Prescription medication and supplements aren’t stored in an old shoebox under a bed or haphazardly tucked into an empty coffee can, so why do it with cannabis? This question was the impetus behind the creation of the Apothecarry brand, a high-end collection of carefully-curated odor-proof cases. Whitney Beatty, CEO and founder of Apothecarry, asks why people treat their medication, wine, cigar collection, or other items of value with such care, yet continue to store their cannabis in an insecure location.
Beatty says that many people use cannabis in a mindful way, but they don’t store it in a mindful way. When people use plastic bags or containers without humidity control, they aren’t taking the medicinal aspect of the plant seriously. She says that when cannabis is kept in humidor-like containers, trichomes don’t fall off the flower, and you preserve the quality of the medicinal benefits. With a kid and dog to worry about, Beatty’s focus was keeping her medication in a safe location. After some extensive research, she found there was a need for safe and sleek storage, so she embarked on an entrepreneurial adventure.
“I mean, so I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do and what functionality I wanted. But to be honest, I had not done a physical product. Before, my background was in the entertainment industry. I was a development executive,” she says. “So, there were some learning curves. I needed to understand how to do global sourcing. I needed to understand how supply chain management works.”
She began educating herself and finding mentors, and ultimately found a team of people to help fill in her knowledge gaps. Having a background in production, she understood the marketing aspect, how to tell the story of the brand, and which demographic she wanted to target, but she still had a lot of questions. Part of her journey was realizing that it’s okay to ask questions, and that sometimes it becomes more important to quickly surround yourself with people who have answers.
“People believe that CEOs are supposed to know everything. That is not the case. I do not know everything. I’m very willing to admit that my job is to build a team around me who can who can make up for the places that I have a shortfall. And that makes you a better CEO because, you know, you’re willing to be humble and ask for help and see how other people fit the puzzle better.”
One of the challenges every entrepreneur faces in cannabis is funding, but Beatty points out that that challenge is much greater for Women of Color (WOC). “Whereas women are getting 2% of VC [venture capitalist] dollars, women of color are getting .0006% of the VC dollars. [Fewer] than 34 black women have ever raised over a million dollars of VC funds. 34,” Beatty says. “It’s patently absurd. So those numbers aren’t great. But it’s still important that we’re here, and that were represented in this space.”
She says this representation is especially important because communities of color have been disproportionately disenfranchised by war on drugs for years. The industry is worth billions, Beatty says, but communities of color aren’t reaping the benefit. This is what led Beatty to join Supernova Women as a board member in 2015. She says that before she came along, Supernova Women was doing very important advocacy work with equity programs in Oakland, San Francisco, and on a federal level.
Founded in 2015, Supernova Women is an organization created by and for WOC, with a focus on advocacy, education, and networking opportunities. The group recently launched a Mastermind series, which is a group that fosters skill sharpening, accountability, mentoring, and other ways to improve entrepreneurship. Through the Mastermind groups, black and brown entrepreneurs have a safe space to brainstorm and find valuable connections.
Also challenging, Beatty is a single parent in the cannabis industry. She notes how many colleagues in this space remain secretive of their parenting status for fear of custody issues, or to avoid the very real stigma that still exists. Because of this, Beatty tried to keep the conversation alive through her Instagram account, The High Mommy Life.
She says that beyond breaking the stigma, cannabis offers her an opportunity to create generational wealth for her son. “One of the things that I do, you know, very deliberately is talk about the fact that I’m a single mother, that I have a small child that that’s one of the reasons and the impetus for me starting my company in the first place.”
Diana-Ashley Krach is a freelance writer, journalist, and content creator whose work can be found on Everyday Feminism, Ravishly, and Playboy. She is the co-host and creator of Your Highness Podcast and founder of Good Vibes Marketing Agency. You can find her on Twitter or on her website.