We had the good fortune of connecting with Joan Mann and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joan, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It started out as lot of sleepless nights. I was working as a commercial actor in La (like a lot here in LA) I was in the improv classes, going to audition after audition, booking work here and there. But the actual time spent working on the craft on set wasn’t enough to be fulfilling mentally. I needed something more of a challenge and something that would give back to my community. Acting can be incredibly self centered and I thought, if I’m going to do something else on top of this, it has to fully give back to the world, not take from it or add anything that is wasteful. It took a really long time to create a product that did just that. I thought a lot about how my brand would stand out from the crowded space. What I realized was that there was a spot missing for an all natural alternative to pain relief that was elevated. My mother at the time was suffering from an undiagnosed auto-inflammatory disease that left her in a lot of pain most days. I saw how many potions, tinctures, salves, pharma- drugs she was given that only masked the real issue, not solved it. I also wanted to create something you would look forward to using that smelled great (not like medicated menthol) and a product that was gorgeous enough to pull out of an expensive handbag or. a badass hiking backpack. It took me a really long time to source each ingredient to our quality standards and it took an even longer time to find the recyclable aluminum tube. Dr. Milo works by reducing inflammation so that your body can heal itself. So after years of perfecting my brand that doesn’t add waste in the world, I can now sleep well at night knowing I’ve sourced everything top to bottom to be helpful not harmful to our society. It might sound obsessive, and it was.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Dr. milo is an all natural pain relief line of products that work with plant-based ingredients and sustainable packaging. Our topical pain relief lotion is water based making it highly absorbent beyond the layers of skin, deep into the muscle and tissue. We use a nano emulsified, full-spectrum hemp. This means we use the whole plant, not an altered synthetic extract of the plant. Nano emulsification just means that we break down the molecules in this milkshake like machine to make it more absorbent, hence elevating its potency as well. The smaller the molecule, the better your skin absorbs the active ingredients. We have Arnica Montana in there for bruising and swelling recovery, an all natural preservative made from fungi called “sclerotium gum” and 3 essential oils to make up our signature balanced scent (never menthol). We want you to feel good when you put your lotion on, not for it to be a reminder that you are in pain, and now you’re also going to smell medicated. Our packing is sourced in Germany and its an unbreakable recycled aluminum tube that I might ad, Is Gorgeous!
All of this sourcing took about 4 years. I started in my kitchen in Venice, CA then moved it to a lab where I could play around more with higher quality ingredients. There have been so many challenges every step of the way. We were just about ready to launch when the pandemic hit. Our lotion is great for anxiety (on the insides of your wrists) It calms the nervous system down and needless to say, I use it for that a lot. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that good things come with time. You can’t rush something that needs nurturing. Capitalism in America makes it incredibly easy to cut corners and I really kept coming back to that first notion of “how am I contributing something for the better.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This city is so massive and what I love most about it is that I feel like I’ll never be done exploring new hidden gems. A few of my favorite hidden gems lately are a bit outside the city but worth the drive. I’m a big fan of chicken wings esp. Korean fried chicken and the best spot I’ve found (I’ve been to just about every one in the city) is this stand in a Korean grocery store in Van Nuys. called Bene Chicken Cafe. Their toppings are incredible and you can get a lychee boba tea with a side of diced radish to make the perfect meal in my opinion. I went there every week while I was pregnant so I’m clearly very fond of the place. If you can get into Felix in Venice, go there…also the Sunset Bar in Malibu for -as you could guess….watch the sunset. Their margaritas are nasty good. The Troubadour always has good music and every farmers market in the city is a good time. If you can get further out of the city the Malibu hikes are less crowded and more about nature, less about a scene (which is really funny- I think some hikes are LA’s “hottest spots”. But the best place in LA right now is my backyard with my family. We sit out there and eat from our garden and watch our many bird feeders.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My brother and business partner David. He came to me with this idea to work with hemp in a healing way in 2018. We didn’t know what it would be but we both dove into every book/article/scientific study we could find about the healing properties of the plant. My brother is a partner that always has time to hash out a new idea or problem solve on a call and we champion each other, always. A great book he and his wife got me for Christmas one year is titled ” In the company of Women” by Grace Bonney. It’s a look at 20 or so different female founders in the art space. I studied that book cover to cover. What were these women wearing, who were their mentors, where did their passions lie. I’ve been really lucky to have great mentors in the cannabis/entrepreneurial space and I think they came to me at a time when I knew I needed to ask for help and I was “OK’ with asking for help. It was a big hurdle of mine. I became a business owner with no formal background and knowing when to ask for help i’d say is my best advice to growing the brand/or whatever passion you have. I do think my comedy improv. background helped me in every aspect of the business. You just have to be able to pivot at a moments notice and a lot of what I deal with on the day to day basis of the company is personal relations. A healthy sense of humor has saved me through really stressful times. My improv coach Joel Spence is the best. You can see him in a ton of TV shows, but he’s an even better teacher.
William Thoren Photography