If you’ve done even a little research on CBD, you’ll have quickly realized that there are a LOT of CBD brands out there. In early 2020, the Brightfield Group reported that it was tracking more than 3,500. In such a crowd, it can be challenging for brands to stand out and for retailers to find brands that they can trust. The Plant Lore Agency offers a unique and much-needed solution. The first of its type, this sales and marketing agency represents a curated group of high-end, CBD and other plant-based brands. It carefully researches each brand that it vets, so that buyers know that they are getting a quality product. As the agency’s mission statement explains, “Each brand we represent . . . truly speaks the language of these plants and their magical and medicinal properties.”
The Power of the Collective
Barbara Kramer is the inspiration behind the Plant Lore Agency. She started out as an Art major in college and quickly found her way into the fashion industry, first in LA and then in New York City. She calls herself “a serial entrepreneur of sorts.” Some of her accomplishments: “I have been a buyer for stores,” she says, “Produced runway shows, designed my own cashmere sweater collection, consulted the Peruvian Trade Commission as an expert fashion director, owned men’s and women’s multi brand fashion sales agencies, trade show owner, concepted, installed and ran several pop ups, the list goes on.”
As she began to learn about the CBD sector, Kramer quickly identified a major problem. She explains, “There were makers who were very passionate about their work with these plants and developing formulations that were far and above superior to much of what was flooding the market.” However, despite their superior products, she says, many of these makers were struggling to survive. The problem: “There are just too many brands who are all chasing the same carrot.” In addition, Kramer realized that the overwhelming number of CBD brands in existence was affecting retailers. “Retailers and buyers don’t have the bandwidth nor the time to vet out who is walking their talk in the CBD sector,” she explains.
As she thought about these problems, Kramer says, “It became clear to me that the tool box I had been building over all these years in fashion was applicable and much needed in this newly developing industry.” Specifically, in the mid-1980s in NYC, Kramer and two other partners created the very first multi-brand fashion showroom. “The energy and spirit of the collective whole creates a force of attraction that is difficult to muster on a singular level,” she explains. She decided to apply the same concept of power as a group to the CBD space. Simply put, all those struggling CBD brands didn’t have to do everything alone. “Why go it alone,” she asks, “When you can join a like-minded community of thought leaders and future thinkers?” And thus, the Plant Lore Agency was born in January 2019.
A Trusted Voice in a “Very Noisy Lane”
The LA-based agency represents high-end, plant-based, beauty, wellness, and gourmet grocer brands. Some of the products—but not all—contain cannabinoids. Kramer says, “Our agency is the bridge between our brands and the retailers whom we partner with. We provide education, brand materials and a concierge service experience designed to provide better/best solutions to our retail partners.”
As she explains, the CBD sector is a very crowded place, and the agency aims to help brands and retailers navigate through the crowd. “Our intention at The Plant Lore is to be the trusted voice in this very noisy lane,” she says. Kramer explains that the Plant Lore Agency looks for brand makers who stand out for “walking their talk.” She talks about some of the qualities she looks for in a brand: “We research brands before we take them on to make sure that they tick all of our boxes,” she says, “That their products are beautiful, their ingredients are as organic as possible, that their formulations deliver on the promise for the intended purpose each product is designed to address. That their packaging is sustainably produced and their brand image and ethos is aligned with ours.”
Overall, Kramer sees herself as an interpreter or storyteller for each brand she represents. She says that there is definitely an art to representing the ethos of these brands.
“I listen and observe,” she says, “And then I lace the pieces together to tell the story behind our brand owners and their message and their mission.”
The agency strives to be more than just a sales agency though. “With our thoughtful curation of brands,” says Kramer, “We can easily go into a shop and curate an entire selection for them whether it be beauty, wellness or gourmet grocer retailer shops.” For example, she says, “We just finished installing a curated section in a fantastic grocer and wellness store in LA called Pantry La. We curated an entire CBD beauty section in Corso Como in NYC last year that was a great success.”
The Power of Plants
While it was focused strictly on CBD at the beginning, the Plant Lore Agency quickly expanded to represent other plant-based brands that do not contain CBD. As Kramer explains, cannabis is not the only plant with beneficial and healing properties. She says, “Mother Nature is pure Magic. She tends over all of our beautiful flora and fauna and plants growing in the earth. These plants soak up the healing powers of the sun rays and minerals in the soil which feeds them and eventually us.”
Among other things, Kramer explains that plants contain antioxidants that can help restore and strengthen the body’s cells, vitamins and oils that keep skin healthy and support repair, and essential fats and acids that can keep skin elastic and combat problems like acne, dryness, or oiliness.
CBD in particular is reported to have an enormous range of potential health and wellness benefits including reducing anxiety, inflammation, and pain, and helping with sleep. It is believed to work by reacting with something called the endocannabinoid system. Kramer explains, “All humans have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is made up of tiny receptors found throughout your body.” When these receptors are stimulated, she says, they help keep the body in a state of homeostasis. According to her, “These receptors respond to cannabinoids, CBD being one of the most beneficial ones, though there are hundreds of other cannabinoids to discover.” Further, she adds, in addition to helping keep everything in the body balanced and running smoothly, “CBD is also an amplifier so it increases the benefits of other plant materials and terpenes included in the formulation and makes their properties more bio-available thought out the body.”
A Growing Focus on High-Quality CBD
As more and more consumers become educated about the benefits of plant-based products, Kramer believes that higher quality brands will naturally rise to the top of the market as those same consumers also start to realize that not all products are created equal.
The recent COVID pandemic has created challenges for CBD brands and retailers. For instance, trade shows have been cancelled and some retailers have been forced to close their doors. However, Kramer points out that it has also brought an increased focus on CBD because more and more people have realized the importance of improving their immune systems and staying healthy. “Wellness in general and health care have become critical conversation points for many who before COVID took their state of health for granted,” she says, “I believe that our attention to bolstering our immune systems has never been more at the forefront than it is today and CBD and Plant based products are part and parcel of enhancing and supporting our whole body health.”
In terms of what lies ahead, Kramer says, “Brain health and mental health are on the horizon for sure.” She says, “There is much research being conducted right now in the field of psychedelics and specific plants with the ability to help us heal those hidden parts of our nature.” In fact, says Kramer, “This is the area that I am most excited to explore with my brand makers. As someone whose first Ayahuasca experience was 16 years ago, I have been turning to plants for guidance and insights as I know firsthand their ability to heal and shape our realities. This is the new frontier that we are now navigating and there is no end in sight. I believe that Mother Nature Knows Best.”