CBD Wellness Brand Frigg Addresses the Black Space in White Wellness
A Q&A with Kimberly Dillon, Papa & Barkley veteran on beauty rituals and cannabis trends.
As Chief Marketing Officer of pioneering topical brand, Papa & Barkley, Kimberly Dillon helped rebrand cannabis-infused topicals as wellness products, not just weed products. She guided the company away from cannabis events and towards yoga studios, identifying that the customers interested in high quality balms weren’t waiting in line for free dabs at a cannabis cup. By the time she departed Papa & Barkley, she was Chief Marketing Officer and the company had gone from $1,000/month in profits to multiple millions in annual revenue. But Dillon had always intended to found something of her own in the industry.
This summer, she launched Frigg, a wellness line designed to soothe the impacts of stress, both outside and within. It also fills a key gap in cannabis body and skincare, a void that highlights the consequences of a lack of diversity in the industry: the haircare rituals of women of color.
I spoke with Kimberly about the inspiration behind the brand, putting weed lube in your hair, and future of cannabis trends.
As someone who grew up in Colorado, did you have a fairly rich relationship with weed prior to working in the industry?
KD: This is so embarrassing. I didn’t actually try weed until I was 32. D.A.R.E. really worked for me. I come from a very conservative, Christian family. When I discovered cannabis, it was a real, serious 180 degree flip for me. But I think it’s made my journey even more interesting.
How did you first end up at Papa and Barkley?
Back in 2013 or 2014, I was working a corporate job at Clorox and stopping by the medical dispensary afterwards to treat my anxiety. One of my coworkers started dating a guy who went on to co-found Uber. I saw that and was like, why am I sitting here at Clorox? I’m in SF. Everyone’s starting companies. I don’t know how to program, but I know weed is going to be a thing. I was also a conservative Christian girl who had just discovered weed a hot 18 months prior. I didn’t know anything about the industry. So I decided to join someone else’s company before I started one of my own. I joined Papa & Barkley as VP of marketing, when it was just five people making topicals in a crockpot in the founder’s home kitchen.
You kicked off Frigg with a face oil, a tea, and a hair oil. Hair care in particular is still a really new realm in this industry. What made you go there?
This is a competitive market. So I looked for white space, and that white space turned out to be Black space. When I tried talking to my friends, they were not that interested in new skincare products. But they spend $1,000 on weaves and more on products for itchy scalps. I’d heard about a cannabis lubricant that multiple Black girls mentioned applying weed-infused oil to their braids after getting their hair done to relieve the tension. I realized what a prime opportunity it was to get more people of color involved in the conversation. Haircare and scalp care are a huge part of the day-to-day lives of Black women, Indian women, and most women of color. This became a way to talk to a community that my competitors weren’t talking to.
What inspired the name Frigg?
To paint the picture: I’m high, watching a Marvel movie, and I start to wonder who’s birthing all these superheroes. The kind of thought that only comes when you’re high. I started researching who raised Thor, and it was a woman named Frigg. I keep reading, and learned that she was a goddess of intuition; a goddess who worked with plants and was a healer, and who was even referenced in association with a community of women who were known to dabble in hemp. I was like ‘I’m buying this domain name for something.’
I can see that connection to myth and legend. My first impression of the richly hued purple and gold packaging was that it felt opulent, ritualistic, and a little ancient.
So many of the CBD brands out there are a little...dry. Products can be effective without looking so clinical. I’m drawn towards Eastern self care practices -- Turkish baths, Korean spas, Indian ayurveda -- it’s more vibrant and loud. More indulgent. White wellness is all ‘Don’t eat!’ ‘Don’t drink!’ It’s just not fun. I want more celebration and ceremony in my self care.
What has the feedback been so far?
One woman said she felt like Cleopatra. I was so happy to hear it generated an emotion like that. When you start anything new, you have so many doubts, but we’ve already sold out of one product. Any feedback we’ve heard that was critical was helpful and honest, like people suggesting a pump applicator here or a sleep aid element there, and that’s exactly the kind of community environment I want to create.
What do you see coming next for the industry?
When I skip ahead two years -- or four, depending on how COVID goes -- I think we’re going to see way more action in the food and beverage arena. We’ve nailed gummies and a sparkling water... but not a whole lot more. The average experience is still opening up a baggie and eating a single gummy. I think we’re going to see a broader variety of more sophisticated options that incorporate cannabis in more day-to-day food and beverages. Smoking cannabis will always be around as a ritual, but more and more people want to interact with cannabis without combustion.