n 2015, Detroit native Whitney Beatty was a senior vice president at Warner Brothers Telepictures in Los Angeles, developing reality TV shows for the Judge Mathis brand. By then, she’d discovered “a real ability to seek out niche markets,” she says. “I know customer base. I know what people want. I know what stories they want to hear—and I know how to put that in the forefront.” But the costs of her job were astronomical, if you value good mental health. In 2007, when Beatty was 29, she developed chest pains after weeks of 16-hour days and thought she was having a heart attack. She drove herself to the emergency room, walked in and said, “I’m dying.” After a EKG they gave her a strange look and responded, “No you’re not. You’re having an anxiety attack.” Beatty saw a doctor who, after suggesting pharmaceuticals to address her condition, said offhandedly, “Have you ever tried cannabis,” says Beatty.
“She could have been saying, ‘Try some meth or here’s a crack rock,’” adds Beatty, but she decided to research cannabis. She discovered that it’s very hard for the average person to sift through all of the various strains in the world and learn to medicate themselves—make that doubly hard for women. So she decide to open a shop called Josephine & Billie’s that “cuts through jargon” and is “community forward,” a “best-in-class” retail store that caters specifically to women.
The difficulty? Enacting her dream, especially as a woman of color. For every $1 million a white man can secure, a black woman raises $30,000. But believing in her concept, she found a location for her store and started paying rent on it in 2019. She also got accepted for a retail and delivery marijuana license and is currently finishing license requirements. Recently, she got a financial, spiritual, and intellectual boost when she was selected for the Eaze Momentum Accelerator program, earning a $50,000 award and 10 weeks of intense programming and mentorship that streamlines a pathway to success for social equity participants.
Beatty believes the accelerator will help her address issues of social equity. “Cannabis was used as a weapon to criminalize black and brown communities,” she says, “and today, 73% of women in Los Angeles identify as women of color, yet none of the dispensaries offer a female-centric approach. The medical benefits of the plants are overlooked. Josephine & Billie’s will be a space that serves the needs of the community and provides jobs for the community for true inclusion.”