photo-Kathy Ireland (right) with Christopher Hussey (left) of Isodiol International Inc [Photo: courtesy of Isodiol International Inc]
With her perfect posture, polished cream suit, bouncy thick hair, and glittering diamond bracelets, Kathy Ireland is still runway ready at 55—but this is no fashion show she’s bounding into.
Moments after filming back-to-back episodes for her TV shows, Modern Living and Worldwide Business, the supermodel-turned-business mogul is at a table with 15 men strategizing over her latest retail venture.
No, it’s not new living room furniture or women’s clothing or anything else you might associate from her already robust product line. It’s cannabis.
More specifically, CBD oil, or cannabidiol, which has been used for years for anything from arthritis pain management to anxiety relief and insomnia cure.
Before you start imagining Ireland baking brownies with Snoop Dogg, it should be noted that CBD is just one of a variety of extracts found in the plant—and it does not contain any psychoactive properties like THC, the compound in cannabis that gets people high.
Ireland’s meeting in Burbank, California, is with executives from Isodiol International Inc, a major manufacturer of CBD products. Her vision is to bring CBD to the same masses that snap up her Kathy Ireland Home curtains, bed linens, lamps, and towels.
The new venture will be called kathy ireland Health & Wellness, an offshoot of her $2 billion company. (Her first and last name will be lower case, she insists, because she wants to be “more about the customer,” less about her.)
Ireland is at ease and helps herself to a plate of catered food, while the others in the boardroom stay focused on her. Between spoonfuls, Ireland makes the case for why this is a smart expansion for her billion-dollar empire. It’s an opportunity to do good, she says, to help people suffering from chronic pain, to educate them on the benefits of CBD, and to give cannabis a makeover for folks who would otherwise shy away.
“There’s a stigma attached, and there’s no reason for that,” says Ireland, noting that beyond pain management, CBD can help women feel energized, alert, and well-rested. Cannabis oil products should no longer be relegated to dispensaries or hushed circles, she continues. “It belongs in Walgreens.”
THE “PRETTY HEAD” HAS BRAINS
The iconic supermodel founded kathy ireland Worldwide (kiWW) in 1993, hot off the heels of her swimsuit fame. She was getting a bit tired of her place within the fashion industry and wanted more. She had ideas, a knack for what she thought could sell, but unlike the men now hanging on to her every word, execs had little regard for a professional beauty. One even told her not to worry her “pretty head,” and asked point-blank why she didn’t want to just stay home and get pregnant instead.
“I was coming from a background where my job description was ‘shut up and pose,'” Ireland tells Fast Company, “which is something I reject today.”
Not that she wasn’t presented with opportunities. Plenty of companies offered Ireland lucrative endorsement deals, though that seemed just like a further extension of modeling. There’s nothing wrong with lending your name, she clarifies. “It’s just never been a choice for me.”