By Haley Frederick
Pittsburgh Current Managing Editor
If you’re a CBD enthusiast in Pittsburgh, you’ve probably been to Hippie & French. The Lawrenceville boutique belongs to Lindsay French and offers a curated collection of CBD products for people and pets.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is one of the cannabinoids that can be extracted from marijuana and hemp plants. People use it to treat anxiety and pain, to help them sleep or to improve their focus. And unlike marijuana or THC—the other main cannabinoid in cannabis—it is non-intoxicating, meaning that users won’t feel ‘high.’ The “over-the-counter” CBD products sold by stores like Hippie & French are derived from industrial hemp, which is unregulated.
Over the past few years, CBD has become a popular alternative to medical marijuana for those who either can’t get it or who don’t like the way it makes them feel.
“For 95 percent of people that walk in my door, stress and anxiety is what they’re dealing with and it just helps to take the edge off,” French says. “It’s a nice body relaxation without that heavy head high that you would get from its marijuana counterpart.”
From naturally flavored oils, to hemp flower, to gummies and chocolates, to bath products and balms—Hippie & French has it all.
But recently, French has been introducing some new and exclusive CBD products to her store in collaboration with two other local businesses: Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches and Curly Tail Coffee.
The partnership with Leona’s came first.
“I think it was back in January is when I approached them and I researched their company a little bit,” French says. “I really wanted to partner with a local, woman-owned business and they just seem like a perfect fit.”
Leona’s started doing business in 2012, after the newly married co-owners, Katie Heldstab and Christa Puskarich, received an ice cream machine as a wedding gift and started experimenting. Heldstab is lactose intolerant, and she wanted to make a real, dairy-based ice cream that she could eat. Through the use of a natural enzyme, the lactose is broken down. What’s left is 100 percent real dairy with zero lactose.
They named the company after their rescue dog, and now Leona’s ice cream sandwiches are sold at more than 60 coffee shops, restaurants and markets in Western PA. The CBD sandwiches are only sold at Hippie & French.
“It’s something that we really think is a good product—high-quality CBD has lots of great benefits attributed to it,” Heldstab says. “And we thought, you know, we make something that makes people happy and CBD helps people be happy and healthy and it’s just a good combo.”
The first release on Feb. 26—which sold out of 60 sandwiches in two hours—featured lemon cream ice cream on ginger molasses cookies. They’ve restocked several times since then, rolling out a chocolate peanut butter sandwich and one with sweet mint ice cream on chocolate wafer cookies. Each sandwich costs 11.50.
Heldstab says she was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was to get the CBD in the ice cream. They use a high grade coconut oil with CBD that they mix in with the flavoring before adding it to the dairy. Each sandwich has 20 milligrams of CBD.
“Ice cream is one of those things that it’s a beautiful, blank canvas and you can throw most things at it and it accepts it and makes it even more delicious,” Heldstab says. “[The CBD ice cream] has a nice herbal note to it, almost like an herbal tea.”
For Hippie & French regulars and CBD connoisseurs, the Leona’s sandwiches have been a fun and tasty new product to add to the mix. But they’re also bringing curious Leona’s lovers into the shop to try CBD for the first time.
“I’ve had several stories about people that come in and buy a bottle of our oil after eating a sandwich because they liked how it made them feel,” French says.
After having such a good experience working with Leona’s, French decided to collaborate again. This time, she worked with local coffee roaster, Nicole Waltenbaugh.
Waltenbaugh started Curly Tail Coffee in 2015 because she wanted to be able to support local animal rescue. She donates a dollar from every bag sold, donating more than 10,000 dollars to date.
The coffee roaster says she originally found out about Hippie & French through social media and dealing with anxiety for most of her life, Waltenbaugh was curious about CBD. She stopped in the store in March and got to talking with French.
“We just hit it off from there,” Waltenbaugh says. “I’m familiar with the coffee and she’s the brain on the CBD end, so we put our knowledge on the two together.”
Waltenbaugh roasts all of her coffee herself. After a few test batches, she figured out how to get the combination for the Hippie & French roast just right.
“I roast the coffee fresh whenever Lindsay places an order, she provides the CBD oil and pretty much the oil is just put on the beans when they’re whole…it absorbs into the beans,” Waltenbaugh says.
Their CBD infused coffee hit the Hippie & French shelves on April 7. Each 12 ounce bag of coffee contains 600 milligrams of CBD.
“The theory behind CBD coffee is that you get all of the caffeine and the energy without the caffeine jitters,” says French.
French is also a dog-lover and was happy to continue with Waltenbaugh’s charitable mission. 10 dollars from every 59 dollar bag of Hippie & French Roast is donated to a local animal rescue. Right now the donation goes to Senior Hearts Rescue and Renewal in Bradford Woods.
Both collaborations have been going great, according to all the business-owners involved. French plans to keep them going and is already planning more for the future.
“They’re so much fun [collaborating], and in particular, with women,” French says. “It has been so great working with local, woman-owned businesses.
“We’ll keep doing them as long as people want us to and as long as people keep buying them.”