Get the download with James Kennedy, the founder of our latest obsession. From daily rituals to lifelong passions, we’re uncovering exactly what makes this genius tick and just how he discovered Apothecanna’s star ingredient.

How did you come across CBD oil and what made you decide to base your line around it?
I moved to Colorado in 2009 to help design and build one of the first legal marijuana dispensaries in Boulder. I thought I was going to ‘refine’ cannabis stylistically, to help it evolve beyond the stoner vibe, but what I saw was how the plant was improving people’s lives. Not just serious medical conditions, but everyday stuff like stress and injuries. Eventually, I moved to Denver to run a more progressive dispensary where we began working with other herbs and because of my extensive background in the body care industry, we started developing recipes for some simple cannabis-infused topical products. The response was overwhelming so we decided to focus all of our attention on developing Apothecanna.

Why did you decide to create a body care line utilizing CBD oil instead of going the traditional skincare route?
Apothecanna is a combination of my passion for creating conscious, natural products, and for traditional plant medicine. Cannabis was something that had an edge to it that I knew other people were afraid to explore but I was drawn to it because I understood early on how many people could potentially benefit from the power of this plant. Our products are meant to enhance daily life by allowing people to get out there and be the best version of themselves.

Is there a best way to use these products? Before or after a workout, at night or in the morning?
My business partner and I hike a lot in Colorado and have meetings on the trail where we discuss the day-to-day but also develop products. It’s an excellent way to try out different stuff we’re working on. One discovery was that using the products before a hike or workout prevents the pain from an old sports injury from occurring in the first place. We make decisions based on how we are using the products, not how we think people should use them. We try to make everything very versatile, built for travel and the outdoors but stylish enough for the home.

What is your background, have you always been interested in skincare.
I went to school for Industrial Design and after graduating, went to work for Aveda where I helped develop the brand, packaging, and retail. A few years later I had the opportunity to work closely with Aveda founder, Horst Rechelbacher, a pioneer of natural beauty and visionary plant scientist. Working with Horst, I developed a deeper passion for natural ingredients, began to understand the importance of conscious sourcing, and about the magic of plant synergies and harmonic combinations. Nature has already created such beautiful tools to work with; we are helping to organize them in a thoughtful manner. It’s essentially nature’s design.

Is there a product in the line you think everyone should have?
I do my best thinking when I walk so I try to walk everywhere, especially when I am in NYC. I’ll walk as far as Central Park to the LES or the West Village across the bridge to Brooklyn. I would not survive without the Extra Strength Relieving Spray. I use it all over, feet, lower back, neck. It’s also really helpful after a late night out. Rub a little on your temples and you feel almost instant relief.

What is it about Cannabidiol that makes it so remarkable?
Remarkably, we have a network of receptor sites in our body known as the endocannabinoid system. This signaling system helps to regulate mood, appetite, pain and immune response. Cannabidiol interacts with this system in some unique ways, it doesn’t block our sensation of pain, but actually, tones down the inflammation resulting in the body healing itself opposed to masking the symptoms.

What was the inspiration behind the name of your line?
It has a strong association with the word cannabis, paired with a modern apothecary. We are very proud of our roots in the cannabis industry and actively push for the normalization of this powerfully beneficial plant.

How is your proprietary CBD oil extracted? Is it different from smokeable cannabis?
CBD oil is just like other essential oils, it can be extracted using techniques ranging from the centuries old to the ultra modern. We like to keep it as close to its natural form as possible and use some pretty futuristic tools to get there. Nature created it, we just figured out how to bottle it. We source from both industrially certified and small batch growers from around the world; some varieties are totally smokeable, while others are not.

What part of the plant does CBD oil come from?
Cannabidiol is found in every part of the plant including the roots and seeds. However, it’s most concentrated in the flowers.

What has been the reaction to the line regarding the stigma around cannabis?
The stigma has changed dramatically over the past six years. It was very difficult for some people to wrap their head around what we were trying to do, but over time that sentiment shifted and some of our critics are now our biggest supporters. There has been so much media attention over the past few years because people are starting to see the bigger picture. I believe Apothecanna also speaks to a greater cultural trend of wellness and mindful living wherein cannabis plays a supportive role.

What are the benefits of using CBD oil and why should we be using it?
CBD acts as a potent anti-inflammatory, reducing pain and redness. It also works synergistically with other ingredients. In a way CBD supercharges the other ingredients, making what are already effective blends even better.

How did you discover that weed oil was the answer to so many common body aches?
We’ve made it our purpose to combat the trials of today using the wisdom of yesterday. Cannabis has always had great medicinal benefits, and our aim is to find the best way to deliver these benefits. We constantly get anecdotes from people on how their grandmothers would create tinctures similar to ours, it’s a testament to what we’re doing in bringing back traditional medicine.

What are your daily rituals and how do you use your products?
Everyday face oil is the product that has become my ritual item. I use it instead of a cleanser in the shower, around my eyes and forehead as a moisturizer, and in my hair to add a bit of sheen. It gives the skin brightness, hydration and I’m interested to see what daily usage of CBD will do for wrinkles as it has some crazy antioxidant properties.

Is there anything exciting coming down the line we should keep an eye out for?
We are expanding our personal intimacy line Sexy Time to include a massage candle and bath soak. Those both will have our Jasmine Sambac which is absolutely the most seductive and sexiest of the oils we use. We’re working on an exciting collaboration with CAP Beauty on an edible CBD supplement, along with specialty massage treatments harnessing CBD. It’s very much in line with our common mission to provide life-enhancing products.

What is your philosophy on self care? What would you say is your number one self care tip?
Caring for yourself is so much more than skin deep. Nourishing your body and mind with healthy, natural ingredients keeps it operating at optimal levels, and taking the time to do so is important. We should not look for quick fixes, but rather try to adopt routines and habits that promote beauty as wellness. Massage is a very effective tool that you can use daily to encourage cell growth and proper circulation.

What does a typical day look like for you?
I split my time between New York, Denver and Los Angeles so I have to take extra care to stay grounded. I try to make time for morning rituals like making breakfast, stretching and taking time to set an intention for the day. When I’m in Los Angeles I may be having a meeting downtown at the Springs in the Arts District, or working from my laptop at Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney. Each day is a little different, so taking time for rituals in the morning and evening is important for balance.

Will your products get me high?
Our products will not get you high. But if you’re into that you should plan a trip to Denver or Portland. There are very passionate and intelligent people working in the cannabis industry, it’s probably not what you’d expect.