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Rachael Rapinoe discusses goals and challenges with new CBD company 'Mendi'

NBC Sports
@mendi

Former University of Portland soccer standout Rachael Rapinoe is making changes in the CBD world.

From growing up playing the sport she loved with her fraternal twin sister Megan, who went on to become a soccer superstar, Rachael has focused her energy on cheering on her sister while also working to change the world of cannabis for athletes.  

“It’s definitely very challenging,” Rapinoe told NBCSNW of the transition from a soccer star to a CBD magnate.

“I always tell people being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart.”

Rapinoe is the co-founder of the Oregon-based company along with Brett Schwager, a designer, who are working to "Make waves in the sports industry through innovating healthier tools for athletes" with their company, Mendi.

This woman owned company has already been making waves.

 
@TheMendiCo

While attending the University of Portland and majoring in life science, Rachael became the Portland Pilots go-to scorer in 2006 after switching from defender to forward midway through the season.

That was the year that her sister Megan suffered an ACL injury.

In 2007, Rachael was named West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Week.

By 2016, Rachael received a Master's degree in Health Studies and Exercise from Portland State, while persistent injuries forced her to retire from soccer.

It was her playing days that inspired her to start the all-natural ingredient company after multiple injuries and feeling the effects of strong OTC and prescription drugs.

“It was definitely spawned after a lot of injuries on my end,” Rapinoe said. “And then I went and got my masters in Health and Exercise.”

Ultimately, our goal is to provide the healthiest recovery tools to get [athletes] away from harmful medications.

Rachael Rapinoe

Rapinoe also noted that it is Mendi’s mission to be the “trusted cannabis sports brand.”

The company also hopes that Mendi ultimately takes the place of Tylenol or Advil for pain management.

In the company’s first year, Mendi worked with athletes, “prototyping a simple line of all-natural, USA-made, 3rd-party tested, WADA, IOC & League approved products to market,” as the company’s website states.

Rapinoe credits her days as an athlete for how she has learned and will continue to learn how to best navigate through the CBD space. 

You have to learn, adapt and grow.

“I think being an athlete and learning how to fail (because you fail so much as an athlete), you have to learn how to pick yourself up and learn about mistakes and try and do better next time – that has definitely carried over significantly into my entrepreneurial career.” 

As for the wins already scored by Rapinoe’s company, she is working to level the playing field for equal pay and equal investment opportunities for all female athletes.

For us, from the very beginning we wanted to show people that you can invest in female athletes. Right now we are definitely investing more in female sports than male.

Mendi is looking to be a “leader in the industry” as Rapinoe states with an emphasis on education.

"Athletes have been using these tools for a long time and there’s been a lot of stigma around it ... and we want to hopefully do our part to create safer tools for them; and also to destigmatize the plant and the athletes that are using them in sports. 

 

“This industry is crowded and it’s a little confusing. It’s very new. The hemp industry -- the farm bill only passed in 2018 and marijuana’s not federally legal at this point, but we’re hopeful it’ll happen soon.”

To find out more about Mendi check out the website here and watch the entire interview with Rachael Rapinoe on NBCSNW’s The Bridge this Monday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. PT.