Interview: Kathy Ireland On Hemp, CBD, And Fun Times With Warren Buffett And Bill Gates

Supermodel turned ultra-successful entrepreneur Kathy Ireland recently entered the CBD industry.

Through a licensing partnership, Ireland and hemp company Vertical Wellness will produce a line of CBD products for beauty, health and wellness, and pets. They will be marketed under several kathy ireland World Wide brands.

The entrepreneur also joined Vertical Wellness' advisory board. 

During an exclusive conversation, Ireland explained that learning and “working in many different capacities in the health industry” have been passions of hers for years. And this really shows in her extensive advocacy and volunteer work.

CBD certainly falls under this category of advocating for healthcare alternatives, she said.

In her view, “the powers of CBD cannot be ignored. Anecdotal evidence really allows us to recognize that CBD, without THC, has powerful compounds.

“We give our children grapes; we don't give them wine. And so, the controversy, I don't understand it; it doesn't make any sense to me. I see the healing properties of CBD.”

Smoke Wallin - Courtesy Photo

Adding to these comments, CEO Smoke Wallin (yes, that is his real name) said, “The big problem today is no one knows what to trust. There's been so many little brands and people that maybe cut corners and you don't know what's in the products.

“We're really committed to being true to what's in the product; but also having someone in a brand company like Kathy Ireland as a partner gives us the ability to communicate that brand message in a way that I think will cut through the clutter and resonate with consumers who are very legitimately interested in the product but don't know enough about it,” he added.

A Long History With Hemp

Despite having discovered CBD relatively recently, as most of us have, Ireland has had a close relationship with hemp for decades.

In fact, she shared, when she started her own brand Kathy Ireland Worldwide in 1993, she launched with just one product: a pair of socks. Interestingly enough, those socks were made of recycled soda pop bottles and hemp.

See also: Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington Talks Cannabis: ‘A Problem-Solving Kind Of Product’

“So it's been a product that we've worked with from the beginning. Then when we got into the home industry and began designing and marketing rugs. those rugs were also made with hemp,” she added.

All About Wellness

There are thousands of CBD companies in America. However, Vertical Wellness was the only one Ireland was interested in.

Kathy Ireland - Courtesy Photo

For her, it was all about relationships. The entrepreneur explained she chose to work with Vertical because of its Smoke Wallin.

“Smoke is such a great leader,” she said, multiple times throughout the chat, bringing up the CEO’s commitment to honoring and employing America’s military veterans.

“What struck our team is his integrity and the way he works with people in his farms, how people are treated. That's amazing,” she continued. “My dad worked in labor relations with farmworkers specifically Cesar Chavez... So how people are treated has always been at the forefront… I see myself working with him for many, many years.”

Ireland continued to explain she also liked Vertical Wellness’ vertical integration across the supply chain.

“It's well named, this is a vertical company,” she voiced.

Finally, there is a quality component. In a CBD market landscape that feels like “the Wild West” to her, Ireland finds comfort in Vertical’s reliable products.

Many of the products out there today are “passing trends. What Vertical does is lasting, and it's solid,” she said, quoting Marcus Lemonis: “Marcus says ‘people, products, process.’ But people first.”

This is not a celebrity endorsement, this is a real, full blown partnership, she concluded.

Off Topic

During a long conversation, Ireland went into topics ranging from family to investing.

At one point, when prompted about Warren Buffett and her friendship with him, Ireland said she believes the Oracle of Omaha would support her decision to join the CBD industry.

See also: Ireland Basinger Baldwin On Cannabis, Mental Health And Creativity

She then went into a captivating anecdote:

Mr. Buffett is extremely competitive. I have the privilege of attending the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, and frequently, Mr. Buffett will open it with the annual newspaper tossing competition.

When I was a kid, I had a paper route. And so did Mr. Buffett. Bill Gates as well. So typically, the three of us will compete in this newspaper tossing competition… In his day, they didn't use rubber bands. So we have to fold the newspapers. And then whomever gets it closest to the front porch wins.

When I was young, my dad always said, “Kathy, you give 110%. If the customer expects the paper on the driveway, you get it on the front porch. And that was the foundation of my learning to under-promise over-deliver. It's the foundation of our business today. And I'm grateful for dad's wisdom because it comes in handy in these fierce competitions.

Mr. Buffett's key executive, Deb, she'll call me the night before and she'll say “he's practicing.” And I’ll say I am too. He takes everything he does very seriously, with great responsibility, as do I.

Lead photo: Warren Buffett, Kathy Ireland and Bill Gates Participating in Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting Annual Paper Toss. Courtesy of Jon Carrasco.

This article was originally published on Forbes and appears here with permission.

Posted In: Kathy IrelandVertical WellnessCannabisNewsMarkets

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