High Country: Alice + Olivia welcomes cannabis into its world with a new wellness collaboration | AspenTimes.com

High Country: Alice + Olivia welcomes cannabis into its world with a new wellness collaboration

Katie Shapiro
High Country

The complete Alice + Olivia x Kush Queen line will be available beginning Sept. 1 in-store and online at kushqueen.shop.

Alice + Olivia

535 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen




August 8 marks National CBD Day, founded by cbdMD to bring awareness to cannabidiol and proclaimed by the registrar at National Day Calendar to be observed annually beginning in 2018.

The technicolor world of Alice + Olivia now has a new shade of green in its rainbow through a partnership with luxury cannabis brand Kush Queen. The move into the CBD market for the womenswear label follows the recent launch of a cosmetics collection with Maybelline New York, expanding upon the brand’s commitment to beauty and self-care.

The New York-based fashion house is the latest mainstream name to put its stamp of approval on cannabis, which, since adult-use legalization in California, has collectively contributed to the wellness industry’s most significant new category in decades. Alice + Olivia founder, creative director and CEO Stacey Bendet personally started using CBD products two years ago and discovered Kush Queen on her own.

“I have been in the business of empowering women through fashion since 2002,” Bendet said in a phone interview. “When learning about Kush Queen and Olivia (Alexander), I immediately saw the alignment of our brands with her empowerment of women through wellness. A partnership between the two brands became a natural and complementary fit.”

Speaking to the trend of more non-cannabis companies officially incorporating the less-psychoactive compound of the plant into their product portfolios, Bendet explains, “There are great opportunities as women realize the health and wellness benefits both physically and mentally for CBD, and as brands, we get to help develop and market these products to our customers. I love doing co-branded collaborations with companies and products I like to use.”

“People need to ask themselves, ‘Why are you entering the space? Are you just jumping in because of all the noise, or do you truly have a passion for this plant? Has it improved your life?’” Kush Queen founder and CEO Olivia Alexander added in a recent interview. “It all comes down to authenticity. As two powerful women with unique perspectives, we don’t follow the trends, we set them. This (collaboration) is a perfect example of how to enter this new category rooted in authenticity. Stacey is using CBD and she understands the power of bringing this wellness tool to her audience.”

As one of the industry’s earliest pioneers, Alexander was quietly building a marijuana media and lifestyle empire well before fashion forward, cannabis-friendly accoutrements were shoppable at the mall or the words “luxury” and “cannabis” were spoken in the same sentence.

“I started behind the counter of a (Los Angeles) dispensary in 2007 shortly after trying cannabis for the first time. I was immediately passionate about cannabis and the way it made me feel,” adds Alexander during a recent interview.

Soon after Instagram first launched, she began posting cannabis-focused content in between shifts and formed the still hugely popular account @buddfeed along with a Snapchat counterpart, YouTube channels and a podcast. Alexander created her first company, The Crystal Cult, in 2013 as a line of bedazzled vaporizer pens. Kush Queen was ultimately formed in 2015 and has grown into a multi-million dollar company with THC- and CBD-infused products distributed to 750 retail accounts worldwide, including Urban Outfitters.

“Believe it or not, A + O reached out to me via LinkedIn to get in touch. Initially, I thought it was too good to be true because I literally have Alice + Olivia hanging in my closet — I am an A + O girl,” Alexander says. “It’s a career-defining moment for me because I started this brand with zero dollars and a vision to make products for people like myself, who did not relate to stoner culture. When they explained to me that they wanted to make CBD products for their brand, I knew it would be a huge moment for CBD, Kush Queen and A + O.”

The Alice + Olivia x Kush Queen collection will include three products: a 100-milligram bath bomb ($25), a 150-milligram body lotion ($50), and a 150-milligram bubble bath ($50) — all lightly scented with lavender to promote further relaxation. A Kush Queen hero product, the bath bomb also is infused with vetiver, which aids nerve and circulation issues along with sandalwood to improve mental clarity. CBD is most commonly associated with reducing inflammation, which can be the source of pain, fatigue and anxiety.

“I am a longtime yogi and I love using CBD oils and lotions for muscle pain and soreness or for massages. I also love to rub a little bit of it on my feet before I put high heels on,” Bendet says of her personal CBD routine. “At night, I will sometimes take a few drops of CBD oil to help me sleep. I have never used cannabis (THC) as a creative tool, but who knows, maybe I need to try it!”

According to Alice + Olivia, “Whimsical designs featuring the brand’s signature ‘StaceFace’ motif of black sunglasses and a bold red lip inspired by Bendet” will grace the products on packaging also marked by its classic black and white stripe print.

“I use cannabis and CBD every day. I always start with our CBD tincture and our Soaked CBD shower gel to boost my mood in the morning,” Alexander adds. “Four years ago, I got myself off a cocktail of anti-depressants and anti-psychotic pharmaceuticals I was using to treat my bipolar disorder. I realized that a combination of CBD and THC could treat my symptoms without the side effects of pharmaceuticals. I smoke CBD joints in the afternoon and love edibles to sleep. I really use all forms of cannabis in ratios of both CBD and THC all the time. I think people would be shocked at how much I work and how much I consume.”

While Alice + Olivia’s first foray into the industry is CBD only, Bendet promises there is even more cannabis to come and says, “Big ideas are in the pipeline!”

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.