Laura Eisman and Allison Krongard successfully piloted a fresh way to introduce the health and beauty benefits of by-and-for women cannabis and CBD products to a discerning and expanding demographic. With their combined backgrounds and insights, it’s cleared for takeoff.
Cannabis and CBD have been in the American mainstream for years now, thanks to widespread legalization and an expanded public understanding of their many health benefits. However, veteran lifestyle entrepreneurs and trend experts Laura Eisman and Allison Krongard quickly recognized the public image of cannabis and CBD needed updating—to the tune of half a century in some cases.
E-commerce pioneer Eisman is best known for founding cult-favorite fashion site Girlshop.com and its namesake flagship store in New York City’s “Meatpacking District.” Eisman’s early-internet shopping concept defined how women still shop online today. Design industry maverick Krongard, meanwhile, made her name by building WallCandy Arts into multi-million dollar business and accruing two decades of experience in luxury product sales, licensing and specialty brand building aimed at female consumers.
Although Eisman and Krongard come from different sides of the luxury lifestyle universe, they found common ground amid a “white space” in the CBD/cannabis market: A branded product line engineered for upwardly mobile and successful women looking to enrich and enhance their life and health-and-beauty regimen. Today, their collaboration—Her Highness (www.herhighnesscbd.com)—fills the void and their customers’ high expectations through a formula encompassing sophisticated-but-witty packaging, savvy women testers and products addressing personal wants and needs.
In pulling this unique concept together, the first item on the agenda according to Krongard was finding a way to present the concept in a manner that was free of all the outdated ideas about cannabis and CBD, and allowing the results of medical research to shine through. Eisman, meanwhile, pointed to creating products that truly fit within women’s everyday lives.
“Foot pads that adhere to the balls of your feet so you can walk in heels pain free for six hours, ‘Manage Mints’ that take the edge off and, of course, our wildly popular Pleasure Oil that is not a lube, but an orgasm intensifier where just a few drops is a game changer for women’s pleasure,” detailed Eisman.
“More people need to see the research on the benefits and safety of cannabis use,” affirms Krongard. “By designing cannabis products specifically to make women feel great, we will overcome these old notions. We all love to tell our friends when we find a fantastic product. It’s on us to make products that women can’t wait to tell their friends about.”
Who knew CBD and cannabis were such multitaskers? They did, and they’re lighting up a whole new path of enlightenment.
Q. What first brought you together as business partners, as one of you was in the fashion space and the other in interior design?
Laura Eisman: Our paths crossed when Girlshop expanded into the parent-and-kids retail space with the launch of Totshop.com. I sought out new, innovative designers and Wall Candy Arts’ décor products were perfectly suited for our customer base of affluent, fashion-forward women. Our relationship grew beyond being business peers when we discovered our Hamptons homes were around the corner from each other. And when many changes transpired in our business and social lives, we stayed tight, always floating ideas, eventually leading to our mutual aha moment with cannabis. We both loved the plant, excited about new research, findings and benefits…but were frustrated with the lack of products that were speaking to us as women.
Allison Krongard: We long admired each other’s skills and careers, and got together from time to time to discuss future collaborations…often while lighting up! Coincidentally, we lived up the street from each other in the Hamptons and have daughters the same age, both named Lilly.
Q: How are each of you applying principles and strategies from your prior business backgrounds to Her Highness?
AK: My last business, like this one, was product-based and relied on my ability to take a product from ideation, through production and completion, boxed and labeled for retail sale. I built a national wholesale Infrastructure with regional sales teams, set up multiple license partners for the brand, and a retail online store. The truth is, it’s a luxury product for women, then and now. The same customer places a high level of attention on her decor as she does on her wellness and pleasure.
LE: As I see it, Girlshop was something I built for women that didn’t yet exist, the first shopping website for fashion. I hooked them immediately with fun, relatable branding, a girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone, and the means to access coveted and emerging designer lines with the click of a button. With Her Highness, we are presenting cannabis to women in a way that fits into the way they live their lives. They will understand, appreciate and enjoy cannabis because of our messaging, thoughtfully developed products and glamorous packaging. As was successful with Girlshop, Her Highness’ branding and voice speaks to women in a way they can relate to – aspirational but also attainable. Bringing cannabis to women on their terms is what will make Her Highness a household name.
Q: How long did the process founding and establishing Her Highness take, from concept to launch?
LE: Four years. In 2016, we had a concept, followed by a name and a mission. We began designing and formulating our products. We were met with many challenges and delays along the way, but always overcame and pushed forward. Finally, last year we launched a full CBD line, accessory line, and THC collection in California’s legal market. Since then we’ve been full speed ahead, with the launch of THC in Nevada and several other deals on the table for further expansion.
AK: We needed that time to get our formulas tight enough that we loved each SKU in our launch collection. We spent those years researching, interviewing, surveying, traveling, and learning everything we could about cannabinoids and the California cannabis market. Once we were ready to flip the switch, we got our funding and we’re off to the races.
Q: What else did you do to ensure the branding, the products and the packaging was striking the right chord with your intended audience?
LE: It helps when you are your own customer. Of course, we test each product is tested relentlessly ourselves, and if don’t absolutely, continually love it, it won’t make it in the line. Beyond that, our intended audience is our friends. Our friend’s friends. Our friend’s daughters. Our friend’s mothers. We handed out samples, attended events, staged focus groups, got feedback. Listened, modified and perfected.
Q: What makes a certain CBD product premium from your perspective? From the perspective of women who tested your products and your target customer?
AK: Premium CBD to me is about full spectrum, clean extracts with high quality carrier oil. For our customers, I think it’s about what works. If our CBN sleep tincture puts women to sleep, that’s a premium. Plenty of products have too little of the active ingredient to do anything.
LE: Women in particular need to put their faith in a trusted brand. They influence 85% of household buying decisions. They are caretakers, readers of labels, seekers of quality, and are attracted to authentic brand stories. Her Highness products are premium because of the high quality ingredients and materials we use. We have a Certificate of Analysis available for every product we manufacturer or sell, viewable on our website. We offer complete transparency.
Q: How did you go about curating the full line of products and finding the right testers to ensure the right products made the final cut?
LE: We put love and detail into everything we make and each of our curated items is special enough to stand on its own as a product that brings joy to women’s lives. We’ve had raves and testimonials from customers and the press that fully validate the strength of our product selection.
AK: We always share samples with our focus groups and friends as we go, but we spent years studying the market and talking to women about cannabis. In the end, we went with our gut.
Q: When some argue cannabis products can be unisex, what are your counter arguments working in favor of specific products made especially for women in terms of:
• Their unique health and wellness needs.
LE: Her Highness focuses specifically on the effects that are favorable for women, for example: alleviate period cramps, no high heel foot pain, anti-anxiety, and better orgasms. Of course men can always join in. We actually have a lot of male fans and love them just as much.
AK: Cannabis is unisex, of course, but nothing beats a joint for treating period cramp in my book. I find both THC and CBD very helpful for period pain. Also, certain cannabinoids and terp profiles are excellent for anxiety and sleeplessness…two issues common to women.
• Their desire for these products to be part of an aspirational lifestyle.
AK: Many people understand the medicine and the joy that cannabis brings, but we sought to harness it with female-centric formulas and strain choices, and deliver it beautifully to women. Take it out from behind the curtain…in gold vapes that you don’t want to hide and in elegant long pre-rolls you want to share.
LE: Her Highness brings glamour to cannabis. Many women can’t relate to the stoner-y culture, but that conversation is changing. Cannabis lifestyle is being redefined and elevated.