Four years ago, Kimberly Dillon, 40, joined Papa & Barkley, a cannabis wellness brand, as one of their initial employees. As chief marketing officer, Dillon helped grow the company from a startup in her colleague’s kitchen to a large enterprise generating nearly $30 million in revenue. Last month, Dillon, who holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and is based in Los Angeles, launched Frigg Wellness, a line of CBD-infused hair and skincare products aimed for women of every background. In addition to Frigg, she is also the founder of Plant & Prosper, a consulting collective focused on the hemp industry. There she and various partners coach clients on branding and marketing for their nascent cannabis and hemp brands. Right now, Dillon says her focus is on Frigg.
Recently, Dillon discussed what drew her to CBD, which she admits is a saturated market since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill (which legalized CBD) as well as her experiences as an African American woman in a field where white men predominate.
This interview has been edited for conciseness and clarity.
Iris Dorbian: How did you get involved in the space?
Kimberly Dillon: My mom’s church group in Colorado was taking a tour of a cannabis plant. My mom went on the tour. She kept talking about cannabis and told me to try it. I was in a D.A.R.E. program in high school and I never thought it was for me. I always suffered from anxiety and insomnia. When your mother puts it out there, I was like, okay. I tried it and everything changed.
Dorbian: What has been your experience as a black woman in an industry that’s predominantly white men?
Dillon: There is something to be said about not having solidarity with peers when you’re the only one. It can be a lonely experience. You do want to have people whom you can relate to and have fun. I’ve often found myself at events where the meetings will be at the strip clubs. You’re always aware you’re at work. As a woman, I can’t be getting too inebriated one way or the other. I was lucky I had a strong background before cannabis. If you’re starting out in cannabis, it can be hard to navigate. We don’t have career paths. We’re all figuring it out because it’s brand new. That means people at the fringes really have to fight extra hard.
Dorbian: Why did you choose to break away from Papa & Barkley and start your own brand?
Dillon: I saw an opportunity on the CBD side in beauty. I’m African American [and I know] your braids can be heavy on the scalp. I was doing focus groups for work and I was hearing a lot of women saying how they were using lube products on their faces and hair. I thought why are they using lube products for their face? Why don’t we create beauty products that address their concerns? This idea for Frigg came a year and a half ago. I took the plunge because I’ve always been around entrepreneurs and people of color, so I went for it.
Dorbian: There is a glut of CBD products flooding the market. What is it about Frigg Wellness that makes it stand apart from the clutter?
Dillon: One, we use scientists and doctors to develop our beauty products. Two: specific use cases, thinking of a multicultural experience [such as] women who are suffering pain on their scalps due to extensions and wigs. Third: How to resonate with a different community. You do need to have a healthy ecosystem to have different types of founders. When I was working pretty successfully in my previous role, [I learned] African Americans were wary of using CBD probably because it’s connected to the war on drugs. Actually, [with Frigg Wellness], I’m saying this is a viable option for you in the community.
I know there’s a glut of CBD but if you really think about it, we’re in the beginning stages. We still have to win consumer awareness and consumer loyalty. CBD has only been legal since late 2018. It’s really about building brand loyalty and community and educating consumers. Maybe the buzz is saturating the market, but a year and a half does not make the industry so it’s very long road ahead.
Currently, Frigg is available right now in topicals and can be purchased on its website.