Inspired by a lack of stylish, safe cannabis storage systems and a disdain for storing medicine in a shoebox, Apothecarry Brands CEO Whitney Beatty is a successful entertainment industry executive turned cannabis storage designer that’s spearheading her quickly growing start-up. Her luxury cannabis humidor company Apothecarry was selected for the first cohort of Canopy San […]
Inspired by a lack of stylish, safe cannabis storage systems and a disdain for storing medicine in a shoebox, Apothecarry Brands CEO Whitney Beatty is a successful entertainment industry executive turned cannabis storage designer that’s spearheading her quickly growing start-up. Her luxury cannabis humidor company Apothecarry was selected for the first cohort of Canopy San Diego cannabis business accelerator, won the ArcView Groups 2017 Los Angeles pitch prize and was selected at the Fall 2017 Pipeline LA portfolio company.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? How did you first get into this business or get interested in the business?
I actually never imagined myself working in the cannabis industry. To be honest, I did not use cannabis when I was younger. I didn’t use in high school and I tried it a couple of times in college but I wasn’t impressed — besides, Nancy Reagan told me to say no to drugs and I believed her! I had a 15-year career working entertainment — but a couple of things changed my trajectory. First of all, I was diagnosed with anxiety. It was a life-altering experience for me, I went from sitting at my desk with shortness of breath and heart palpitations to racing myself to the emergency room parking between two ambulances of the ER and being pretty sure that I was going to die of a heart attack.
Besides being very scary, I was most frightened because the medicine that I was given to treat my anxiety did not work for me. And I tried a lot of them. And finally, in an offhand comment, my doctor suggested I look into Cannabis, The rest, as they say, is history. I was able to find a CBD THC regimen that works for me. I was able to get off of all the other drugs my doctor had put me on. I was able to do the research on the plant and learn how misinformed I was. And then I realized that although I now love the plant — I did not connect to the cannabis culture as I thought I might. I detested the stigma. I detested how people avoided talking about it. And I realized that while I kept my wine in a wine fridge, I kept liquor in a bar, I kept cigars in humidors — I was still keeping my high-quality cannabis in a shoebox under my bed. Which is inappropriate — — not only for safety and freshness, but it perpetuated the stigma I was trying to erase and shamed my experience. What other medication do you store in a shoebox? After meeting so many like-minded cannabis users, who lamented about a lack of good storage system, worried about securing buds away from kids and pets and who were tired of searching around for their stash to discover it dried out from plastic baggies and non-airtight dispensary jars, Apothecarry was born. The brand seeks to redefining the image of cannabis users who take pride and pleasure in their stash, while filling a hole in the marijuana paraphernalia market for everyone from the attorneys who tokes after their high powered workday, to the “stiletto stoners” who are hosting ladies night, to the seniors using medication for health benefits and everyone in between who demands the best in all things.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your cannabis company?
I think one of the most difficult things that I had to deal with being an entrepreneur was at the beginning of my journey. I had just finished a friend and family round and intended to do a crowdfunding campaign in order to get the company off the ground. I had worked extremely hard on the campaign — we did videos, photo shoots, we had put money towards advertising and worked with a lot of companies to help get our campaign noticed. I spent almost all the funds I had in hand. And after all of that work we launched — and less than 10 days later we had our campaign taking down for being paraphernalia. Which meant we had wasted all the advertising money, all that hard work on those videos that were targeted for that campaign. And it was absolutely devastating for me. I was heartbroken and I felt defeated I didn’t know what to do next I didn’t have enough money to move forward without being able to take pre-orders funds and I really was at a loss.
I allowed myself 24 hours of abject devastation — and then I had to crawl out from under the bed to decide what was next. And this was my last shot. I took every penny I had left, quite literally, and I would buy 100 cases. 100 cases of My MVP product and put them online. At this point, I was completely out of funds so I did not have money to advertise or to buy Google ad words or really let anybody know what we were doing besides being guerrilla. But I bought a hundred cases all the same and I put them together in my garage, and box them up by hand. I hand stamped each one. Wrote thank you notes on them and PRAYED that someone would buy them (at my price point — which was another challenge for me. I had to prove that there was a market in the cannabis space for the luxury consumer and that these new higher-end consumers would be prevalent in the newly legal market. It only makes sense to me. The people I knew who used cannabis were doctors and lawyers and professionals people who were making six figures easy. I can also see the correlation between the cannabis space and the alcohol space — whereas there’s a space for Popov vodka in a plastic flask and there’s also a market for Belvedere. I wanted to cater to that high-end cannabis market and give them something beautiful, safe and functional that made them feel more comfortable having cannabis in their home and improved their smoking experience.
So I knew that this was a make or break event for Apothecarry. Either people would buy the cases or they wouldn’t and if they didn’t buy them I have a much harder time raising money and getting anybody to get behind the company.
And when they went up online they sold out in six weeks with absolutely no advertising. And I was elated. I was working like a crazy person by myself doing all of the fulfillment of my garage — but I was elated. It proved that there was a market for what I was doing and at that point in time I knew there was no stopping us.
Published: March 04, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News