Boulder, Colorado, has long been a hotbed of natural products innovation. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the most unique hemp CBD delivery formats on the market were born beneath the Flatirons. In late 2017, Boulder-based natural food industry veterans John Simmons and Matt Oscamou combined their 30-plus years of brand-building expertise to launch new CBD venture Weller.
“We saw the potential of CBD to help people tap into the clarity and confidence within them,” Simmons says. “And with our experience in the natural foods industry at large, we knew we could create innovative, delicious products that make it as easy as possible to access that plussed-up feeling.”
Their debut SKUs were the scrumptiously snackable Weller Coconut Bites, available in Original, Caramel and Dark Chocolate flavors. With 5 milligrams of full-spectrum hemp CBD per tasty bite, consumers can easily find their desired effect, says Simmons. Next came Weller’s Drink Mix Powder and then earlier this year, the company launched its sparkling water line, infused with 25 milligrams of CBD per can. “Each of these great products fits into a different part of the day, helping you incorporate CBD wherever you are,” Simmons notes.
We stole a few moments with Simmons this summer to get the lowdown on Weller, its close relationships with independent retailers and where hemp CBD is headed next.
What most helped market Weller products in the beginning?
John Simmons: Building awareness for a brand at the very beginning can be very difficult. We found that the most helpful marketing activities came from our fans, who were eager to share product with their friends and family and spread the news.
What was the first retail account you landed?
JS: Our very first account was Lucky’s Market in Colorado. It was a great affirmation of our brand positioning and products because Lucky’s is known for finding the best products out there.
Where do you focus your retail education efforts?
JS: Retail education in the CBD category has a broad distribution because of the imperative to ensure that everyone in the organization has the right information. Our efforts often start with the management/executive level and then move to educating on the store level, where the boots on the ground are fielding questions from consumers. It is important that everyone be on the same page and provide the best information without running out of bounds.
Why is it important for your products to be in independent retail stores?
JS: Independent retailers are often the early adopters that help shape trends and movements within the industry. We value our partnerships with the independents out there—they have helped drive this category and we are proud to support them. The enthusiasm we’ve seen from them has been outstanding. There has been a willingness to dive in and figure out how to make this category work, and we’ve been thrilled to be right there with them.
How can independent retailers stay in the game as hemp CBD gains a wider audience?
JS: CBD got its start, in a major way, with the independent natural retailers, and many of the early-adopter customers still gravitate to those stores because of their in-depth knowledge on the products and category. The best thing we see is when independents do what they always do, which is to ask brands the right questions and only bring in trustworthy products that are effective and safe.
What is the biggest challenge for hemp CBD brands right now?
JS: One of the big challenges we see is groups entering the market in a disingenuous way. For those of us who are committed to quality, consistency and effectiveness, it’s challenging for the entire category when new brands don’t deliver on accuracy or they make claims that are not supported.
What does the CBD industry need most going forward?
JS: The industry needs some clarity from the federal government on how it will treat consumable CBD products. So many basic business elements are linked back to that clarity (or lack thereof), so it’s important to move forward.
What’s next for Weller?
JS: More tasty, high-quality, on-the go CBD products that you can find everywhere!