In 1996, the Walsh family moved from Chicago to Colorado, where the couple went on to have a lengthy spa career, opening their first spa in Keystone in 2004 before working with companies like the Ritz-Carlton and Vail Resorts. By early 2018, just as the CBD craze hit the mainstream, Matt published an investment guide to marijuana stocks. Later that year, he formed Splish CBD.
After having hundreds of massage therapists across the country test the products out, Matt rebranded the company in 2020 as Splish Naturals, to better reflect its wellness and spa-centric message.
"Most of the companies in this space were coming from the cannabis industry and didn't really understand the spa or wellness industry as well," he says. "That's when I decided there was a big market for this."
Now Splish is dipping into the athletic industry, working with athletes like former Denver Broncos linebacker Deiontrez Mount and sponsoring the 2021 Chicago Open Pickleball Tournament. We caught up with Matt, the founder and CEO of Splish, to talk more about how the brand is merging athletics with CBD.
Westword: What separates Splish Naturals from other CBD brands?
Matt Walsh: Where we come from. Most of the CBD companies are from the cannabis industry, but we're from the wellness and spa industry. We work directly with hundreds of massage therapists and spa directors, and athletes. We're talking mountain climbers, rock climbers, surfers, extreme runners, snowboarders. So we work directly with those who are using our product to collect feedback.
We also strategically use therapeutic essential oils; they're highly functional for whatever we're trying to accomplish. We use plant-based terpenes and created our own proprietary blend, which has a high degree of health benefits that give our products an extra "oomph." Our terpenes come from their natural source, whether it's pine needles or mango or thyme or lavender. Our terpenes do not come from the cannabis plant.
What got you interested in CBD?
After September 11, 2001, [my wife and I] thought long and hard about our future careers, as we both worked in the securities industry for New York-based broker dealers. We wanted something more relaxing and laid-back, so we decided to enter into the spa industry. Having spent seventeen years in the spa field, I felt there was an opportunity to introduce a trusted line of CBD products to spas. There's no shortage of CBD companies, but if a therapist doesn't believe in a product that they're using, your CBD product doesn't really stand a chance of being used in a spa. We wanted to be deeply immersed with the spa industry to test our products, to ensure that any therapist and spa can look at the bottle and know exactly what those ingredients are.
And what made you want to introduce a sports line?
My experience with CBD has always been that there's a large lack of knowledge and education about it.
We started talking to some NFL players about using our CBD products — of course, they get approached all the time by CBD companies — but they seemed to steer clear of it because they didn't understand it. Since we use CBD isolate, our products are great options for athletes who are worried about testing positive for THC.
Do you think CBD is becoming less taboo in the athletic industry?
I think so. I think there's more of a misunderstanding of CBD rather than a taboo. Athletes, and [others], equate it with THC and marijuana. But I think it's becoming more mainstream; you see it everywhere now, and people are starting to become more curious about it.
What are some conditions that Splish Naturals products could help athletes with?
Anything from tight muscles and aches to cramping. CBD is a great anti-inflammatory, so it can help reduce any inflammation and reduce pain. The CBD, therapeutic-grade essential oils and high-quality carrier oils, in combination with our terpene blends, help reduce aches and pain while relaxing the mind. Some of the essential oils we use also help increase circulation to help get the blood flowing.
Our Formula M body spray has 12,000 milligrams of magnesium chloride. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for the body; it controls muscle and nerve function, and it's very easily absorbed through the skin and could help reduce leg cramping. We also incorporate vitamin C with that to help protect the skin.
Where do you source your products?
We source our CBD from local hemp farms in Colorado and extractors. We manufacture everything in Colorado Springs. As far as our essential oils, we've got numerous sources, but we make sure that every oil we have comes from its original source, whether it's frankincense from the Middle East or Bulgarian lavender. Some of our ingredients are organic, but not all of them. We don't tout ourselves as an organic line.
What’s next for the sports line?
We're working on an anti-chafing balm, and we believe that will be a big thing for athletes, especially for golfing, tennis, runners. It'll be called Formula AC. We're planning on advancing our formula for our entourage balm, too. It's unscented, so it's good for anyone sensitive to the aromas of essential oils. It'll have arnica, turmeric oil and red raspberry seed oil, which is a great sunblock and anti-inflammatory. We are super excited about the future not only of Splish Naturals, but the growth and proliferation of CBD in general.