MANTLE, a Swedish skincare line that focuses on CBD as its touchstone ingredient, launched in 2020. Since then, it has become something of a cult-favorite for skincare lovers in Sweden and around the world. The minimalist packaging belies an impressive and hard-working ingredients list that make each product truly worthwhile.
Co-founders Josefin Landgård (CEO) and Stina Lönnkvist (CMO) have come so far in just two short years. Their focus on growing the business by rolling out high-quality products slowly but surely has paid off; people are lining up to find out what’s coming next, as well as when re-stocks are happening.
We sat down with MANTLE co-founders Josefin and Stina to discuss cannabeauty, what it’s like to launch a start up in Sweden, and what’s next for the brand:
Tell us a bit about your educational and work backgrounds.
Stina: We both have a master’s degree from Stockholm School of Economics but we went there exactly 10 years apart!
Josefin: I have been a part of several startup journeys. Before MANTLE, I co-founded the unicorn health tech company KRY (Livi in some markets). I’m also an angel investor, in predominantly female-founded startups.
Stina: I’ve co-founded a couple of startups, as well as working with brand strategy and marketing at agencies. On the side, I taught yoga and meditation for 6 years.
Tell us about the process of starting Mantle.
Josefin: The idea of MANTLE came to me after I tried CBD for the first time and fell in love. I starting taking it during a very intense and stressful period in my life.
During a business trip to NYC, I noticed that CBD was the topic du jour in any room, and literally everything – from drinks, to beauty products, to supplements, to intimate products – was infused with CBD. When I came back, I met Stina and we instantly hit it off. That’s when it all fell into place.
Stina: We launched MANTLE in 2020 as the first brand in Scandinavia dedicated to CBD. Our vision is to create the best-quality CBD products, and to continue to grow and serve our community. We managed to launch right when COVID-19 hit so we needed to adapt very quickly. It was challenging but it forced us into new, efficient solutions.
MANTLE utilizes CBD in skincare. Why did you want to work with CBD, and what have been the specific challenges of being a first-mover in the market?
Stina: CBD is one of the most talked-about ingredients in beauty and wellness right now, and with good reason. CBD is known for its ability to bring balance and an increased sense of centeredness to mind and body, but this is just one of its uses.
The biggest challenge is the misconceptions people have about CBD, as well as the regulations differing from country to country. We try to pave the path and educate people every day! We believe it’s just a matter of time before everybody else falls in love with this ingredient as much as we have.
What is one thing you wish consumers understood about CBD?
Stina: The most common misconception about CBD is that it’s a “bad” ingredient, or that it’s illegal. Yes, it comes from the cannabis plant, but it is not to be confused with THC, which is the compound that causes a high. Some people think that CBD can get you high, but CBD is not psychoactive at all, so your brain chemistry isn’t affected when you use it. Instead, it balances your body’s own endocannabinoid system.
Josefin: Additionally ,CBD is great for the skin! High quality CBD is wonderful for stressed, tired, and dry skin. The ingredient is deeply soothing, moisturizing, and maxed out with antioxidants. It also boosts collagen production, which is the most important factor in maintaining elasticity and radiance in the skin. What’s also cool about CBD is that it works for both sensitive skin and oily, acne-prone skin.
You’ve noted in the past that small brands should be willing to compromise on some elements in the beginning, like packaging. What is worth compromising on, and what is definitely not?
Stina: Of course you wish you didn’t have to compromise on anything, but as a start-up there’s always a trade-off! In the beginning, it seemed like we were getting hit with every possible obstacle: bottles were leaking and labels were falling off. But we learned and adapted! I think it’s not always worth doing custom packaging, it’s so expensive and the order quantities are very high.
Instead, we chose minimalist packaging and instead focused on what’s inside and creating a strong brand identity. So even if we don’t have unique jars, people immediately recognize our aesthetic.
We try to not “over-package” for sustainability reasons (e.g. we don’t use secondary packaging) if it’s not needed for protection. I think the premium beauty industry often over-do the unboxing experience, with 4-5 layers that the consumer ends up throwing away anyway.
You are a founding duo. What is helpful about being a team, and what are the challenges?
Stina: I think that our strength is that we have similar personalities and thought processes, but different experiences and skills. This makes communication seamless and means we can make decisions quickly (both Aires!).
It’s amazing to have somebody to bounce ideas off of and someone who’s always in your corner. We often disagree on things, but are not afraid to speak up. We think that mutual respect and to actually enjoy each other’s company are keys to a good founding duo!
Do you feel that you’ve had any challenges specific to being female founders in the start-up space? If so, can you speak to those a bit?
Stina: What we’ve most experienced is unfortunately that we’re not taken seriously to begin with. As a woman in start-up you need to have every detail figured out and be able to handle a lot of questions about your plan for the company.
Do each of you have a favorite product? If so, which ones?
Josefin: That question is to ask someone to pick their favorite child, it’s impossible! But if I one step in the routine I never compromise on is having a clean face, so I love our The Magic Milk – a creamy, calming, cannabis cleanser with microbial-balancing & makeup-removing properties for daily use. The combination of active and botanical ingredients such as almond oil, pre-biotic oat extract, fruit enzymes – and of course – CBD, creates a silky formula designed to support a clean, smooth and supple complexion.
Stina: I always get asked if I were to try one first product from MANTLE which one would you recommend and in that case I would suggest our best-seller The Dream Mask. It’s a gel-textured overnight hydration-bomb designed to enhance your skin’s recovery and regeneration process. The combination of CBD, bakuchiol (gentle vegan retinol), vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide will boost collagen production, ensure deep hydration and increase skin’s bounce and radiance – all while you sleep. I love that you just whack it on at night and then wake up with instant results. I’m also obsessed with The Glow Serum.
Any upcoming products, launches, collabs, or events you would like to talk about?
We have so many exciting things in the works. In August we release an exclusive limited edition collaboration. We have some incredible launches this fall. We can’t talk about yet, but we’ll be expanding into a new product category.
Shop MANTLE Skincare products.
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