Photos courtesy Frigg Wellness
Kimberly Dillon detected a mutual connection between stress and beauty—which inspired her to launch Frigg Wellness, a beauty company with products utilizing the medicinal properties of CBD and other cannabinoids.
Dillon is known as the first black CMO in the cannabis industry, drawing experience from her roles in the hair industry and with Papa & Barkley. Frigg is led by a scientific advisory board of functional doctors, researchers, beauty professionals and herbalists who are consulted for every formula.
At Frigg, you’ll find products like vegan and natural Attuning Hair Potion, Attuning Face Potion and Beauty Rest Tea. Dillon chatted with DOPE to discuss the indirect effects of stress on skin and hair, how cannabinoids come into play, as well as the state of the CBD industry and its representation.
What do you think needs to happen to establish better representation of black women in the cannabis industry?
I think that there’s a lot of dynamics at play in the sense of making the industry seem like you’ll win. And what I mean by that is that there’s market rate salaries, there are benefits, there’s career developers. This is a broad statement, but it especially applies to black women and minorities: It’s still a risky move if you are a top professional in your industry to make the jump into cannabis. You have to really be a risk-taker, and sometimes when you’re a female, or a minority, that’s not really worth it—especially if there’s no payoff. There’s no roadmap of seeing others before. That’s a challenge in other industries, but magnified in cannabis because A: There’s not that many places to go once you’re on the top and have to live in a legal state, and B: There’s not that many opportunities and you might not have seen it before as a viable option.
So, I do think that you have to recruit harder. You have to make the package sweeter. And I think that recruitment is a two-way street. I recently was talking to a friend who posted an ad on Indeed, and I’m picking the best. That sort of implies that the best is looking for your job and is also on Indeed.com. And what we’ve known from the tech industry is they always want the best. They don’t care if they went to college. So, I do think that the industry needs to be proactive in sourcing and searching for talent.
“It’s still a risky move if you are a top professional in your industry to make the jump into cannabis. You have to really be a risk-taker, and sometimes when you’re a female, or a minority, that’s not really worth it—especially if there’s no payoff. There’s no roadmap of seeing others before.”
The 2018 Farm Bill changed everything for hemp-derived CBD topicals. Do you think we’ll see more drug stores carrying these types of products?
One-thousand percent. I think not just drug stores, but you’ll see it at grocery stores, you’ll see it at department stores. I think all channels are looking to figure out how to stand in their comfort levels. I’ve talked to a number of retailers on the beauty side, as I just launched Frigg, and they’ve been waiting to see what the tea leaves tell them. They’ve been wanting to enter for the last two or three years and are just now out getting comfortable. I think a big piece of that is merchant processing and banks, which will really allow retailers to explore. And I also think during the moment of COVID-19, we’re all sort of stressed as a culture. There’s anxiety and retailers want to provide a solution for that anxiety and CBD being one of the best natural solutions for that.
What can we expect from Frigg Wellness? What differentiates it from other CBD-based beauty brands?
I don’t even think of it in terms of CBD, because we spend the same amount of research on every ingredient in the formula. And we also work with minor cannabinoids. So I really see it as a stress-wellness company in the sense that we are designed to defend against the impacts of stress on your skin. When you’re stressed out, your brain tells your adrenaline glands to produce cortisol. We understand that. Cortisol actually really stops the production of [pantothenic] acid, keratin, biotin, collagen—all of the key building blocks of the skin. So when you’re stressed, you’re not really aware of it in the background. Your body is not putting as many hormones into your skin. So the concept around Frigg is to address the root of the problem and also address the concerns that arise from not having those building blocks. Usually what those are is psoriasis, eczema, inflammation, redness and even thinning hair, because stress triggers your hair into a resting phase. The whole mission is to make the connection between mind, body and skin. And we use bio-cannabinoids and other botanicals to address those issues.
We hear less about CBD-based hair products. What are the benefits of CBD for hair products?
With the presence of cortisol, it actually causes a lot of conditions. One, psoriasis, which also occurs on the scalp for most people, itchiness and redness, inflammation and tightness. Dandruff is really caused by the presence of bacteria, because your body is thrown off by stress. It also puts your hair into a resting phase, so we use CBD as a powerful antioxidant. We actually use CBD and CBG. CBG, because it’s an anti-inflammatory. So in summary, what we’re doing is restoring the scalp [properties] so that the bacteria doesn’t exist. We are also stimulating the hair follicles so that it doesn’t fall into a resting phase. And then, which is interesting, a lot of black women, including myself, wear [a variety] of styles. I wear weaves and braids, which can be very heavy, and it causes a lot of tension. We’re also tapping into the anti-pain aspect of the cannabinoids as well to deal with the weight and tension of heavy hairstyles. The chemical process is similar to getting your hair dyed.
“When you’re stressed out, your brain tells your adrenaline glands to produce cortisol. We understand that. Cortisol actually really stops the production of [pantothenic] acid, keratin, biotin, collagen—all of the key building blocks of the skin.”
Tell us about the experience you gained with Papa & Barkley.
I was one of the early employees there back in 2017, and I was there for two and a half years, and so I worked up from VP of marketing , and then when I left I was CMO. It involved thousands of dollars to millions of dollars in monthly revenue. Additionally, I have my MBA from the University of Michigan and one of my projects in the past was working on the Clairol hair color business. So I do have some understanding of the beauty industry. My background has been from CPG and I would say that one key to my success is that I was one of the earlier CPG marketers who were able to bring that skillset to cannabis.
Do you have any announcements?
We launched [just] weeks ago, and we’re already sold out of a number of our [products]; we’re actually in an accelerator right now. At the end, it’s the opportunity to present to Sephora and Alta. It was really exciting, because we are bringing the cannabis conversation to beauty. And I think in a way, it’s not just because of CBD. We have a scientific advisory board. Please talk to our scientists and researchers and really understand the power of the plant.
What led you to the industry in the first place?
Even though I was the first CMO, it wasn’t received well by my mother. Broadly, there is still a lot of stigma attached to being in cannabis in conservative black families. My family would say things like, “Why are you throwing away your MBA?” That’s one issue, and the second issue is the result of that. African Americans and Hispanic people are some of the slowest to adapt to CBD. So part of my mission and my work is how to normalize cannabis for African Americans, and also how to normalize this conversation for minorities. And part of promoting the hair oil is because it’s easier to try than a CBD tincture, but hair products are more accessible. So it was a sneaky way to have that conversation with black women.