Hilary McCain, founder and CEO of CBD-infused sparkling water brand Sweet Reason, describes the nascent market for legal cannabis-centric products as “a once in a generation opportunity” for entrepreneurs. As part of an interview included in this episode, McCain noted that while the surge in consumer interest for CBD will benefit many early-stage companies in the space, the long-term success of her brand will be rooted in its resonance with consumers.
“We are really focused on building a brand around being ‘curators of calm,’ she said. “It’s never been more relevant than in today’s day and age. In my mind, CBD is in the same trend as meditation, mindfulness, self-care; that’s the lane we’re playing in.”
Launched in 2018, Sweet Reason is aligned with New York-based distribution heavyweight Big Geyser and sold in hundreds of chain and independent retail locations in the metro market and Los Angeles. The company has also attracted a number of influential investors and advisors; in July 2019, Sweet Reason raised $2.5 million in a seed round led by venture capital firm Lerer Hippeau and recently brought on veteran beverage executive Hal Kravitz to support its continued development.
As part of our interview, McCain spoke about early roadblocks in the development of Sweet Reason, her perspective that beverages are the best delivery format for CBD and how she communicates functional claims. She also discussed strategizing for the future in an unclear regulatory environment and how she’s curated her pitch to investors.
In this Episode
|0:33: WFH? Good Thing We Have National Cocktail (Every) Day. #Goals — The episode’s hosts discussed how they stayed focused while working from home, setting up a “virtual water cooler” for your organization and why it’s important for brands to create meaningful content that’s authentic to their values. They also noted conversations with a few entrepreneurs about how their respective businesses are doing amid the current situation.|
|10:51: Hilary McCain, Founder/CEO, Sweet Reason — Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with McCain about her career experience prior to launching Sweet Reason, why she became “obsessed with CBD beverages” and why the company is spending significant resources to teach consumers about the ingredient. She also discussed how the brand is attempting to own a distinct message about the benefits of CBD, her involvement in lobbying efforts to achieve GRAS status for CBD in food and beverages and how she convinced Lerer Hippeau, an early-stage venture capital fund notable for early investments in Warby Parker and Casper, to invest in the brand.|
Sweet Reason, Campari, Tip Top Cocktails, Cocchi Americano, Luxardo, Cece’s Veggie Co., Core Foods, O2, Smooth Pops, Baaz Bites