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These Cofounders Prize Insta-Friendly Packaging and CBD

You’ve got to try their balls

go basic cbd edibles mobile
Go Basic

CBD, or cannabidiol, is estimated to total $1.15B in sales by the year 2020, according to a 2017 study. Two cofounders are cashing in on the trend and using social media to fuel the fire. New York-based Australian entrepreneur, trainer and fitness influencer Bec Donlan, owner of Sweat with Bec, and Jil Larsen, founder of Magic Mix in New York City’s Financial District, have joined forces to create healthy, Insta-worthy snacks with CBD in a product line called Go Basic. And they want you to eat their balls.

In a short time, the company has amassed an impressive list of NYC stockists that includes buzzy NYC haunts like The Butcher’s Daughter, Chillhouse and Hu Kitchen. Its signature products include CBD chocolates in pumpkin spice, peppermint and rose, and vegan cookie-dough balls that taste divine. The dosage instructions on the packaging read, “1 equals chill. 2 equals chillllllll.”

We got the lowdown on their entrepreneurial story, how social media has played a key role in their creative planning and the one thing they would tell someone looking to start their own business.

How did you start the business?

Bec Donlan: Jil and I met through my roommate—walking our dogs, actually. I had these recipes I wanted to bring to life, and Jil had an amazing juice and plant-based food bar, Magic Mix in the Financial District, so it was a match made in heaven. We both shared the same frustrations with the snack world and knew we had to change the quality of on-the-go options for people like us who want to eat clean while they travel and run around the city. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s the most fun babe ever. We started it as an experimental collaboration, but it took off. So Go Basic was born.

Jil Larsen: Bec mentioned she had been making these incredible balls and chocolates for her clients for years. I said, “With my store and production space at Magic Mix, why don’t we do a collab?” Our first got such an incredible response that, super quickly, really cool like-minded retailers wanted to carry our products. Go Basic gave all our products their own entity.

jil larsen sweat with bec go basic 1
Go Basic

What are the key differentiators of your brand?

Donlan: We are extremely authentic. We say it like it is. We only use real ingredients, and all our products are vegan, gluten-free, very low in sugar, organic and freaking delish. We also pride ourselves on our branding and having the most Instagram-friendly packaging in the world.

Larsen: I think the main differentiator with our products is that we truly do not add any BS ingredients. Bec and I both travel a lot, and finding healthy options while on the road can be hard. Airport snacks can look healthy, but you can’t pronounce half the ingredients or it contains a katrillion grams of sugar. As our saying goes, “The only thing basic about us are our ingredients.”

What is the most important lesson you've learned from your business?

Donlan: Things can take longer than expected. Mistakes can be made that are out of your control and that’s OK. For instance, in the past, we’d have an internal deadline for a product and we’d work like crazy to meet it, ticking all the right boxes. Last minute, out of nowhere, there would be a printing issue or a packaging problem that was completely out of our control. We’d be tearing our hair out, pouring hours into looking for alternate solutions in a panic so we could meet this self-imposed deadline, but in reality, only we knew about it. Things will go wrong. Do damage control, but a week’s setback is OK.

Larsen: The most important lesson that I have learned, whether it be for Go Basic or Magic Mix, is that you can’t do everything yourself. Get help! Even though it might cost a little up front, it will take so much pressure off if you know you have someone who can do tasks for you. This way you can concentrate on working on the business and not always in the business.

How much money did you have when you started and what have you raised?

Donlan: Very little. [laughs] We started very small as an experiment, to test the waters. I think it was around $2,000. At this stage, we are completely self-funded, which in all honesty, can be super tough sometimes.

How has social media played a role in your marketing?

Donlan: I know people love to rag on social media, but honestly, it’s been the best for us. It gives you such an incredible reach, and it is an amazing platform to tell your story. We also made it a high priority for our packaging to be something people wanted to snap, share and tell the world about. It’s all about creating that Instagram-worthy moment.

Larsen: Social media has been incredible for us. I love the fact that we can get personal with our customers, get instant feedback and see the stories of how our products are used.

Has your personal social following translated to sales?

Donlan: Yes, it’s been great. It’s been fun harvesting a community and so incredibly rewarding when people tag you in social posts with your products.

jil larsen sweat with bec go basic 2
Go Basic

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business?

Donlan: Don’t freak out about having a business plan, funding and structure. Yes, all these things definitely help, but it’s not necessary up front. I didn’t have those things when I started Sweat with Bec, my fitness and wellness personal brand, or when we started Go Basic. I think sometimes people get overwhelmed thinking about textbook steps on how to start a business or how they need hundreds of thousands of dollars before they can do anything. It really delays the process and sometimes even stops people from starting at all.

Larsen: Really believe in your product. If you are convinced that it is the absolute best product out there, then be prepared for sleepless nights, worry and lots of hustle. Once you do it, you have to go all in and just do your research. I didn’t have a business plan for Magic Mix, nor did we for Go Basic, but I just researched the crap out of how to open a retail space in New York and was super persistent with everyone I met because I believed both would be game changers. Nothing happens overnight, but if you hustle and work hard, it pays off.

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