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Interview, Part 2: Smoke Wallin, CEO, Vertical Wellness

July 6, 2021

In the second part of our interview, Vertical Wellness CEO Smoke Wallin discusses early standouts in the company’s CBD portfolio, target markets, and the consumers driving the momentum for cannabinoid wellness products in the U.S.

SNDC: Which brands in the Vertical portfolio are showing the best traction, and which have particular opportunity moving forward?

Wallin: We have a lot of brands, and not every brand will be lightning in a bottle. But the pre-demand for Kathy Ireland Health & Wellness CBD Solutions is extraordinary. We’ve had outreach from major retailers across the country, and there are lots of pre-orders happening. We’re really excited to bring that brand to market. Last year Kathy sold $2.9 billion of products under her brand umbrella. She’s got a huge built-in audience.

SNDC: How is the rest of the portfolio developing?

Wallin: Among the brands we’ve launched, Taos (which includes creams, gels, mints, and other products) is really gaining traction. Another is Hemp-Moji, which is a fun whimsical brand, millennial and Gen-Z focused. We thought it would be mostly an online brand, but we’ve had great trade support in both distributors and key retailers. (Hemp-Moji includes gels, creams, bath bombs, and other offerings.) Organic Candy Factory, which we acquired late last year, is an extraordinary little brand. It was a cult brand in Southern California with very few resources applied to it. We’re knocking it out of the park. It’s placed in Walmart, Amazon’s marketplace, and we’re going into thousands of Intercontinental Hotels through their gift bags. We’re on Macy’s website, and we’re adding both big and small retailers on a regular basis. Organic Candy Factory’s CBD candies are called The OCF. We think it’s going to be big.

SNDC: Which U.S. markets are the biggest priorities for Vertical currently, and where are you seeding growth for the future?

Wallin: We are really set up to be a national brand company, but no brand starts national. We’ve had a strong base in California, which is still sorting out a lot of their CBD rules, so we’re eagerly waiting for this market to settle down. Colorado, Florida, and Nevada are interesting to us, and a lot of the things we’re working on with key accounts are going to force distribution across most of the country where those stores lie. We’ll focus on a more limited geography for certain categories like beverages.

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