Matt Dixon, co-owner of the craft, small-batch, ethically sourced caramel brand Wildflower Caramel Company, was working at the company’s Pearl Farmers Market booth one morning when a customer approached him with an idea: Why not enhance the caramels by adding CBD to a batch?
Dixon had already been using CBD oil (or cannabidiol, a nonintoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant) himself and had also been giving it to his 14-year-old beagle for epilepsy.
“A light bulb clicked on,” Dixon says. “We could have a whole new business platform just by taking what we’re already good at and adding one ingredient.”
Two weeks later, Matt and wife, Elyn, launched Flora & Fortitude, an artisanal CBD company selling caramels crafted from their already successful recipe and cold brew using Shotgun House Coffee Roasters coffee beans.
Like Wildflower — a line sold at the likes of Blue Star Provisions, Larder at Hotel Emma, and No. 9 Florals — Flora’s products are decidedly contemporary. Take a look at the Flora and Fortitude Instagram account and you’ll find no celebratory marijuana leaves or slacker jokes, just sleek, thoughtful packaging and event announcements for everything from CBD-infused dinners to cannabis and coffee events.
The upscale look of the brand is one way of changing the reputation of a class of products more frequently found at smoke shops than chic boutiques. Four months into the venture, the Dixons are still educating customers about CBD and its difference from THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in the cannabis plant that creates a psychoactive effect. “Think of it this way, it’s all the benefits without the high,” the Flora and Fortitude website reads.
“People are worried about drug tests for work and there’s a stigma around cannabis in general, but we use CBD isolate as opposed to full-spectrum CBD,” says Dixon. The latter contains trace amounts of THC, but CBD isolate has no THC, which is why Dixon felt is was a safe bet for Flora and Fortitude products. “Drug tests look for THC in the system — they don’t test for CBD.”
Besides, CBD is more therapeutic than recreational. Customers seek out the oil to help with depression, arthritis, chronic pain, epilepsy, and even cancer. It’s also marketed as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
It’s also widely used to help relieve anxiety. We sampled both the caramels and the cold brew, and though experiences with CBD products may differ from person to person, we felt a sense of calm and relaxation within 20 minutes — the shoulders drop, the head feels a bit more clear, and there is definitely no high. The usual jitters that accompany a good, strong cold brew are canceled out by the soothing effect of CBD, providing energy and focus.
The benefits have made the line popular at Alamo Botanicals in San Antonio and Mary Jae Smoke Culture in Austin. Now, Flora and Fortitude is working to enable online booking so customers can schedule appointments at their headquarters in the Warehouse 5 coworking complex at 1333 Buena Vista St.
Each 20-minute interval will allow customers to sample products (including the new sublingual tinctures) and ask questions about the line. “If people are going to a smoke shop to buy CBD products, they may be speaking with someone who doesn’t have all the information,” says Dixon. “We want to shift that, make customers feel comfortable, dissolve the stigma around cannabis, and educate people.”