Rogue Paq and Serene CBD
SERENE CBD – 5 Questions with Forbes Warren Bobrow
Warren Bobrow=WB: Where are you from? Why cannabis? Why CBD, over THC?
Erica Valker=EV: Where: I grew up in southern Wisconsin, my hubby and business partner Paul is from the Chicago area. We now live in Highland Park, IL a cool little arts community on Chicago’s „north shore.” I grew up water skiing on our lake and
eventually went pro, skiing all over the world, including China and Australia. But we used to live in So-Cal and miss it terribly, these Chicago winters are for the birds!
(c) Erik Marthaler
Why cannabis? Can’t live without it, literally! It’s the one true cure all. Cannabis oils essentially helped save my life, which is why I started this company.We started as a THC edibles business in LA years ago, then I got sick, real sick with Lyme disease in 2011. I was completely debilitated and on tons of medications — anti seizure meds, opiates, antibiotics, sleep meds. But instead of helping me get well, they were all slowly killing me. It wasn’t until I started taking cannabis tinctures was I able to control my symptoms, get off the meds and start to feel better. It literally saved my life.
CBD or THC? BOTH – they need to work together to yield the full benefits — that’s really what „full spectrum” is all about. I use both daily – CBD as part of my regular anti pain/inflammation/anxiety regimen and THC to wind down at the end of a hard day, relax and sleep. We love the everyday uses of CBD vs THC. It’s not always about getting “high.”
WB: Do you use THC? When did you discover the plant?
EV: Yes, of course…I don’t think anyone should be in this business that doesn’t? I discovered cannabis in my early 20’s and have been enjoying it almost daily since. I’ve always been fascinated with the incredible beauty and healing powers of the plant. I have weak lungs and am not able to enjoy flowers like I used to unfortunately. Vapes are really my go-to lately, I enjoy our Harlequin strain CBD vape during the day when I’m working or with my daughter and need to keep it straight. On the higher side, my favorite right now is the Downtime vape pen by Beboe – great product, flavor and packaging — got to give em some love. THC oil tinctures are great to wind down at the end of the day, chill and get some good Z’s. I get my most restful sleep when I take THC oils instead sleep meds. It all works together to keep me balanced.
The Line Up
(c) Erik Marthaler
WB: Tell me about your company. What sets you apart from your competition? Six-month plan? One year?
EV: About: SERENE CBD is based in Highland Park IL but our roots go back to our time living in LA where I had been making gourmet edibles for delivery services. When I began to recoup from my illness, we reached out to the company in California that we got our oils from to shared our success story and said we’d love to be involved with their company. They were really interested in our ideas, so Paul started working as their marketing director before they helped us formulate our first products. They eventually introduced to their suppliers and things took off from there.
From the jump we knew we were going down a different path. When I shopped dispensaries, it was clear that most cannabis brands were geared primarily toward men and missing an opportunity to connect with the female market segment. We saw a good opportunity to differentiate and created a lux line of organic CBD products that would resonate with the female cannabis consumer. There are a few things core to our business that we feel really sets SERENE CBD apart. First, SERENE is all about premium quality ingredients and unique formulations.
We formulate with 100% plant-based ingredients, go organic as possible and NEVER use any man-made synthetics. Everything is allergen free — no corn, soy or gluten in anything we make. A key differentiator is how we take essential oils used in therapies for hundreds of years and blend them with CBD. This amplifies the benefits of CBD and improves the efficacy of the formulation over all. Next is our stunning packaging with minimalist design that creates a calm space, pops with bold colors and gets a touch of glam gold accents. We want customers to do a double take and be shocked to see that we are a cannabis brand. It really resonates with our audience, both men and women.
(c) Erik Marthaler
We also give back! When I was sick, I vowed to someday help others so we partnered with the LymeLight Foundation of California and donate $3 from every online purchase. They are a really cool organization that provides medical grants to financially strained families of children with Lyme Disease. We don’t see enough giving in an industry that is supposed to be centered on helping others, so we are proud to set the example and really excited to help others in this way.
Our six-month outlook is focused on two things: Growing our retail footprint and establishing consistency with our core direct to consumer e-com biz. We see ourselves as a laid back yet high-end brand with exceptional quality at a modest price point and want to work with retailers that have that same kind of non-pretentious vibe. Right now, we are in dispensaries, CBD shops, yoga studios, boutiques and spas and are talking to several large retailers. We can see our brand in places like Nordstrom’s, Saks, Free People and so on.
Without revealing too much, our one-year plan is to open a series of dispensaries under the SERENE brand, starting in Illinois. We can’t reveal too much but have projects in the works to bring our SERENE vibe to retail and sell both CBD and THC products. More to come on that soon!
WB: Do you cook? If so what do you like to prepare? Favorite restaurant? Where?
I used to cook all the time but right now it’s mostly my husband while I chase my 20-month-old daughter. We are total foodies and love to go to places with great craft cocktails. Right now, we are loving the Greenwood, an inventive classic American style restaurant with killer cocktails in Highwood, IL. When we are in So-Cal our favorite spot is Javier’s in Newport Coast, the best fresh margaritas in the world!
WB: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be? Doing what?
I’d be doing what I am doing but maybe from a boat or an island somewhere warmer!
We were in Positano and Tuscany in the fall but next on the list are the Balearic Islands then Ireland for a golf trip. Our favorite place in the world is Thailand (Koh Phi Phi!) and hope to get back there soon when we can take a break from chasing the cannabis dream. The nice thing is you can fly anywhere with SERENE CBD!
Paul & Erica Valker