By Tami Larson
“The first time I ever heard about Mill Valley was at Burning Man in 2004. My friend Adee was talking about Mount Tam, and how it was “the Arunachala (one of India’s most sacred mountains) of California”.
When I finally visited, I fell in love with both the landscape and the town. I knew it was the place for me,” recalled Christine Marie Mason, our feature resident this month. Christine is an eight-time founder and CEO, author, yogi, teacher, speaker, singer, a mom of four, and a grandmother. Her company Rosebud Woman makes intimate care offerings, and has been inviting new conversations about women, women’s bodies, self-care, and power for 6 years. She is also the co-founder and director of Sundari Gardens, a farm and yoga center in Hawai’i and co-founder of Radiant Farms, a maker of botanical sacraments for mood and health.
After spending a few hours with her, it became abundantly clear that Christine is no stranger to serendipity, a topic that often comes up in our Mill Valley Living interviews and is usually linked in some way to our majestic, Mount Tamalpais. A case in point would be the first house she fell in love with and lived in off Panoramic Highway in Mill Valley. Built in 1962, the home sits atop one of the most stunning ridges on Mt. Tam, and was a secret place for concerts, acid tests, etc. during the psychedelic revolution. “So, we had two stories of glass with an incredible view of Richardson Bay, above the fog layer, and with these incredible sun and moon rises. There’s a magical presence on that property. Following the prior residents’ energies (author and scholar Richard Tarnas lived in the house for 14 years), I wrote my first book in that house.”
Christine describes her life as being divided into two stages: before 34 and after 34. “There was a lot of coming into full awareness of my ‘why’ in that midlife transition, tied to finding yoga, meditation and a healing path,” she explains. Christine was raised half in Germany and half in the Chicago area. At 8, her mother left the family, and was found murdered when she was 11. Her family also lived in Iran during the revolution in the late 70s. At 16, she started college, where she met her future husband in a dance class on the first day of school. They were married shortly after. At age 21, while pregnant with her third child, Christine walked on stage to receive her first diploma from Northwestern University.
“They say the place of your biggest wounding is the place from which you can serve. Because I had such a chaotic upbringing and moved a lot, I didn’t really know where I belonged. I longed for my own family, stability, and grounding. I was pulled to have children and be a mother from an early age,” she said, “and it was my to have children and be a mother from an early age,” she said, “and it was my mother’s murder that led me eventually to work with trauma healing and yoga in prisons, and to volunteer for seven years to work with life-eligible inmates in San Quentin through the Insight Out transformative justice program. Unlearning separation and healing intergenerational and collective trauma is the best way to create a safer society, not punishment.”
“My kids’ father suffered from severe mental health issues, and the marriage ended, so I became a single mom early on and suddenly had one overriding purpose: caring for my kids,” Christine recalled. “My career in tech was driven by that need.” From 1996 to 2016, Christine was a tech founder and venture-backed CEO in B2B software. She conceived, resourced, and built multiple organizations with $100M+ exits. From 2011 to 2016, she served as a futurist and innovation advisor for global companies such as Estee Lauder, Autodesk, and Panasonic. From 2009 to 2013, she curated and led 12 TEDx San Francisco events and continues to convene gatherings worldwide. Currently, she is an early-stage investor in cloud, blockchain, and biologics, as well as a mentor to young businesses and nonprofits.
At the same time, beginning in 2000, she began serious study and practice of yoga, learned Sanskrit, chant, and became a yoga instructor. She says, “I knew that when the kids were ready to launch and my daily responsibilities were done, I would be able to step more fully into the devotional life of beauty, power, and interconnection with greater vitality.” It wasn’t until the kids were well on their way to adulthood that Christine felt comfortable focusing on her more purposeful work outside the family. She explains, “In 2012, I was running an innovation lab in San Francisco and producing large TEDx events. At the same time, I was dealing with someone very close to me who had a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. His illness led me to explore alternative healing modalities, and to look at the toxins in our food and products.”
It was during this time that Christine started mixing together natural healing ingredients to make products for what would eventually become Rosebud Woman. As she worked on it, the mission of the brand became clear: to create transparency, self-acceptance, and self-love around the beauty of a woman’s whole being, with a focus on intimate self-care. She noticed a gap in the market where intimate areas were often neglected or stigmatized, so was determined to create a category that didn’t exist before: intimate skincare, using only the purest and most careful nontoxic ingredients. Alongside the product line, she also published books like “Reverence” and “The Invitation To Intimate Daily Self Care,” accompanied by a journal with practices for Body Love. She also wrote a book (The Nine Gifts) about the body’s self-healing mechanisms, meant to be a first aid guide for mind, body, and spirit. The company encourages transparency in all things intimate, to have the conversations that are the most difficult. For example, Rosebud did a survey which revealed that, across all generations, women said that the hardest person to talk to about anything intimate was their own mother. In response, Rosebud Woman created resources for this, including a list of 100 questions that people can ask their moms about their intimate lives to begin to change this story. Christine’s work emphasizes the vitality and possibilities that come with midlife and beyond, challenging the invisibility factor often associated with menopause. She says, “Midlife, which I call the Free Period, is a tremendously rich and satisfying time. You know yourself, and you have fewer obligations and more choice.”
Conceived in the house on the ridge in Mill Valley, and backed by local friends and neighbors, Rosebud now has customers in all 50 states, as well as in other countries, and remains dedicated to supporting women’s philanthropies.They actively contribute to various local and national causes, such as maternal health, domestic violence, and economic justice. Last fall they organized a significant artist benefit featuring Eve Ensler as the headliner, with the proceeds going towards reproductive rights and women’s health. Christine’s oldest daughter, Samantha, currently serves as President of Rosebud Woman, and one of her sons, Kyle, is CFO. She says, “Working with family has been one of the greatest unexpected joys.
” Christine’s podcast, The Rose Woman, emerged as an outgrowth of her mission. It aims to bring ideas and conversations that challenge taboos and promote love, liberation, and joy. The podcast has gained popularity and is currently in the top 5% worldwide. Christine believes in following the flow of where things are easy and where people say ‘yes’ to create positive change.
Through surveys, the Rosebud team discovered that anxiety and the inability to relax enough for intimacy were the top concerns among their customers. This led Christine to explore supplements that might help. Her newest venture, Radiant Farms, emerged from that work. “On our farm in Hawaii, I developed a connection with a plant known as Kava. Kava is an anti-inflammatory, providing relief from pain and social anxiety. It’s also a libido enhancer and endocrine regulator for women. Yet, as a beverage, it can have an unpleasant taste. The other plant we selected is Kava, from South Africa, which opens the heart, alleviates depression and anxiety, and regulates mood. It acts as an empathogen, enhancing emotional sensitivity and mental clarity. We transformed both plants into gummy candies, which we refer to as botanical sacraments. The Kava gummy, named Heart, is ideal for a date night. Infused with rose and pomegranate, it gently expands and opens the individual. The Kava gummy is called Ease. She has 4 more formulations in the works. Radiant Farms just launched and is being well received. She says, “Currently, my commitment lies in advocating for lesser-known plants. While the macro flora in the psychoactive realm garners significant attention, I firmly believe that there are thousands of other plants that can be more beneficial to humanity foster a sense of belonging and attunement within communities.”
In 2021, Christine made a change and moved from the big family house to a small love nest in the canyons of Mill Valley. “I love this town’s history; all the cabins built by people escaping San Francisco after earthquakes and fires in the early 1900s, the quaint roads, steps, lanes, and paths all have a charming, lantern-lit party feel.” Christine aims to hike all the paths in the area, and she has observed that Mill Valley consistently attracts artists, adding to its beauty and neuro-aesthetic appeal. “The community offers everything from healthy living guidance to a loving environment. For example, the local community center is located right next to the senior living community, The Redwoods, providing easy access to exercise classes as well as courses on well-being, etc. I believe that if other communities adopted this model, it would contribute to a healthier America.”
Christine just completed the coursework for a PhD at California Institute of Integral Studies, focusing on eco-spirituality and consciousness. She explains, “A core question of my work is how we think we are related and how that impacts our experience in a body and influences our actions toward each other and the rest of nature. There’s a pretty big gap between how modern Western culture wants us to think we’re related, versus how these beautiful redwoods and the mycelium networks weaving in the soil underneath the trees of Mount Tam would indicate we are related. These stories need to change for humanity to survive and thrive. There are a lot of practices to develop the awareness of this deeper interconnection. More broadly, in consciousness studies, there is greater inquiry into field awareness, or the living energy in the spaces in between us, and how we are working on each other all the time. I’m really encouraging people to rewrite the story of relatedness and belonging.”
“I have reached a point where love and relationships are what matters,” Christine professes. “I’ve done a lot of things in life so far, and for me, the things that last are relationships with family, friendships and community. I try to create and work with pure intent and conscious attention, to gather, make music, feed people, and meet in non-transactional ways. This feels like a living antidote to loneliness, to violence, to the systems that divide us. I like living yoga. I trust life, and this beautiful incredible place we live, this intelligent and loving Earth.”