Colorful CBD Beauty Brand Gracious Om Botanicals Lands Anthropologie Through A Pop-Up
Andrea Barrera never expected to be in the beauty industry. After finishing her graduate degree in experimental psychology in 2016, she settled into a position in the Bay Area as a supervisor at a fast-growing mental health clinic and worked on the side in a neuroscience lab to further her career.
“I was thinking, ‘Once I get these jobs and establish myself in these fields, I will be extremely happy,’ but, once I reached that status, it was the total opposite,” she says. “I was extremely stressed. I had terrible cystic acne breakouts, something I had never struggled with before. I was feeling overwhelmed and unhappy. I moved back home to Southern California and focused on what was going to make me happy again.”
With her anxiety-inducing jobs behind her, Barrera turned to addressing her external and internal discontent naturally, and sought out CBD or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabis constituent she’d become familiar professionally through research, but wasn’t personally satisfied by with the available products containing it. Two years ago, when she began hunting for them, the 2018 Farm Bill federally legalizing the hemp trade hadn’t been approved, and the CBD segment wasn’t as crowded as it is today as companies clamor to get a piece of the $16 billion in domestic sales it’s expected to drive by 2025.
“A lot of the topicals I saw out there infused with cannabis were for pain. There wasn’t much specifically made to be a moisturizer that you could use on your face,” says Barrera. “One of the healing properties of CBD is its ability to generate cell regrowth. I was struggling with acne scarring, and I really wanted a lightweight moisturizer that was jam-packed with cannabinoids that was going to help my skin get back to where it was supposed to be and that would still be strong enough for aches.”
“I really wanted a lightweight moisturizer that was jam-packed with cannabinoids that was going to help my skin get back to where it was supposed to be.”
Barrera’s concept for a lightweight moisturizer turned into Rose Tea Cream, the hero product of her brand Gracious Om Botanicals. It has 300 milligrams of CBD for a 2-oz. size, and Barrera touts that it soothes her period cramps and pain from scoliosis as well as diminishes her scarring and protects her skin from additional damage. Rose Tea Cream is joined in Gracious Om’s product roster by Pink Revive Hemp Scrub, Wild Heart Hemp Mask, Cucumber Mist Hemp Spray and Rose Mist Hemp Toner along with a jade roller and gua sha tool. The products are priced from $22 to $55, and the scrub and mask have 50 milligrams of CBD each. Other items don’t include CBD.
“I like the idea of dual-purpose products, and creating something gentle enough to use on your face that you can also take in the shower to use for bodily aches,” says Barrera, continuing, “It’s not just about bettering my skin. It’s about bettering me on the whole. I’m taking the time to take care of myself and that leads to self-love, which I think people neglect, at least that was my case. I was in go, go, go mode, and I forgot to take care of myself, and that really affected me. I had to take it all back to square one, and learn how to take care of myself again and practice self-love.”
Barrera isn’t restricting the emotional and aesthetic benefits of her products to people with excess income for luxury merchandise. She’s priced them as affordably as she could while maintaining her business. “It’s shocking that you are expected to pay over $80 for an ounce of cream that will only last a few weeks. I didn’t want to do that,” explains Barrera. “I didn’t want to blow up my prices because of one ingredient. I want to make it so younger consumers can buy it.” She notes Gracious Om’s core customers are in their 20s and 30s.
“I didn’t want to blow up my prices because of one ingredient. I want to make it so younger consumers can buy it.”
The brand soft launched in October last year and, a month later, it was picked up by Anthropologie. Large retailers weren’t part of Barrera’s initial distribution plan for Gracious Om. Instead, she was getting to know consumers at pop-ups and concentrating on the brand’s e-commerce operations. At an early pop-up, a customer she’d never run across previously stopped by and purchased ample merchandise.
“She said, ‘I know someone else who will love these.’ I didn’t think about it, but, a few weeks later, I got an email from the woman, and she said she sent the product to someone she knew at a retail store,” recounts Barrera. “I woke up one morning, and I had an email from the buyer at Anthropologie letting me know she was interested in carrying the line.” Within two weeks of appearing on the lifestyle retailer’s website, Gracious Om sold out at Anthropologie. The retailer subsequently has been reordering regularly. Currently, the brand’s gua sha tool and jade roller are being sold on its site.
Moving forward, Barrera hopes to build Gracious Om’s retail network at more major retailers, but at small independent retailers, too, that can communicate its story. By next year, her goal is for the brand to reach a six-figure sum in sales. In a CBD segment that remains in a hazy regulatory period, she’s confronted many challenges selling her products. Over the course of four months, payment processing on her brand’s site was shut down five times. On social media platforms that have prohibited CBD advertising, she’s had posts taken down. Barrera says, “Going into this, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It’s not something that I get easily discouraged by. You have to find ways to do it.”
Barrera emphasizes the larger picture. She’s content again and has discovered a surprising new career that provides her with meaning. “Everything is run by me. I’ve had complete control over all of it, and it’s been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I never thought my life would go in this direction I didn’t go to college or grade school for this, but, since I started it, I’ve never felt happier and more fulfilled,” says Barrera. “I am changing the lives of people in a completely different way than I was doing prior to this.”