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Spotlight: How Malea Rose went from pro surfing and acting to founding a CBD skin care company

Mar 17, 2023
Malea Rose took an unconventional path into the cannabis industry. Rose grew up in Hawaii and was a competitive surfer before she was drawn to the bright lights of Hollywood instead. But relocating to Los Angeles, where she made her television debut in Entourage, also meant coming to

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Welcome to Spotlight, a weekly series by The GrowthOp that provides commentary and insight from experts operating in the cannabis and psychedelic industries. This week, we chatted with Malea Rose, the founder and CEO of CBD skin care brand Vie En Rose. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Malea Rose took an unconventional path into the cannabis industry.

Rose grew up in Hawaii and was a competitive surfer before she was drawn to the bright lights of Hollywood instead. But relocating to Los Angeles, where she made her television debut in Entourage, also meant coming to terms with smog and pollution and kicked off a long battle with skin issues.

“I was allergic to everything and being under hot lights and having people put junk on my face, it just affected me,” she tells The GrowthOp from California. “These rashes and bumps wouldn’t go away so I became a skin care hoarder, spending all my money trying to solve my skin problems.”

Rose says her frustration caused her to begin experimenting with her own skin care formulas. When she put pure CBD oil on her skin for the first time, it was a breakthrough.

“I woke up the next morning and the inflammation and the redness were gone,” she says. “My skin was so soothed, I cried. It was so huge for me.”

Initially, she thought of it as a hobby, but as more people started noticing her skin improvements and inquired about her routine, Rose decided to create a small batch run of two products, a face mist and a face oil.

Soon after, the hobby became a full-time business, Vie En Rose, a line of versatile products that Rose says work with every skin type, lifestyle and age.

Her friends and family are still benefiting from the products and so are Rose’s Hollywood colleagues, including The White Lotus actress Brittany O’Grady, who previously told Glamour that two of her must-have skin care products are Vien En Rose’s CBD-infused rose oil and the Mile High Ultra-Hydrating Mist.

“I love everything about it,” says Rose, of her pivot into skin care. “I love healing. I love wellness. I love this space. And I love not having to deal with Hollywood a-holes.”

Rose recently chatted with The GrowthOp about founding the company despite having no business background, navigating regulatory challenges and working in a male-dominated industry.

How we feel is how we look, right? So if you’re insecure about the first thing someone looks at when they look at you, it changes your personality, it changes how excited you are about things, it changes your social life. Everything is how we feel. The beautiful thing about cannabis is it’s not just about esthetics, it’s about actually making you feel good.

When I started out, I thought I’m just going to be direct to consumer (DTC). I’m going to do SEO, I’m going to run Google ads, run Facebook ads, but when I signed up for Google ads, before even running one, I was kicked off. I think I’ve basically been kicked off almost every platform multiple times. And I just keep building landing pages and keep trying.

But right now, I sell DTC. I sell at Fred Segal, which for me was a major win because it’s such an iconic Los Angeles store. I used to spend all my money there when I first got here, so finally they’re giving back to me.

And then I sell at Resorts World in Vegas and the Venetian in Vegas. Interestingly, I have to sell one foot off the gaming floor. So I can’t sell where the carpet is in the gaming room at the casino, but I can sell one foot off, which is like the mall or the hair salon or the spa because of Nevada cannabis laws.

I am absolutely not. I started this company completely by myself with no help, no funding, no backing, no MBA, no business experience. Every day was trial and error. I got involved with this nice networking organization called CannaGather. And I went to a lot of those events and learned a lot about CBD restrictions and things like that. And I built an army as I’ve gone on. I have the best lab and they are amazing to me. I have a female-owned fulfilment centre and they are amazing to me. It’s surprising how many people are so generous when you come to them humbly and ask for advice.

I think that’s very important when it comes to anything you’re putting in or on your body. When the Farm Bill was passed in 2018, everyone and their mother went on the cannabis Gold Rush and they were just white labelling everything and nobody knew where the CBD was being sourced. I think that a lot of the initial companies in the space didn’t list their milligrams, they weren’t transparent. And I think a lot of their branding was polarizing. Hence why I wrapped all of mine in pink, because I wanted to give people a familiar feeling. Yes, this is cannabis. But no, this isn’t whatever the stigma of cannabis is. This is a pretty pink bottle with rose gold and it’s luxury.

So for me, my CBD is from the first FDA-approved lab in America. Everything we do is by the book, we know everything that’s going on, from where we source, and also the transparency of milligrams because some people are upselling products that have five milligrams, which does nothing. But I think that the ultimate problem is that the government hasn’t rescheduled cannabis, it’s still listed as a Schedule 1 drug. So my beauty oils, with zero THC, aren’t approved on Facebook or Instagram. They’re beauty oils. And there are just so many different regulations that make it impossible.

I don’t know if I have the best balance right now. I’m figuring it out as I go. I think that if you’re doing things that you love, it’s not as hard work, right? And so I’m also shooting right now a docuseries that I’m producing about female entrepreneurs through a different lens. Which kind of ties in with my ties in Hollywood and what I’m doing. It’s kind of marrying all the things I love together.

But self care for myself is taking a long bath at the end of the day and smothering my face oil on. And I won’t lie, I could probably just spend 20 hours a day playing with my dog. Sleep. Eating healthy, all of that. And also remembering that even though we’re so busy, we’re no good to anyone if we’re not good to ourselves, so you have to see your friends and family and the people you love.

I would say that I’ve had some seriously good training throughout my life because I have been in a male-dominated world my entire life. When I was younger, I was a competitive surfer. Female surfers were not respected in the water. Zero respect. Then I came to L.A. and I’m an actress and no offence to all of us, but we get no respect.

So in the cannabis industry, it’s interesting, I think that because of the way I look, the first five minutes I have to win someone over by talking and letting them know that I’m not a ditz. A lot of my VC meetings, I’ve now had to begin with, Hey, if you have any interest in sitting down and speaking about anything that doesn’t have to do with business, I’m uninterested. And that’s cleaned up a lot of meetings. There were a lot of empty spaces in my calendar when I started doing that.

You always have to navigate everything with respect and with grace because I think every business is actually smaller than we think it is. So even if I’m dealing with something that’s maybe a bit more difficult, I try to always handle it kindly, but navigate it with boundaries. But it is such a male-dominated space. And that is why I called my company Vie En Rose, life in pink, life with rose-coloured glasses. It’s French, it’s beautiful, and it’s relatable. And, you know, I’m not trying to appeal to men. If men want good skin care and they’re not afraid of pink, come on board. We’re for all genders, all skin types, but I really wanted to make something for women that was special.

I would say don’t overthink an idea. Obviously, you always want to go into something with a plan, otherwise, it’s very overwhelming and confusing but don’t overthink it. Because when we overthink, we get paralysis. There are idea people and then there are executors. I’ve learned that I’ve always been an idea person, but the more that I execute, the more I am OK with something not being perfect. You let go and you actually let yourself do things and then you’re like, wait a minute, I just accomplished all of that.

So instead of just thinking about doing it, or thinking how am I going to make it perfect? How are people going to perceive it? You’ve got to let go of all the noise and just be like, this is what I’m doing. Also, don’t have founders fever, which means don’t get too attached to what you’re doing. Because when I started a pandemic happened and not one thing went according to plan but you just have to roll with it. Right now, I’m testing out selling candles because I needed a non-CBD product. So it’s just about always being creative and being open to collaborations.

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