Most of us wouldn’t bat an eyelash at meeting someone online. We “meet” potential dates online via apps like Bumble and Hinge. College freshman choose their roommates online via student Facebook groups.
But, in most cases, we don’t necessarily “meet” these people online. We connect with them (or “match” with them) online, and then move the interaction to a face to face conversation sooner rather than later.
Do you think you could meet your business partner online? Better yet, could you connect with someone who you knew solely through the inter-web and start a business with them without ever meeting face-to-face?
That’s exactly what Suzanne Hoggan, founder of CannaSmack, did, and the brand has been going (and growing) strong since 2014.
We talked to Hoggan about how CannaSmack came to be, struggles she faced as a “cannapraneur,” and what’s next for the brand.
Hoggan’s interest in cannabis stemmed from a tragic life event—when her brother passed away from a prescription drug overdose in the summer of 2012.
In her search for answers after her brother’s passing, Hoggan found solace in talking to one of her colleagues, Kenia Taylor. Taylor, a California-based web designer who Hoggan had hired previously for contract work, told Hoggan about her husband’s use of cannabis to treat his depression.
While Hoggan didn’t know much about cannabis at the time, talking with Taylor about her family’s experience with cannabis made Hoggan want to learn more. Hoggan found herself wondering if cannabis was a natural cure that could help people struggling in the same ways her brother was before he passed.
Eventually, Hoggan’s work in the cosmetics industry led her to producing cannabis-themed lip balms. While the products had names like “Mango Kush” and “Blue Dream,” the formula did not yet contain any hemp seed oil.
After Hoggan received numerous requests from customers wanting to purchase these products, she realized that this project could turn into something bigger. She immediately called up Taylor to discuss options.
“We agreed that not only does this product need to include hemp, but we had to have a purpose; an honorable mission,” says Hoggan.
The mission was simple: to educate people to the benefits of hemp and work to erase the negative stigma surrounding cannabis.
And, thus, with the brainstorming of two different women in two different cities—CannaSmack was born.
CannaSmack translates to “a kiss of cannabis.” While the shiny, brightly-colored packaging will have you reminiscing on the Lip Smackers you begged your mom to buy you from the drugstore as a kid, CannaSmack is for grown-ups.
Well, it’s actually perfectly safe to be used by children too. What we mean is that unlike the soda-flavored Lip Smackers that would leave your lips sticky (or end up melted in the back of your dad’s minivan), CannaSmack looks and feels good from the inside-out.
And it’s what’s inside that counts when it comes to beauty products, don’t you think?
To clarify any confusion about what goes into CannaSmack, keep in mind that their products don’t actually contain any THC. Translation: swiping on some of their “Passion Fruit Haze” lip balm won’t give you a contact high.
Instead, the formula is made with hemp seed oil that is cold pressed, filtered, and third-party lab tested for quality control.
“We source our hemp seed oil from plants grown in Oregon, which is extracted from sterile hemp seeds,” says Hoggan.
Hemp seed oil is a great natural emollient and moisturizer for your lips due to its richness in vitamins and antioxidants such as Vitamin E. Unfortunately, the use of a product derived from the Cannabis plant is still controversial to some.
In fact, the chemist that Hoggan and Taylor were working with to produce the products in the early stages refused to work with hemp seed oil at all
“We had to show [the chemist] large amounts of research in addition to providing evidence that hemp seed oil is federally legal,” says Hoggan.
Convincing the chemist to work with their product was just the tip of the iceberg. CannaSmack has also had trouble garnering retail support and even customer support—especially in the early days.
“One time, I was in Wendover, Nevada, with my parents and we stopped at a tobacco shop which was next to a strip club,” recounts Hoggan. “I thought, ‘why not,’ and hopped out to show them our lip balms, asking if they might be interested in carrying our products. [The shop owner’s] eyes got big with panic and quickly said, ‘my manager would not allow this here.’ I took my walk of shame back to the back seat of my parents’ car.”
Hoggan chalks up these obstacles and reactions to cannabis’ negative reputation and widespread consumer misinformation regarding what’s legal, what’s not, and which products will actually get you high.
However, as more and more states have legalized marijuana and more mainstream media outlets cover canna-businesses, Hoggan sees these attitudes slowly shifting.
“We have definitely seen a large shift in acceptance as more mainstream media outlets continue to show support of not just hemp products but medicated products as well,” says Hoggan.
In fact, CannaSmack’s products have been featured in Allure, Glamour, and US Weekly.
Unfortunately, there is one business that still isn’t budging in its treatment of cannabis-adjacent products, and that business is Facebook.
“After 3 years of responsible paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram our advertising account has been permanently blocked from further promotion, despite the many appeals explaining that our products are 100% legal at a federal level,” explains Hoggan.
As a small business who garners the majority of their revenue from online sales, this seriously hurts CannaSmack’s business.
Facebook is notoriously vague in their algorithms and guidelines, but Hoggan says that most social media platforms “punish” accounts who feature any marijuana leaf imagery, along with the words “hemp” and “cannabis.”
Of course, for CannaSmack, whose logo involves apot leaf, this presents a problem. But for every problem, Hoggan and Taylor are working on a solution.
In fact, they’ve come a long way from being rejected from small smoke shops in Nevada—their line of vegan lip balms were just picked up by Hot Topic and will be stocked in 648 stores nationwide.
So, what does that mean for CannaSmack? That they’re continuing to grow as a brand and work on developing new products. In addition to their lip balms, they currently sell tons of skincare products (from face masks to anti-acne serums), body lotions, and even a tattoo shield product.
What does that mean for you? That you can pick up some CannaSmack at your local mall. But if you’re lazy, you can also order their products on Amazon or at CannaSmack.com.
May we recommend Hoggan’s current favorite flavor, Wild Orange Crush?