We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Axtolis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I started my wellness journey in the early nineties teaching Chinese internal arts and meditation. I also trained and practiced various bodywork modalities and bone-setting. After completing Traditional Chinese Herbology School, I did a year-long internship at an incredible clinic in the Midwest. Even the name Celestial Stem is a nod to the eastern arts that I love and have enriched my life significantly.
After being sidetracked in the corporate sector for over two decades, I decided to get back to my roots, so to speak, and approach my career loosely based on the Buddhist concept of “the right livelihood”. Making money couldn’t be the sole purpose. What was more important was presenting offerings that could help enrich the lives and wellbeing of our families and pets. Do no harm wasn’t good enough; we also wanted to do some good too.
What should our readers know about your business?
Celestial Stem was born out of my frustration as a CBD consumer. I was using products for myself and my pets, both with unsatisfactory results. My experiences ran the gamut from products that weren’t effective or consistent to drastically overpaying because I didn’t know any better. I experienced the same frustration with pet products with dosages so low that they would be nothing more than a gimmick for a medium or large pet. I had three large breed senior rescue dogs, all with health issues, and didn’t have many options. Not to mention the cost of CBD products per month for the four of us could rival that of a luxury car payment. We knew there had to be a better way.
We set out to provide the highest quality products at approachable price points so all people and pets can benefit. And we’ve done just that! We also wanted to offer higher milligram options than other companies, which is more economical over the long run. For example, our Vegan Artisan Gummies are available in 20mg, 40mg, and even 100mg. We offer reliable pet treats up to 20mg, where the typical treat on the market is between 2mg-5mg and often not strong enough for larger pets. You can have the best products in the world, but if people can’t afford them, nobody can benefit.
We are constantly striving to improve our products to make them as potent and economical as possible. We do extensive beta testing on all products personally and with trusted long-time customers. If a product doesn’t get stellar feedback, we won’t even consider offering it. We’ve expanded beyond our extensive list of CBD products to Non-CBD health gummies, functional pet treats, bath and body products, and even essential oils and herb extracts.
Education is paramount for us. We work hard to cultivate an informed consumer base to help them avoid the missteps that so many of us have encountered, regardless if they buy from another company or us. While there are so many great companies to choose from, if people have a bad experience, it impacts the entire industry and turns people off to some great benefits.
It was a difficult start. There were so many barriers to entry in the space. It took almost a year to secure compliant banking, payment processing and web hosting, Even when you are fortunate enough secure these essential utilities, there are hefty fees associated with them just because you’re a CBD business. It’s not uncommon for these companies to pop out of a floorboard one day and say that they will no longer be offering services to the industry. It’s always in the back of your mind that this can happen to you at any moment. It’s not for the feint of heart.
We made it through all of that and we are excited to announce that we will be opening our first brick-and-mortar location in Mesa, AZ, in August 2021! Our products are already a staple at 3-4 Farmers Markets per week all across the valley, and there are also a few amazing local businesses that have been kind enough to offer our products in their stores as well.
I love what I do now, and it’s extremely rewarding. Getting to hear people’s heartfelt testimonials makes it all worth it!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I feel immense pressure when entertaining visitors, I always want them to have a great time. So, I have a general template I use every time we get a first-timer.
Brunch in Downtown Gilbert is always the first stop. There are so many great options that you can always find something to accommodate everyone’s palate. I also love the historic downtown area, and it’s been fun to watch this area of my community develop over the last 15 years.
I enjoy taking people to the Gold Field Ghost Town for the spectacular view of the Superstition Mountains. The scenery is so majestic, and the area has such a rich history. Most of our visitors aren’t up for actual hiking, so this is an easy walk with exceptional views of the mountain. One time we did some light hiking with a guest, and she didn’t mention that she was wearing couture Italian sandals until we got back in the car. They were wrecked; we felt terrible!
Grabbing some coffee and exploring vintage shops in Downtown Mesa is always fun if hiking isn’t your cup of tea. You could easily spend an afternoon down there and manage to discover some great finds. Art lovers will enjoy the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum, and renting a poolside cabana for the afternoon at one of the many resorts is always a big hit. You can’t go wrong at the Desert Botanical Garden.
We like to finish out the night in the Roosevelt Row Arts District in Downtown Phoenix. Go for a tour of the murals and finish up with some dinner and drinks. I just love the vibe and the art in the area. It’s one of my favorite parts of the city!
Of course, you always have to offer a Sedona/Flagstaff trip and maybe Tucson if they’re up for the drive time.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The subject of using plants for wellness can be very esoteric and overwhelming. Early in my studies, I came across the classic book, The Web That Has No Weaver, by Ted J. Kaptchuk. It’s an easy and fun read that demystifies the philosophy and theories behind traditional Chinese wellness. I always recommend it when people express interest in the subject. It gives you a great foundation to build off of.
I’ve always made recipes for my own personal use and my pets. One day while searching through tubs full of books in my garage looking for an eyewash recipe for one of my dogs, I came across the book again. I picked it up and started reading it and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. It really helped rekindle my passion for the art and made me reevaluate what was important to me.