To change perceptions and improve lives. That’s Populum’s goal. With an approachable brand and light flavor, these hemp products aim to introduce new people to the potential of full-spectrum extracts.
It started at a farmer’s market. Founder Gunhee Park was walking through the aisles of produce and plants when he came across what looked like marijuana. As many of us might be, he was taken aback. It was then that a farmer introduced him to hemp. His interest led him to study the broad applications of the plant. From hemp seeds to protein powders to medicinal extracts, Gunhee found the potential of hemp enormous. This was in 2016 before the New York Times was writing regularly about CBD. Long before lifestyle brands rushed en mass toward hemp, Gunhee set out to champion a crop that had been outlawed for decades.
“When you explore the science behind cannabinoids and how they interact with the human body, you come to realize how essential hemp is to everyone’s well being,” said Gunhee. “So for me, the goal was to create a modern hemp oil brand unbridled by the confines of the traditional stigma surrounding cannabis.”
Years back, if people were interested in trying hemp products they would find a lot of “stoner” companies and clickbait articles chock full of wild health claims. There were few trusted resources and even fewer brands making a serious effort to expand the reach of hemp. Before Gunhee could make people well, he needed to overcome this image problem. He needed to build a brand that broke down barriers and fit more in the context of everyday lifestyle and wellness. With a brand established, he could turn his attention to education and awareness.
“I realized a lack of information and credibility was depriving the public of access to hemp,” Gunhee said. “I set out to help reframe the way people view CBD, and to provide high-quality, trustworthy hemp products to conscious consumers like myself.”
What still holds hemp back is the number of imposters out there. Products are rushed to store shelves to capitalize on a growing market. This is bad in any industry but worse in a space where people are just getting to know a product. Hemp is overcoming stigma built over several decades. The danger is losing customer confidence through shady products and practices. Brands like Populum hope to rise above this noise and establish trust and consistency that makes customers comfortable endorsing their products.
“We hear stories from various customers that tell us how long it’s taken them to convince their parents or grandparents to try out CBD oil,” said Gunhee. “Now imagine if these hard-won customers end up having a negative experience with a product or during the shopping experience. They not only would lose confidence in the brand but also in the entire product category.”
The barriers are plentiful—bad information, sketchy products, and ingrained stigma. But if there’s one thing Populum has on its side in the effort to grow hemp’s audience it’s taste. Populum’s hemp oil has a light citrus flavor. These orange tinctures are easy to swallow, which is unique to the hemp space. Where other products have a more natural taste, often even a drudgy consistency, Populum products are approachable for people interested in trying hemp for the first time. This flavor is a trojan horse, if you will—a way to get into the medicine cabinets of people who never would have turned to hemp before. This combination of mission, brand, and flavor has helped Populum to develop a customer base that is largely female and middle-aged. Today, Populum is selling products to buyers who are shopping for themselves and loved ones, people are convincing those they care about that there are alternatives to traditional medicines, other more natural routes to take. The number of people endorsing Populum as the brand to try is growing steadily. It’s an audience growing, fittingly, organically.
“When I was first getting into hemp, back in 2015, it was easy for people to label the hemp industry as a “hippie” thing,” Gunhee said. “Now, there are now 22 states who have legalized hemp farming and the industry is on track to hit $1B in consumer sales in the next couple years.”
The world of wellness is changing and hemp is playing a major role in this shift toward more conscious wellness. But there are still stigmas to defeat and perceptions to change. That’s where Populum is headed—more homes, different people, new applications. To make this happen the brand recently lowered prices, make their products more approachable, win more minds. Because Populum is invested in the future of the hemp industry and wants to stand as an example for how a brand can grow through word of mouth with simple, well-made products and a history of learning and humility.