CBD, it’s officially: You’re no longer just a trend. In fact, the CBD market is projected to grow in sales up to $16.8 billion in 2025 (compared to about half a billion just two years ago). But even though this year, in particular, has shown greater support for Black-owned brands in the wake of Black Lives Matter, when it comes to the cannabis industry, there are still difficulties that BIPOC founders face.
“Black founders are the most resilient, scrappy, resourceful, collaborative crowd you will find. One of the biggest challenges is a psychological one: having consumers get over the hurdle in thinking that products from Black founders are ‘less than’ or exclusively for people of color,” says Dorian Morris, founder of Undefined Beauty. “If I was to see a product from a white founder, I wouldn’t automatically dismiss it as ‘not for me,’ so it’s a complete double standard and a mindset that must evolve and shift.”
Despite more progress being made in legalizing marijuana (New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota are the most recent states to pass laws to legalize it this year), there are also discriminations and stigmas that are associated with the Black and brown communities and drug dealing. According to the ACLU, Black people are 3.7x more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana. “It’s well known that historically Black people have been disproportionately criminalized for cannabis use,” says Coral Hines, founder of Buena Botanicals. In addition to these issues and the systemic inequalities when it comes to giving Black founders access to capital, it’s clear seeing why Black business owners have obstacles.
Despite the odds, Black-owned CBD companies are continuing to disrupt the market and find success. “I think wellness historically has talked to a very narrow demographic,” says Morris. And it’s up to us to make an impact on the momentum of these small Black-owned businesses. Here’s where to start with five woman- and Black-owned brands:
This skincare brand has not just one, but three women founders: sisters Malaika and Nia Jones and wellness expert Tia Beauchamp. Malaika Jones was a bit of an unexpected wellness brand founder, as she spent much of her career in investment banking and finance. But after suffering from a spine injury, she turned to cannabidiol as a holistic treatment.
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Founded just last year, Brown Girl Jane aims to be a clean and effective solution to everyday challenges: “We were disappointed to find that there was not one company on the market that was speaking to our unique needs and lifestyles [as Black women]. We recognized that for far too long wellness has been viewed as an exclusive club for only white women — a luxury instead of a necessity. Our brand works to actively dispel this myth by offering products that are effective, safe and can be incorporated seamlessly into one’s daily routine,” says Jones. “Our product line grew directly from our love of the healing power of plants, and just as importantly, our desire to introduce a realistic, high-quality collection centering women who are constantly balancing full and demanding lives,” she says.
Her go-to CBD product: “I’d have to choose our multifunctional GLOW Luminous Facial Beauty Serum. It’s food-grade and a highly effective, lightweight, hydrating, and high-potency daily face oil powered by 750mg of Broad Spectrum CBD + Cannabis Sativa Oil. Plus, it’s ingestible — a new concept within the industry. I use it in the morning and evening, on my face, cuticles, and any problem areas on my skin.”
In 2012, Washington state and Colorado were the only states to legalize recreational cannabis and it became a powerful resource for Joy Hollingsworth to treat different medical issues that ran in her family. Along with her brother, they applied for a Tier III Recreational Producer and Processor License, and today they have a 30,000 square foot plant canopy located outside of Seattle. “What makes us different from other brands is that we produce and cultivate all of our materials. We are transparent about our growing techniques and authentic about our delivery,” says Hollingsworth.
The journey to success wasn’t always easy, though. “It was challenging to trust the processes and navigate a new industry where a lot of people do not look like us. It hasn’t been an easy road, but I wouldn’t want to travel this road with anyone else other than my family. It’s important to me to use our platform to help build generational wealth within the community and help more Black entrepreneurs have an opportunity to get into the cannabis industry.”
Her go-to CBD product: “It’s the CBD Salve for sure. It’s a family recipe from our aunt Jackie who developed it for my 100-year-old grandmother, as well as her husband who was paralyzed from the neck bone down after a botched surgery.”
Another sister act, twins Coral and Tarah “Rah” Hines created Buena Botanicals in 2019 after being inspired by their mom. “She has high blood pressure, arthritis, and several other medical health conditions that often make it hard for her to enjoy her day to day. After giving her some of our products and seeing the amount of relief it gave her, we knew that CBD had the potential to help others in our communities,” says Coral Hines.
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“We also didn’t see many people like us in the cannabis space, and we wanted to help change that. We want to provide high-quality, eco-responsible CBD and other healing modalities that give back to the communities that have been most affected,” she says. The future is bright for the sister duo: “We are currently in the research and development stage of developing a membership club where access to wellness resources and events are more available. Through our products and brand, we hope that people find the relief and support that they are looking for, in whatever form, to help elevate their everyday experiences. We are also working on expanding our product line by incorporating more bath and skincare products for our customers to enjoy,” she says.
Their go-to CBD product: “We both love our Organic Elixir, which is an organic safflower oil tincture and our best seller. Rah mixes hers into her Brujita Skincare moisturizers and also doses directly under the tongue on extra stressful days,” says Coral.
Diversity is at the heart of this LA-based brand that hit the market this year. “We built diversity into our supply chain, so our farm partners, vendors, and suppliers are majority-owned by people of color or women. This was important to me because we really want to democratize plant wellness and not just with a cute diversity campaign,” says founder Kimberly Dillon.
Her company is all about using medicinal plants like cannabis and mushroom along with scientists and herbalists to build effective formulas. “We are a brand that encourages people to return to their roots and tap into their own intuitive healing journey with plants inside and out with a strong focus on stress and its impacts on the body,” she says. Though they just launched this past July, Dillon is already excited about the next phase: “We are launching more face products next year and a few ingestibles that really help with healthy mood support for anything 2021 throws at us.”
Her go-to CBD product: “I love our Attuning Face Potion. It will fundamentally change the texture of your skin to something that is just smooth, and baby soft. I love that you can add it to your moisturizer or face mask. You can even play with things in your kitchen. Our potion and a bit of sugar make a quick but effective lip scrub for those winter dry lips.”
After soft-launching at the Indie Beauty Expo in NYC in 2018, Undefined Beauty was voted as one of the top consumer favorites of the show. After graduating from Harvard Business School, founder Dorian Morris spent many years in the beauty industry at Kendo (which owns brands like Marc Jacobs, BITE, Fenty), Sundial, and CoverGirl. “After deciding to leave the corporate rat race, I felt it was my time to create something special and powerful for myself. I created Undefined to be different — to challenge the status quo — change the narrative and solve a key pinch point in the industry. I wanted clean, yet effective, accessibly-priced plant-based solutions aka what I call ‘clean, conscious, inclusive, plant magic.’
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Undefined lives at the intersection of wellness meet adaptogens (like beautiful CBD) meets purpose-driven conscious capitalism. ”My mission is to undefine and democratize beauty and destigmatize plant-based solutions through an unapologetic, uncompromising, unfiltered approach,” says Morris.
Her go-to CBD products: “It would be the newest edition to my Undefined CBD wellness family: Glow Bar. They are truly magical, powerful and mouth-watering — each two-ounce dark chocolate bar is small-batch, full of antioxidant-rich cacao, consciously-sourced from Ecuador and Peru and created with specific benefits in mind: sleep, focus/creativity, and pleasure. On the skincare side of Undefined, Glow Elixir — my best-selling CBD-infused face serum — is a skincare staple. It helps to hydrate, brighten, and balance stressed skin with beautiful ingredients like rosehip, Kalahari melon, plum, argan oil, and jojoba, plus a deliciously intoxicating rose scent.”
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