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Startup Life: Nicolas Pollet on the evolution of CBD beauty and wellness

French businessman Nicolas Pollet’s affair with Hong Kong is a long and enduring one. He landed here first as a 19-year-old globe-trotting student before returning home and completing his business education in France (followed by a stint in Montreal, Canada) – but the fond memories of the city lured him back to the East.

The founder and director of Cocoon Concept (specialising in designing and manufacturing outdoor furniture and accessories), he launched his company over a decade ago and his team has successfully refurbished large scale projects within Asia – from hotels, restaurants and bars to the mansions of the famed and fortuned. He also has a lighting company, is an avid yogi and is well-known among the ever-burgeoning French community in Hong Kong.

Earlier this year, while continuing his other enterprises, he surprised everyone by launching Anandha Wellness: a lifestyle product with the healing properties of cannabidiol, better known as CBD.

Name: Nicolas Pollet
Profession: Entrepreneur
Industry: Cosmetics and Lifestyle
Company Size: 7+
Startup Since: 2020

When did you decide to launch your own company and what was the impetus for you to start your own establishment?

I’ve been in Hong Kong for over a decade, and I was already working on my own business with Cocoon Concept Ltd. An extension of that, in the same field, we had Eden Cordless Lighting (which specialises in portable lighting solutions).

During the pandemic, I stepped into the wellness industry. At a time when everyone was looking inwards, at self-care and soul searching, we created Anandha Wellness Ltd, a CBD cosmetics company in 2020 and a lifestyle company in 2021. The drive to work on this new project was to find products that could really make a difference. Vision, curiosity, coupled with advocacy for wellness, soon saw the launch of Anandha.

For Hong Kong, that’s a novel way to hit the elusive CBD market.

We believe that cannabinoids (CBD – CBG) can really help people. For health, for sleep, for stamina, for comfort, and much more. Everyone can find a safe and efficient answer to specific needs. We believe that everyone should be fairly treated and can make the world more harmonious with concerted effort. Our mission would be to enhance people’s mental health, boost everyday energy, help with relaxation and protect animals.

Do you have partners?

I do not have any partners, but the team is composed of highly motivated and talented individuals that share the same vision and passion.

Apart from a digital presence, are the products available in stores?

Apart from the e-commerce platform www.anandha-wellness.com, we are also doing partnerships with a few spas (Sense of Touch), practitioners (Balance Health) and retailers (Stormie at K11).

What’s so unique about each item?

We realised that so many people decide to create their own brand of CBD products by mainly sourcing existing formulas and adding their logos on the box! CBD is amazing but it has complex ingredients. It’s like we created a cocktail with different flavours – but you need to be very thorough and precise in your formulas.  

Companies, especially in the UK and the US, have spent decades developing their special recipes with the best raw materials and received universal praise from their peers. We just decided to bring it to Hong Kong. We opted for the best in the world in their own specific categories; cosmetics, therapeutic, relaxation, booster and even for pets!

Nicolas Pollet, Kana sleeping masks, CBD infused cosmetics,
Nicolas Pollet espousing the benefits of Kana sleeping masks which are infused with CBD.
All images by Flossie Wong, shot exclusively for Prestige
What have been the challenges? Have to ask the pandemic questions, how did it disrupt your industry?

The million-dollar question. The pandemic was indeed a massive challenge to overcome, but it also gave us the kick we needed to adapt ourselves to a new reality. To be honest, there were challenges we faced every day during the pandemic… it’s a long list. I could write a book, but I’d rather talk about the rewards and accomplishments. To put it simply, it was tough… but we made it through the dark, into the light.

What’s a normal work day for you?

I wake up early, take my dog for a walk. Chill for a few minutes to practise some breathing exercises, jump on my motorbike to go to the office. Lunch break is usually yoga and a salad. I’m back home by 7:30pm to spend time with my family and then, early to bed. The late nights of partying in Central or Sai Kung are long gone since I’ve had my daughter.

As a teen – was this the passion – what did you aspire to be? 

As a child I did not know what I wanted to become, I spent a lot of time outside with friends and playing sports. I was always heading out to nature – the call was strong to go into the wild. My father taught us early to respect the planet and made it a point to show us its beauty. It is deeply embedded within me now. In terms of professional direction, I do not recall any strong attraction to work in an office or a specific calling. I just went with the flow.

Nicolas Pollet, nature, green, wellness
Nicolas Pollet finds his peace rooted in nature.
All images by Flossie Wong, shot exclusively for Prestige

What advice would you give others trying to establish their own company in Hong Kong? 

Have a business plan! It sounds simple, but many people have great ideas and they decide to give it a try and follow their dream – but with no planning, no strategy, no research, no development. Even fewer people give themselves the means to succeed. My advice is to take the time and energy to diligently understand what you are stepping into. It is not the most fun part of starting a dream, but it is necessary. Back to the books!

Where would you like to see your company in five years? 

Between the moon and the sun! Actually, I am planning to slowly expand the concepts to other Asian countries. Stay tuned Singapore, Korea, Philippines, Thailand… we are coming! Can you let the teams there know?

Nicolas Pollet, Kana sleeping mask, Kana Skincare
All images by Flossie Wong, shot exclusively for Prestige

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