Jessica LaPlace is raising three children, working full time and studying for a business degree at the University of the Virgin Islands, and if that’s not enough, the St. Thomas native recently added the title of entrepreneur to the list.
On Nov.15, the busy wife and mother launched Bloom Altitude 365. The online retail shop offers a wide variety of non-medicinal health and beauty products formulated with CBD and hemp. Categories range from cosmetics and body creams to aromatherapy inhalers, CBD oil drops, edibles and more.
“I chose this type of business because I have a passion for the health field,” LaPlace said. “I wanted to combine my background and experience with my entrepreneurial skills in order to serve my community.”
LaPlace said she personally selected all her products, which are organic and non-GMO, “and every item is tested by friends and family.”
Also, a proud veteran, LaPlace served three years in the Navy. During that time, her eldest child, Joshua, now 20 years old, was born.
Growing up on St. Thomas, LaPlace took an early interest in health care.
“From the time I was in eighth grade through the 12th grade, I worked in labor and delivery at the hospital,” she said.
LaPlace fondly recalled having been an assistant to head nurse/midwife Cynthia Stapleton, for whom the Labor and Delivery Unit at Schneider Regional Medical Center was later named.
“It was intriguing work,” said LaPlace. “Very fulfilling.”
LaPlace also worked in a physician’s office for a period of time. That lifelong interest in health led to her new venture.
“Years ago, I also started watching programs on the benefits of CBD and hemp,” she said.
One case LaPlace cited was the plight of Charlotte Fiji, who suffered from a rare form of epilepsy. The little girl became known as “patient zero” in research regarding the potential for cannabis and its non-psychoactive, non-intoxicating extracts to provide relief from seizures. Widely covered by the media, including Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN, in 2012, the seven Stanley Brothers – researchers based in Colorado – developed a strain of non-psychoactive hemp called Charlotte’s Web which appeared to aid the child.
“Stories like that reeled me in,” said LaPlace.
Today, LaPlace largely credits the Stanley brothers for inspiring a new wave of product development, including CBD oils and edibles, which are believed to provide a sense of calm and well-being. Other promising health benefits indicate help in easing pain, inflammation, skin conditions, anxiety, sleeplessness and other issues, LaPlace said.
“We believe in educating our customers, so they are well informed and can enjoy our products,” said LaPlace.
She emphasized that cannabinoids – CBD compound – is extracted from industrial hemp and can be legally purchased throughout the United States and the Virgin Islands.
“Gummies are our top seller,” LaPlace said. “According to customer feedback, it’s because dosage is consistent – and they taste so good.”
Hypo-allergenic cosmetics available at Bloom Altitude 365 include 24 shades of organic lipstick.
“Our lip gloss is perfect for teens,” LaPlace said, adding that she specifically selected that line with her daughter, Amber, in mind.
LaPlace also designed the company’s easy-to-navigate website. A total family affair, Amber provides product shots for the site and her husband Danny handles shipping and delivery.
St. Thomas residents get a bonus of free, same-day delivery on purchases over $25 and every shopper enjoys no-charge shipping on orders over $150.
New products are added regularly with a line of shampoos and conditioners coming soon.