Grower Stories #5: Ken Lawson

Tia Moskalenko
Tia Moskalenko

Tia Moskalenko, author of the AskGrowers blog, brings a unique blend of content to her readers. She is known for conducting insightful interviews with key figures in the cannabis industry, including brand representatives, manufacturers, and experts. In addition to her interview skills, Tia has a keen focus on CBD. She expertly curates product selections and reviews, offering her readers detailed insights into the various effects and benefits of CBD. Tia's ability to combine in-depth interviews with comprehensive CBD analysis makes her a valuable asset to the cannabis community, offering a well-rounded perspective on the industry.



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Grower Stories #5: Ken Lawson

Ken From FOCL About Their Success in CBD Industry

Askgrowers had a chance to talk to Ken Lawson, CEO at FOCL. Our team really adores to highlight best practices and opinions from owners of the business. Here’s the one you will like for sure.  We’ve covered a lot of curios questions in CBD industry and company’s success itself, so check it out below.

Julia ( AskGrowers) : When did you start your business?


Ken Lawson ( FOCL) : 2019

Julia : What was the hardest thing you faced running your business?


Ken : CBD has so many players in the industry right now, after the 2018 farm bill passed we saw an explosion of growers and brands (hemp farming quadrupled). That, paired with the restrictions on major D2C channels like Facebook, Google, and Instagram, make it difficult to get our message out there. FOCL is a premium plant-powered wellness brand, we use CBD plus ancient adaptogens and botanicals, like Lion’s Mane, Ashwagandha and Valerian Root to help people focus, sleep and feel better. Consumers need to be careful what they are putting in their body, which is why we promise to always be transparent with our products and prioritize certifications and testing.

Julia : You emphasize that the main idea of your company is to support a healthy mind and body. What is the reason for such a health lifestyle position and what made you defend this idea?


Ken : In my late 20s, I was working non-stop to get my first business off the ground. My daily routine consisted of fast food, no sleep and an enormous amount of stress — until one day my body just gave out. For the next two years, I could barely function. I was in and out of doctors’ offices trying to understand what had happened and how I could get better. Finally, I got a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The effects could be permanent, but one doctor thought I had a shot at recovery, if I was willing to do the work.

During my recovery, I met with a crew of phenomenal Western doctors, who introduced me to the far-reaching benefits of Eastern medicine and the untapped potential of CBD. My experience showed me the power of Mother Nature’s ingredients to support our bodies and minds, so we can feel better and focus on living a healthier, happier life.

Julia : What is your success formula?


Ken : First it’s our ingredients. We focus on the highest quality ingredients and efficacy for each of our formulas. With FOCL, our customers always know what they’re taking with clear labeling, 100% plant-based ingredients and the best medicine Mother Nature has to offer.

Second, we want to earn the trust of our customers. So, we lead with radical transparency, always making sure our third-party tests are available and recent. As well as prioritizing certifications like vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and Tru-ID (a rarity in the CBD space). And since we believe so strongly in FOCL, we offer a 60-day satisfaction guarantee.

Julia : How many people work at FOCL today?


Ken : We’re a small, but passionate team of wellness enthusiasts. Currently operating remotely (thanks to COVID), from across southern California, our team of 10 works hard to bring our customers expertly formulated products and timely customer support.

Julia : What is your production volume?


Ken : We harvested and processed 120 acres of US organically grown hemp last year.

Julia : Tell us more about GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), what are the key points and features?


Ken : Contrary to popular belief,  CBD and supplements in general are not approved by the FDA, so consumers need to pay close attention to how and where these kinds of products are made. It was important to us to manufacture all of our products in a FDA-approved GMP-compliant factory, so our customers know FOCL is consistently produced according to quality standards set by the FDA.

Julia : Do you use FOCL products yourself/ your family? Which products are your favorite?


Ken : Absolutely! I originally formulated FOCL to serve the needs of myself, my family and our friends. I personally take FOCL Day and Night every day as they are loaded with beneficial ingredients that help me focus better during the day and sleep better at night. I LOVE our Orange Cream Drops to help calm me during a stressful day. I use FOCL Relief Cream after intense workouts or when I have random aches and pains. My wife is a huge fan of FOCL Night and our Relief Cream. Our kids (19-27) love FOCL CBD Drops, Mint and Orange Cream.

Julia : What agricultural/ production techniques do you utilize that you are proud of/ feel make you stand out from other CBD brands?


Ken : On the farming side, we used organic and sustainable practices. On the manufacturing side we go above and beyond with our testing and certification process. FOCL is TRU-ID certified, a rarity in the CBD space. TRU-ID is an independent program that uses cutting-edge DNA testing to set the highest standard for measuring ingredient integrity. We sought out this coveted certification to show our dedication to quality and authenticity. It’s not an easy certification to get, but we aren’t about shortcuts to better wellness and want our customers to feel confident in what they are putting in their body. We also do extensive 3rd party testing for purity, potency, heavy metals, pesticides, etc. Many companies claim that their products are “premium”. We go above and beyond to prove it. Our tests results are published on our website for all to see.

Julia : Which FOCL products are most sought after/ are bestsellers?


Ken : Our CBD drops sell extremely well as they are by far the best testing tinctures on the market today.  However, our Wellness Stacks are truly one-of-kind and very popular. We blend Premium CBD with 5 adaptogens and botanicals to support your focus in the day or rest at night. FOCL Day is our original focus formula (actually, where the name FOCL comes from) that blends CBD and stress-fighting adaptogens like Lion’s Mane and Rhodiola Rosea to give your brain a boost and dial up your productivity.

The ingredients in FOCL Day and Night are all supplements I took separately, but when I realized they work better together, we decided to formulate them in one bottle and make plant-powered wellness easier for people who are dealing with the business and stress of life. Our customers always message us and tell us how much better they can focus or sleep when taking our wellness stacks and love that they aren’t mixing and matching dozens of pills on their own.

Julia : Why did you decide to choose the hardest way and start your own hemp farm? Where do you learn to grow hemp? Books, Forums, Youtube? Conferences you attend?


Ken : We brought in a world class team of vetern farmers and hemp experts to employ best practices for everything from soil preparation to planting, watering and harvesting techniques.

Julia : Do you plan to launch pre-rolls or flower? If no, why?


Ken : This is not part of our current roadmap.  We are focused on using a range of plant-based ingredients to solve common problems like stress, focus, sleep, pain and immunity. Our next product launch is a powerful non-CBD immunity supplement that uses Echinacea, Elderberry and a unique blend of medicinal mushrooms.

Julia : How often have you had issues with people not knowing the difference between CBD and THC and applying stereotypes to your business?


Ken : This is still a very big misconception. One of the first questions anyone always asks is whether our products will get them high. The answer is no. FOCL Day and Night are actually THC-free, as our Premium CBD Drops.

At FOCL, we not only want to earn the trust of our customers, but be a resource for education. That’s why we launched The FOCL Blog to help fight these misconceptions and stereotypes. We also partner with trusted brand ambassadors, like Laura Wasser, that might not seem like the obvious choice for a CBD brand, but can help us reach a different audience that would benefit from the healing powers of CBD, adaptogens and botanicals.

Julia : How do you feel about THC?


Ken : We are not against THC, but we’ve found that most of our customers prefer products without THC. That might change in the future and we will adjust to market demand as needed and what best serves our customers.

Julia : Your advice to people who consider starting their own CBD business?


Ken : It is extremely competitive and the market is currently saturated with over 3,500 different brands. If you’re going to enter the market it’s important that you have a unique product or marketing strategy. As with any business, make your customer your top priority. Listen to what they want/need and go above and beyond to meet their needs.

Julia : What are the key marketing channels for FOCL today? What other channels do you consider?


Ken : We see best results from channels that understand CBD and do not put regulations on the products, like Facebook and Google. We advertise on a wide variety of channels and have a number of key partnerships - FOCL has been recently featured in theHustle, on Healthline and in Forbes. We also market our products through key affiliate relationships via our affiliate program.

Julia : Do you ship worldwide?


Ken : No, FOCL only ships in the US (excluding S. Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska due to state regulations on CBD).

Julia : Who is your audience?


Ken : We’ve seen stressed-out, working Millennials adopt quickly to FOCL. This generation is currently in the middle of building their careers, starting families, and trying to keep it all together during a global pandemic. They are also more open to modern wellness and inherently early adopters.

Julia : Best way to consume CBD?


Ken : Placing a CBD tincture directly under the tongue and letting it absorb for 45-60 seconds is the most effective way to consume CBD. This allows it to enter the bloodstream and start interacting with your endocannabinoid system (regulates mood, appetite, memory, sleep) within 30 minutes.

We’re excited to have recently launched our 1000mg CBD Drops (Mint is already our bestseller) to offer a higher concentration of CBD for those that need a little extra support. We always tell our customers, when beginning with CBD it’s best to start low and see how your body responds before dosing up. Many people start with 20 to 40 mg a day (2-6 droppers of our 300mg strength or 1-2 dropper of our 1000mg strength).

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