Cannabis With A Conscience: Bloom Farms
I love Bloom Farms. Originally I discovered them through their fantastic 510 cartridges. I’ve recently fallen in love with their ultra-high-end flowers.
They do what I want them to do!
Historically I’ve had concern over CBD products, as there is a similarity (in my mind) to the unregulated vitamin market of the 1970s. Those who are old enough to remember may find that everyone who had a mailing address was selling a cure for almost every ailment, in the form of this little pill, or salve, or powder to be taken four times a day. The FDA and the FTC frowns upon multi-level marketing method of “healing” without the phrase, “This drug has not been evaluated by the FDA….”
I have deep personal roots in what is called, snake-oil, my grandfather manufactured Geritol, which originally was sold as a vitamin tonic for iron poor blood, something no one had. Snake-oil is by definition, quack medicine. I’m positive CBD works for some — not all will understand the curative science. I’m naturally skeptical from my family history, but hear me out for a moment and explore the healing field of CBD. You can start by learning more about Bloom Farms, a well known company that launched a CBD line after cultivating a successful business in the regulated cannabis market. While many companies simply jumped on the CBD bandwagon, Bloom Farms did not. They took their time to find quality ingredients, seeking out cultivators who specialize in CBD-rich hemp strains and using a special extraction process to create pure broad spectrum products from USDA organic hemp. This is why I invited Bloom Farms President of Sales, Distribution & CBD Sally Nichols to participate in my five questions interview. Thank you. wb
Warren Bobrow: Why Cannabis? How would you explain what you do for a living to someone from New Jersey? How do stigmas about cannabis use change the way you do business?
Sally Nichols: My career has been about creating things from scratch — as someone once told me, my real talent is making something great out of nothing. I did it in the early days of the internet industry where I built and exited several companies and with a legacy footwear brand, K-Swiss, that was a family business. When I first started looking at cannabis investments with my business partner five years ago, I realized this industry was a perfect place to do that again. Because cannabis isn’t yet legal at the federal level, we’re building a whole industry almost completely outside the infrastructure that every other business has access to. And with state and federal regulations and politics evolving almost every day, the landscape is always changing. All that makes it incredibly exciting and fun…and really, really hard.
As far as stigmas about cannabis go, those are disappearing rapidly. I think the bigger risk for the industry is how rapidly we’re becoming another “big business” that only cares about profits. Like I said, we’re building an industry from scratch, so let’s do that in a way that helps people understand that our industry is innovative, inclusive and beneficial, not only about making money. Companies in this industry should be investing in research so that we can fully educate consumers, address misconceptions and provide new ways of accessing the benefits of cannabis and CBD. We should all be reinvesting in communities and in our workforces, fostering economic development and making diversity and inclusion priorities — not just because it is a good thing to do but because in the long run it will result in better products. The “green rush” has put too much pressure on companies to expand and generate profits for investors at the expense of innovation and creating high quality products.
I’m really proud that Bloom Farms is doing much of that already. We’ve got an incredibly diverse workforce and we’re growing our own talent from within, we’ve committed to having 50% of our cannabis supply come from women-owned or -operated businesses to support the heritage cannabis farming community, and we’ve donated almost two million meals to people in need through our one-for-one program (one meal donated through a network of foodbanks for each Bloom Farms product sold). And we’ve got some of the highest quality, most interesting products on the market.
WB: Please tell me about Bloom Farms and what you do? What makes your methodology different, therefore better than your competition?
SPN: Bloom Farms is a powerhouse of a company because we’re fueled by our core values. I made an investment in it and joined the executive team because I believe not just in what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it.
We have deep ties to California’s heritage cannabis industry and its culture and we’re carrying those forward into a national brand and an approach to the business that’s really powerful. What that means in practice is that we are focused on providing pure, clean, high quality products — we’ve worked hard on our supply chain to ensure we’re sourcing from responsible family farmers and have great hardware, and we test our product relentlessly. We back that up with outstanding customer service, both for retailers and individual consumers, and we give back to the community through our 1:1 meal program and other efforts.
A great example of this is our CBD product line. Lots of companies rushed into CBD when they saw the market taking off and took the easy route by creating products using mass-produced isolates and flavorings. We took the time to seek out high quality cultivators growing specialized CBD-rich hemp strains and using unique extraction processes to develop super-pure, clean and effective products. While our product got to market a little later, our consumers and retail partners love that our tinctures originate from one of the few hemp cultivators with USDA organic certification and contain only broad spectrum CBD extract and organic MCT oil. Our vape products are made with only pure, uncut broad spectrum oil and natural flavors, no fillers or thinners. And while we’re not required to test our CBD products, we do so that we know they are pure and clean and we post those results on our website so consumers know exactly what they are buying.
WB: Is there one market or store that you would want to sell to, but so far have not been able to crack that nut? Why?
SPN: I’d love to see my home state of New York get recreational cannabis legalized. They’re close and I hope it gets over the line in the next legislative session. But one of the challenges we’re seeing is that each state tries to do things their own way, not take what has worked in other states and improve on what hasn’t. That makes it hard to get legislation passed and it also results in inefficient and unnecessarily expensive regulatory systems. Hopefully this next legislative session in New York will be more productive and open to proven ideas.
In any event, we have the pieces in place we need to build a great business once that happens. We’ve seen already that the Bloom Farms brand and California cannabis lifestyle are very appealing to consumers here from the demand for our hemp CBD products. And as a bonus for me, it would cut back on my travel to California!
WB: Do you cook? Is there anything that you like to make that brings a tear to your eye when you prepare it?
SPN: I like to cook, but what I really like is entertaining. I like bringing people together and giving them a comfortable, beautiful environment to enjoy each other’s company, to build connections and to make memories. The food and drinks— and, increasingly, the cannabis — help create that environment, but it’s the relationships that really last and matter, whether with family or friends.
WB: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be? Doing what? With whom?
SPN: First off, I’m really happy doing this and proud of what we’ve accomplished at Bloom Farms. It’s exciting and fulfilling in many ways. But it’s also incredibly demanding and exhausting, so downtime for me is about disconnecting and living without a schedule. That usually means places where I have a connection to the people or location from living there or through relatives who did. Santa Barbara, Aspen, Palm Beach, and Montauk are favorites. And Paris — who doesn’t love Paris? I keep going back at different phases in my life with different people and each time is unique and wonderful.