Upscale CBD Beauty and Wellness brands are exploding into the retail mainstream — but is everybody along for the ride? We caught up with the leaders of four diverse-led brands who not only embody today’s meaning of luxury, but also embed social impact directly into the DNA of their businesses.
There’s been plenty of conversation around who exactly is benefitting from the legalization — and therefore capitalization — of cannabis.
Speaking of capitalization, legal Cannabis is projected to become a $66.3B industry globally by 2025.
And the rapidly-growing Hemp-derived CBD (Cannabis’ non-psychoactive cousin) end of the market is slated to be at $22B by 2022.
The good news
Women now hold nearly 40% of the executive roles in the Cannabis Industry (Merry Jane), a significant spike since 2017, and 15% more than the national average.
And now, the not so good
According to MJ Biz Daily, only about 5% of senior roles in the cannabis industry are held by women of color. And as of 2017, women only made up 27% of business owners in the space, while racial minorities accounted for a mere 19%.
Since black and brown folks have been most negatively affected by their use of the substance and women are obviously the target consumer of CBD-fused beauty and wellness products, we chose to highlight 4 brands owned and/or led by women of color.
Each combines wellness and beauty with social justice, which makes their missions as impactful as they are luxurious.
The founder of Undefined Beauty, Dorian Morris, is a beauty industry veteran who has held senior executive roles with companies like Kendo, CoverGirl, and Madame CJ Walker for Sephora — and was most recently featured in Allure.
Even though the brand is elevated, the product is always affordable.
And Morris makes a point to extend the core values of her brand — sustainability and social impact — to the product’s supply chain every step of the way.
For Morris, it’s also about supporting female-founded, minority-owned, and LGBTQ businesses.
Keeping that in mind, she worked with formerly incarcerated women to produce her stunning skin-revitalizing CBD collection, Indigo Rose.
In addition, Morris runs a shop called Undefined Collective in Oakland that supports nearly 50 brands in the space.
Having just launched at Urban Outfitters (!), the mainstream, breakout potential of the Dehiya Beauty brand is becoming more apparent each day.
Dehiya’s founder, Mia Chae Reddy worked in the beauty industry for years (Smashbox, Chanel) before debuting her own brand — and she is all about inclusivity.
First, she earned her ph.D from the University of Maryland – College Park. Her dissertation was called, “Browngirl Narratives: Exploring Coming of Age in the Golden Era of Hip Hop (1986-1996).”
Shortly thereafter, while living in Morocco, Reddy learned how to transform organic plant botanicals into beautiful oils, extracts, and herbal remedies — leading to the more gentle skincare process (and products) Dehiya has become known for.
Whoopi & Maya
Whoopi and Maya is a cannabis-based women’s medicinal brand created by the legendary Whoopi Goldberg along with Maya Elisabeth.
With products that combine both CBD and THC, they were part of the first wave of brands in the space devoted to women’s wellness (along with The Good Patch).
Each product is composed of pharmaceutical grade Cannabis and nearly all organic ingredients.
The line is geared toward women who need relief during their menstrual cycle, carefully formulated to relieve physical discomfort and mood swings.
Their blog also offers some great specifics on ways medicinal marijuana can benefit women during their menstrual cycle.
Whoopi and Maya is sold exclusively in stores in California and Colorado.
Kimberly Dillon is the former CMO of wellness-focused Cannabis and CBD brand Papa & Barkley, having helped guide marketing efforts for the small, kitchen-blended brand as they grew into a multi-million dollar company.
She’s also a seasoned marketing professional having worked at several blue-chip companies including Proctor & Gamble, the NFL, and Accenture.
Marie Claire recently called her a “CBD Pioneer,” for her keen ability to see around corners for the next consumer business opportunity.
And now she is on a mission to disrupt the wellness industry with her soon-to-be-launched CBD beauty brand, Frigg Wellness.
“CBD is just one of hundreds of Cannabinoids [the active ingredient] in the Cannabis plant. What’s so exciting is leading the charge on uncovering the potential of all of these ingredients. CBD is not a fad it’s just the beginning,” says Dillon.
Diversity is luxury: the business case
We love what a new Bain and Company report says about today’s definition of luxury:
“Holding—and communicating—a clear point of view on cultural and diversity issues will become more and more important, and will be the key drivers for customers to choose one brand over the other.”
What you can do right now
In addition to purchasing these brands at retail, supporting organizations like Cannaclusive is essential to moving the industry steadily forward towards inclusion.
Cannaclusive’s mission is a straightforward and important one: “Cannabis has an inclusivity issue and we intend to solve it.” Co-founder Mary Pryor and her partners consult with leading companies to facilitate fair representation of minority cannabis and CBD consumers.
Elevated Brands, Social Impact
It’s essential to highlight the women of color front lining diversity in the cannabis-wellness business, not only because of our outsized consumption of these products — but also on behalf of the ongoing fight for broad legalization, access to capital, and the long-delayed justice reforms for those whose lives have been upended by previous drug laws.
The above-mentioned CBD brands hit all of the design-forward, luxury-minded notes, and they are committed to embedding social impact into everything they do.
It’s good for business — well, essential to business actually — and mainstream retailers are taking note.
Kenya Sherron is a fashion/beauty journalist and retail trend expert.
See both Dorian Morris and Kimberly Dillon speak in person at the Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference on October 22, in NYC. Get your pass here.
featured image: Dorian Morris