ARTIST INTERVIEW: Stephen Smith of ONDA Wellness
Company: ONDA Wellness
Artist: Stephen Smith
Growing up in North Carolina in an active family Stephen spent most of his developmental days outside exploring his grandmother’s farm, the woods, streams and lakes of this bio-diversified Southern landscape. Stephen received a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Colorado while finding time to explore the Rocky Mountains. Five months on a solo motorcycle adventure through South America piqued his interest in farming, grape growing and winemaking leading him to Napa, Ca where he got his hands dirty working for boutique wineries and vineyards. In 2012, he found his next job and moved back to Colorado to work as the Director of Business Development for the first Organic distillery in the US and only Biodynamic vineyard in Colorado. Half a year on a 90,000 acre cattle ranch opened Stephen’s eyes to large scale land management, animal husbandry as well as agricultural and economic diversification before beginning the lifelong dream of homesteading on his own land in Northeast Oregon.
A passion for agriculture, food and wellness lead Stephen to the creation of ONDA Wellness. The revelation came early one morning, rushing off to the airport as I dropped some CBD oil in my tea. Flying home to see family for the holidays on a bad night’s sleep, coming down with a cold and sore from the previous days’ long trail run, I settled into my seat. I felt relaxed, comfortable, clear headed and free of anxiety and soreness. There is something here and this could change lives, I told myself.
Shortly after this, I approached the parent of a dear friend who passed the year prior of a seizure. Something special led me to Annie, my now friend and partner, and we didn’t look back. With Annie’s diversified background in sales, cannabis product development and manufacturing combined with my experiences in Organic farming and ranching, sales, business development, and art we hit the ground running.
How do you define success in your art or craft, or alternately, what does failure mean to you?
When we receive emails and calls from our customers explaining how ONDA has literally changed their lives we are filled with inspiration and fuel to keep fighting the good fight to make our patented CBD oil available to as many people as possible. That is success for us.
Do you have a daily working routine? Can you describe it?
Being on the road so much makes a routine challenging but I do try to meditate by 8am for at least 10 min while my water is heating up. I make dark roast coffee with a little bit of heavy cream with breakfast. I usually work maniacally until late morning and have about 25mg of CBD to bring me back to center as I take a little break before lunch. If I am working from my property I will often take an hour or two for chores / projects that get my body moving and mind off of ONDA work for a bit then back in it again until late afternoon. I also take selective photography jobs so mixing in some retouching or shooting feels like a nice balance. And I try to get in a run, ride or at least walk before dark!
How is your work inspired by or influenced by nature and your surroundings?
Absolutely. We believe in preserving the natural integrity of the CBD hemp plant to provide a wellness product that is the most bioavailable and effective. We trust nature and do not attempt to control or manipulate it for superficial and short term gains.
Did you have any mentors or important creative influences?
Yes! David Mahaffey is an inspiring mentor / friend who I apprenticed under for years learning how to make wine, about photography, woodworking, farming, construction and how to be an autodidact and generalist. I pull from my experiences with David constantly and try to keep a big picture view on life and work to note interesting connections and contextually unique arrangements that could inspire creativity and progressive business practices.