Inside Josephine & Billie's: The Black-Woman Owned Speakeasy-Style Dispensary That Got Jay-Z's Stamp Of Approval
Photo Credit: Josephine & Billie's

Inside Josephine & Billie's: The Black-Woman Owned Speakeasy-Style Dispensary That Got Jay-Z's Stamp Of Approval

On October 29, Josephine & Billie’s opened its flagship Los Angeles location, priding itself on being a safe space for women of color, especially Black women, to shop and be educated on cannabis. “Most stores are designed and built by white people with one perspective. And women of color rarely get the opportunity to feel comfortable in those spaces,” said COO Ebony Anderson in a press release. “But Josephine & Billie’s was designed and built by, and for, women of color with that in mind.”

AfroTech got the opportunity to attend the grand opening of Josephine & Billie’s to meet with the owners and check out what the space had to offer.

Located at 1535 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, this Black-women owned dispensary is the first-of-its-kind speakeasy-style cannabis concept and is inspired by ‘tea pads’ that once thrived in Black communities during the 1920s and 30s.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Ogbogu for AfroTech
Photo Credit: Stephanie Ogbogu for AfroTech

“So many people have asked me, ‘why MLK?’ and I’m always like, ‘why not MLK,'”  Josephine & Billie’s CEO and Founder Whitney Beatty tells AfroTech. “I’m in the community of which I want to serve. I’m in the community of women of color. My people deserve this sort of location. They deserve this sort of quality and they deserve this sort of location. They shouldn’t have to drive halfway across the city to Melrose in order to get it.”

Upon arriving at Josephine & Billie’s, you’re greeted at a reception area where you let the front desk know that Billie sent you. Once you’re checked in, you’re told to go to the back to “freshen up.”

Once in the back, you’re transported to the 1920s. The decor is reminiscent of an exclusive members-only jazz club. Classic jazz plays overhead and vintage art hangs on the walls. The speakeasy vibe is alive and well at Josephine & Billie’s. Also alive and well are the memories of Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday, two women who were widely persecuted for their marijuana consumption.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Ogbogu for AfroTech

“If we’re going to sit around and talk about legalization, why can’t we talk about the women of color who’ve paid the price,” said Beatty who further shows her support by allowing guests of Josephine & Billie’s to write notes to incarcerated woman through their Pen Pal Project.

Josephine & Billie’s Pen Pal Project / Photo Credit: Stephanie Ogbogu for AfroTech

At Josephine & Billie’s you’ll also find educational books and art pieces covering the health benefits of cannabis, as well as the history of Black people and cannabis use throughout the world.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Ogbogu for AfroTech

This dispensary differs from others as it does not simply classify the products by strains, but by their terpene profile. That means that customers will find products based on effects that range from “relief” to “focus,” allowing them to find herbal options that specifically cater to their wants and needs.

Whitney Beatty explains the various terpene profiles / Photo Credit: Stephanie Ogbogu for AfroTech

A terpene bar allows customers to sample different scents and determine which profile is right for them.

Terpene bar / Photo Credit: Stephanie Ogbogu for AfroTech

 

As previously reported by AfroTech, Josephine & Billie’s snagged its first official investment from Jay-Z backed The Parent Company. It was an investment that couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I knew that data sells so I kept on pitching and I went up the chain until finally I got to pitch to the big guns,” said Beatty who was taken by emotion as she recalled The Parent Company CEOs saying it was one of the best pitches they had ever heard. “That was the most validating things I had ever heard because I felt like I had been running against this wall and having so many people tell me that this demographic didn’t matter. That was the first time I felt like we had been seen. It made such a difference for this project because their check mark allowed me to close my round.”

Josephine & Billie’s pays it forward by stocking a variety of high-quality cannabis products from Black, queer, women, and POC-owned brands like Ball Family Farms, Monogram, Tical, Cann, Leune, and more.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Ogbogu for AfroTech

Whether you’re in the mood for flowers, edibles, oils, pre-rolls or tinctures, Josephine & Billie’s has everything you desire. Doors are currently open to the public, just remember to let them know that Billie sent you.