle. You can never fully predict where you’ll be mentally or physically in the healing process, or how long that it might take to rebound. I suffered a hip dysfunction in both of my pregnancies and birthed naturally. Although I didn’t fall into postpartum depression, the blues were constantly knocking on my door and my anxiety grew, so CBD helped manage my new life as a mom of two.

Shapiro: What is your overall perspective of the CBD industry in 2020?

Chung: It’s becoming more commoditized and will continue to grow exponentially. So many people are jumping into the space, and with regulations looming from the FDA, we know there will be a big shift. As a result, hopefully it will bring more transparency and protection for businesses and consumers. As individuals are becoming more curious and knowledgeable about CBD, the intention and dedication to the highest quality and standards of our products stands out.

Yi: We prioritize holistic wellness and like to think we set a very high bar. Through our community events and partnerships, we are on the ground meeting our customers face-to-face. We also are planning to launch a line of signature skincare products later this year that will include CBD blended with the Asian botanicals, remedies, and rituals we grew up with.

Shapiro: How did growing up in Colorado influence your vision and mission?

Chung: Our father immigrated here to pursue a degree in chemical engineering and fell in love with the beautiful Rocky Mountains. We grew up trekking around national parks, taking in the wilderness as a family. Much of our childhood was dedicated to discovering new areas to fish, hunt and forage mushrooms together. He was always motivated to find ways to explore the outdoors and take risks in life and in business. As the first person in his family to move to America, he felt pressure to succeed and wanted to make his own father, a successful entrepreneur in Korea, very proud.

Yi: While working a full-time job as an engineer, our dad started a second business harvesting and distributing velvet elk antlers to be used for medicinal purposes. In the Asian culture, and like CBD, they’re known to improve the health of your immune system, counter the effects of stress, and promote rapid recovery from illness. We remember frequent visits to elk farms and looking back, we appreciate the process from ranch to sale. These real-life, firsthand lessons have certainly had an impact on how we created and choose to operate Two Cranes Botanicals.

Shapiro: How has your family supported and inspired this endeavor?

Chung: Although we are a self-funded business, our family supports our entrepreneurial journey completely. They were apprehensive about CBD at first due to the lack of understanding, but have come to believe in the power of hemp and what we are putting out in the world. Our father and brother studied chemistry and in my brother’s case, continues to work in the science and medical fields. They’re our unofficial R&D team and two of our biggest supporters. Our mother has also been an entrepreneur in the past with her own boutique and has even helped us to package and ship our products.

Yi: And a meaningful side note: we actually found out after we launched our company that our grandfather had originally owned a rice wine (makkoli) distillery business in Korea, called Two Cranes (Korean translation ee-hahk). So, of course, we felt like this was a blessing of our past and our future.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.


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