News about the current lockdown being extended has no doubt caused even more stress and anxiety. Remaining cooped up and hunched over our laptops doesn’t help with the many aches and pains caused from working from home for nearly a year. Despite co-founding Berlin-based cannabis company Sanity Group back in 2018, Finn Hänsel has realised that their cannabis-based medicines and health products were even more relevant in today’s world.
“The mission was to build the leading company for medicinal cannabis and cannabinoid-based consumer goods across Europe. The main focus is on pharmaceutical, medical focused products on the one hand and lifestyle and well-being products with CBD and without THC on the other,” explained Hänsel, who co-founded Sanity Group with Fabian Friede. Hänsel isn’t a stranger to the world of business, having also founded online fashion retailer THE ICONIC, and a brewery in Berlin, and is an active member of Germany’s start-up community.
One of the group’s brands, the Will.I.Am-backed VAAY, provides a suite of products aimed at encouraging relaxation, improving muscle recovery, and promoting better sleep. LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine tried a number of VAAY products including a CBD bath bomb which had a beautiful lavender aroma, a mouth spray which was excellent before bed, a CBD active gel which helped soothe our tired muscles after a home workout, and the CBD skin and massage oil which we put on right after soaking in the lavender bath bomb for the ultimate chilled out evening. We spoke to Hänsel about being an entrepreneur in the middle of the pandemic and how he’s stayed sane through it all.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a serial entrepreneur?
The importance of accepting any ‘failures’ as learning curves rather than letting it set us back and instead gaining valuable experience from them.
What sparked your decision to start VAAY?
VAAY was born in Berlin and there didn’t seem to be many cool, young or exciting CBD brands there. The only thing you have here is the oil, but that’s basically it. There is a need for more sophisticated products with CBD – that’s how we came up with VAAY and were keen to introduce it to the UK market. Our products and branding feel slightly cooler and more accessible, leaning into the wellness sphere and therefore wider audiences.
If you could describe your brand’s ethos in three words, what would they be?
Innovative, exciting, smart.
Have more customers turned to VAAY because of issues brought about by the pandemic?
Absolutely. The pandemic and its subsequent impact on wider issues like jobs, money, and living has been extremely stressful for many of us; stress can lead to trouble sleeping and relaxing. Our products are designed to facilitate relaxation, recovery and sleep, and lots of people have been reaping the benefits of the calmative effect of full spectrum CBD.
How have you managed to stay active whilst in lockdown?
Walking with my wife, bathing with the VAAY CBD bath bomb, and reading a lot have been keeping me sane. I’ve also been spending a lot of time on the new social audio app Clubhouse over the past few weeks. (laughs)
The new VAAY skin and massage oil has 200mg of CBD. Could you talk me through exactly what that means and the types of benefits that brings?
Our CBD Massage Oil promises to soothe your body and mind and is designed to be massaged over the body. Spiked with 200mg of natural CBD, it aids a restorative and relaxing massage by warming and relieving tired muscles and joints. Enriched with a nourishing blend of powerhouse oils, Jojoba and Almond to leave your skin deeply moisturised, it also contains warming ginger essence to promote microcirculation in your skin. This works to create a warming effect whilst also facilitating the drainage of waste products from the skin.
Questions around safety often make people hesitant to try CBD. How does your team deal with these concerns?
We adopt a wholly scientific approach to the formulation of our products – a team of biologists, doctors, and researchers work in tandem to create the most effective hemp products to truly care for the stressed out body and mind, so we aim to make this extremely clear at all times to put people’s minds at rest.
Apart from that, we observe that more and more people are very interested in CBD. Our team of experts will be very happy to answer any question about it. CBD does not make you high or addicted and is not a narcotic. This was finally confirmed by the European Commission and the European Court of Justice at the end of last year.
When using the VAAY skin and massage oil, I loved the way it not only calmed my muscles after a workout, but also my mind after a long day sitting behind a desk. For first time CBD users, how do you suggest they incorporate VAAY products into their routines?
During our formulation process, we wanted to create products that were extremely easy to incorporate into your everyday routines – products like our oil, which can be applied after bathing, bath bombs spiked with CBD, lavender and shea butter and sprays which can be kept in your handbag. I myself use our CBD mouth spray in the morning, our active sport gel after sports and the bath bomb in the evening to relax or our night capsules to fall asleep.