By: Elements of Green
Q: Ulla, you came to the CBD business very early, before it was even legal in most of Europe. Tell us a little bit about how you learned about CBD and how it can help people.
I have a background from the pharmaceutical industry working with compassionate use and clinical trial products, helping hospital pharmacies get the necessary products for critical ill people. I got a request from a hospital pharmacy in Norway for CBD and I started to look into this special active ingredient. While searching for CBD in the proper quality and with the necessary documentation I came in contact with several suppliers and none of them met the standards I needed for the hospital pharmacy to conduct their small-scale trial. One supplier came close and after convincing me of all the benefits CBD could offer I decided to help him upgrade his portfolio of CBD products to becoming compliant to the food and cosmetics standards. It was amazing to see how many people had benefitted from the CBD products and how loyal all these chronically ill people actually were to the brand. When you find something that help and you are sure you can get it in a consistent quality, you stick to what you know.
Q: Back then, it was a real struggle to operate a legal business in a changing environment. Even today, you must formulate the KannaSwiss products country by country. Tell us a little about creating legal markets for CBD products, where the CBD industry is today, and where you see it going in the future.
KannaSwiss is focused on the UK and European markets for now, so let’s talk about that. Eventually CBD will become legal in all forms in all countries. It is already legal to use in cosmetics throughout the EU. For other products it is a patchwork. Something might be approved in this country and not that one. In Germany there are even regional regulations.
I do understand the EFSA standpoint on CBD being a novel food and that they need tox studies in order to confirm that it is not harmful to put in food and drinks but the issue of the ECC now discussing if the flowering fruit tops of the hemp plant is to be perceived as part of the narcotic drug is just ridiculous. Instead of focusing so much on a flower that has 0.2% THC in it they should focus on regulating the extraction process and the final consumer products in regards to the level of both CBD and THC.
When we bring products to market we always comply with European standards within food and cosmetics. It is important people feel safe when buying our KannaSwiss products. There is still a lot of dodgy players in the market.
We are experts when it comes to cannabis and hemp extraction and formulating innovative products. But for the final mixing and filling of our consumer branded products we always cooperate with GMP partners so we are sure a safe and consistent product end up on the shelves. I believe you will see a tendency towards this more and more as the responsible brands know this is a requirement if you want to eventually play in the big league and build an international brand.
KannaSwiss have also invested in submitting a novel food application in Switzerland and once completely finalized with various tox studies it will also be submitted in UK and the EU. However, the already conducted tox studies show no risks with the CBD content KannaSwiss currently have on the market.
Q: Earlier in your career, you created strategies for companies in more mature industries. Coke, Diageo, Jabra Headsets, a bank. Can you share how your earlier experiences prepared you for this new industry? What is different about CBD products? What is the same?
Like I said earlier, every market is different when it comes to CBD. Europe can almost be compared to the US where each state have their own approach to Cannabis and Hemp. Even a country like Germany have different regions that approach CBD differently. So it is a bit of a jungle. But what is the same is that once you identified all these differences and the common denominators it always pays to act responsibly and to comply with the regulations for food and cosmetics across all regions.
Transparency, traceability, notification of products and documentation is key in order to work with authorities instead of trying to stay in the gray zone. This is expensive so eventually once regulations come in place and will be enforced, only the responsible players that have invested in this will survive.
I believe the systematic approach I learned from working with big international brands combined with experience from the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry have taught me how to navigate and identify opportunities within the Cannabis space. Bringing consistent, safe and high quality products to consumers.
Q: So now that we have a little background, let’s talk about KannaSwiss. Tell us a little bit about how the company came together and where you and the rest of the team are taking the company.
Heidi & Ivan are the founders of KannaSwiss. They have been friends for decades and are an active part of KannaSwiss every day. The serious part of the industry is little so you quickly learn who stand out and have something unique to offer. This is how we all came together. We started KannaSwiss as just a few people who trust each other and it’s very important that we keep that as we grow in order to keep the feeling of being the family away from the family.
At KannaSwiss we are all perfectionists, we aim to bring extraordinary and innovative products to the market. We hope to encourage people through our products to embrace a healthier and balanced lifestyle. The KannaSwiss Brand will be introduced in the US in 2021 and in the future you can also expect to see much more targeted and specialized products from us. We very much believe that combining other powerful ingredients with CBD is the future in both food, drinks and cosmetic products.
Q: I love that the cofounders were friends before they started KannaSwiss, and I love the Swiss Pride of the company. What else is special about KannaSwiss? There are a lot of CBD companies with products out now. If someone were looking for a CBD solution, what would you want them to know about KannaSwiss?
That we are very proud of our Swiss heritage and all the expectations that come with being Swiss. When you buy a KannaSwiss product, you get a safe, consistent and high quality CBD product. Credibility is key. But we do not rely on our Swiss image alone or our partners certification. All our product batches come with 3rd party independent testing and only from accredited labs. It is crucial we know we bring safe and high quality products on the market.
Q: It’s interesting that people benefit from CBD in so many ways. One person might take it to help with anxiety, while another is looking for pain relief. How does a company like KannaSwiss set a strategy to help people find the right product for them when there are so many differing goals among the shoppers?
We are not allowed to claim anything when working with CBD but combining CBD with other powerful ingredients will give us the opportunity to communicate to people what it might be able to help them with and hopefully this will make it easier for them to choose the right product for them. Just around the corner you will see much more targeted products in our portfolio in order to make the choice easier for the consumer.
Q: Some of your products are CBD and CBG in MCT oil, and others have CBD as one of a host of beneficial ingredients like curcumin, vitamins, and minerals. Different people benefit from different products but I’m curious to know what you think. Do you think that CBD and other cannabinoids will do better in the long run as stand alone products or will cannabinoids be combined with other beneficial ingredients more often?
I believe there is room for both avenues as some are looking for high dose cbd/cbg products to treat a chronic disease or for instance want to mix it into their smoothies or skincare products and to be in completely control of their daily dosage of CBD.
Others are looking for food supplements to support a healthier lifestyle. This category should focus on combining powerful ingredients, vitamins and minerals with CBD in order to attract a broader audience and increase impact. In my opinion this category will see the most growth.
Q: You are part of an exciting company in a new industry which can help a lot of people. What are your favorite things about working to help people get quality CBD products?
To make a positive difference in peoples life is all that matter. It is amazing how much positive feedback we receive and how much people love our products. The gratitude of these people make all the hard work worth it and encourage us to keep on.
Q: And on the other hand, what is frustrating to you?
Authorities need to wake up and provide clear regulations. UK is actually one of the countries that have provided guidelines which make it easier to navigate and feel secure and legal in this market. The rest of the Europe and the US will catch up, but the slow process for such a helpful ingredient with such low side effects is frustrating to me.
Q: Do you use a CBD product? Which one works best for you and why?
I travel a lot and I literally never go anywhere without my 24% CBD oil. I combine it with my creams, I put a few drops in my day and night cream BUT I also use it for scrapes, mosquito bites, burns, stressed skin and then when I remember it I also put a few drops under the tongue or in the belly button before I go to sleep. Helps me stress down. The 24% oil is the most important oil – it’s my magical rescue oil.
But at home the whole family love the vitamin softgums and we eat them every day. I helped engineer the products so of course it is difficult to have just one favorite.
2-3 times a week I make a morning smoothie for the whole family – I always put in 2 of the C3 booster shots so I ensure a good cocktail of CBD, vitamins, minerals and curcumin.
Q: That’s interesting. That C3 Daily Booster in particular is an innovative product. How did KannaSwiss come up with the formulation?
We wanted to make a product with other powerful ingredients to help people get the best start of the day. Curcumin and Crocus (Saffron) is powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients and at the same time we have been able to mask the strong CBD taste so it is easy for people to fall in love with this product. A lot of people have a resistance after trying cbd oil, many simply find the taste too strong or the application under the tongue too difficult to control. The C3 is delivering a very tasteful product experience full of healthy ingredients and with important vitamins and minerals.
Ulla, thank you for your time. It sounds like KannaSwiss is going to be a big part of bringing CBD solutions to people.