I had never tried a full-spectrum CBD product before—until a few days ago.
Last week I was catching up with up with a friend who asked me how life was going. As I shared the raw truth about how stressful things in my world currently are (I am selling my house, preparing to move out of state, my travel start-up is in a state of limbo due to the current coronavirus outbreak, not to mention raging hormones from perimenopause, and a puppy with giardia), she suggested I try out something that could ease some of my anxiety. At my limit, I was open to her suggestion.
A couple days later, a care package arrived. It was few products from HIGHBORN, a new botanically based aromatic brand that offers anointing oil rollers, body mists, and body oils that come with reiki-charged crystals inside each bottle with the option to have full-spectrum CBD included in the alchemic formulations. As I rolled Moon Saber, a beautiful blend of Blue Tansy, Neroli, and CBD onto my pulse points, I gradually went from an ‘11’ (yes, that’s a ‘Spinal Tap’ movie reference) to about a ‘4’. I was sold and my intrigue to learn more about the brand and its founder was piqued.
“I’m a believer that everyone’s path is unique,” explains Lauren Gannes, the founder and formulator of HIGHBORN when I ask her how she came up with her start-up idea. She speaks from experience. Gannes’ professional endeavors span from design assistance in couture to being an executive assistant for high-level executives. “Ultimately, I became a professional dragon slayer. The fear of failure was a tiny voice that I pushed to the side when I decided to go the creative entrepreneur route. Never wanting to regret ‘not trying’ became the larger inspiration, and from a place of creative, play, and hard work, HIGHBORN birthed in 2018.”
Gannes self-funded HIGHBORN with a modest five thousand dollar investment and the help of many friends she enlisted who lent their noses, time, and opinions to help guide her with the initial formulations. “If nothing else, this would be an inspiration for my daughter Sloane to follow her dream,” she tells me. As for the brand’s name, “It’s a call out to all of us being born into royalty. It’s a state of mind—a state of believing.”
The first product Gannes created was Défumé, which translates to ‘without smoke’ and was formulated as a new use case for Palo Santo. “I was inspired to create an energy cleansing aromatic ritual that was different from anything else, and minus the smoke,” explains Gannes. “My mother asks all the time where I learned this and truly—aside from a Somme course that I took many moons ago—I am self-taught and led by my intuition. You’ve got to be OK with creating things that aren’t great. It’s part of the journey to greatness.”
Gannes takes sourcing her raw materials seriously and in particular seeks to work with suppliers that have a seed-to-sale philosophy. “All of our ingredients are sourced from farmers who engage in renewable practices and are accompanied by certificates of origination, dates of production, and safety data sheets,” states Gannes, who is a self-described ingredient ‘snob’. “I stop nothing short of that when selecting the right essential oils; they are the purest representation of plants, so you want to make sure they’re sourced from the best-of-the-best.”
With mindful consumption a cornerstone of the brand on every level, HIGHBORN utilizes recyclable packaging and mailers to both its B2B and D2C customers. In the upcoming weeks, the brand also plans to offer a packaging opt-out option. “Any material outside of what is needed to ensure your goods arrive safely will be eliminated if the consumer selects that option online,” Gannes tells me. “I think it is accurate to consider us in the carbon-offset category. We are mindful about our consumption, mindful about our customers’ consumption, and strive to align with vendors who are forward thinking.”
HIGHBORN launched as an all-natural aromatic ritual company without the addition of CBD and still offers products without CBD. However, after discovering a CBD supplier who was aligned with the brand’s practices and philosophies (in addition to blending beautifully with HIGHBORN’s formulations), it was a no brainer for Gannes to add CBD into certain blends.
“CBD is an amazing ingredient, and we love amazing ingredients, so the additional vertical made a lot of sense to us. But it had to live in co-existence with the original inspiration,” Gannes explains. “I would like to think that adding CBD made our brand more inclusive. One of my primary interests is to continue sharing information on the clean beauty and CBD fronts. I believe that creating more fluency will empower consumers, period.”
Gannes has created an array of products that are not only effective, but also celebrate the duality found in nature and our lives by pairing opposite healing plants together. “We explore this juxtaposition and that results in something that is curiously bold and unexpected,” says Gannes. Duality and opposite philosophies aren’t anything new for Gannes, beginning with her parents’ professions —her father is a radiologist rooted in Western medicine and her mother is a Reiki practitioner.
When I ask Gannes how having parents whose work was based on two totally different philosophies she tells me, “It was like ‘Dharma and Greg’. And that sort of sums it up. Light doesn’t exist without the dark, and so on. It was harmonious and even comical at times. But joking aside, it was exceptional for me to grow up witnessing two different healing modalities, as it opened my mind to integrative wellness. I was, and am, a very lucky kid.”
In addition to sustainability, shining a light on topics that need to be discussed openly without shame is important to Gannes personally as well as the brand, which is why she chose to partner with The Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s youth and young adults.
“As someone who has lived with anxiety most of my life, I deeply value the de-stigmatizing of mental health issues and broadening the resource and dialogue around the human experience,” explains Gannes. “I was fortunate to have support all of my life, and I found meditation and self-love. I’m passionate about many causes, but I felt choosing one thing for now felt more focused. For me, this is authentic and super relevant. The state of the world is very much reflected in the way people value themselves, without a doubt. Jed Foundation is also NY based, transparent with their books, and above all, doing the work.”
As for what new is on the horizons, Gannes tells me, “I was just commissioned by The Rubin Museum of Art to create a fragrance symbolic of their Impermanence exhibit, which is a key tenet of Buddhism and based on the idea that everything changes. It’s an experience that unites us all an accepting this reality allows us to be present in the moment.”