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“Postpartum depression helped me find my own definition of wellness”

Kalie Garcia David, founder of Conscious by Design, on discovering the real meaning of wellness



"Postpartum depression helped me find my own definition of wellness"
Kalie Garcia David, founder of Conscious by Design

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Kalie Garcia David had a high-flying career in the San Francisco tech industry, until a diagnosis of postpartum depression took her in a new direction.

After her daughter was born, Kalie Garcia David was a “hot mess”. 

“Is it okay to say that?” She asks during our interview. Kalie is nervous as this is the first time she has spoken publicly about her postpartum depression.

Despite it being the most commonly experienced mental health condition following childbirth, affecting one in 10 women in the UK, and between 10 and 20 per cent of new mothers in the US, it can be an incredibly lonely and isolating experience. 

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“For me, it just meant feeling very, very sad,” says Kalie.

“After a couple of weeks my husband had to go back to work and I was on my own, having to navigate this world as a new mother. I was learning a new routine, functioning on very little sleep and without my usual tools, while feeling this underlying sadness that I didn’t know how to navigate.”

Women in tech

When she fell pregnant Kalie had spent a decade carving out a successful career in politics and tech, as a leading product developer.

After studying political science at university, being based in the city of San Francisco, she developed a deep love of technology. Kalie took on a role as lead project manager on a political platform launched to campaign against the building of the keystone pipeline [a controversial oil pipeline system running through Canada and the US], alongside former Obama staff members. 

“I absolutely loved it, it really cemented my deep passion for technology and how it could ultimately be used to change the world,” says Kalie.

“It was an incredible time to jump in and be part of this movement.” 

"Postpartum depression helped me find my own definition of wellness"

But as rewarding as it was, it was also highly stressful and demanding, with Kalie working long hours, relying on caffeine throughout the day, and maybe a glass of wine to switch off at night. 

The pregnancy forced her to take stock and think about her wellbeing properly for the first time, but she worked throughout, navigating a new product launch. When her daughter arrived early Kalie had to rethink her “masterplan”.

“It wasn’t an easy birth and it meant that my body needed a lot more care, which I wasn’t prepared for,” Kalie admits.

“My master plan – and I was very much a woman with a master plan – just went out the window. The idea that I was going to have an uneventful birth and go back to work after 12 weeks, didn’t happen. I was just thrown headfirst into a completely new world of becoming a mother.”

She adds: “Looking back I was prioritising the launch of a new app, over preparing for the birth of my daughter.”

Complex emotions

Kalie felt isolated with no close family nearby, and didn’t feel able to speak to her friends about what was going on.

“I didn’t know how to talk about it,” she says.

“Friends would come and visit, but we just focused on the baby, I didn’t have the vocabulary. I didn’t know how to tell them that the reason I wasn’t able to have many visitors, or do as many playdates, was because I was dealing with all of these complex emotions.

“I felt a lot of guilt and shame, and it came from me not understanding the fact that this is something that happens to a lot of new mothers, but one talks about it.”

Kalie saw a doctor who diagnosed her with postpartum depression, as well as a nutritionist to help her learn how to nourish her body, and a chiropractor to help with some of the physical effects of the birth. 

Inspired by her mother-in-law, a South Asian woman who taught her the power of natural ingredients, she had sessions with a traditional healer who helped her discover traditional remedies that have been used by mothers in other cultures to nourish themselves for centuries.

“I was very lucky that I was able to see a team of different doctors who were open to combining different types of medicines,” says Kalie.

“It was a long journey, but I started to develop daily rituals and I learned how to nourish myself properly in the morning – without three cups of coffee – as well as how to unwind at night.”

Relocating to the UK

Then Kalie’s husband was offered a job in London. It was a great opportunity and they had always wanted to live abroad.

The plan was to move to the UK, get set up and Kalie would look for a job in the tech industry. But just as they arrived, covid hit and she found herself reconsidering things.

She explains: “My priorities changed a lot over this one intense year. Not only did I gain a new understanding of wellness, and of what it meant to be a new mum, it also forced me to rethink my priorities.

“As much as I will forever love politics, it no longer felt authentic. It just didn’t feel like that was my voice anymore.For the first time in my life, I was given the time to think about what I ultimately value.”

This was the beginning of a two-year journey to launching Conscious by Design, a wellness brand that aims to turn the UK CBD industry on its head.

"Postpartum depression helped me find my own definition of wellness"

The combination of lockdown, and 10 years experience in product development, gave Kalie the tools to research everything she could about the industry here and explore how she could turn her experience into something tangible, to help others. 

Coming from San Francisco, where cannabis has been legal since 2016, Kalie wasn’t new to the benefits of CBD or THC. Until she fell pregnant she would use cannabinoids regularly as part of her wellness routine, ordering them via a Deliveroo style app and having it arrive with her in just 30 minutes via an Uber driver. 

“It was just a regular part of daily life,” she says.

“I’m used to seeing CBD with all my other supplements, for me it always belonged in the kitchen, not in the medicine cabinet.”

Redefining Wellness

Conscious by Design is the first CBD pour to hit the UK market.

Aimed at supporting everyone’s  individual wellness journey, the pours come in four variants – Immerse, Flex, Touch and Recline –  with each sachet containing 20mg of premium Swiss-grade CBD, along with a carefully crafted blend of botanicals and vitamins.

Kalie worked closely with CBD manufacturers Always Pure Organics and industry experts, The Canna Consultants, to perfect the product and brand, finally settling on what she estimates to be around “the 200th version”.

"Postpartum depression helped me find my own definition of wellness"

It’s a product which she hopes will help educate and dispel stigma and misconceptions around CBD. Something which people can incorporate into their daily routine in a way which works for them to help them live healthier and happier lives. 

“I started this brand for people like me,” she says.

“To help them to find their own definition of wellness, because wellness is a very individual experience.”

But despite her own deeply personal connection to Conscious by Design and what it represents, Kalie admits she has, in the past, been discouraged from sharing her journey with postpartum depression, over concerns that it might pigeon-hole her as “the founder with postpartum” or affect how “future investors” saw her.

This is one piece of advice which she is, thankfully, now choosing to not to take on board.

“How can I, as a founder, talk about wellness and about helping others discover their own definition of wellness if I’m not willing to talk about my journey from an authentic place?

“It’s a core part of who I am and those who understand the brand and resonate with it are going to be okay with my journey,” says Kalie.

“The beauty of wellness is that it’s what we make it and to me it is the little things that you can do for yourself to prioritise your mind and spirit.”

She adds: “Wellness is universal and Conscious by Design is part of a much broader conversation, this product is just our entry into that world.”

Find out more here 

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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