Here at Kiva, our team is not only passionate about crafting the most delicious, consistent, and trustworthy edibles around- we are passionate about inclusive hiring practices, mentoring and accelerating equity cannabis businesses, and building a legacy of action and involvement. Our Co-Founder Kristi Palmer serves on the advisory board of Eaze’s Momentum program, a business accelerator designed to support and empower underrepresented founders. There, she had the opportunity to support Whitney Beatty, founder of Josephine & Billie’s, a Los Angeles dispensary that will be the very first of its kind focusing on the needs of women in color in LA. Josephine and Billie’s received the first investment from (Jay-Z’s, ahem) The Parent Company social equity fund. Here, we sit down with Whitney to glean a little inspiration from her journey in the hopes of empowering other minority business owners to make their own green dreams come true.
Thank you so much for making the time for us, Whitney. How are things going?
I don’t sleep anymore. There’s one fire after the other- and it’s not the fires that I thought. Opening a store in the middle of the pandemic has been so much harder than ever anticipated. It honestly takes a community- without my village, I would have drowned.
What has your biggest lesson been?
Teamwork makes the dream work. First and foremost my COO Ebony Anderson, whose regulatory experience was invaluable. Kristi as a mentor has also been super powerful. I was a solo founder at my previous company, Apothecarry, which makes high-end humidors. I knew about fundraising and being able to pitch, but nothing prepared me for the drama that is regulation!
How does it feel to be supported by The Parent Company?
It’s a real endorsement of what we’re doing here. There is nothing more exciting than being able to say we’re the first dispensary in the country to focus on women of color. There’s also nothing more depressing to stand here in 2021 and say that. It’s a double-edged sword- it really should not have taken this long. At a time when we sit and talk about Naomi and Simone and the stress that falls on women of color across the board- it shouldn’t have taken this long to get here. The weight of the world is on our shoulders- this demographic deserves so much, including education and our attention.
What is your best advice for someone preparing to open a licensed cannabis business?
Prepare for a marathon. This is not a short process. I didn’t know how long this was going to be. I knew there might be delays and obstacles- but I had no idea it would take this long. From the day I filled out the application to become a social equity license applicant in Los Angeles- that was around 2018. The license was applied for Sept. 2, 2019. And the opening date is Sept. 2021 (*editorial note- the final date was Oct. 29, 2021). It has been a rollercoaster of emotions- the lowest lows and the highest highs. It’s worth it for the amount of women that have come and said, ‘I have been waiting for this and praying for this. I can’t wait to come and support and build community with you.’
What do you see for the future of Josephine & Billie’s?
Our goal was never to be a single location- this (first store) is our proof of concept that the demographic and need exists. We are a $1.5 Trillion market. 1.3 M in Los Angeles self-identify as women of color. We will prove this market is viable and worthy and we’re going to show everyone what happens when you give the right market the right opportunity.
Any final words about Josephine & Billie’s and what consumers can expect to find there?
Women of color educating themselves about the benefits of plant medicine and making positive, holistic choices about their wellness is a radical act of reclamation. Josephine & Billie’s is manifested from the idea of connectivity, consciousness, and self-determination. We focus on providing women of color a unique, inclusive atmosphere in order to have a communal cannabis experience while learning about the powerful healing benefits of plant medicine. I also want to note that while we do focus on women of color, we are open to everyone! And we’re beyond excited to share cannabis education with the city of Los Angeles.
Josephine & Billie’s is open from 11-7 Monday through Saturday and 11 to 6 on Sundays. It is located at 1535 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Lost Angeles, CA 90062.
Applications for the 2022 Momentum program are now open and can be found here.