Joy Smith hurt her should in the noblest of ways.
She was on her way to a three-week trip to Cameroon, Uganda and Tunisia to speak at a women’s conference and help launch a library at a refugee camp. While lifting a suitcase filled with books, she strained the surrounding muscles and ligaments. She persevered through the trip, but the lingering pain combined with the stress of travel left Smith struggling with insomnia. By the time she returned home to Florida, she was physically and emotionally exhausted.
“I had been having a hard time sleeping, but this trip really put me over the edge,” Smith says. Her son Gerrid had heard about cannabidiol—better known as CBD—from his father-in-law, and while visiting his parents, he suggested she give it a try. Frustrated from lingering pain and too many sleepless nights, Joy hopped in the car.
We went to a store, and I picked up a salve for my shoulder and something like a candy with CBD in it,” she recalls. The results were felt almost instantly. She felt the topical cream alleviate the ache in her shoulder, and the CBD-infused candy helped her sleep through the night. Intrigued, Joy began researching other CBD products and brands to find which ones were most effective.
Inspired by his mother’s results, Gerrid decided to try CBD for himself. When he was able to stop taking prescribed sleep aids and instead use an all-natural tincture made with CBD oil, he began considering the business possibilities
“I thought, it doesn’t matter what the revenues are going to be. This is a great product, and we’ve got to get it out to the masses,” Gerrid says. By the time he left town, his parents had started hashing out a business plan, leveraging the knowledge his father, Todd, acquired from 28 years as an entrepreneur and wellness consultant.
“I definitely did not think about starting a business—it wasn’t even on the radar,” Joy admits. But, she was in the right place at the right time, and her personal experience with CBD has helped fuel the company’s rapid growth. Today, Joy Organics sells a full line of products infused with CBD, from traditional tinctures and softgels to vape pens, face creams, salves, gummies, a sports recovery drink and even dog treats.
A Budding Industry
Joy Organics is certainly not the first company to enter the CBD market, but the industry upstart is well on its way to achieving a respected status in a sector that is growing at an unprecedented rate. The company opened the doors to its flagship retail store in Fort Collins, Colorado, in July 2018. The launch was well-attended, and the shop soon attracted customers from the local community. But when the Joy Organics website went live three weeks later, what started as a modest retail venture became something much more. Now the business generates more than $1 million in monthly sales.
Although the legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes in several states brought the cannabis industry to the public eye, the CBD sector has largely been ignored. Even so, early research and anecdotal evidence reports that CBD can offer relief similar to that of medical marijuana for a host of conditions. CBD use is increasing rapidly nationwide, as people share their firsthand experiences.
The groundswell of public interest is a radical departure from the traditional pathway through which products enter the health and nutrition market. “Omega-3 grew because of education on how it reduced the risk of heart disease,” Todd says, adding that vitamin C and almost every other nutritional supplement gained traction through education. In contrast, the buzz surrounding CBD has been entirely organic. “The industry is completely driven by personal results people are having—it’s all word-of-mouth.”
Despite mounting enthusiasm for CBD, the lack of mass media coverage and extensive research has left consumers at a disadvantage in terms of understanding the depth and breadth of the extract’s benefits. Educating consumers is critical not only to ensure industry growth over the long-term, but also to ensure that buyers are getting the best possible results from CBD products.
Joy Organics hosts regular educational events at its retail stores in Fort Collins; Austin, Texas; and Deer Park, Illinois, to help shoppers make informed buying decisions. “I spent three days prepping for a 25-minute talk, [because] I really wanted to be fully prepared for questions that could come out of left field,” says Danielle Cearbaugh, Joy and Todd’s oldest daughter, who runs the Austin shop. The company also publishes an informative blog through its website and an online reference tool, The Ultimate Guide to CBD Oil. The Smiths took care to build a knowledgeable customer service team that answers questions by phone. “We give out lots of information,” Danielle says. “[We’re] just wanting to help people understand CBD and how to use it.”
In addition to the educational hurdles, state and federal regulators have yet to take steps to ensure that CBD products in the market are both safe and effective. According to Joy, the current lack of oversight and governing standards actually helped Joy Organics set itself apart by focusing on a commitment to the highest quality processes and ingredients, together with exemplary customer service.
To this end, Joy Organics provides a third-party report from a certified lab for each batch of CBD products it sells. “Our goal is to be completely transparent,” Joy says. To view the information, buyers can scan a QR code on the product label or simply visit the Joy Organics website. Each comprehensive report confirms that the CBD contains zero THC and is free of pesticides and microbials, such as salmonella, mold, and heavy metals. The lab results also verify that tinctures contain only certified organic carrier oils, which make up more than 90 percent of the volume. The lab results also verify the potency of the product, confirming that what’s on the label is in the bottle.
“In an industry that is completely unregulated,” Todd says. “Where there is no enforcement of label claims, we’re going to be a responsible company.”
All the Right Pieces
Prior to launching Joy Organics, Todd spoke to his contacts in the wellness industry to source suppliers and manufacturers that could consistently deliver a superlative product. Whereas some other CBD
retailers use oils made from industrial hemp grown in Europe, overseas growers were out of the question for Joy Organics. The farms primarily cultivate industrial hemp bred to manufacture commercial and industrial products, such as textiles and bioplastics, using the stalks and stems of the plant, and only
began producing CBD oil after discovering that the leaves and flowers could be used as well. Although oils sourced overseas are less expensive, Todd says, they don’t meet Joy Organics’ rigorous quality standards or offer the same level of health benefits as extracts derived from cannabis cultivated to be high in CBD. “It’s like juicing spinach instead of juicing iceberg lettuce,” Todd explains.
After finding suitable suppliers stateside, he also located a manufacturer that uses safer and healthier extraction methods to produce premium CBD oil completely free of THC. Knowing that his brother, Barry, had been working with another venture interested in entering the CBD marketplace, Todd called and asked if he could help short-term to set up a fulfillment center. A veteran corporate executive, Barry ultimately joined the family-run business full time.
“When I came on, I was the fourth or fifth employee. We’re up over 50 now,” he says. Joy Organics’ rapid growth far outpaces the CBD industry as a whole, with sales revenues growing each month since it launched.
Laying the Groundwork
Large segments of Joy Organics’ sales revenue come from two sources. Wholesale partners resell Joy Organics-branded products, while private label partners resell Joy Organics’ products under their own brand label. The success of the private labeling came about by accident—a result of Gerrid’s search engine optimization knowledge. In setting up the Joy Organics website, the former digital marketing agency owner created a page for private label sales, thinking the company might explore that market at a later date. When the page landed at the top of search engine results within a short time, orders surged.
“I had no idea we would see results that quickly,” Gerrid says. “It generally takes eight to 12 months for a new business to gain traction on Google.” Under oversight from Gerrid and Todd, Joy Organics now provides products to more than 250 private label partners, including doctors’ offices, pain clinics, spas and veterinarians.
The family behind Joy Organics say they are committed to maintaining the highest level of integrity, quality and service in every facet of the operation. “The best of the best are the ones who strive for excellence at the little things,” Todd says. “That’s what we’re doing throughout this entire company.” But that doesn’t take away from their focus to remain relevant in a quickly expanding industry.
“There’s more to the future of CBD than oil-based tinctures,” Todd says. Researchers at Joy Organics are working with leading plant scientists to improve the bioavailability of the CBD products—the degree to which the product can be absorbed by the body—and to create proprietary blends that include organic compounds such as terpenes that can work synergistically to enhance the believed beneficial effects of cannabinoids.
Smith’s company is also exploring the idea of creating CBD powders that can be added to everything from beverages to baked goods. “If somebody’s having a smoothie, they can put the water-soluble CBD powder in their drink. If they’re making a batch of cookies, they can put 10 or 12 little packets of CBD powder in there,” he says.
After entering the marketplace at lightning speed, Joy Organics plans to stay at the forefront of the CBD industry by continually developing new and innovative products that meet consumer demands. “We’re going to see an abundance of research coming out in the next 12 to 24 months,” Todd says. “I believe that when all these studies come out, [we’ll find] the benefits of CBD are far greater than what we even know.”