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“Start in your own backyard; Support your community first and create a ripple effect” with Melissa Jochim and Len Giancola

Start in your own backyard, stay local. Supporting your community first and creating a ripple effect. I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Jochim, CEO & Founder of high Beauty. It is high time for Melissa Jochim, the creative spirit and energy behind High Beauty, Inc. She says that her early days in Chemistry class […]

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Start in your own backyard, stay local. Supporting your community first and creating a ripple effect.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Jochim, CEO & Founder of high Beauty. It is high time for Melissa Jochim, the creative spirit and energy behind High Beauty, Inc. She says that her early days in Chemistry class were spent as much under the emergency showers as they were at the lab table, because things bubbled over as she experimented with the fascinating solutions before her in the laboratory. Fast forward decades, Melissa finds herself being heralded as one of the preeminent formulators in the natural, organic segment of the beauty industry. Melissa has over the span of her career formulated skincare products for a variety of companies, all in the burgeoning organic range of the market. The list of products that Melissa developed reads like a dictionary, but highlights include: Blossom Organics (also a founder), Juice Beauty, Alba Botanica, Beauty Without Cruelty, and the Martial Vivot Grooming Line. Melissa holds 14 patents for her skincare formulations. Her career has allowed her to travel the world working alongside and eventually mentoring some of the leading minds in the organic beauty industry. Many herald her as one of the key figures in this segment of the industry. Melissa’s current, and perhaps most revolutionary, project is the launch of high, her brainchild and a project she has stewarded with her usual high energy and panache at blinding speed to a successful launch in Sephora. High is a revolutionary skincare brand powered by the enigmatic cannabis sativa, an ingredient that Melissa professes is only beginning to have its true potential understood.


Thank you so much for joining us Melissa. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us that lesson you learned from that?

It’s okay to not know everything. I think early on I felt I needed to over compensate and have that “fake it until you make it” attitude but it’s okay to not know about PR, or marketing, or the digital stuff, or about packaging — that’s why you hire experts that do. My expertise is in the products and selecting the ingredients that work best for your skin. It took me some time to learn that and once I did, I realize that it takes a village and that team effort is key. I have great talent around me that focus on areas that they are experts in and this allows me to really hone in on perfecting the products and overall brand.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

One of the most interesting stories to date is when Narbe Alexandrian, Canopy River’s President and CEO called me after seeing High in a Women’s Wear Daily article. After 6 months of discussions it led to Canopy River’s $2.5 million investment in High which closed out our seed round of investments. Then at a Canopy River’s portfolio company event, I discovered I was one of the only women founders of their 17 portfolio companies at the time.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

Yes, we are working on our new blemish line which has our own proprietary cannabinoid chemistry that you aren’t used to seeing in the market. It will be the first of its kind. We are also getting very excited about the launch of three new products that are being added to the range: the cannabis cleansing foam, the cannabis regenerating peeling mask, and the cannabis recovery eye cream.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards…? Can you share story?

Brad Patt, one of the most brilliant men I know has been by my side through this whole process, from finance, being my sounding board for business development and in general a best friend. He always has my back. He helps me on everything from valuations, deal closing, due diligence, our cap table, to general business advice.

This industry is young, dynamic, and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

Start in your own backyard, stay local. Supporting your community first and creating a ripple effect.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

Excite:

1. Hemp becoming a commodity product replacing plastic, cotton, less eco-friendly substances. I’ll be excited when we can build homes out of hemp!

2. The use of cannabis ingredients for health and wellbeing and the potential of ingredients that the market has yet to tap into.

3. The amount of ingredients that we can extract from the cannabis plant and all of their different uses. We’ve barely tapped into all the ingredients this plant has to offer.

Concerns:

1. Companies launching brands without the consumers well-being in mind.

2. The lack of regulation in place to protect the consumer.

3. Extraction methods and correct labeling and testing to ensure the concentration of CBD, THC, etc. in the product.

What are “5 Thing I wish someone told me before I started leading a cannabis business”?

1. The general exacerbating costs of banking fees, payroll, DNO insurance, merchant fees. Having the name cannabis on your product immediately throws up a red flag to vendors. It was a struggle to find banks and payroll companies that would work with us. Or for example, with DNO insurance, we can find people who will provide us insurance, but it is much more costly.

2. The marketing of our legal product and getting thrown in with illegal products. It is hard to do marketing on social platforms or any platform that is managed by an algorithm. For example, we do not violate Instagram’s policies as far as content goes, but because we have the word cannabis in our post or even if we white wash it, but the link goes to our website that has cannabis leaves and the word cannabis everywhere, our account gets flagged. Because our account is flagged, we are unable to run Instagram Ads/Promotions.

3. Even with our committed efforts to expand the consumers knowledge and understanding of the ingredients that come from the plant, there continues to be a widespread misunderstanding and lack of education. We often get lumped in with the CBD brands even though we are very clear on our packaging, our website, and in all of our copy we provide in our marketing efforts.

4. I was allergic to the pine terpene in cannabis!

5. You won’t necessarily get to hang out with Woody Harrelson, Snoop, and Seth Rogan!

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees thrive?

Honing in on not only on their skills but also what they are passionate about makes an amazing team. Give people the power to do what they do best by creating a synergy with everyone.

Inspire a movement:

1. Remove the toxic ingredients from products we put on our largest organ, the skin.

2. Get hemp at a place from being a viable source to replace plastics, cotton and other less eco-friendly ingredients

Thank you for sharing this with us!

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