Out of the Clouds
June 4, 2023, Anne V Muhlethaler

S3:E12 Gemma Colao

On the wonders of CBD, amplifying the silence and finding your space

Gemma Colao of OTO CBD on the Out of the Clouds podcast

Gemma Colao is the co-founder and creative director of OTO (which rhymes with ‘photo’), a UK brand that was created to answer her desire to share the wonder of CBD with as many people as possible through luxurious products and meaningful experiences.

Gemma first talks to Anne about her fashion career, as a knitwear designer, and how she was drawn to design and ready-to-wear, inspired by her artist grandmother’s bold bohemian style. She started her career with an internship at DKNY, and after graduating from Central St Martins, Gemma worked for the likes of Clements Ribeiro before turning to Esprit and Marks & Spencers, among others. 

Gemma explains how she jumped on the opportunity to move to the US thanks to her husband. She tells Anne how the pace combined with the workload from her design job took a toll on her and how, sleep-deprived, she was battling anxiety and burnout — that is, until she found CBD. After a colleague made the suggestion to give it a try, Gemma shares what a revelation (or revolution, perhaps) this was for her. Thankfully, she felt the effects of CBD quickly, improving first the quality of her sleep, which in turn lessened her anxiety. This of course had a huge impact on the quality of her life. 

Inspired as she was by the possibilities offered by CBD, Gemma recounts how she and her husband then set out to open the first legal online dispensary in California. Later on, the couple returned to the UK to find that the quality of CBD products offered in that market was much lower, so Gemma explains how she saw this as an opportunity and that’s when they decided to create OTO. 

Anne herself admits knowing very little about CBD, so the two talk about the nitty gritty of what makes OTO CBD products effective and why they are formulated to feel luxurious but are also backed by science. Gemma shares her vision to build a brand that people can trust, and one that focuses on efficacy as well as experiences and moments, whether from the brand’s sleep drops, skincare or their new spa products and beverages (OTO made the first CBD bitters in the world). Anne also asks Gemma to speak to OTO’s recent acquisition of the wellness group South West Brands and how she hopes that the newly formed OTO Group becomes a portfolio of global female-focused wellness brands. 

Finally, the two exchange on their rituals, gratitude, journaling practises and what keeps Gemma grounded and balanced day to day, busy as she is with OTO and her two little boys at home. 

A rich and engaging interview with a highly creative entrepreneur. Happy listening!

Selected links from episode

You can find out more about Gemma and OTO at OTOCBD.com

If you are in the US at us.otowellbeing.com

Connect with Gemma on LinkedIn

And you can follow OTO Wellbeing on Instagram @oto_wellbeing

Facebook Oto Wellbeing

TikTok Oto_Wellbeing

Youtube – OTO_Wellbeing

And LinkedIn Oto Wellbeing