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Founder Stories: Amelia Baerlein of APOTHEM Labs on Transparency, Authenticity and Building a Supportive Environment

Founder Stories: Amelia Baerlein of APOTHEM Labs on Transparency, Authenticity and Building a Supportive Environment

Welcome back to our Founder Stories series, where we sit with inspiring and influential women to dive into their entrepreneurial journey and discuss all things business (and wellness). Today, we speak with Amelia Baerlein, the founder of CBD brand APOTHEM Labs.

Amelia Baerlein is the Co-Founder and CEO of CBD and plant-based wellness brand, APOTHEM. Launched in October 2019, APOTHEM exists to connect more people to the restorative power of plants and was one of the first CBD brands in the UK to focus on a transparent supply chain, rigorous independent testing and a no-nonsense approach to explaining the contents of their products. APOTHEM launched with Harvey Nichols and can be found in a number of luxury and independent retailers including Cult Beauty, Four Seasons, Soho Home and Beast.  

In a male-dominated industry, Amelia follows a personal mission to empower women in business and build a positive and collaborative culture for those working in the Cannabis industry. APOTHEM is proud to be a unisex brand, building an all-inclusive community around the positive impacts of CBD and supporting positive mental health through a partnership with suicide prevention charity CALM. 

The brand is committed to breaking down common barriers to trial through CBD education and building trust through transparency, in order to shine light on some of the misconceptions synonymous with the early days of the CBD category.

FLAURA: What inspired you to start APOTHEM?

Amelia: I’ve always been a fan of plant-based remedies, and so when my co-founder Tony was looking into CBD and hemp-based products for a member of his family, I was instantly intrigued. We then fell down a rabbit hole together, dissecting everything from seed to finished product and we didn’t like what we found. There were so many sub-standard products with little or no information available about how they were produced, where the ingredients were sourced from, or how they were cultivated – it was like the Wild West. During this time, we included a few selected friends and family in our trial and the feedback sealed the deal for us. We knew we had to start our own brand because all of the individual stories were so motivating.  

F: What makes APOTHEM different to other CBD brands?

A: It has to be our products and our people, namely the synergies we create with all of our products where we use botanicals to develop beautiful formulations to harness the full potential of plant power. The reason for both is we wouldn’t have the products without the people. We accumulated a very talented team to research and develop the range we have today. We didn’t want to compromise on anything – quality, strength and taste (or no taste for those who don’t want it). 

F: What has the journey been like since you started?

A: It’s a very different landscape for CBD now, for the better.  There’s still some way for the industry to go, but when we started there wasn’t any regulation in place and so it was challenging for consumers and retailers to navigate when knowing what to buy from where. We set out to change that from day one with a transparent supply chain and a no-nonsense approach to what’s in our products. All of our products are vegan and natural, and we independently test every single batch at multiple stages of production for purity and strength. Education has also been a big part of our journey; it was scarce to start with and there were lots of incorrect and sensationalist articles about CBD in the public space. I think consumers expect more informative pieces now and less about ‘the hype’ as the category has grown exponentially in the wellness and beauty industries.  

F: How do you stay motivated?

A: Working with talented and inspiring people as well as our customer feedback because this is why we do what we do. Day to day, I love the creativity and passion from the team, it’s addictive and absolutely motivates me when the business side of things get tough. Especially this year, it’s been challenging for retail, from your iconic high street retailer to your independents, but we’ve all stayed close and worked through the tough times together. And that’s when the customer reviews then drop into your inbox and blow you away.  We are so fortunate to be in the wellness space, helping people to live better, it doesn’t get better than that.

F: What’s the most rewarding part of your day now?

A: Celebrating every big or small win with my team. We are all close and being part of a small business is so rewarding because you roll your sleeves up and get stuck into areas that you may not be that comfortable with but often end up surprising yourself. Culture and mentorship are super important for me, I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly so I openly encourage a supportive environment for people to learn, develop and recognise that we are all part of APOTHEM’s success.  No one person in our business can do what they need to do without the effect of another in some way or another.  

F: What are the best and worst parts of being an entrepreneur?

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A: The best parts are creating something new and pushing yourself every day to new limits because you don’t always have a plan for what’s going to come next and even if you do, you may have never done it before. I also personally love giving people the opportunity to come on that journey with you and help build something that never existed before. My background is brand and marketing so even if you’re not inventing a new product or service, it’s how YOU do things that makes it different. But with all this of course come the challenges and so the worst part is the fear of letting your team down. You have to be strong enough to accept the fact that you WILL make mistakes and things won’t always make sense – especially with complex regulations in a fast-growing category.  

F: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

A: I’ve been very fortune to have some incredible mentors in my life and some solid advice that feeds my daily mantra. Whilst delivering messages in different ways the common themes are consistent; never think you have to know the answer for everything and don’t focus on the one thing you have done wrong and forget the ten things you have done right. Oh, and my partner always says ‘always surround yourself with people who are smarter than you’ which comes back to what inspires me every day…

F: What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own business?

A: Talk to other women (or men) who have done similar things either in your product or service category or with similar sales channels. It’s reassuring to know that you’re not the only one facing challenges and making mistakes. It can feel lonely sometimes, so find people who are willing to share insights and advice openly.  Another great inspiration for me was “Dear Female Founder” by Lu Li, a book of letters sharing all the ups and downs from an enviable line-up of female entrepreneurs. And never change who YOU are or YOUR story – being authentic is everything. That of course doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take on personal challenges to help you grow and develop, just make sure it doesn’t feel forced.  

Top 5 Daily Wellness Habits

  1. Getting up early enough to have some quality time in the morning to do things that make me happy.   
  2. Keeping my body moving every day without the pressures of having to always train or workout.
  3. Putting my phone on silent (and usually losing it somewhere) without feeling guilty.  It’s not healthy to be stuck to your phone.
  4. Making good food to eat well every day. I love the creative side of cooking, so I find it relaxing and cooking for those you love is even better.
  5. Relaxing and unwinding before bed, I can’t just jump in and ‘switch off’.  Sometimes I meditate, read, have a long bath or a pamper.  And I take our LIGHTS OUT drops every night.

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