Beauty Industry Veteran Joan Sutton Brings Serious Skincare To The CBD Beauty Segment With New Brand 707 Flora
Almost everyone who comes across Joan Sutton tells her she absolutely must start a beauty brand.
She has the kind of skin dermatologists dream about. She can explain complex formulas to unschooled beauty consumers and does so regularly as an on-air personality for Lisa Hoffman Beauty, where she’s worked for about a decade as vice president of product development. And she grasps behind-the-scenes industry minutiae. She received the bulk of her beauty training over 16 years at renowned manufacturer Thibiant International, where she guided products from inception to launch for companies across the beauty spectrum.
Because of all she knows about building a beauty brand, Sutton had concluded she would never, never, never do it herself. “I understand the challenges and the space, and I understand the money that goes into it,” she says. “When people told me to have my own brand, I said, ‘No way, my paycheck is guaranteed profit. Why would I want to do without that?’”
Life has a funny tendency to push people toward what they should do. In Sutton’s case, Wesley Titus was an instigator. An old flame Sutton rekindled, Titus, a long-time user of CBD or cannabidiol for the brain condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), took her to the High Times Cannabis Cup on April 20, 2017. Sutton wondered if she’d feel like a foreigner among the cannabis crowds, but she bonded with them over terpenes, the primary constituents of essential oils and compounds giving cannabis its distinct smell, and immediately drew the connection between beauty and cannabis.
“That day at the festival I saw an opportunity, and I couldn’t see myself not doing it. I put my house on the market two weeks later and sold it in four days because the market was super-hot then. I bought a ranch in Humboldt because I wanted to go to the [cannabis] community and really embed myself in it,” says Sutton. “It happened so fast, the great thing was I didn’t really have time to think about it.”
“When people told me to have my own brand, I said, ‘No way, my paycheck is guaranteed profit. Why would I want to do without that?’”
In the nearly two years since she decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge she was determined not to take, Sutton has done plenty of thinking. The result of that thinking is 707 Flora, a new brand that’s sure to be grouped with the CBD masses, but is an advanced skincare brand rather than simply a vehicle for CBD. It’s kicking off with a comprehensive set of six products priced from $28 to $72: 707 Balm, Daily Moisturizer, Core Cleanser, Revitalizing Eye Cream, Youth Boost Serum and Moisture Matrix.
“The formulation is super high performance. It’s not just a CBD cream that’s good as an anti-inflammatory. It’s anti-wrinkle. It’s for puffiness and dark circles. It’s for moisturization,” says Sutton. “It’s good, clean skincare that everybody can use.”
As comfortable talking about the entourage effect as about skincare delivery systems, Sutton paired a cannabinoid complex in 707 Flora’s products with a microalgae blend that’s encapsulated to move it into the skin. The products also feature a combination of dried apple extract and glycerin for hydration, and chlorella gulgaris extract to soothe irritation. The hemp element brings in full-spectrum CBD as well as the cannabinoids CBDA, CBDV, CBN and CBG. The additional cannabinoids yield several benefits. CBG, for instance, is believed to have antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Sutton is an advocate of CBD microdoses for skincare. Customers won’t find 1,000 milligrams of the ingredient in 707 Flora’s products. “I’m trying to affect the basal layer of the skin,” says Sutton, referring to the deepest layer of the epidermis. “I don’t want to flood it with too much of this raw material because it’s a waste of money. It’s more important for it to be pure and effective. CBD is anti-inflammatory, but what I’m really excited about is its ability to inhibit internal and external aggressors to the skin such as free radicals and other stressors that cause aging.”
“The formulation is super high performance. It’s not just a CBD cream that’s good as an anti-inflammatory. It’s anti-wrinkle. It’s for puffiness and dark circles. It’s for moisturization. It’s good, clean skincare that everybody can use.”
Dissimilar from many CBD beauty brands squarely aimed at young millennials, Sutton views 707 Flora’s core demographic as women aged 35 to 50. They aren’t necessarily CBD experts, and Sutton pegs spas and home shopping networks as ideal distribution avenues for 707 Flora partially because they could be impactful platforms for disseminating information about CBD and partially because she has experience with them. To fuel 707 Flora for large-scale production, Sutton is evaluating outside funding opportunities.
Sutton certainly wasn’t wrong about the substantial sum required to develop a beauty brand. She invested roughly $300,000 to create 707 Flora, which is named for Humboldt’s area code and the flower of the cannabis plant, and projects it could generate $800,000 to $1 million in retail sales during its initial year available. Titus is the president of the company and a founding partner, and Sutton acts as the CEO. The duo expects to introduce a pain relief collection in the relatively near future.
“What I’m making with 707 Flora is serious skincare, and I’m not getting lost in the hype of CBD as a trend. The reason I put my life savings on the line is because it’s been so long since the world of cosmetics had a raw material that’s really fresh,” says Sutton. “I’m staying true to my roots, and what I know about the skin from all the skincare products I’ve ever made, and I respect the raw material by using the best form of it I can get and staying educated on it.”