Kathy Ireland on why she decided to expand empire to include CBD products

Kathy Ireland, kiWW Founder, CEO and Chief Designer, and Vertical Wellness CEO & Chairman Smoke Wallin, join Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman to discuss their new CBD partnership.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back to live coverage here on Yahoo Finance right now. We do have the market in the green as we hit 10-week highs, the Dow holding those gains up by about 1.3% right now. To wrap up the show, though, we're focusing on the quickly growing CBD space. Of course, the market is expected to grow exponentially, expected to reach a market size of about $24.3 billion by 2025, according to Brightfield Group.

But interestingly, we are seeing more Americans at least trying out CBD, and it is a very hot space. How hot, you might ask. Well, entrepreneur and model Kathy Ireland is now teaming up with Vertical Wellness, a CBD-- giant player in the CBD space, to get out new products and work on their product categories, including beauty, health, wellness, pets, edibles, and more.


And for more on that, we are joined by Kathy Ireland now on the show, as well as Smoke Wallin, Vertical Wellness CEO and chairman. Appreciate you guys taking the time to chat more about this. And Kathy, I guess we'll start with you, because I know you've been active in the CBD space for a while and the many product categories that you work with and the companies that you work with. But what made you want to team up with Vertical Wellness on CBD?

KATHY IRELAND: Many things, Zack, including that the CEO Smoke Wallin. Our company is celebrating its 27th year this year, and it's all about people. And this is an extraordinary company. And their Vertical Wellness offers, I believe, opportunities for everyone involved, including, of course, the investment community.

It's appropriately named Vertical Wellness because we start from the ground up with the farms, and it goes all the way to the consumer. As a little girl growing up in California, my dad worked with the farm workers, with Cesar Chavez, grew up at rallies with Mr. Chavez. How people are treated has always been at the forefront of how we run our company and do our business.

And Smoke Wallin, he leads this company with integrity. COO Drew is a 12-year Marine veteran, and he works closely with the farmers. And it's all domestic. So it really benefits everyone in such powerful ways.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and Smoke, I mean, you were just hearing a lot of praise there from Kathy. But when you look at the way that you have been running the company, it is interesting because CBD is one of those spaces that's becoming increasingly competitive, even though it does grow. What particular are you looking at in terms of the demographics, the users, and growth opportunities that you're trying to tap into by bringing Kathy onboard here?

SMOKE WALLIN: Well, the one thing we know is that there's a massive amount of consumer interest in CBD. And there's a lot of curiosity, but a lot of lack of education. So one of the things I look at as an opportunity working with Kathy and her team is their ability to communicate the benefits of CBD to a wide audience of consumers that already are familiar with Kathy and her brands.

And together, I think it's just an incredible way to team up and really get the message out about the benefits of this plant and all the medicines and different things that could come out of it for health and wellness.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, when we talk about health and wellness, that does seem to be a pretty popular use category for this. I mean, beauty products and tinctures, oil and tinctures continues to be a pretty big area for CBD. And Kathy, I don't know if that's necessarily what you've kind of always attached the opportunity in CBD to, but that does seem to be one of the areas that a lot of people appreciate it for.

KATHY IRELAND: I'm so grateful for this industry. And it was an honor to be named by UCLA as one of the top 10 health advocates for women in the country and our work in the world of medicine, working as the international youth chair for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

Health is critically important to all of us. My grandmother was a nurse. Mom is a nurse. My husband is an emergency room physician. And we are seeing just great strides being made. We're seeing just wonderful-- people are having personal stories that they're able to share that are really making a difference. And it's powerful.

So whenever we can bring products to market that are making a meaningful difference in people's lives that are improving their health and their wellness, that's exciting to us, that the vision of our company is teach, inspire, empower, make our world better. And Smoke and the team at Vertical Wellness, they do this in powerful ways. They support our military. They have environmental outreach initiatives that are making an enormous difference.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and Smoke, I guess, the last point here because we have talked about the opportunities in the CBD space, it hasn't necessarily played out for some of the two biggest players in it when you look at Charlotte's Web or CB Sciences, some of these major CBD companies that are publicly traded, down about 60% and 80% over the last year. So I mean, why has it not translated into necessarily a good thing for shareholders when we do see CBD continually talked about in the health space?

SMOKE WALLIN: Well, I'm glad you brought that up because it speaks to the opportunity. You know, we're in a moment when the whole market is condensed or down from where it was. And we've had a tough year in the hemp and CBD space primarily because when the Farm Bill passed, a lot of people planted hemp. A lot of people invested in the CBD extraction or creating brands.

And the FDA halfway through last year decided that ingestibles were not permitted yet. Well, that kind of held up Walmart and Target and all the major mainstream retailers from adding CBD to their product lines. So that's been a little bit of a hiccup, I think.

We're working very hard with, in a bipartisan way, to either get the FDA or the Congress to act and enable CBD to be part of the ingestibles food and beverage, which we know it's safe. We have tons and tons of anecdotal evidence of that. We know it's a great product and lots of people are using it.

And the fact is you can go to any bodega or any convenience store today, and you can find CBD that's ingestible. We're suggesting is it should be regulated, safe, and, you know, understand where it's coming from. And, you know, we can show where it came from this farm and went to our plant in Kentucky and then went into the products we're selling.

So visibility of supply chain is part of a regulated market that we think will be a big game changer. And that will impact investors. I mean, right now is that if I was going to say, if you invested earlier, you know, a year or two year ago, OK, well, some guys have lost some money. But right now is the opportunity to get involved in this space. It's a massive growth opportunity. And we're going to come out of this swinging. And I think this is one of the bright spots in our economy that I think will shine in the second half of the year.

ZACK GUZMAN: All right, very interesting updates there on the CBD front. Smoke Wallin, Vertical Wellness CEO and chairman, as well as Kathy Ireland, appreciate you guys both for taking the time. Be well out there.

SMOKE WALLIN: Thanks, Zack.

KATHY IRELAND: Thank you, Zack.