Slathered on via beauty products and dolloped into coffees, the latest wellness zeitgeist CBD has invaded every aspect of our lives. With anxiety at an all-time high, it’s no surprise that many are turning to CBD for a quick fix. But what is it exactly and why is it legal? CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is found in the cannabis plant but, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it's not psychoactive so won’t cause hallucinations. A natural product, CBD calms the nervous system, has high anti-inflammatory properties and helps pain management, such as easing arthritis.
Certain areas in North America, such as Portland, California and Canada, have recently legalised marijuana, which adds to the confusion. But CBD is different and a totally new concept with a sticky stigma to shake off because the industry is widely unregulated and misguided. Now, CBD brands are opening physical stores so they can teach people about the benefits in a welcoming environment. Consumers are still approaching CBD with caution, it’ll take time before the product becomes commonplace, so brands are gaining trust through shops, which serve as hubs for education.
When it comes to in-store design and experience, competing CBD brands are nailing it across the globe with chic and relevant stores that battle it out for attention. Unlike gloomy e-cigarette shops that are dull, sales driven and crammed full of products, CBD brands are synonymous with cool through attention to detail, strong design aesthetics and simple copy. Other industries could certainly learn a thing or two from their smart positioning as the CBD market is said to reach $20 billion by 2024.
So who does it best? We’ve picked our favourites from around the world:
Ben Witte, CEO and Founder of Recess, sees his hemp and adaptogens infused sparkling water as a “daily habit product.” Through the Recess IRL pop-up, the brand has connected with its audience by pinpointing them to the present moment “to pause, reflect, and wonder.” Helping millennial consumers cope with digital overwhelm, previous sold-out events have included custom hat embroidery, art and pottery. Their brand taglines promise clarity, calm and concentration through a drink that isn’t caffeine-fuelled: “We canned a feeling. Not tired, not wired.” Flavours include Blackberry Chai, Peach Ginger and Pomegranate Hibiscus.
The Drug Store, London
Far from Reggae references and garish cannabis leaf motifs, the Danish duo behind The Drug Store opened a minimalist Marylebone shop following two test pop-ups. Wanting to align with high brow culture, they chose Damien Hirst’s first gallery space as the location. The design of the store is clean and premium, helping to position the brand as a luxury experience as they only stock a curated selection of products (costing between £29-200). Due to the strict government guidelines about the sale and advertising of “medicinal” products, large paintings simply allude to benefits and uses. In the basement, their treatment room offered facials and massages too.
Founded by two former athletes who swore by cannabinoid to treat injuries, Beam aims to make CBD accessible and easily understandable. After beginning with an online store, they launched their first physical shop at The Current. In the space, you could find CBD oil on tap, CBD massages, a cryotherapy tank, and workouts. Painted in warm peaches and baby blues, their simple packaging reads: “No THC, Just TLC.”
Standard Dose, NYC
Located in NoMad, this three-storey store succeeds in creating the ultimate soothing environment in the heart of NYC through a cream and pale pink palette. As well as a rooftop, other indoor areas provide daily yoga and meditation classes, educational workshops, and spa services. The tea bar serves custom blends in a bright room where light is brought into the space via a therapeutic skylight installation.
The online company Mineral opened a "cannabis community center,” which preaches the benefits of plant-based wellness. A staunch advocate for CBD, founder Matthew Miller sees the opening as an opportunity to teach locals about how CBD can help fight illnesses. The design of the space is clean and industrial, dominated by cement, steel, and glass. No-fuss displays present products, such as oils and salves, adhering to the "cannabis perfumery” concept.
Swiftly after the legalization of cannabis in California, Santa Monica-based Dosist opened a store in Venice that offered more than CBD. After releasing a vaporiser in the form of a dose controlled pen (which made TIME magazine's ‘25 Best Inventions list’), Dosist decided it was time to bring their brand to life through a “cannabis boutique.” The white space mimics a tech shop, featuring limestone floors, maple walls, bold colours and a plant paradise where staff explain the six formulas on offer: bliss, sleep, calm, relief, arouse and passion. Making headlines across the board, Dosist’s beautiful interiors set the tone for all the cannabis brands that were to follow.