As the stigma surrounding marijuana continues to shed, more national fashion and beauty retailers are welcoming cannabis brands into their stores. It was the addition of luxury cannabis company Lord Jones to the Sephora skin care portfolio in 2018 — the first-ever CBD brand for the chain to accept — that market trend expert Jed Wexler identified as the signal of a business opportunity bigger than the dot-com boom.
A few months prior to the milestone, the CEO and head of strategy for 818 Agency, a B2B event content marketing firm based in Manhattan, was inspired to create a dedicated collective to directly connect traditional buyers to a new genre of luxury-leaning and design-forward cannabis companies.
He hosted the debut Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference (LMCC) last summer as an evening program of panels featuring product pioneers including Cindy Capobianco (Lord Jones) and Andrew Goetz (Malin + Goetz) along with cannabis media luminaries like Megan Villa (Svn Space) and Anja Charbonneau (Broccoli).
It was in emerging cannabis-centric media outlets where Wexler first discovered a new aspirational aesthetic coinciding with increased coverage in institutions such as Vanity Fair and Vogue. Matched with the plant’s perception as a wellness wunderkind, the potential for the CBD and hemp market alone is expected to reach $23 billion by 2023 with a 700% growth rate expected in 2019, according to the Brightfield Group.
“Most trends track year to year, but in cannabis, it is week to week. I think it’s actually going to be even bigger than the tech bubble, which is just wild,” Wexler told me via phone. “Luxury cannabis has quickly become its own lifestyle category at retail and it’s starting to be merchandised that way. The real question is, ‘What happens when (cannabis is) fully legal, there’s no stigma, and it’s just a commodity?’”
After an at-capacity inaugural event, the second annual LMCC returned in October as a full-day confab at Hudson Yards in New York City. Intended to be an intimate experience, an at-capacity 400 attendees convened for thought leadership panels, juried competition for new product launches, one-to-one matchmaking sessions, and a keynote speaker. LMCC tackled topics ranging from “The Hemp Opportunity: Feed You, Clothe You, House You, Heal You” to “CBD Beauty and Skincare: The Hottest Segment in the Market” to “Is Now The Right Time to Invest in Cannabis, CBD and Hemp?”
Wexler describes the exclusive industry event as “a curated, cross-over platform for retailers and investors to meet the leading luxury brands in the CBD, hemp and cannabis space.”
And with companies including Ulta, Neiman Marcus and Urban Outfitters following Sephora’s lead (it now carries more than a dozen CBD beauty brands), he also sees a uniquely enthusiastic consumer demand.
“Luxury used to just be a handful of names and mean a high price point, but now it’s about being accessible and embracing diversity. Luxury today means traceability, product quality and good design,” Wexler added. “We are using the concept of luxury and what that means today to push this idea that cannabis is no longer exotic and nor should it have ever been criminal. We have an opportunity to embed social impact into the DNA of what’s happening in all the ancillary businesses coming together before it gets away from us. It’s a requirement.”
With the date for the third annual Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference just announced (May 28), meet 10 of my personal favorite brands to know in 2020 (in alphabetical order, not ranked; for the full list of Official Brand Showcase honorees, visit the LMCC website).
Hand-crafted and infused with CBD-rich hemp oil, Black Dahlia is known for its pleasant-tasting oral sprays and also hand-crafts a line of skin creams, lotions and gelées. blackdahlia.co
A one-for-one company that produces responsibly made THC concentrates and CBD tinctures from sustainably farmed cannabis in California — both beautifully designed around the mantra of relaxation, relief, creativity and fun. getbloomfarms.com
The Good Patch
These state-of-the-art topical patches were designed to help with life’s common ailments (think sleep, hangovers, menstrual cramps, menopause and more) made with the organically farmed hemp and complimentary all-natural ingredients. thegoodpatch.com
This collection of CBD-infused and pleasure-enhancing products was made for women, by women and includes a face serum, intimacy oil, and vape pen kits. herhighness.com
Located in Northern Humboldt, this family-owned and -operated business benefits from over 20 years of experience in the cannabis industry to create hand-crafted, small-batch skin and body products from whole plant hemp. kiskanuhemp.com
Lab to Beauty
A self-described “clean skin care movement,” hemp-derived CBD is used as a base in the entire Lab to Beauty lineup of all-natural and vegan products for face, hair, body, bath and wellness. labtobeauty.com
Founded in Colorado in 2013, Mary’s is an industry leader for accurately dosed, natural pain-relieving products including transdermal patches, topicals, capsules and tinctures. marysnutritionals.com
Broad-spectrum hemp extract is just one of the many ingredients found in this just-launched, boutique beauty company’s glossary of minerals, plants and elements that go into its modern wellness products. natureofthings.com
Saint Jane Beauty
Launched and personally formulated by a former Sephora executive, Saint Jane’s Luxury Beauty Serum, Luxury Body Serum and Microdose Lip Gloss have already earned awards from Allure to O, the Oprah magazine. saintjanebeauty.com
A family of four broad-spectrum hemp tinctures is enhanced with bioregional plant extracts and available in the following effects: Calm, Focus, Balance and Recover. ourtreaty.com