When I meet Matthew Miller — better known as Mills — for the first time, it's an early Thursday morning in June, and he's sitting on the patio at Austin's Josephine House.
Donning yellow-tinted sunglasses and one of those white V-necks that looks casual yet expensive, Miller has just come from a training session. The one-wheel electric skateboard he rode from his workout to our interview is tucked underneath the white marble-topped table where it will sit while we drink green juices. ("To reduce inflammation," he says.)
Miller's Cali vibe seems more at home in a Silver Lake coffee shop than the Nantucket-inspired Clarksville cafe, but his uniform is actually that of a modern medicine man. Miller was born and raised in Dallas and graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 2009. Now, as co-owner of Mineral Health, an Austin-based wellness company set to revolutionize the buzzy trend, Miller wants to elevate the public's understanding — and consumption — of CBD oil.
The inspiration for Mineral came, as things do, at the base of a Peruvian mountain after an unfortunate meal of guinea pig and alpaca stew. In 2016, Miller had gone to South America to summit a mountain, along with a few friends and local sherpas. As his companions slept one night, Miller joined the guides for a campfire dinner, which ended up putting him in a Peruvian hospital.
As he laid in bed, thousands of miles from his family in Dallas, listening to the same episode of Friends playing on a loop in Spanish, Miller realized he was in dire shape. He flew home to Texas, took a car from the airport to the ER, and promptly went into emergency surgery to remove a parasite in his bowel.
Following the surgery, Miller adopted a holistic approach to his recovery, foregoing traditional antibiotics in favor of things like ginger, pumpkin, clove, charcoal, and CBD oil, naturally occurring elements with anti-inflammatory properties. ("I did not tell my mom," he says of his decision.)
Once he recovered — a process that entailed regaining the 30 pounds lost during his illness — Miller began further diving into the world of CBD. He jumped on a plane to Colorado to tour farms, visiting 26 before finding one that aligned with his mission. With a farmer he trusted, Miller launched Mineral, along with co-founder Harris Fazlani.
For those unsure of exactly what it is, CBD — or cannabinoid — is a naturally occurring oil in hemp. Both hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis plant, albeit different parts. Hemp is high in CBD, which has anti-inflammatory properties, whereas marijuana is higher in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which elicits feelings of euphoria. Products with CBD are currently legal in the state of Texas, while marijuana is not.
"I want people to feel good," Miller says of his decision to launch Mineral. "And plant medicine can help." As federal regulations lift on cannabis-derived products, Miller says he wants to provide people with an alternative to big pharmaceutical companies. "People are tired of being screwed by medical companies. They're ridiculously overpriced," says Miller. "If pills are $30,000, $50,000, people are going to look for alternatives."
Mineral officially launched in late 2017 with ELYSE, which was replaced with the company's current offering, ROBYN, a CBD oil ingested by the dropper full. The formula for ROBYN was crafted by a scientist specifically to create balance, a word Miller uses often.
It's critical to note that Miller himself is not a scientist or health professional. And while Mineral is a wellness brand, the wellness is just as important as the brand. Mineral's products are sleek and cool, and the aesthetic pulls as much from the fashion world as it does from the crunchy, hippie-dippy culture that has been touting the benefits of hemp and CBD for decades — and they're designed that way. Before Mineral, Miller ran a creative firm, and he understands the importance of branding. A bottle of ROBYN, for example, looks at home on a shelf next to pricey serums and essential oils, and Mineral customers are more likely to be clad in Outdoor Voices than a Grateful Dead T-shirt.
Sleekness aside, the shift happening around CBD is similar to other things happening in modern society, such as a return to holistic medicine, farm-to-table cuisine, eco-friendly living, and humanely sourced clothing.
That shift is happening on a federal level, too. In June, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever CBD drug for the treatment of epilepsy. Earlier this year, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced it would remove CBD products from stores, a move it later recanted. The agency was so overwhelmed by comments in support of CBD that it announced it was putting the measure on hold while it did further research.
Trying the product
During our first meeting, Miller gave me a bottle so I could try CBD for the first time. The thought of using a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory aligns with my Outdoor Voices-wearing, farm-to-table-eating habits, and so I've taken it every evening for six weeks. I, too, am neither a scientist nor a health professional, so I will offer only this: when I finished my bottle of ROBYN, I promptly ponied up the $85 to replace it and will likely continue to do so in the future.
Later this month, Mineral will move into skincare products with the launch of MAISON, a full spectrum oil meant to be put directly on the body rather than ingested. "MAISON contains 12-plus cannabinoids and 26-plus terpenes known for reducing inflammation and easing pain," says a press release. "MAISON is formulated with naturally occurring fat enzymes from the hemp plant that speed the body’s ability to absorb and activate the cannabinoids and terpenes."
Miller says the skincare line is the first phase in expanding Mineral's offerings, a move needed to grow the business. He maintains strong Dallas roots — his mom lives in Lakewood and his dad lives in University Park, and he notes that three of his employees are from DFW.
"We were recently approached by Forty Five Ten for a retail partnership, and we're developing a demo with Royal Blue Grocery in Highland Park Village for September 8," he says. "After we open our first storefront in Austin later this year, we will open in Dallas in fall of 2019."
The company may expand, he says, but the mission will remain: "I want to help people, and I want people to feel good and get away from big pharma and get back to the earth for plant medicine."
"We want to grow more, but you don't rush it," Miller says. "I don't need to make $10 million right now."