Episode 01 Tonya Papanikolov: The Mushroom Vision and Mission
Ep 1

Episode 01 Tonya Papanikolov: The Mushroom Vision and Mission

Intro Episode with Tonya Papanikolov


Episode Summary: 

Welcome to The Rainbo Show! I’m Tonya, the founder of Rainbo, a functional mushroom brand offering tinctures, supplements, and functional foods to support wellbeing and immunity. On today’s episode, I’m sharing some background on who I am, what we’re doing over at Rainbo, and what you can expect out of this podcast. 


Show Notes:

Welcome to The Rainbo Podcast! I’m Tonya, the founder of Rainbo, a functional mushroom brand offering tinctures, supplements, and functional foods to support wellbeing and immunity. On today’s episode, I’m sharing some background on who I am, what we’re doing over at Rainbo, and what you can expect out of this podcast. 

My vision for this show is to amplify stories around healing, human potential, spirituality, psychedelics, plant medicines, health, and wellness. There’s a lot of misinformation around fungi, and my goal is to debunk some of those myths and help listeners explore the beauty of the species. 

Fungi has played such a massive role in my growth and transformation as a human and spiritual being. I cover a bit about my journey with mushrooms and touch on how a solo ceremony in 2018 rippled into what is now Rainbo and this podcast. 

If you have specific guests in mind for future episodes, we’d love to hear from you in the DMs over at @rainbomushrooms or @tonyapapanikolove


Topics Covered:

  • My introduction to the wide range of healing fungi, herbs, and plants 
  • How discovering my yoga practice has changed the trajectory of my life and career 
  • My experience incorporating a therapeutic dose of Reishi into my wellness routine 
  • The initial vision that I had for starting Rainbo and creating health products
  • Celebrating the amazing guidance that I’ve received along the way from other people in the health product industry
  • The Rainbo Manifesto 


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Episode Transcript (Auto-generated)

Tonya Papanikolov  

Hi, welcome to The Rainbo podcast. I'm your host, Tonya Papanikolov. Rainbo and I are on a mission to upgrade humanity with fungi and expand the collective conscious. This podcast builds a virtual mycelial network of bold, open minded thinkers and seekers. I chat with experts, thought leaders, healers, scientists, entrepreneurs, spiritual teachers, activists, and dreamers. These are stories of healing, human potential and expansion, tune in route and expand and journey with us.


Tonya Papanikolov  00:47

Hi, everyone, we're doing it. Thank you so much for being here, in this moment, listening, I really appreciate you. I appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen, and I just want to ground our season and really the whole rainbow podcast with this little solo episode to tell you about the mission that we're on and who I am. And so if you're interested in just skipping forward to the awesome guests that we have, of course, please go ahead and do that. But if you do want to learn a bit more about who I am, why I'm doing this, who is Rainbo, what are we doing, then I invite you to listen. And yeah, I just want to tell you how grateful I am. Time is so precious, our most valuable commodity. So choosing to spend it with me and right here is something that I do not take for granted. So thank you, I just want to tell you a little bit about this podcasting journey, which I guess it's two years in the making, which is crazy. And something that I've been working with personally in the past, maybe a month. I mean, I've always known about this, but I've been looking at it a bit more head on recently and with my coach and teacher is just this idea of perfection and how she shared something really valuable with me, which is that perfection is a mask worn by fear. Perfection is a mask worn by insecurities. Perfection is a mask worn by, I'm not good enough. And so I just want to invite myself invite you to remind ourselves that nothing will ever be perfect. And I think in creating a podcast, especially for the first time around, there is so much to do. And I am just in this moment, reminding myself that this is not about being perfect. And we have to create apart from perfection. And so this podcast isn't going to be perfect. And it's only going to get better with time, across the board. Lots of conversations I've had with podcasters is that their first 1020 are, you know, you're learning the ropes. And so anybody creating anything right now, which is so many of us, it's just such an important message to remind ourselves that perfection is a mask worn by insecurity. So let's just do this. I'm really excited, as I mentioned two years in the making. And that's not because I was perfecting it by any means. But we're a small team. And we've had a lot going on, I'm really excited that this is coming to fruition right now. And we're launching it on global magic mushroom day, which is awesome and makes a lot of sense for how rainbow started and the initial vision that I had for creating a company and creating these products. So what you can expect from this podcast is going to be stories and education. And I'm really looking forward to giving the range of guests that we have coming on who are really just incredible, incredible people who have so much wisdom to share with us. And I'm excited to be giving them a mic and a stage to share their voice and their message with all of us. And the goal is really to educate and to have their profound words inspire you and allow you to see things from a different perspective to grow, to learn, to create, to become inquisitive about yourself. And so these are conversations that are aimed at healing and human potential spirituality, psychedelics, plant medicines, health, wellness,


Tonya Papanikolov  04:45

we're going to talk about a lot of different topics and I hope that when you hear this truth it lands for you and that you take from it, the pieces that you need to hear and leave behind But doesn't resonate. But the aim of this is to stimulate the growth of ourselves and our collective. And these guests are the perfect people to facilitate that transformation with. I love transformation, I love growth. These are two of my favorite topics, my favorite pastimes. And I think what so much, and so many of us are interested in is moving from one state to another. And a lot of us that are in the healing space, whether we are practitioners or whether we are new to this journey and seeking answers, these are the conversations that I am hoping will start to guide you in the direction and be the breadcrumbs that the universe is leaving for you exactly when you need to hear it. And that it sparks your intuition sparks your senses, your extra sensory senses beyond the five regular senses that we know about. And I believe that when we hear truth, we get messages in the body. Sometimes we get chills. In a lot of the conversations I've had with these guests, I will have chills running through my body. And that, for me is how I know I am experiencing truth. And of course that is nuanced and up for interpretation. And someone's truth is going to be of course different than another's. But there's just so much there's so much wisdom coming in these first few episodes that we have headed your way. And I'm stoked for that. So I'm stoked to have these conversations. And please, if you have specific guests in mind, we are going to be taking a lot of recommendations, we'd love to hear from you. You can reach out to us on Instagram me personally or via rainbow and just share the name of guests, we'll put polls out. So please contribute and share who you'd like to speak to when we have guests on as well. We'll probably put some things out onto our stories to get any specific questions that you have for the people that are coming on to be interviewed. And so I would love for this to be a collaborative process, and to hear from you on who you want to have on. So I want to tell you a little bit about who I am as well. And a bit about my story and my journey with mushrooms, which I really started in 2011 For me, and I guess there's a few directions I could take the story in. But I'll start, at least you know where my journey with mushrooms started. It began in 2011, which is when I attended a conference. And I'd first heard someone speaking about the power of medicinal mushrooms and Chaga specifically, and I'll never forget that moment. First of all health conferences back then were like really not something that was easy to find at all actually, this information of course, we've come so far in over 10 years. But I'm so grateful that I landed in that spot at that time. And I'll never forget I always say that hearing about Chaka, for the first time was like that moment, when you look across the room and you see somebody that you just are so drawn towards, and you know, you need to go walk up to them and introduce yourself, say hello, it could be a friend, it could be a lover, whatever it is, that was my experience of Chaga I literally still have the note in my iPhone from 2011, where I was just vigorously scribbling down this information. And it was the first time I had ever heard anybody speak about holistic health. And so I was like just consuming it. Drinking it. It was special. It was a special moment. And so that was the first time that I had I think, you know, some things started to register for me in that moment, which was the beginning of my journey of understanding that nature is so intelligent. And that there is you know, such a wide range of healing fungi and herbs and plants, local and native to areas and lands that we live on that are not weeds and not just plants, but that the Indigenous peoples have been using these herbs and plants and fungi for millennia. And that was the beginning of my journey and coming into that knowledge and that wisdom and it really sparked something for me. And so from that point, I started to really get curious about the forest and started to go on more walks and started to make more friends with the same hobbies and interests as mine and what came from that


Tonya Papanikolov  09:42

was a lot of learning about mushrooms and I guess specifically a few key ones that are local to Ontario Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail and then some of the culinary edibles, like oysters and Morales and Sean trials And I didn't really know about Lion's Mane at that point, it was mostly just those ones. And I was really specifically very interested in the medicinals. And so I would get my hands on Reishi and Chaga, and brew teas. And I kind of kept up with that for a few years and would just like, soak in information, or read one of my first books about medicinal mushrooms. And it was the beginning of a journey for me, I was already kind of seeking answers for my health. And so prior to that, as a teenager, I had a lot of digestive issues. And this went into my 20s as well, and really is something that I'm still working through, I've come to understand and appreciate and really honor my sensitive body. And at one point, you know, I used to experience this as a huge inconvenience and just wanted to fix it. And and now my relationship with it is so much different. And not only has there been a lot of healing that has taken place, but my sensitivity is such a gift. And I believe that everybody who is a sensitive individual has a sense beyond the five regular senses, we are the people in the population that kind of like the canary in the mine, whatever that saying is, but just that we manifest things a bit faster. And these things will manifest for the rest of the population at some point, just that a bit of a slower pace. And for us, we have the ability to know when something is toxic in our bodies, maybe before others. And there's a lot of reasons for that. It's our immune systems, our nervous systems, it's a combination of a lot of different things. But ultimately, yeah, I kind of had a lot of allergies, digestive conditions, I was seeking answers as a teenager. And that led me to food really, because that was the first time I had really realized I grew up in a healthy household. You know, for the most part, we were healthy for what we thought at that time. And I was still eating a lot of processed foods, cereal was one of my favorite foods up until like university. So it's a similar story for a lot of us growing up. But I guess as a teenager, I really discovered that food affected me in certain ways. And I'm grateful that when I learned that, that was pretty much I didn't really push it beyond that, because it just made me feel so shitty that I was kind of like, okay, I can't eat that. I can't eat McDonald's, the way like, all of my friends will be eating it. And I just won't do that. Because I know it's gonna make me feel like crap. And so I'm grateful that I wasn't, I didn't really like test myself too far beyond my limits, you know whether that was a boundary, also just like not wanting to self inflict that pain onto my body. But there's that but there's also body image issues that are so common. As teenagers, there was a lot of stuff going on. And I found food and food was kind of my entryway into this world of health and nutrition. And I decided to pursue Nutritional Sciences, I intended to go down the path to become a doctor, a naturopathic doctor of some sort, and started in my health sciences program. And by the end of university was little disenchanted with what I was learning, and just needed to take a break. And so I came back to holistic nutrition, you know, a few years later, and was at that point, really, really ready to dive in, I was ready for a career change at that point.


Tonya Papanikolov  13:35

And along the way, I was figuring out a lot of things for my body, I was learning that a corporate job wasn't where I belonged. I discovered yoga at 22 That really changed my life, honestly, I was I discovered it at a point where I was experiencing so much stress, so much physical and mental stress from a job that I would just show up and cry and just getting into my body for the first time in my life through that practice was so transformative and was the spiritual practice that I was looking for at that time. And so yoga was a very crucial point in my journey that changed my trajectory, and got me to understand my body and start learning about the philosophies of ancient practice for the first time. And that was a really beautiful experience that I got to go on with one of my best friends at the time. And so I guess the moral of the story is that my healing journey has really been weaving and winding its way through me and through my journey since I was a teenager. And I've really been on this path and seeking answers for a long time. And that eventually led me to discover and really fall in love with mushrooms. Even further and even deeper, and, you know, maybe we won't get into the whole story I've shared the journey on lots of other podcasts. If you're interested in those, I suggest you go listen to them. So I won't share all the details of the journey. But you know, I went back to school and I studied holistic nutrition, and I had a lot of practitioners and something that I always recommend to clients and friends and community is to have a circle of care around you. And whether it is friends and family, or beyond is up to you and where you're at and what's accessible to you. But it is just so powerful to have a crew of people in your corner, that know your story that know your body, that know what you've been through, who you trust, who you feel safe with, and to cultivate that group of people. And that's something that I've been doing for years and years now. And so it could look like you know, having your therapists having a coach, having a yoga teacher, having an osteopath, a nutritionist, a naturopathic doctor, a functional medicine practitioner,


Tonya Papanikolov  16:09

cranial sacral therapist, just the list is endless. It's basically just a crew of people who, when something happens, you know, you can turn to them. And so, in 2016, I was going through school, and also a lot in my life, emotionally and in relationship. And so I saw one of my practitioners and we were really working through, I had gotten off birth control in 2015. And so my body was going through a lot of hormonal changes, and I had breakouts, acne all along my chin and jawline, and a lot of hormonal issues and gut issues. And so my practitioner at the time, she put a therapeutic dose of Reishi on my protocol, this is in 2016. And within eight weeks, it's difficult to describe right, but my mind was clear. And my spirit was fuller than I had felt in months, if not years. And there was a vitality to how I felt that I hadn't been there and so long, and my liver stagnation started to kind of clear up in that my bloating and gas finally dissipated and went away. And that was like, so incredible after years and years of bloating and gas. So that seems like honestly pretty magical. And the acne on my face started to clear up and never came back to that degree, rarely even have a breakout at this point. But at that point, it was a totally different story. So I had really like these hormonal and digestive and this mind and spirit balance come into play. And I was blown away by the power of Reishi. And I will preface and just saying that if you're looking to therapeutically dose anything that it's really wise to do that with a practitioner and to have somebody guide you on that process. So do that if you're interested. And that got me into a relationship with Russia, where I was just in awe, and so amazed by her power, and was in school. And so I was learning about these Eastern traditions and traditional Chinese medicine and the ways that they relate to herbs and mushrooms in a completely different way. And with a completely different lexicon than we do here in the West. And it was really special, by no means was like, Oh, I have to start my own company. Now, at all that was never really part of the plan. But it was that experience was a really important piece to my connection to fungi. And my experience and my deep knowing of how fungi can support micro and macro transformation. I guess, you know, fast forward a couple years later, I started practicing and you know, had my nutrition practice and was supporting clients from all over the world. And I worked with lifestyle and supplementation and food. And those were the three main areas that I would educate and work with with my clients. And I started to of course, integrate mushrooms into their protocols and was having really amazing success with that. And at some point in 2018, I started to burn out and I had a really profound experience that maybe one day I'll share on another episode, but I had probably one of the more powerful experiences I've ever had in my life. I was invited to a indigenous fire ceremony and I was menstruating and I sat in the front row and I had an eagle to my left. I'll never forget it like an actual Eagle, a stuffed animal Eagle. And I unfortunately didn't know At the time that if you're menstruating you ideally our women on their moon cycle are sitting, you take a seat towards the back of the milk of what you're sitting in, in the fire ceremony for whatever it was worth,


Tonya Papanikolov  20:15

it definitely facilitated the experience that I needed to have in that moment. But I got really sick after that. And it caused me to slow down. And what I did in that slowing down was I had time to read books about my ecology, access, go to the hospital, and like, it was pretty serious. It was an issue with my thyroid that just like came those experiences being in that it was so cleansing, what needed to come out of me came out of me, and I'll never forget it. But there was no coincidence in what followed in my experience afterwards. And I dove into research, and I dove into reading about fungi. And I was kind of looking at my life. And I was just I knew that how I was running myself was unsustainable. And everybody who knew me was like, Tanya, you're so you're so fascinated by fungi, like you're so into this, just keep exploring that. And I'm so grateful for the few key people in my life who really fostered my passion for mushrooms, and who encouraged me to continue further down that path. So I started reading, and this is early 2018. At this point, I got so mesmerized, and, you know, there was a few other things happening at that time to where I was, you know, researching psychedelics and going to embark in an experience myself for the first time in an intentional way. So all of this was coinciding in this next path and this big mission of mine. And so I had a night where I kind of really set the intention of like, okay, I'm sure a lot of people can maybe relate to this. But it's like, there is this space and time in life and in the cycles of how we create and what we do, where we're generating. And we're cultivating an idea. And we don't know what's there yet, but we feel it brewing. And these are always very potent times because they're transitionary times where you're like, it's uncomfortable, you don't know what's next things are changing, all you can do is really embrace that fully, and be present with it and just say like, okay, universe, show me what's next, and continue following what you're passionate about, and go down the rabbit hole. And that's kind of how I think about this time that I was in, where it was a transition. And it felt like the change was taking place. And so what I did was I kind of had this ceremony with mushrooms, and it was solo. And I just started by meditating and praying and setting an intention. And then I started to I had a big piece of paper with me. And I just started to write and right and jot down ideas and mind maps at massive Mind Map going, and I just let the experience take me where it needed to take me, I eventually lay down on my back and just let myself have a visual experience. And I had a beautiful commune with mother mushroom, where I asked for her permission and blessing to create a product that would inevitably be a product of nature, that I wasn't looking to just kind of create to creation sake, and not to take from nature, but really to do it in a way that felt in alignment with what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. And it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life and one that I come back to regularly on our toughest days. And when we're going through the challenges of running a business, I come back to that moment, and my connection really to this life form and to the species because what I got to experience was mystical and otherworldly and is a experience that I haven't really had any at any other times in my life. So it was very beautiful. It was very profound. And truly from that moment, it was okay, we're going we're doing this and so many incredibly Wild Things happened immediately after that we're so in flow. And so in sync and just my absolute answers that I was doing something that I needed to do that I was on the right path that I was in universal flow, all that good stuff exactly where you want to be people coming to me, I think at some point I'll maybe share more about that experience. I had no prior experience. I've always been entrepreneurial and I was definitely running my own business and freelancing. But it was by all means my first foray into running a business of this caliber and that was Want to be employing people and have a supply chain and all of these things. And so I just jumped into it, it was really like before the big explosion of this mushroom industry, so there was no pressure to do anything at any specific pace, I really got to take my time, which really is how I do everything. But I spent many, many months researching, and just learning and speaking to people that had products with, you know, natural health products and knowing that I would need to get licensed from Health Canada and Oh, my God, the FDA, like, how do I even and, you know, I had so much amazing guidance along the way and so many people that were willing to help, and to saw my vision and who believed in it, and believed in me, and I will be and am forever grateful to them. And really, we've been on this mission to upgrade humanity with fungi and expand the collective conscious ever since. And our products are all from Canada, and they're all sustainably harvested. And grown here in Canada, that was very clear to me from the get go that we would be doing that. And that's for a lot of reasons. I mean, I wanted to have a local business. First and foremost, I wanted to be able to really get to know the growers and have a relationship with them and build a relationship with the people growing the mushrooms themselves and visit and share my energy and share the intentions for these healing products. And that all came through and you set the intention and the universe's wheels are already in motion. Honestly, like I love those initial stages of creating are so beautiful and so much fun. And three years later, four years later, looking back, it's such a special time, it's such a special period. And the people that came into that this whole journey are some of the closest people I have in my life. And I'm so grateful to be able to work with them. And that they said yes to something like an idea and really believed in the power of mushrooms, and had that spark in their hearts as well. And then we kind of were off to the races. I mean, the company launched in May of 2019. And you know, maybe we'll do a future episode on all of that as well, if you're interested in any of the business side of things, what that whole process was like, because I'm definitely happy to share more. But this year, specifically, I've been working on our manifesto, and I would love to share that with you. We just finished it off. It's been a nine month process. And I worked with a really incredible team of women that are based in Vancouver, they have an amazing impact agency that, you know, if you're interested in this space, I suggest you look into them. Their name is decade impact. And they're super awesome. They also have been pretty key on our B Corp journey and helping to get us certified than just really like providing education and guidance along that process. Because it's not easy. I will say that. But we've been really working on this manifesto. And I want to share this because we sat with it for so long. And we had lots of meetings and I woke up on a full moon one night. And the manifesto came to me in an instant. And I wrote it down in my phone as a note. And I'm so glad I did because it's what we're going with and I think it's perfect for us right now. And we haven't shared it on our website or anything like that yet,


Tonya Papanikolov  28:39

but we will be doing that soon. But I figure it is World magic mushroom day. And fungi have played such a massive role in my growth and transformation as a human being and as a spiritual being. And I think it would be really perfect to share it with anybody who's made it through this episode, or as long as they have so sharing our manifesto here, because eventually we'll all go back to fungi. This is our cosmic trip in through nature out through nature. What we do in between is our calling, because eventually we'll see there was no separation. Only a collective chance for interdependence, one rare fleeting, mysterious chance. We are fungal advocates, we see the unseen and know the unknown. We are human nature. potentiate errs because a healthy body, mind and spirit is your birthright. We are shaping eons of change. We know there is not a literal pot of gold because you are the gold. The path forward to human and planetary health is ours to mold, nourish and remember, world saving solutions are underfoot. Together. We are bringing them into the light for the benefit of all beings and Then that's it. That's us. That is us in a nutshell. And it's been a really fun process to crystallize this. And it's really, us putting our flag in the ground and saying, This is who we are. And really the whole team, we're also passionate about fungi and mushrooms, and health and healing and transformation. And we want to share that with you in all of the ways possible, because at the core of what we do is a process of alchemy, and a process of healing and getting stronger and becoming more resilient through our immune systems, through our nervous systems through really every way that we can, through our mind and our body and our spirit. And fungi help us do that. And we help us do that. And I have been looking at fungi as this beautiful model and representation of how we as humans can look to operate in a way that is symbiotic and cooperative and resilient. And this idea of interdependence that weaves its way through everything we tried to do and who we are. So I invite you to look at nature and yourselves, and fungi and have your mind's blown open in any way possible. Whether that is through, you know, your intention, or meditation or a breath work, or a dream, becoming inquisitive about yourself through any of the practices that invite us into these incredible altered states of consciousness, which I can't stress enough can be just conversations, we hear things we meditate on any practice that can bring us to those states, I encourage us to get into, and fungi help us get there. And they help us to transform and they nourish us, and they can cause us to they can really just change your life, I really just invite all of us to have an experience with mushrooms with nature with yourself with others, to commune to find community, this beautiful self that we have to lean on and to support and grow together. And that feels like a bit of a wrap right here. I think I introduced rainbow and who I am and the journey I've been on with mushrooms and the power of fungi. And this whole idea of how empowering education is. And you know if there are feelings of that I want you to leave every episode with I want you to leave feeling inspired and empowered and expanded and curious. I want every conversation to be healing in some way, shape or form. And that is my intention for today. And for right now and for the beginning of this journey. And I'm so very grateful to be doing this with you and for you if you've been listening for this long. Thank you. Let's jump in. I am currently in LA literally sweating.


Tonya Papanikolov  33:23

I mean, every orifice is like it's been a heatwave in LA. And I'm currently at a friend's place and we don't have a seat and the podcast is launching very soon. And I like to procrastinate. I work well on a on a timeline and I'm time crunch. So I'm currently in like a room that literally has no ventilation and it's September 11. And the podcast is launching in nine days. And so I had to record this and I'm sweating. I'm setting the scene for you. But I'm gonna go drink some water and you should do. I'm going to add some Turkey Tail to my water. That's what I feel like I need right now. I'm going to add our alcohol fried turkey towel to my water to an iced water. Go cool down. And again, thank you. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening for being here with us on this journey. And you'll be hearing from me very very soon. Wishing you a beautiful day ahead of you much love and PCL with deep gratitude. Thanks for tuning into this episode. If you liked it, hit subscribe and leave us a review that is always very appreciated. Mushrooms transformed my mind and body. And if you're interested in bringing medicinal mushrooms into your life and health journey, check out rainbow.com for our meticulously sourced Canadian fruiting body mushroom tinctures. Until next time, peace and peace out friends.