OTO: The Luxury CBD Brand That’s Redefining the UK Market
In the late 1990s, a visitor to California would have seen dispensaries openly selling CBD products. In recognition of its medical benefits, the state passed a law in 1996 legalizing cannabis, leading to the rapid development of a major industry that included oils, capsules, drinks, and other CBD-containing products. These items soon lined the shelves of cafes and home kitchens, and dispensaries proliferated.
On the other hand, the UK took a slightly different course. The government legalized CBD in 2018 on the basis of evidence showing its use as a pain reliever, treatment for anxiety, sleep, and more. However, the growth of the industry was slow. Most CBD products were low in quality, tasted foul, and were hard to find. Although the lightning-quick evolution of the market in California should have provided a lesson for UK companies, for a time at least, it didn’t.
Gemma Colao lived and worked in California in the late 2010s, just as the CBD industry was gathering steam. Working as a designer in the fast-paced fashion industry in San Francisco, the long days, late nights, and crazy deadlines were starting to take their toll. Each day, she would return to the home she shared with her husband, James Bagley, anxious and unable to sleep. The experience pushed her to look for alternative treatments, and a friend recommended she try CBD. She quickly came to understand why the industry in California had become so successful: the tinctures she used provided quick and lasting relief – and it planted a seed in her that would take root and start to flower once she and James returned to the UK.
Back in London, Gemma was disappointed with the products available in the UK. Not only were the levels of CBD in them ineffective, but they were unpleasant to use. The market was missing sophisticated, effective, and enjoyable CBD products that could seamlessly fit into everyday life. So, with the help of a bunch of brilliant, innovative friends, Gemma and James took on the challenge of creating the world’s most luxurious CBD experiences – and OTO, a luxury CBD brand that creates optimum-strength oils, creams, balms, serums, and drinks, was born.
OTO’s team of world-leading scientists drew on the best global research, creating a standard that users could trust. Its products, all carrying the OTO Strength™ guarantee that assures users are receiving the optimum amount of CBD per day, began to appear on the shelves of leading UK outlets such as Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty, Fortnum & Mason, and more. They became the first of their kind to make it to high-end stores.
“My passion is design, so this really set us apart,” says Gemma. “Not only have we created the world’s most innovative CBD portfolio, including our award-winning sleep drops, the world’s only CBD pillow-mist, and the world’s first CBD cocktail bitters, but our full product experience is thoughtfully curated and sits beautifully on any shelf.
“We are the category leader in approach, positioning, honesty, and integrity. We call out ineffective ‘fad’ products. With the explosion of CBD brands at low cost, we must stand out and drive brand awareness. Our approach is driven by testimonials, recommendations, and referrals, always. We take a benefit-led approach to marketing that drives loyalty, without making medical claims or promises.”
In 2021, the company took another step forward. The name OTO comes from the Japanese word for “sound” – relating to the understanding and sensing of sound and silence – and that said something about the company’s ethos: this wasn’t simply about dabbing
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