Get to Know: Rick Williams, founder of Orlo Health
We speak to the Soho Works member about launching his CBD health supplement, and the personal and practical considerations involved
Rick Williams is the founder of Orlo Health, a CBD health supplement company, which he launched during the pandemic. During this time, he also set up a media consultancy, Bella the Brave, as well as a new print publication aimed at dog owners, called Top Dog.
We speak to Williams to hear about Orlo Health, and how his media experience and personal life have fed into the business.
What’s your background and past experience working in media?
‘I’ve been in media for more than 15 years, working across some of the UK’s largest brands, from Grazia and Empire to The Mirror and Metro newspapers. Most recently, I launched my own media consultancy, Bella the Brave.
I love creating content-led campaigns and seeing big ideas come to life. I’ve envisioned campaigns for Monster Energy Drinks, Halfords, Emirates and Sony Music, and created a pop-up installation on Carnaby Street for Sainsbury’s with Grazia. I’ve also made a series of radio shows with BAFTA-nominated artist, Big Zuu, championing the work of the Young Urban Arts Foundation, who I’m proud to work with as a non-executive director media specialist.’
What inspired you to set up Orlo Health?
‘The passing away of my father was a huge turning point in my life. He had mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos. Every waking hour, he struggled with immense pain despite the medication he was on, which drove me to find alternative pain relief. That’s when I found CBD. I witnessed how it helped him manage his pain during this really difficult time. Seeing the benefits of CBD and the plethora of studies made me question why it wasn’t used more often. This stigma and lack of transparency around CBD encouraged me to launch Orlo Health with my friend and business partner Ross Gilchrist, so that we could make a safe, accessible product, free from THC, for use by the general population.’
What were the practical considerations you had to make?
‘Firstly, not all CBD products are the same, and learning all the legalities associated with selling CBD as a health product is an eye-watering challenge. CBD is legal in the UK, but growing hemp for the purpose of extracting CBD is not. So, the biggest hurdle for us was finding small-batch hemp farms in Europe that use organic methods to obtain the CBD. Many farms say that they do, but in reality it’s a very different story. After months of research, we discovered a small-batch farm in Estonia, which had a patented CO2 extraction method for removing all the psychoactive THC elements from the oils, making it completely legal to import. And, more importantly, it ensures the very best all-natural, all-organic, THC-free product for our UK customers.’
What can your CBD product be used to treat?
‘Taking CBD as part of a general wellness routine can help with the maintenance of a healthy balance (called homeostasis) in your endocannabinoid system. This is responsible for regulating your body functions, and aiding sleep, pain relief and anxiety.’
You also launched your own agency, Bella the Brave, and a magazine, Top Dog. What was it like setting up three businesses during the pandemic?
‘It was busy! I’m really passionate about all of them and feel very fortunate to have worked with some great brands, especially during a pandemic when many businesses were so badly affected. Being an agile small company meant that I was able to pivot to the needs of my clients while we all navigated the “new normal”.’
Orlo are offering a 25% discount to Soho House members across all their products. Check out orlo.health and use the code Works at the checkout to receive your discount.