Charlotte’s Web had a mission before it became a company. In 2012, there wasn’t a market for CBD but Paige Figi — the mother of an epileptic 5-year-old — was keenly interested.
Paige’s daughter had her first seizure when she was three months old. Charlotte was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome and treated regularly at local hospitals, but doctors were running out of answers. After exhausting all traditional options, Paige turned to Jared and his brother Joel for help. Before long, Charlotte was walking, talking, and riding her bicycle just like any other kid in her neighborhood.
Word traveled fast as thousands of families moved to Colorado for access to CBD. After they served their entire 15,000-person waiting list, the Stanleys launched Charlotte’s Web — a B Corp Certified company committed to helping people everywhere.
Recently, we caught up with co-founder Jared Stanley to learn more about his mission and his advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
01 Why did you start Charlotte’s Web?
At a very early age, Charlotte Figi was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy. Her mother Paige extensively researched health options that led her to a little-known plant compound called cannabidiol, a.k.a. CBD.
Meanwhile, my brothers and I had been working to develop proprietary hemp genetics that were high in CBD and low in THC. In 2012, Paige contacted my older brother Joel looking for a non-psychoactive natural alternative for Charlotte, who was five years old at the time.
Charlotte’s reaction to the extract was stunning and word began to spread. Before long we had a 15,000-person waiting list for our products. We were giving it away for free until people insisted that we start charging so that we could keep producing it. They wanted to ensure it would be around forever. The mission to make this extract available to as many people as possible forged the founding of our company.
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
We had something incredible to share with the world, but we didn’t have funding. We were also in the midst of an ever-changing regulatory landscape. Obstacles came in every size and shape — and from every direction. We had to change the way we did business to ensure continued access to these products.
Along the way we encountered investors, private equity firms, and other companies that would try and negotiate our value down to nothing. Then they would explain why they were more equipped and qualified to bring these products to the world. But we were the ones who knew the plant and the process. The need for consistency was essential to Charlotte and others like her. We didn’t trust anyone else to run it. Wolves were at every corner, but we’re all lions in the Charlotte’s Web community.
Paige created the first set of quality controls in our company because it was critical to Charlotte’s health. We began by serving the 15,000 people on our waiting list, because that type of consumer demand helped us break down regulatory doors while keeping Charlotte’s Web true to its mission.
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Failure is the greatest gift in the founding of any business. A moment of failure fuels every moment of success. If you honestly believe in what you are doing, you will be able to overcome the setbacks. When you look back on it later, you’ll realize those were the best times in the founding of your business. Those are the times that bind founders and employees to the mission of the business, revealing the impact your business can have on the world.
Your early employees are like co-founders — treat them as such. So much of our success came from a decision by our first CEO, Joel Stanley (my brother). We couldn’t offer much in salary, so Joel gave them shares in the company. When you have a strong mission that draws people to your organization and you give them skin in the game, there is nothing that will get in the way of your success.
04 What’s on the horizon for Charlotte’s Web?
We just unveiled an upcoming premium sports line! The products are currently undergoing the NSF Certified for Sport process, which would make Charlotte’s Web broad-spectrum products the first and only hemp-derived CBD products to carry the certification. The line will include tinctures, topicals, gummies, and more.
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Family is everything. I am beyond blessed to have been raised by my mother and grandmother, two of the most amazing women in the world. Their support and love propelled my seven brothers and me to found this company.
Working together has always been in our DNA. My mom, my six brothers, and my four sisters are my best friends. I now have an amazing wife I have been with for ten years and two wonderful sons. They are my inspiration and drive me every day.
When you find something you love it’s no longer work — it’s a hobby. Still, it’s critical to stay close to your family and prioritize them over your hobby. This way, your work remains meaningful and endures long after you are gone.