Conor Denman started a vaping company called Traditional Juice in 2011 but, while he was supportive of the tobacco industry, he was never fond of marijuana.
That assessment changed when he saw the way CBD helped his mother, who suffers from fibromyalgia, and father, who had prostate cancer while dealing with frequent back pain and inflammation.
However, while his family’s experiences with CBD opened his eyes, Denman admits he did not become a complete true believer until he tried it for his first time.
“I went golfing with my dad, and I’m always super tense out there, and he told me, ‘Connor, you need to relax’ and gave me his tincture,” Denman said. “I tried it and played the best game of golf I’ve ever played, it was incredible.”
Soon after that, he dropped out of the tobacco industry to learn everything he could about CBD with plans to get into business with someone else. That fell through and, not knowing what to do, Denman contacted close friend KC Gates and his brother-in-law, Clayton Jones, who were involved in separate tobacco vaping companies. Their conversation led to a CBD business proposal and an agreement to join forces.
SMPLSTC officially launched in 2018, and the Costa Mesa CBD company has been growing in popularity ever since, as shown by its expansion to new cities and storefronts.
While the manufacturing process is different for CBD and tobacco vaping products, Denman, Gates and Jones learned how to adjust and make a healthy and foolproof CBD product.
“It was a lot of trial and error getting started,” Denman says. “But I think anything you put a lot of time into is going to sell well, and it’s helping people.”
When SMPLSTC opened, it was an online-only company, and there was no office out of which to conduct business. Establishing the brand mostly involved working in Denman’s living room.
“We started in my apartment, and that was a hassle,” he concedes. “My girlfriend Justyne was not too pleased with that, but she understood that we were starting something.”
In almost two years, the company has expanded from Denman’s apartment to a shared business space to a shop of their own in Costa Mesa.
Since the beginning, SMPLSTC has offered customers relief but only using hemp-derived products and small amounts of THC that will not get users high.
The three have marketed and sold a line of vapes, prerolls, waters and tinctures, and they have plans to roll out even more products.
“We want to curate each of our products to a specific thing that somebody is going through,” Denman explains.
SMPLSTC’s tinctures and vapes offer different flavors, but each blend packs botanical health benefits formulated to get someone through the entire day.
While several vape companies have been under scrutiny for selling products that contain Vitamin E Acetate, SMPLSTC only uses the purest form of hemp. “I would tell someone that is worried to look at our test results,” Denman says. “I can guarantee all of our products only use distillate terpenes. We do use a cutting agent, but it’s flavorless, odorless and it’s all-natural.”
SMPLSTC’s business is booming, but they have not been able to break through into dispensary storefronts. Hemp topicals are allowed, but vapes, tinctures, and other products are not because they cannot be properly licensed.
Conceding that the process of getting licensed to sell THC can be expensive with a lot of hoops to jump through, Denman says he and his partners are confident they can achieve that goal next year.
“We partnered with somebody who has a license, and will be coming out with a THC product,” he vowed. “I don’t want to give any information about what it is, but it’s something nobody else has.”
SMPLSTC CBD is at 729 W. 16th St., Ste. B6, Costa Mesa, (949) 632-3396; www.smplstcbd.com.