Josephine & Billie’s, a speakeasy-style inspired dispensary designed by and for women of color, officially opened last week in Los Angeles. The new location is the first of its kind in the United States and the business itself was the first place Jay-Z’s organization The Parent Company invested in this previous summer. “In our space,” their mission statement reads, “we are affect-focused, an aim to help you heal, ease tension or uplift. Our M.O. is we got you, sis. We’re here to encourage self-care and joy, and to educate every woman that walks in the door, giving her a little more than she came in with.”
In an interview with Green Entrepreneur, Josephine & Billie’s Chief Operating Officer Ebony Andersen said, “We aren’t just trying to be different for different sake; we plan to revolutionize cannabis retail. We wanted to reclaim our space in the cannabis industry as Black women striving to change the work experience for all women and people of color.” Andersen, along with business partner and Chief Executive Officer Whitney Beatty, founded Josephine & Billie’s and sought to build a community where Black women and first-time cannabis consumers can learn more about the beneficial properties of cannabis.
“Research shows that women are more anxious than men, and data shows that Black women are facing the most anxiety — and yet we have not seen a dispensary focusing on this demographic,” Beatty said in a press release. “Josephine & Billie’s is committed to being an educational space and community where Women of Color, and allies, feel safe and welcomed to learn about the healing benefits of cannabis”.
The store’s concept and design are inspired by ‘tea pads’ of generations past. During the 1920s and ’30s, prohibition was strictly enforced on alcohol and marijuana. Communities of color were and remain the most policed for drug and alcohol-related infractions, but that’s where the tea pads came in. Residents in Black communities would meet up in secret locations, called tea pads, to socialize among cocktails, cannabis, and live jazz music. Beatty and Andersen named the dispensary after two influential figures, Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker – two Black female icons who were making waves and breaking barriers back in the same era from which the store now draws their aesthetic and vibe.
Instead of being secretive like the speakeasies during prohibition, this WOC-owned dispensary creates a welcoming setting for all of its visitors. “Anyone can walk into our store and see someone they relate to because we’ve prioritized hiring a uniquely diverse staff. The floor plan allows customers to explore the different areas of the store leisurely and at their own pace. And we offer seating areas for connectivity and comfort that encourage extended visits,” Andersen said during her interview with Green Entrepreneur.
The inside of the dispensary has walls painted in varying shades of inviting royal blue. The wall behind the register counter has a black and gold luxe pattern and sprawling green indoor plants are dotted around the interior.
Most dispensaries organize their cannabis products by edibles, tinctures, concentrates, or flowers. Josephine & Billie’s dispensary layout is focused on the different flavor and experience profiles in terpenes, from joint papers to nice glass containers filled with robust and potent cannabis flowers.
“We don’t have budtenders; we have Herbal Wellness Advocates. We don’t have customers or patients; we have community members,” Andersen added in her Green Entrepreneur interview.
The dispensary first made headlines when it was announced that Jay-Z’s company, The Parent Company, would make a significant investment into the Black women-owned cannabis business back in June.
Across the cannabis industry, more black-owned businesses are launching their brands. Black Buddha Cannabis, owned by the founder of Minorities For Medical Marijuana Roz McCarthy, was presented and well-received by attendants at the MJBizCon in Las Vegas. If you’re local to Los Angeles, go check Josephine & Billie’s out and give them some love!