Herd Lifestyle has quickly secured three industry clients and Ms Skingle is set to grow the business rapidly with additional recruitment imminent.
It will operate across the cannabis space with Ms Skingle keen to get to grips with some key industry issues.
She told BusinessCann: “Herd Lifestyle is a consulting business advising brands looking for a practical, solution-driven approach.
‘Fix Some Key Industry Issues’
“Herd Lifestyle is client-focused and one of our aims is to support brands in their desire to build a more sustainable business, whilst promoting sustainability across the industry.
“We are also looking to fix some of the key issues facing the industry. There are a lot of them and they just need sorting out.”
Ms Skingle joined Dragonfly in 2017 as a Business Development Associate and was promoted to Chief Operations Officer within a year.
She had previously worked as an analyst at biotech company after securing an MSc in Management at the London School of Economics.
Herd Lifestyle will operate across the whole cannabis space with one of the trio of initial clients being a plastics firm looking to utilise the eco-friendly hemp plant in its portfolio.
Secondly, it is helping develop a business strategy for an established testing business looking to become a major player in the cannabis industry.
And, third up is a nutrition brand looking to develop products from the whole host of plant cannabinoids, not just CBD.
Clients Across Cannabis Space
Ms Skingle said: “We are looking to work across the cannabis space; hemp, hemp proteins, CBD, packaging, bioplastics and medical cannabis.”
During her spell at Dragonfly Ms Skingle led on implementing and shaping product development with much of 2020 spent co-ordinating and collating its UK Novel Food application.
Nevertheless, this hands-on experience in the underbelly of the CBD world has afforded some unique sector insights.
In recent months Ms Skingle has developed concerns over some practices and trends which she describes as being ‘neither helpful to the industry, its brands or end consumers’.
The global CBD industry has grown rapidly over the last five years and recent figures suggest there are 750 brands operating in the UK space in a market valued at £300m.
‘UK Market Worth Tens Of Millions’
However, Ms Skingle believes the UK valuation figure is a significant over-estimation of the market’s true size which should be realistically valued in the ‘tens of millions, not the hundreds of millions’.
She added: “I believe it has the potential to be so much more; it just needs a brand-led approach rather than lots of companies attempting to do similar things.”
With the UK now in its third national lockdown Ms Skingle said: “For a lot of us the global pandemic has brought an awakening; a realisation, if you like, of what we want to do.
“Personally, I was getting tired of all the dramas that come with CBD. While some people were saying ‘you’re crazy. We’re just about to get started’. For me it just felt like it was time to go and fix some things in the industry.
‘CBD Industry Too Insular’
“There are a lot of issues and they just need sorting out. The industry is not as big as everyone thinks it is is. We are quite insular – this is not necessarily a criticism it’s just a factor of how the industry has grown.
“We talk a lot about education and compliance but at the end of the day the consumer does not really care.
“We may care as an industry, but look at a market like Vitamin C – people don’t say ‘Oh, I want the compliant brand?’
“We should be focussing on the customers’ needs whatever that may be; the price point, absorption, efficacy or branding and allow the consumer to make their decisions based on that.
“As an industry we had to go down that route initially but pursuing it further is the wrong route – and now is the time for change.”
Critical Of Scattergun Investment
Herd Lifestyle believes there are massive opportunities for testing labs, nutrition businesses and brands to build upon their compelling stories.
It will engage with players in related industries such as sustainable packaging, apparel, design and technology.
Product development is a key area of focus with Ms Skingle lamenting the regulatory whirlpool of Novel Food for gouging much of the cash and energy needed for innovation.
As the Novel Food process matures and Hoo-ha surrounding the regulatory side of the industry fades then the major consumer brands will find their way into the CBD space.
Critical of the scattergun approach of recent investment she called for an industry focus on sophisticated and targeted support to deliver viable, long-term business growth.
With the capital markets once more opening up for cannabis she believes it’s now time to do it right.
She added: “During this pandemic we have seen that consumerism is alive and kicking and we need to find solutions – new ways – that allow us, as an industry, to play a better, more-sustainable and effective part.”