BY Sarah Donahue
James Brown may have said “it’s a man’s world,” but Marvina Thomas begs to differ.
“It’s all about us women now,” she says. Thomas honors the divine feminine with the branding of her two companies, 420 Skin Care and 420 Medibles. She combines the powers of the “woman (marijuana) plant” with the influence of the highness of traditional Egyptian goddesses.
Women are making great strides within the marijuana industry, and Thomas says she’s glad to be part of the movement.
“We can show what we can do — not just be in the house, cooking and bearing babies.”
Owning two companies means Thomas is always on her toes, she says.
After a stressful day, she says she relaxes her body and mind with fruits of her labor — a 420 Medibles treat and a bath bomb — along with some candles and a glass of wine.
“Sometimes you need that — just to get away from everything. My phone rings 20 times a day. I need some ‘me time,’” she says.
Thomas eats the edible two hours before her “deprogram” ritual, which she says gives her “the best sleep.” Without this self-care routine, “my brain just keeps going and going and going and going.”
Since Arizona passed Proposition 207 in November, she has been extremely busy filling the copious amounts of orders that come in from dispensaries “on the daily.”
This led her to increase her staff and extend the eight-hour workday to a 24-hour operation. “We’re working so many hours, but you know what? We love what we do,” she says.
Thomas recently appointed Parisa Rad as president of 420 Skin Care and 420 Medibles within the expansion of her businesses.
She uses her two companies to achieve her ultimate goal of helping others, as a percentage of all of the funds she makes goes toward her group homes to help her clients overcome addiction and secure well-paying jobs.
“That’s always been my plan and my vision for my company,” she says. “It’s not about money. It’s about helping. Money will always follow.”
Thomas is a former nurse and health expert and has been operating group homes for 18 years. She also has two medical clinics where her clients come to classes throughout the week.
She and her staff stay busy on the medical and cannabis fronts of their efforts, “which is a beautiful thing,” she says. “I thank God we’re able to create jobs.”
Many of the recovering addicts she works with hold previous convictions, “and a lot of people won’t hire felons,” she says.
The year-long program she offers at the center teaches the clients a job trade like contracting or plumbing, which allows them to get hired and start job training. Thomas says it’s important to connect her clients with jobs that pay decent salaries rather than minimum wage so they can have the resources to build their foundations.
She outsources her family network of contractors to assist with the efforts. Some clients also return to school or get jobs with her friend’s trucking company, she adds.
“We just love changing lives,” she says. Seeing clients’ transformation from the start of the program to the end is “what keeps a smile on my face and keeps me going,” she adds.
Thomas says she works over a dozen hours a day, and “it’s not because I have to; it’s because I want to.” She loves to be “hands-on” across all her efforts, whether it’s helping to make edibles or working at her group homes.
She is fueled by her passion, she says. “You gotta have passion in what you do in life, period. For me, to be at two different stressful companies, you definitely have to love what you do.”
Her passion for skin care started when she was working at her group home 18 years ago. After continuously buying soap and lotion products for her clients, she says she thought to herself, “There’s gotta be a way to learn how to make this stuff.”
She purchased a plane ticket to Florida to attend a week-long course she found online, which taught her the ins and outs of creating and mixing soaps and lotions. “I just fell in love with it,” she says.
Thomas took it a step further and found a way to add CBD to the mix.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring substance found within the marijuana plant. The nonpsychoactive compound’s health benefits are known to provide relief for back pain, inflammation, insomnia and anxiety.
“I started using me as a guinea pig, because in this case if I broke out, that’s on me,” she says with a contagious laugh. “I was considering myself as a mad scientist at the time, and I fell in love.”
She began distributing her handmade CBD creams to her mom and other older loved ones to give them relief from arthritis and shortly started receiving satisfied reviews and requests for more, she says.
Thomas looked to industry trends and decided to start making creams with a higher potency of CBD, she says. She started selling creams containing around 300 milligrams of CBD and now provides amounts like 500 or 1,000 milligrams.
Keeping prices low is a priority, she says. “I want to be able to help all — rich, poor, middle class, I want to help everybody.”
She used her learned skills to start making new products to set herself apart from others in the industry, looking to the beauty preservation ingredients traditionally used by ancient Egyptians.
She loves Egyptian culture because “it’s all about the queens,” she says.
Thomas strives to always set herself apart from the rest. Anybody can make a cream, but what makes hers different is the ingredients, she says.
“Back in those days, the queens took milk baths, but the milk that they were using was goat milk, and then they put the flowers in the water and they put all the different types of essential oils in the water.
“So that’s what I make my product out of, from the Egyptians,” she says.
Her milk baths, bath salts as well as bath dusts make the water colorful, and “it just relaxes the body and it leaves your skin so silky and soft.”
Her 420 Medibles also incorporate Egyptian influences. The marijuana-infused treats she sells are wrapped in “gorgeous” packaging showing imagery of Egyptian gods and goddesses, she says. They can be purchased at dispensaries across the Valley.
The “Khonsu Krisp” rice and marshmallow bar honors the Egyptian God of the Moon, and the “Ma’at Sandwich” made of marshmallows and graham crackers honors the Egyptian Goddess of Truth, Justice, Harmony and Balance, which are part of her “OMG Deity Collection.”
While women have worked their way to establish themselves as a powerful force within the industry, “being a woman of color is very hard,” she says.
“I have to work extremely 10 times harder than another female that’s coming into this industry. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”
She formerly served as the director of community outreach for Women Grow, a national organization focused on elevating aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs. She was also co-market leader of what used to be the Phoenix chapter of Women Grow.
Thomas is 53 years old, “but my work ethic? I’m 25.”
She resides in Litchfield Park and originally hails from South Central Los Angeles. “I will never forget where I came from,” she says.
“I did not grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth,” she says. Rather, her family members taught her the value of earning her own living and paving her own road to success, she adds.
Thomas plans to open her own dispensary in the future and has a goal of owning dispensary locations in multiple states.
She says this is important because it will “let our people know, as far as people of color know, that there is room out there for us in this industry, because a lot of them are still feeling left out.”
While these institutional barriers can be extremely difficult to overcome, “I always tell people, ‘A closed mouth don’t get fed,’” she says.
However, ultimately her goal is to create jobs for the clients in her program “because they do have a voice.”
Thomas taught her kids the value of helping others and encourages everyone to give back when they can.
“When I do leave this earth, they can always say I was out there for the people — for all the people.”