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Published June 7, 2019
Published June 7, 2019

Prima is on a mission to set the bar on hemp CBD by developing a science-driven, conscious brand designed to lead with industry-defining safety, purity, and efficacy standards. The Honest Company alumni have launched the first Public Benefit Corp (PBC) and Made Safe Certified hemp CBD brand, and soon they will be a certified B Corp, which is the foundation for the brand’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and social impact.

Prima was established in March 2019 as an education-first resource to demystify the therapeutic potential of hemp cannabinoids and CBD through original content on the brand’s digital magazine. Setting the groundwork for becoming the destination for eduction, prima is now launching a three-SKU range of clean formulations tested and verified for potency, with five more products in the pipeline. Leading up to the prima product launch, BeautyMatter caught up with the team to discuss the DNA of the brand and plans for the future.

What was the impetus for launching prima and how did the founding team come together?

We are all pioneers of the clean beauty and nontoxic lifestyle movement: Christopher Gavigan is the best-selling author of Healthy Child Healthy World and co-founder of The Honest Company, where he and Laurel Angelica Myers designed hundreds of safe, effective wellness products, and Jessica Assaf started her career as a youth activist advocating for safer products. To us, cannabinoid science represents the next phase of wellness: functional botanical products with vast therapeutic potential. We saw CBD and cannabinoid science emerge as a new ingredient in the clean products industry as early as 2009, and we spent years watching the scientific research validate this compound and this plant. We came together to build a purpose-driven brand rooted in education, scientific integrity, and the highest-quality products. prima is an expression of our deepest values and our belief that hemp and CBD are catalysts for a global uprising—one that redefines well-being by elevating plant-based healing and empowering people to feel better in their bodies.

If feels like a new CBD brand launches every day; how does prima differentiate itself in what is becoming an incredibly crowded category?

prima is a science-driven, conscious brand designed to lead with industry-defining safety, purity, and efficacy standards. Quality truly matters, and the integrity of what you are putting on and in your body, especially as powerfully therapeutic as cannabinoids and botanical adaptogens, is tremendously important. We have unyielding standards, years of industry pedigree, and the know-how of what it takes to create elevated consumer experiences. We’re the first hemp CBD brand to be a Public Benefit Corp (PBC), Made Safe Certified, and soon we will be a certified B Corp, which highlights our value for transparency, accountability, and social impact. We took our decades of learnings from the healthy products and natural beauty industries to create the most elevated products to drive meaningful functional benefits to the body and skin. We’ve obsessed about the consumer experience at every step in the process, and believe prima is our best creation yet. In what we have experienced (and thoroughly tested!), there haven’t been brands upholding a commitment to safety, purity, quality, and aesthetics. prima will offer uncompromisingly clean formulas with luxurious experiences.

Why have you positioned prima as a health and wellness company? The majority of your launch assortment would be considered beauty. How does beauty factor into the positioning equation?

For us, CBD is the intersection of beauty, wellness, and healthcare, so these products truly have the therapeutic potential to transform health. Even in the beauty category, product experience should (and can!) unlock real functional, condition-specific impacts and benefits. The core function of CBD and hemp cannabinoids is to modulate mood, impact inflammatory response, support immunity, and improve the body’s systems to be in better balance and well-being. If you think about it, the root cause of many skin issues is an imbalance: in the body’s systems and at the cellular level. In the same way that these compounds balance the internal environment, they have been shown to balance the skin topically and improve overall skin health. Our skin and topical beauty products combine powerful organically grown hemp extract (“broad-spectrum” and non-intoxicating) with other botanical ingredients to create intentional, luxurious, and effective formulations that really work.

Prima is described as an education-first resource to demystify the therapeutic potential of hemp cannabinoids and CBD. How will this positioning come to life?

One of our deepest responsibilities and true commitments to industry growth and leadership is to educate. To teach. To inspire. To be truth-tellers, adding the context and clarity needed for consumers to take control of their health, but also to understand the history and future of this plant and these molecules that matter so much to humanity. We hope to be a guide for people along their personal journeys in understanding their health on a deeper level. Empowerment and action only comes after clarity and context. We launched in March as an education and editorial platform that creates new pathways to understanding of what is holistic health: physical, mental, and social well-being. And it’s not just about hemp and CBD, but global health in general. prima’s growing resources currently comprise over 60 pieces of rich, compelling pieces of original content about all aspects of health—like our simple educational guides to doctor interviews, plant-based recipes, and personalized tastemaker stories.

The content on your digital magazine is impressive. Why did you make such a big commitment to content pre-launch?

When we looked at the industry as a whole, we found that there was a lack of consistent and easy-to-understand education, so we knew it was our opportunity (and responsibility) to generate the most credible, go-to resource. We understand the science, are plugged into the research, and get the tone and manner needed for consumers to choose behavioral steps for everyday, habit-forming, change. To effectively lead also means being accurate and forthright with the research, since CBD isn’t a cure-all. In order to improve health, people need to fully understand their own personal health, and be more connected with their body. At a time when chronic and everyday stress truly is an epidemic (or as we say, a “social toxin”), prima feels a responsibility to make plant wellness accessible and popularized as part of our core mission of “uplifting.” It’s elemental to our commitment of empowerment and service. As founders, we are ensuring we too are available for real conversations with consumers—you can even set up time to call one of us as founders to ask any question. We are here, open, wanting to help, and ensuring a best-in-class education experience and resources to welcome everyone into a plant-based wellness “uprising” as well as shepherding and propelling this industry to new heights of positive impact.

There’s a bit of a Wild West mentality on the supply side of the CBD equation. How do you ensure integrity and consistency?

Integrity and consistency are the bedrock of ensuring quality. For us, that means validation and testing along every step of the path. Testing and validating immediately after extraction (and doing so with at least 2 different independent labs), testing and validating during manufacturing, and then again after it’s been bottled and packaged. We obsessively test for purity and potency, ensuring we’re always delivering a consistent level of cannabinoids and don’t have contamination from toxins like heavy metals, pesticides, and microorganisms. And for us, it’s not just enough to test, test, test. We are committed to radical transparency, and ensuring we’re making our potency results for every single batch of our products available to the consumer so you can see for yourself. So, on every box there is a QR code that links consumers to a page where they can input the batch number and pull up the third-party test results on that specific product. We believe this should be industry standard, so consumers be on the lookout for brands that do this! Sadly, until there are better regulations and oversight, the onus is on the consumer to validate the products they are purchasing, so we make it as easy as possible to find that information to engender the trust they deserve.

What is the formulation philosophy for the products you develop?

We have three core tenets to our philosophy for development—The Prima Way. First and foremost, we’re committed to holistic science that is hyper-focused on new discoveries, new hope, and breakthroughs in plant science for health, at the cellular level. It’s driven by a fundamental belief in the body’s ability to heal and balance itself, and a belief in nature—internally and externally. We also believe in purposeful, impactful formulas built with safe, pure, potent, efficacious, and bioavailable ingredients. These are formulas designed to work, and built with a rigorous standard of safety and quality in order to push for the highest level of integrity. And at the core, we are committed to openness, honesty, and transparency. At the heart of it, we promise to be honest with you. It’s simple and may even sound mundane. But in an industry overrun with false labels, magic pills, and asterisks, we’re here to deliver it to you straight.

We do all of this through The Prima Way. It’s the bedrock of our vision—our deepest responsibility to create only products that are clean, safe, and healthful. These industry-defining formulation principles demonstrate our meticulous and exacting protocols and business behaviors. We share this openly and honestly here. Because we believe that radical transparency into our philosophy, protocols, products, and process is the only way to create and foster trust and empower consumers to make better choices.

What is your criteria for establishing a relationship with a farm or supplier?

Our self-imposed uncompromising standards for sustainability and safety required us to know the farm, the soil, the people, and the approach at a very intimate level. It’s who we are as purity champions and control enthusiasts. When it comes to our plant ingredients, and particularly our organically grown hemp, we knew we wanted a single-origin source to ensure quality, soil health, and yield consistency. After searching the country for the best hemp, we found a very special family farm located on the Columbia River Gorge in the northern foothills of Oregon, which is considered one of the ideal climate biomes to grow in. We believe in regenerative agriculture. Unlike hemp grown in greenhouses, we have found that biodynamically sun- and field-grown plants (influenced by natural sunlight, wind, moonlight, and other seasonal biorhythms) achieved a higher-quality extract, cannabinoid concentration, and more dynamic output of the other natural constituents: terpenes, flavonoids, omegas, and the other 300+ compounds.

All of our hemp biomass is naturally grown using only organic principles as defined by the United States National Organic Program (NOP). This means no harsh, synthetic additives during the entire process: no pesticides, no insecticides, no herbicides, no petroleum-based chemical fertilizers, no hydrocarbon solvents, and no irradiation. To us, sustainability means a deep level of care, commitment, and action to soil, water, plant, and human health, with a core focus on minimizing impact on resources.

And the farm also employs zero-waste cultivation techniques—using no single-use plastic containers or sheeting, as well as no synthetic soil inputs or artificial growing aids to ensure living, healthy soils. Our hemp is grown with oversight by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and in compliance with section 7606 of the 2014 federal Farm Bill.

In the past couple of months, distribution of CBD products at retail has gone from zero to proliferation from mass to luxury. What is your distribution strategy?

Right now, we are focused on a direct-to-consumer e-commerce strategy. But truthfully, we want to be where our consumer needs us, so we are very selectively taking in-bound inquiries from retailers (who are wanting to open and expand selection) who believe they can uphold our education-first philosophy. We’ve also build out a strategy for our very own 4-walled environment—our concierge services, our stunningly elevated aesthetics, our brand ethos all have intentionally been built to lend itself perfectly to this experiential in-store engagement platform.

Why did you decide to launch prima as a Public Benefit Corporation?

We believe businesses have a responsibility (and an opportunity) to create positive social change. To be an established Public Benefit Corporation, prima has a public-facing corporate charter built on a purposeful obligation to create GOOD—that’s positive social and environmental impact. For us, that’s driving a meaningful impact on the health and wellness of humanity and the planet. Businesses have a moral imperative to act—swiftly and with clear intent on issues of today. Being a PBC codifies and clarifies this commitment and helps guide business decisions and actions. prima absolutely must do our part to create new pathways of inspiration and leadership for this newly emerging market. We firmly believe that a business’s P&L and Operating Structure are moral documents—showcasing why they exist and what they care about. The PBC structure helps us weave our truth and hopeful intent into the fabric of (service) orientation, operational goals, and metrics of success. Finally, it helps define the tangible actions prima needs to take to achieve our “public” benefit—for us this is multi-staged academic and medical research for more understanding and more healing, support of mental health issues (e.g., getting kids with emotional health challenges get outdoors for therapeutic experiences) and investing in healthy soil efforts that will help us all, from climate change with carbon sequestration to healthier foods and products.

You seem very committed to being part of the larger conversation about health wellness and CBD. Where do you see the opportunity both short term and long term for this new industry?

In the short term, the opportunity is twofold. It’s changing people’s perception on what it means to manage their health and wellness, and realize that our bodies are equipped with incredible potential to heal, we just need to support it in a different way, and that cannabinoids have the potential to be a powerful therapeutic solution for managing our overall wellness. The other is creating and establishing a higher standard of quality and safety, with better oversight and regulation to ensure consumer safety and to enable the market to truly drive meaningful impact.

Where do you think the CBD/hemp industry will be in 5-10 years?

Hopefully it will be a part of the mainstream CPG industry and an everyday (and critical) part of consumer wellness and healthcare.

What’s next in the pipeline for prima?

More world-class publishing and product to elevate plant-based healing and purpose for all. This prima “uprising” to uplift science, nature, and health to serve humanity is our life’s work, and we are so honored and excited to create (and manifest) what we believe is remarkable.


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