Editor’s note: This is one in a series of profiles in the Humans of Wausau series, which is funded in part through a grant from the B. A. & Esther Greenheck Foundation. Follow the Humans of Wausau Facebook page here.
By Kelli Oligney for Wausau Pilot and Review
Vincent Ramos, 59
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Celina, Texas, a small town north of Dallas. I’ve been in Wausau for five years now.
What made you transition from Texas to Wausau?
I have a Ph.D. in school psychology from Texas A&M University and had an opportunity to work here. It all started with a desire to give our kids the benefits of a new experience, and a new community. We believe change is a valuable learning tool that teaches you how to adapt and also broadens your world view. Unfortunately, my first job didn’t work out. Since then, I’ve done a lot of consulting which required a lot of traveling. We were planning on moving back to Texas, but our kids were doing very well here and we really like the school system. As a school psychologist, I’m very familiar with educational philosophies, principles, and strategies. We have found teachers and coaches to be very talented and committed educators and student advocates and has caused our kids to thrive. We like the school programs and because of the kid’s successes and recent experiences, we felt like we needed to stay and let them finish their education here. We have not been disappointed.
We also enjoy Wausau! It has been a great community for us and we love the vibe and people.
What was one of the most memorable moments of your life?
I’m the father of four children so I think becoming a parent is the most significant thing that has happened to me. I say that because I delayed fatherhood until I was 39 years of age. Much of this was intentional because I was afraid to be a dad. I was very self-aware of the baggage I carried and I didn’t want to unload my baggage on my kids. I spent years doing self-evaluation and working on myself hoping to become a better person before becoming a father. Since we started our family so late, becoming a father was a wonderful experience; scary and wonderful at the same time.
Good for you for understanding what you needed before becoming a father.
The only drawback is that most of my peers are grandparents now. They are finding their freedom and traveling and we can’t do that yet since our kids are still dependent on us. My oldest is 19 and my youngest is 14.
What’s your favorite memory of living here?
The first year I was here, it became clear that Wausau, Wisconsin culture is quite different from the culture I came from in north Texas. One of my first observations was the sense of community that exists here. Whether it’s shelter or food, resources are available for people who have needs. Access to these resources is a lot easier to get here. There’s a culture that facilitates and supports that experience. This is what I tell people when I go back to Texas, “If somebody needs shelter, they’re going to get shelter. If someone needs food, there’s going to be food available; people are not going to go hungry.” I was very impressed by that. Also, the importance of family is a cultural value that is very apparent. It’s one of the main reasons why we love being here. No matter what career or field people are working in, it’s consistent; family is number one and it’s reinforced at work by management; it’s beautiful.
What was one of the hardest moments of your life?
The recent transition in terms of career and finding something I could do here. I had to be creative and get focused on what I could do to support my family. I feel good about moving in this direction. In the interim, when I was doing all that traveling and consulting out of state, that made it very difficult. Being away from family, from my kids, was a challenge. I was missing out on a lot. Now, we are here full time and taking a risk, but I think it’s a good one. Being here for my kids is worth the gamble.
What helped get you through that difficult transition?
My family, my work ethic, my wife; she is a great mom and one of the strongest people I know. She is very committed and skillful at managing her time and the family and doing what needs to be done. Knowing the family was okay, made it bearable. I’ve been blessed with great kids and I owe that to my wife and her skills, and her patience with me.
What were some of your hardest ages growing up?
I’m a first generation high school and college graduate and came from a poor family. When I left home and the closeness of the family to go to college, it came with a lot of challenges. I found myself navigating social and cultural waters that I was unfamiliar with. The college environment was new and foreign. That unfamiliarity continued for years even after college. My work environment was not the same environment that my parents or grandparents had either. This adjustment to these new social experiences is challenging as you are learning new rules of how to communicate and associate with people. I’ve always been self-aware and aware of my surroundings so that created a lot of insecurities for me as I wondered if I fit in or if I belonged. It took a while to figure out that I did belong. I earned my degree and credentials like everyone else does; hard work, sacrifice.
How did the CBD business idea take shape?
We decided if we were going to stay, we had to anchor ourselves here in some way; starting a small business was a logical thing to do to keep me from traveling. Traveling was requiring me to be away from the family for weeks at a time. As I was searching for ways to earn a living, I decided to look into the possibility of opening a CBD shop, Naturz’ Remedy. I’ve been interested in CBD and cannabis for a while. In Texas, I worked with a lot of veterans who suffered from PTSD. Part of the veteran’s stress was not being able to use cannabis as an effective remedy. For these veterans, cannabis helped them get through the day, but it is illegal which created an issue because I couldn’t recommend it’s use.
Because of their stories, I started doing research on what opportunities existed for me to move into the cannabis industry. As a helping professional, it had to be a business I felt was doing some good for others. As I looked into the requirements of getting a license as a hemp processor and how to start a business, it seemed like something that was achievable. I take a holistic approach when I help people which means that I work from a principle that assumes people don’t live in a vacuum; lives are very complicated. When people have problems, those problems are also usually complicated so solutions need to take that into account and be complex. You need to consider all the circumstances that are contributing to a person’s situation. Take someone who is homeless; homelessness is driven by a lot of reasons. For some, it could be a mental illness, but it won’t be mental illness alone as it could be a mental illness and the fact they have lost all support over the years. That person could also have an addiction and have lost their job; there are a lot of factors that come into play. As a wellness and lifestyle coach, I bring that philosophy to the store and hope when people come in, I can figure out ways to help them. I am excited to see how it all evolves and I am excited to be a part of this industry. The feedback I get from people who use CBD products is very positive and it’s making a huge difference for a lot of people.
How do you choose the proper products for customers?
It depends on a person’s preference. There are many forms of how you deliver CBD; vaping, smoking hemp flower, capsules, oil tinctures, or a salve you can rub on an area where you may be experiencing discomfort. What is chosen depends on what a person needs it for and the effective concentration of CBD is different for everybody. Everyone processes CBD differently and it’s not just about size or weight but instead their internal processing mechanism. Some people feel the effects of small doses while others require more. What people don’t realize is that humans have a biological mechanism specifically designed to process the compounds that exist in cannabis. When I learned this it literally blew me away. This was the tipping point and when I decided I needed to go all in. This suggests humans have evolved consuming cannabis which explains why it can positively affect so many different areas of discomfort.
Do you provide other products other than CBD?
Yes, the vision for the store was to do more than CBD and also offer other natural remedies or organic products that are known to provide benefits for overall health and wellness. Today I am expecting a delivery from Northwoods Teas and Herb as I will carry a collection of their organic herbal teas. I will also have ginseng from Heil Harvest and carry doTERRA essential oils. By offering other products, it broadens our selection and we get closer to fulfilling that vision of being more than just a CBD store. We don’t have any interest in being another GNC type store because we don’t want rows and rows of products that can get confusing to consumers. If we have half a dozen different types of products, we will be happy and hopefully meeting the needs of people who are interested. We are also providing wellness and lifestyle coaching. The new CBD market is people 40 years of age and older and most of them are not familiar with CBD or cannabis and have a lot of questions. What people want is relief from sources of discomfort such as inflammation, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Many people who use CBD are experiencing relief and are very happy; that is the promise of CBD and hemp, getting well without getting high. It is very exciting.
What are hobbies you enjoy?
I enjoy being outdoors, hunting, fishing, and socializing with friends. When it warms up, you’ll find me in the backyard over the grill every weekend. I enjoy entertaining and serving people.
What’s your favorite thing to grill?
Anything. It’s just grill time.
What changes would you like to see in the community in the next five years?
It’s ironic since I mentioned access to shelter and food resources, but there is the concern of homelessness here in town. I really hope the leaders of our community are intentional about this issue. I hope they are proactive and invest in this and don’t do it half-heartedly because it would contradict everything I’ve experienced. I don’t want that to happen. I truly believe this community wants to take care of these people and each other. I hope they address the issue in a meaningful way because life is complicated, and we don’t know why people are homeless. I can guarantee there are a lot of heartbreaking reasons and we aren’t going to understand them because most of us haven’t had the same experience. We need to open our minds and hearts and support those efforts.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Self-deprecating humor. I don’t take myself too seriously and I have an open mind. I also think I’m a good problem solver and pretty optimistic about situations; there’s a way to solve almost anything. I’m very flexible and always willing to help. If you give me a problem to solve, I’m happy and it gives me a lot of satisfaction.
If you had to give advice to anyone, what would it be?
Slow down and take notice of what’s around you and appreciate what you have. Also, do the same for others by appreciating who they are even if you don’t know them. It is very easy to judge others, but that is not helpful and creates problems. I believe if you slow down and look inward and appreciate what you have, there is value in that. The stress that a lot of people experience today results from the demands of work, caring for your family, and so forth. Certain details and obstacles become distracting and sometimes we get lost in that. If you take a moment and breathe, it makes things bearable and allows you to evaluate where you are, to be more effective and appreciate what you have.