Our eco-maven for the month of November is Kelly Shea, the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs & Corporate Communications for Charlotte’s Web, a Colorado-based company that specializes in whole-plant hemp health supplements. At Charlotte’s Web, their mission is to improve life, naturally. They do this by responsibly growing proprietary non-GMO hemp genetics on family farms that are made into a premium, full-spectrum phytocannabinoid health and wellness products. As their journey continues, the company is collaborating with prestigious research institutions, thought-leaders, non-profits, and governments to advance cannabinoid research, policy, and education. With Kelly at the helm, the future is bright for this player in the CBD industry!
1) Where are you from, where are you based now, and when did you start working for Charlotte’s Web?
I started my career in agricultural policy in the Twin Cities of Minnesota and have been in Colorado for 20+ years. I started with them November 2019.
2) What prompted your interest in agriculture?
I’ve been involved in agriculture since I was young, recognizing that without farmers and healthy soil, we have nothing. I grew up in a Prevention Magazine household with a focus on botanicals, home grown foods and natural remedies.
3) Can you tell us about Charlotte’s Web? What made you transition to the Hemp-based CBD pioneer company, coming from Danone North America?
The story of the seven Stanley Brothers and a little girl named Charlotte is iconic. Charlotte’s Web is the most recognized and trusted hemp botanical company in the U.S. For more than 25 years I worked to bring organic agriculture and products from an idea to a federally regulated label consumers can trust. I’m excited to do the same thing in the hemp cannabinoid space (but I don’t want it to take 25 years).
4) Only few months ago, Charlotte’s Web received a B Corporation certification. What does earning this certification means for the company?
The B Corp Certification is proof that Charlotte’s Web is living its core values. In past decades products have been certified for verification of practices. The B Corp Certification is for verification of the company’s practices and beneficial impact. According to B Corp’s analysis, over 66 percent of consumers have reported that they are willing to spend more for goods and services that have a positive impact. As a result, more than one-third (35 percent) of British B Corps have already attracted new audiences since certifying. (Source: SustainableBrands.com). And, Forty-eight percent of B Corps have also found that prospective employees are attracted to their businesses specifically because they know the company is a B Corp. (Source: SustainableBrands.com.)
5) Tells us about the process to get the certification, and how long it took?
It is not easy. For example, of the 60,000 companies globally who have started the certification process, to date, less than 4,000 companies have actually earned B Corp Certification. The process involves teams from across the organization taking on what can be a second job to complete the certification process. We worked on this for over a year, and, while it was a complex process, it was also a labor of love.
6) How is this news going to impact the growth of the company moving forward?
B Corp Certification must be renewed on a regular basis and, therefore, every day we’re mindful of our business decisions in a spirit of continual improvement.
7) With all the information out there about CBD and its health benefits, how does Charlotte’s Web differentiate itself from other players in the space?
We continue to lead through our patented genetics, our organic cultivation practices and our scientific research through our CW Labs division as well as independent studies.
8) What is Charlotte’s Web’s best-selling product? We’ve seen very good reviews about the Recovery Gummies for arthritis.
Our flagship product is still our Original Formula tincture, the product that launched the company. We’ve also seen incredible growth with our Charlotte’s Web Gummies (Sleep, Calm, and Recovery) and our Pet line of products continue to rapidly accelerate in sales.
9) What kind of testing do you do on your products?
We conduct more than 20+ tests, from soil to shelf, on every product lot. Consumers and regulators can see our full certificate of analysis with independent lab results through the QR code on each product’s packaging.
10) Where does Charlotte’s Web stand with regards to organic hemp? We know the company grows its own hemp, and was wondering if an organic certification is also in the horizon.
We love it! In fact, we are already certified organic on 90% of Charlotte’s Web’s farm acreage and the remaining 10% is under organic practices in transition to certified organic.
11) COVID-19 has impacted every part of our lives. How do you see the future of the CBD industry, especially under this new reality?
Yes, COVID-19 has impacted our society’s overall health and wellness. In fact, according to research conducted during this pandemic by Kantar Group: 53% of Americans state they are now feeling anxiety since the start of the pandemic, compared to only 26% a year ago. The number of Americans who claim to have severe anxiety has more than tripled since the outbreak of COVID-19, from 3% to 11%. At Charlotte’s Web we’ve seen consumers take their wellness needs into their own hands as evidenced by our skyrocketing sales in Calm Gummies, for example.
12) Can you tell us more about Realm of Caring?
Realm of Caring was founded in 2013 by the seven Stanley Brothers, Heather Jackson and Paige Figi when hundreds of families migrated to Colorado in search of CBD wellness products. It is now a consumer driven nonprofit that publishes research data and provides education for health care professionals and families around the globe. Realm of Caring continues to be one of Charlotte’s Web’s nonprofit partners. Charlotte’s Web recently produced this short documentary film profiling Realm of Caring – you should view it as it is a profile in compassion and courage: YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isfdW1IEgpg
13) Who inspires you?
I’m most inspired by everyday people who wake up each day and work hard to accomplish the things they believe in.
14) What do you do when you are not working on making impactful and positive changes? We are curious about your Ancient Japanese Theater, English Literature and Poetry studies.
In my spare time, I have a nonprofit foundation that is focused on improving Climate and Communities through faith and farming. I have a large collection of vinyl records I enjoy listening to and I still love books and theatre.
15) If you could make only one big environmental change next year, what would it be?
It would be requiring testing for and improving soil health on every farm in this country because our food is less healthy when the soils are not healthy.
16) What’s your secret to balance your life between work, advocacy and family?
Laughter. Lot’s of it. And, fresh air walks. I also try to not separate those areas too much because I believe so much in the work that I do that it really doesn’t feel like work.
17) What can you say to anyone, especially young women looking to follow your footsteps?
Say ‘yes’! Say ‘yes’ to opportunities that come your way even if you don’t feel ready for it. Sometimes we women will wait until we are completely competent instead of being willing to step out and take a chance. When we start a hike we don’t always know what we’ll encounter on the trail but we hike on. We should embrace the same approach with our career and life choices.
18) What is next for Charlotte’s Web?
Charlotte’s Web’s mission will continue to drive our company by unleashing the healing powers of botanicals with compassion and science to benefit the planet and all who live upon it.