Earlier this week, I caught up with Sheffield based Laurence Brown, founder of new startup Brown’s CBD to talk about his young business and his plans for the future.
If you didn’t know what’s really going on in the CBD industry, you could read the papers and be forgiven for thinking that setting up a business selling CBD oil is the path to fortune. The reality, especially for start-ups is the opposite.
It’s a hard slog with high costs, the pressure of finding the right CBD supplier (not all CBD is equal) and when it comes to marketing which any brand needs to raise awareness, it fraught with difficulty because CBD brands, while allowed to have a social media profile, can’t actually advertise on the platforms.
That’s down to the fact that social platforms are American owned and it’s all to do with the long-awaited regulation of the CBD and Cannabis industry by the FDA.
That’s why Brown’s pride is understandable as he tells me that seven months since launch, his customer base and sales are increasing month on month in line with targets.
Incredibly self-possessed, Brown seems older than his twenty-something years but when he starts talking about the journey he’s been on, which includes past struggles with alcohol and anxiety, the reason why becomes clear. He started off as a plasterer before attending Sheffield Hallam University to study Languages with International Business (French & Spanish).
It was his time at uni that led Brown to CBD oil when he began searching for a natural way to relieve his anxiety whilst studying for his final year exams. He doesn’t sweep anything under the carpet and is remarkably candid as he talks about his past and the impact CBD had on his life.
“‘I decided to give it a try and it might sound a bit dramatic, but I was amazed by the results. It definitely made things easier for me.’Laurence Brown
Spurred on by his own experience, Brown began reading up on everything he could find about CBD before deciding to start his own company.
From the start, Brown was clear that he didn’t want to put his name on the first white label product he could find, so he contacted some of Europe’s leading CBD producers to quiz them about their products and the way they were made. He then recruited friends and family to test the samples he received and report back with their findings.
Eventually, he chose Europe’s leading CBD producer because their products are created under the supervision of PhD scientists.
Brown explained, ‘The company I went with has been in the industry since 1999 and are global leaders in the production of hemp CBD. Their whole manufacturing process is supervised by experts. They’re also active in hemp research and the ways we can innovate with it, so they were the right choice for me’.
As Brown is vegan it was important that the products were certified vegan, 100% organic and environmentally friendly which means no pesticides or heavy metals. To back all this up you’ll find the lab reports on the website which is something that you don’t find on all CBD sites.
He also stocks both ‘Golden’ and ‘Raw’ CBD. If you don’t know what that means, Golden has a much smoother taste and Raw is more earthy as it includes a lot of the original plant matter, but if you want to know more Brown has written a very good blog post on the difference.
As with most CBD companies I’ve spoken to Brown’s customer base is broad and covers all ages and professions, and he is slowly making a name for himself in his hometown, Sheffield.
Fluent in French and Spanish, Brown’s future plans include expansion into Europe, in particular France where he has many contacts. ‘I’ve lived in France and Spain, so it makes sense to look at those countries, but I want to grow the business in this country first and introduce more products like a water-soluble CBD product’.
Brown’s knowledge of CBD’s finer details is impressive as is his passion and dedication in ensuring he’s ticked all the boxes when it comes to the products he sells to his customers. It gives him credibility and an authenticity that you don’t always find in start-up founders.
And that’s the thing about Brown, whilst he obviously wants the business to be successful, I was left with the impression that what drives him more is a strong desire, perhaps based on his own experiences, to make CBD as accessible and affordable for as many people as possible.
Watch this space because we have a feeling Brown’s CBD is here to stay.