After graduating from The New School with a masters in Media Management, Sarah Remesch founded a marketing agency called 270M that specializes in creative services, social media strategy, and branding for both luxury and cannabis based businesses. Though she works in the cannabis space and has a front row seat to the multitude of ever-changing products on the market, Sarah found herself frustrated by her inability to find a CBD product she felt comfortable using, so she set out to create one herself — New Highs CBD.
On a mission to make a wellness-focused product, Remesch focused on sourcing high-quality oils — no herbicides, pesticides, added scents or flavoring. Remesch sourced her full-spectrum CBD oil (which means it contains all of the cannabinoids of the hemp plant, not just CBD) from Oregon, a state with stringent hemp standards and regulation policies surrounding extract and oil purity. And so, from her home in New York City, Remesch created her dream CBD product to help quell anxiety, promote relaxation, and fill a void she found on the market. Now, not only does Sarah use her product, but her parents are utilizing it, too.
We met up with Remesch during one of her recent visits to Los Angeles and discussed the birth of New Highs CBD through a marketing lens, what advice she has for entrepreneurs wanting to create their own cannabis-based product, what actions she’s taking at her companies to diversify the cannabis space, and how she and her marketing firm navigate the ever-changing legal climate surrounding marijuana from a city, like New York, where adult use cannabis is not yet legal.
You have a degree in marketing from the New School and you own a boutique marketing agency. At what point did you decide to hop into the hemp industry and what did that look like for you?
So cannabis actually happened first. Four or five years ago, I spoke with Women Grow NYC on social media marketing in the cannabis space… The next month I was like, "Let’s create a product, a hemp product." I wanted to create something I hadn’t seen in the market. There’s nothing [harmful] in our products — no herbicides, pesticides, or anything that’s an additive.
What is marketing in the cannabis space like, and what were some obstacles you faced when you first entered this industry?
Marketing cannabis is wild — just like cannabis regulation and everything else. We never know if what we’re gonna do is gonna fly, if it’s gonna pass [our] legal [team] — that’s always a barrier. But it’s also really fun because we get to create these stories and branded experiences that aren’t your normal advertising campaigns. You get to think out of the box. You come up with different groups of people who are in different walks of their life, and then you create these campaigns around how they’re using these products instead of just, “Here it is, buy it, sell it.”
How were you able to launch a marketing agency?
I worked towards becoming an industry expert with a strong expertise in social media and starting pitching brands with an array of agency offerings. I then continued to develop offerings after learning in-house at some of the top-tier agencies globally… A mix of my background in communications, psychology, and media allows me to understand the communication style of consumers in order to develop marketing plans on behalf of brands helping them reach internal goals.
Why did you mix cannabis and luxury in one marketing agency?
Cannabis is another category and does not need to be separated. Good ideas don’t have a certain product they are tied to and they can be fluid along with methodologies. I wanted to work with all types of brands and products, not to narrowly make the shop only for a certain type of client.
Where are you selling your CBD products in NYC, which has a complex relationship with cannabidiol currently?
We are currently selling in Come Back Daily and Mamacha. We develop relationships with certain retailers in New York who understand the sales complexities and are educating consumers in the same fashion as New Highs. Outside of NYC, at Raba Marfa. Plus, online.
When you run a boutique marketing agency, do you have legal counsel that you need to run your campaigns by? Is that what’s different between cannabis space marketing and other marketing?
We have counsel that advises us on regulation to make sure we’re up with it. But all the clients’ teams have in-house legal. We make sure that we’re always in communication with them or that our clients are in communication with them so that what we’re posting and managing on their behalf is all good and you don’t have any worries once it hits the internet. But as far as keeping up on it, we have some legal counsel that just makes sure we’re minding our p’s and q’s.
You have to. We wanna play on the safe side. We’re in New York.
What was your motivation to make New Highs? What do you personally use it for?
I live in New York, which is a very hectic and stressful place… I think that everyone who lives there is a little anxious. I definitely am not one to say, “I wanna medicate myself!” But when I tried hemp seed oil last year, I saw what all of the hype was about and I was like, “I wanna make it.” For sure. I take only three drops of the 700mg oil in the morning. ...It just lets me breathe and wake up. I add it to my routine like anything else you’d take- — like a probiotic, vitamin C, or multivitamin.
New Highs. What’s the name about?
So actually, at Viride, which is our online publication, our tagline was always, “We strive to reach new highs.” We spun it off of that and we realized that you can be high in life without actually being physically high. The idea is that if this formula can help you be calm throughout the day — maybe help you get work done or help if you’re dealing with a stressful family situation or help you feel [less anxious in social situations].
What are you doing at your marketing company, 270M, if anything, to make the demographic of your company culture more reflective of the consumer?
That’s a great question and I get it all the time. Every time I speak, it’s, “What do you do to diversify cannabis?”
It’s so important. I’m glad that other people are asking that too.
Especially in New York we talk about it all the time. So for us, we’re making sure that our team is always a wide range [of people], even our freelancers. That could be, maybe we have a freelance photographer who is African American and we have a product that maybe sitting at the table [with] a bunch of older white men, right? We can integrate that [point of view] into the creative we’re making and that’s going to be reflective in the campaigns that we’re shooting and producing for that client. I also have the ear of a lot of those senior level executives and dropping those hints once in a while, someone has to do it right?
It’s easy to live in your own box especially when it’s your own product. But if someone just gently reminds you that, “Hey, let’s diversify the talent in this production.” It does ring a bell. It’s gonna be a slow process. Our team is also mainly women. They’re younger. They’ve worked both in and out of the cannabis space. Some of them have never worked in the cannabis space, but they’re interested in it. I think it’s also good to bring those outside ideas into cannabis, as opposed to people that have been diehards the whole time.
I’m sure having people who are new to the cannabis space on your team is an advantage.
I also thought about that! With both of my parents, I was like, how are they gonna react? They think it’s the greatest thing ever.
Do they use your products?
Yes. I was shocked by that, too. The older generations that we can influence, they are gonna use it. A lot of them are closeted and are using it. They just don’t want to tell the neighbor down the street, but the neighbor down the street is probably using [cannabis or CBD], as well.
How do you plan on building your brand’s name and reputation specifically on the East Coast — how do you advertise?
New Highs is partnering with organizations, retailers, and individuals who are all continually striving to normalize the conversation around cannabis and hemp with roots on the East Coast. For example, we’re producing a launch event called Full Spectrum which explores how CBD is incorporated and explored with all five senses. For this, New Highs has partnered with Humble Bloom. We are all using an owned and earned media mix currently and intend on exploring paid media to further amplify our reach.
What advice do you have for newcomers in the cannabis space who want to create a product? What advice do you have for them in regards to marketing?
I think it’s best to network and learn as much as you can before you decide to go jump into anything, especially in an industry that’s constantly changing. There are most likely people in your community who are in groups, and there are talks you can go to, to see if you really like what you’re about to get into. Learn a little bit about what’s in the market and then ask yourself, “Is there a skill that I have that I can take into cannabis and join what’s going on?”