We spoke to Megan Villa, creative and content director of Svn Space, an ambitious new storytelling and e-commerce site for women, about extolling the modern virtues of hemp and cannabis-derived products. What’s trending? Beauty, wellness, fashion, design, and CBD.
It’s official. Cannabis and hemp have moved beyond hacky sacks and drum circles into a whole new genre of modern and luxury-minded wellness brands, beauty products, apothecaries, and media outlets.
Retailers large and small are prepping — or at least thinking about prepping — their shelves for a new wave of lifestyle products that customers of all ages are going to be clamoring for.
Who’s leading this evolution?
Megan Villa, creative director of Svn Space, and her SoCal-based partners — Monica Campana, Liam Ferguson, and Grace Saari — have just launched a new platform that combines incredible storytelling, a luxuriously curated product mix, and a safe place for women to learn, express, and connect around all things modern beauty, wellness, hemp, fashion, and CBD.
You had us at “These Lip Moisturizers Are the Balm!”
What is your mission and approach with Svn Space? Who is your ideal customer?
Our mission at Svn Space is to provide a modern, female-focused media platform aimed at exploring the benefits of the Cannabis plant — with a strong emphasis on hemp — in order to create positive change through awareness, conversation, understanding, and innovative products.
Our customers are women who live healthy lifestyles, are conscious of the environment, and are looking for alternatives in food, health, beauty, fashion, and wellness. We want women to come to it and realize just how beautiful all of this really is.
We’re adding a fresh, clean perspective to what was once considered counterculture, and breaking the historical stigma of this green plant while introducing the benefits and lifestyle to a progressive, modern audience.
What was the spark or “aha” moment that led you and your team to create Svn Space?
I think our “aha” moment was when we were doing a lot of research in this space. We couldn’t believe how many uses this one plant, hemp, has. It’s crazy how many cool things come from hemp. The “Svn” in Svn Space actually refers to the seven leaves on the plant and the seven different categories we focus on.
Also, there really wasn’t a platform out there that showcased it for a modern female consumer. Everything out there was still very heavy on marijuana like High Times and Leafly — these and a lot of other media platforms out there have some really incredible content, but it can get buried in with articles like, “Best Spring Break Spots For Stoners,” and I think a lot of women would prefer to find what they are looking for without having to sift through articles like that.
We wanted to create a safe place where women can find out more and be inspired by hemp and its amazing benefits and qualities, without having to (pun alert!) weed through a lot of marijuana-focused articles to get the information they are looking for.
What’s your background? How’d you carve out space in this competitive niche?
Several of us here at Svn Space have long histories in the action sports world — surf, skate, and snow — and at TransWorld SKATEboarding magazine. I worked for the surf brand Billabong for over 13.5 years doing global sports marketing. I managed all the female surfers and snowboarders. After that, I was the Editor-in-Chief of a new magazine/website called Herewith that was focused on the lifestyle of women’s surfing. So, a lot of my background is in marketing and telling people’s stories.
And we helped bring all those counterculture disciplines to the mainstream which is what we are trying to do with hemp.
There is definitely a movement picking up steam related to the more modern design-savvy and luxury-minded aspects of the Cannabis market. Can you talk about this? What should we be calling it?
Yes, it is really exciting to see, especially for someone like me who comes from a marketing background. There are so many beautiful brands coming out in both the marijuana and hemp spaces that have beautiful packaging and branding. Maybe you could call it “Cannaluxe”?
When I was first researching this space I came across a lot of “bud porn”-type branding and was pretty turned off, but then I came across a cool Instagram feed (it was @missgrass_) and went down a rabbit hole looking at who she was following.
I came across a lot more design-savvy brands, which was really exciting. A lot of people entering this space are realizing there is this “upscale market” for all types of cannabis products-from edibles and pipes to apparel and beauty products.
What is CBD anyway?
CBD stands for “Cannabidiol,” which is the legal and non-psychoactive compound of cannabis currently showing up in a wide variety of medicinal, beauty, and therapeutic products. Read Svn Space’s essential guide to learn more.
What is driving this new “modern green evolution”? Fashion, wellness, beauty, design?
All of the above, with CBD being the fastest-growing part of the industry.
This “green evolution” has been going on for a while. Our tagline is actually “A Modern Green Evolution” because especially with hemp, we’ve finally moved on from hacky sacks and hemp bracelets into beautiful fashion pieces — designer Mara Hoffman is even embracing hemp in her recent collections — as well as eco-friendly beauty products, and even bioplastics and unique food products.
The potential is endless and constantly evolving.
People are also a lot more conscious regarding the harm we’re doing to our planet — people are demanding cleaner products and are reading labels more and more. They want to know where their food is grown and where things are made. And hemp is the dream plant. It’s the only plant that can feed you, house you, clothe you, and heal you.
It grows quickly, doesn’t require pesticides, replenishes the soil as a great rotation crop – and as more people become educated on its benefits and the federal government hopefully legalizes hemp cultivation nationally, it will create a new industry and help a lot of people in so many ways from job creation to healthier living.
Which brands and types of products are seriously trending right now? Who will you be carrying?
CBD is definitely trending right now, as well as a range of products derived directly from hemp. We’re always trying to find the cleanest, eco-friendly products that we can for our site.
Some brands we are loving are Vertly Lip Balms and Sagely Naturals they make an awesome “Headache CBD roll-on”— as well as Cannuka. They make CBD products with Manuka honey.
We are also loving beauty brands like NOTO, Oshan, and Native Atlas, all of which we’ll be selling on the site. Native Atlas has a few products with hemp seed oil in them.
We’re obsessed with Jungmaven. Their founder, Robert Jungmann, and his brand have been supporters of hemp for many, many years. He makes hemp apparel and I love that it is sold in all these beautiful boutiques — it just shows that hemp doesn’t need to live in those hippy stores anymore.
How do you navigate the wide variety of laws from state-to-state? Is this relevant to your current product mix?
We are not selling any THC products and don’t plan to anytime soon. We will be selling some CBD products focused more on topical rather than supplements and tinctures for now, while we navigate this gray area in the market.
With the Hemp Farm Bill of 2018 recently proposed by Mitch McConnell, we’re hoping that hemp will be legalized federally in the near future so that all businesses operating in this space can do so freely and without concern of being shut down.
Legalizing hemp will also be good because we need to have some regulations in place, especially for CBD products. The labeling in this space is pretty out of control — some brands don’t list where their hemp is derived from, nor ingredients or suggested uses.
It’s the same as the marijuana industry — consumers need to know what they’re getting, but without any regulations, no one is required to put certain things on their labels.
Do you think California is leading the way like it did with street/surf/skate back in the ‘90s?
California is a pretty progressive state and all eyeballs are on us now, so I really hope that we can lead the way. We’re a bit behind when it comes to hemp, though. Kentucky and Colorado have really embraced hemp and see the benefits, while I feel that California is more focused on the marijuana side of things. But there are a lot of really cool brands popping up here which will hopefully inspire entrepreneurs in other states.
What are you doing now specifically to build an audience or community for Svn Space? What’s working best for you and your launch strategy?
We launched our Instagram about a month and a half before we launched to really form our aesthetic and start to grow our audience. Actually, the first thing I do is refer people to IG to change their perception.
Our Instagram will be for our visuals, Facebook will be where we post our content, Pinterest will be inspirational, and Twitter to retweet relevant articles. We’re also planning some small grassroots events to generate interest, and some influencer marketing with beauty and wellness influencers to educate our audience.
We’re doing a big PR push for the launch of the site and hopefully a launch event in Los Angeles next month. We’re also looking to do a print issue this year, which will be really nice quality and showcase hemp in such a positive, modern, fresh light.
As for planning online and social ads as well as SEO, we do have to be mindful with wording and imagery — the good thing is that we don’t have Cannabis in our name — which is sometimes disapproved by the main ad platforms.
We have lots of fun things planned for this year, so stay tuned!
The Cannabis market for female business owners is growing at a much faster pace than the rest of the industry — and definitely much faster than corporate America. Has this impacted any of your decision-making?
I wouldn’t say that it has impacted our decision making, but it is pretty awesome to see. With women being into beauty and wellness by nature, it is kind of a no-brainer to get into this space. And with the political climate and the whole #metoo movement, women are feeling this heightened sense of empowerment and it’s truly exciting and inspiring to see how many women are getting into this industry.
Just for fun, complete this sentence: “Other than my phone, I never leave home without ___.”
I have several tattoos that are very meaningful to me. My most recent one is on the inside of my forearm. It says, “Be More Present,” and reminds me to get off my phone, enjoy nature, enjoy my friends and family — and embrace the now.
Sign up for Svn Space’s What’s Blooming Weekly Newsletter