For this interview, we were excited to speak with Jay O’Keefe, founder and CEO of Bailey’s CBD. His business is particularly interesting, as Bailey’s crafts CBD products specifically to help animals. In addition to that, Bailey’s donates one bottle of their product (for every four sold) to an animal rescue.
We are thrilled to speak with you today about your company and its remarkable success. Let’s start with an introduction so our readers can get to know you better. Can you tell us a bit about you and your company?
My name is Jay O’Keefe, my company Bailey’s CBD is a pet focused wellness brand. We make high quality hemp-based CBD products specifically for pets. Our core values are transparency, integrity, giving back, and rescue awareness.
I have always been passionate about animals and cannabis, it was only a matter of time the two came together in such an amazing way for me. I have also always been in sales/consulting jobs that were commission only or in the unregulated cannabis space making ends meet. With the quality of the hemp now, it was an easy path to see.
What experiences, of elements of your backstory, helped to motivate or inspire you in your endeavor to start your business?
For five years, I worked at a Cannabis hemp extraction lab in North San Diego. The business also cultivated their own high-CBD hemp plants (ACDC) and created phytocannabinoid tinctures and Rick Simpson Oil for many terminally ill patrons. During that time, I was educated on how phytocannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) interacts with the body.
Eventually, I opened a delivery service and for three years supplied phytocannabinoid products for folks with cancer and other chronic or debilitating conditions. One day I decided to formulate a hemp oil tincture for pets, and began to provide those formulations through my delivery business. This garnered a different clientele — these customers weren’t cannabis users, they just really loved their pets. I received overwhelming feedback, and many would report back in tears of joy due to the impact CBD oil had on the quality of their pets lives.
I began to fine-tune the product with meticulous effort. An animal’s endocannabinoid system is different than humans and ensuring that there is very little to no THC in my products was vital. People take on cannabinoids in a way that is unique to humans, but animals cannot psychologically process the effects of delta-9 THC.
The next thing was achieving full-spectrum oil because cannabinoids work more succinctly when terpenes are involved. Once everything was in place, I was ready to launch. In October 2017, Bailey’s was incorporated with the adorable face of my pug Bailey as the logo.
What types of roadblocks or challenges have you encountered in the launching and scaling of Bailey’s CBD and how did you successfully manage those?
We have run into many obstacles trying to grow this business. People still think we are giving weed to dogs to get them “high”. Some government people are are not on board (even though its legal) . We have had our application for a business license denied, bank accounts closed, a lot of red tape everywhere. The biggest hurdle that most hemp companies are dealing with is credit card processing. It’s been crazy over the last 6 months, not many options after the best option had to drop all of their hemp clients (over 500 companies lost their processing).
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product. What did that look like?
Our first product was our oil tincture. While I was working my delivery service, I had a client inquire for his dog. I began to make him a 20:1 (CBD:THC) tincture just for him. After 3 weeks or so, he came back to me with tears in his eyes telling me his dog can walk again. I continued to make him the bottle and one night I was on the computer and I made a label putting my dog on it with his name. Once I started showing other people, it just organically grew. I searched out some expert Veterinarians to help me formulate the rest of our line.
What makes your brand or product unique in this emerging industry of CBD?
Our products are unique in the fact that we are completely transparent with our test results and we have integrity. In this unregulated marketplace, we make sure that we are setting the standards when it comes to transparency with testing. We also do not get our products from a private label. Our products are proprietary, we make them in-house, and we have a co-packers to produce our chews using our oil and our proprietary formulation. Over 50% of new Hemp companies are having their whole product line made by other huge companies, with little regard to standards since you don’t really have to adhere to any yet.
Have you ever felt like you had to come up against any stigma around CBD? If so, how were you able to address that?
We have definitely come against stigma. The stigma is still strong depending on whom you speak to. I just reiterate that we are not in the business of getting your pets “high”, we are trying to help as much as we can. So the short answer is that we have to continue to educate people all the time.
In terms of the market for your product, what would you say is your target demographic?
Our Target market is pet owners, obviously. But we are seeing that our brand is popular with adults 30-45 years old. Pet owners/parents all love their pets and we are trying to help them help their loved ones.
What do you do to attract and retain customers?
We do a lot of grassroots social proof marketing. Aaron does a lot of work with pet owners: he documents their pets progress as well as searching for people to review our products. We try to get out to as many events as we can and get our product into as many hands as possible. We have a lot of video testimonials and positive reviews. We have an affiliate program that helps and our mission to give one bottle for every four to raise awareness with pet rescues is another way we stay visible.
Have there been any helpful resources, tools, or platforms that you’ve relied on to get your business off the ground and keep it running smoothly?
The biggest resource we have is our community of other Hemp CBD leaders. CBD.how is an amazing platform that educates and sometimes regulates the CBD space. We’re still the outcasts of the business world.
What has the general reception of your product been, in terms of the feedback you receive most frequently from consumers?
The reception has been great. On our website, our returning customer rate is close to 50%. When a product works and it helps, people are very receptive of it.
As a follow up to that last question, can you tell us about some of your best-selling products and the benefits they provide?
Our best selling items are our oils, but our soft chews are trending and are made with our oil using our proprietary formulation of Omegas and cannabinoids. We are just launching a topical balm.
Are your products third party lab tested by batch? If so, are you willing to attach and share your lab results?
Our products are tested 3 times by 3rd party labs, (https://baileyscbd.com/pages/lab-tests) We source our hemp from a certified organic farm in Boulder, CO. The hemp flower is tested for pesticides and heavy metals (1st test.) Then the Hemp flower is extracted in a licensed extraction facility and sent to another lab for residual solvent testing (2nd Test). Finally, we then get that oil to formulate our products and have the final product batch tested for potency (3rd test). Like I stated before, we are trying to set the standard for CBD companies by being as transparent as possible. All of those tests are on our website and are updated regularly.
We all know that the political environment and legal regulation on hemp is ever-evolving and often somewhat ambiguous. How do you navigate those regulations and how do they impact your business?
In the early stages of this emerging marketplace, the only thing I’ve been able to do is be informed and flexible. New regulations are going to come, but as long as we continue to have integrity and good intentions, we should be able to ride this wave to a comfortable regulatory space.
In terms of advice, what would you say to someone who was wanting to break into the burgeoning CBD industry?
I would advise anyone trying to come in to the cbd space to be educated. Go do some research, it’s not a black and white plant or industry. I would also advise people to not take the easy shortcuts. Have integrity and do it because you want to help people not to just make money.
What do you think is the key to staying relevant and becoming successful in one of the most competitive industries?
I keep going back to our core values..The only way to stay relevant is to have good products, good intentions, and be educated. Be transparent with your test results and your process.
What do you foresee in the future for the landscape of CBD-related products and services?
I hope to see the CBD products move toward a regulatory system so everyone including the consumer are on the same page. Companies need to be held to a certain set of standards.
So, what are some of the exciting next steps for your company? What does the future look like for your business?
We are excited to continue to work with a new rescue every month, donating a bottle for every four sold. We are launching a new topical product and are excited to get our products into as many hands as possible and to help as many pets as we can.