Black Girl Magic Aims High
As co-founders of Josephine & Billie’s, Whitney Beatty and Ebony Andersen launched the first speakeasy/dispensary in Los Angeles that celebrates cannabis’ rich Black history.
Josephine & Billie’s is the first dispensary in South Los Angeles focused on being made-for-and-run by women of color. The store is named in honor of entertainment legends Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday, two outspoken Black cannabis enthusiasts in the early 20th century. Baker and Holiday were ostracized for their use of cannabis and became unintentional advocates before their time. The celebrated performers used their respective talents to bend the rules and open the door for future rule-defying women.
Whitney Beatty and Ebony Andersen joined forces to open Josephine & Billie’s in 2021. Thoughtfully designed as a throwback, the dispensary is based on a teapad—the Black version of a speakeasy—where patrons smoked cannabis, drank and socialized in the 1920s and 1930s. The destination dispensary carries everything from tinctures to lotions to sex oils to flower and focuses on education, experience, inclusivity and community-building, with an eye for social justice and reform.
By creating safe spaces for cannabis education, Beatty and Andersen are encouraging women of color to let go of the stigma of cannabis. “We hear it all the time that they don’t feel comfortable, safe or heard,” Beatty says.
The Directors Guild of America’s (DGA) award-winning reality television director and executive who’s now working in the cannabis space, Beatty advanced from an assistant all the way to a senior executive over the course of her dynamic 15-year career. Breaking boundaries is her jam.
Beatty wants to share her experiences and lessons learned with women of color who are also passionate about paving a path for future generations of women. “I never want to see someone have to work so hard to get to where I am,” she says. “If I can be a steppingstone—if they can take the lessons that I’ve learned and apply them and make their lives easier and be able to streamline their processes, any of
those things—that’s a win.
A calm force to be reckoned with, Andersen enjoyed a highly successful 17-year career as a land use specialist in Southern California, a position that gave her immense insight into how she could assist the newly legal cannabis industry. Andersen’s pivot from urban planner to cannabis consultant allowed her to manage several large-scale cannabis projects, including huge cultivation facilities, expansive manufacturing plants and Josephine and Billie’s dispensaries in four states.
Andersen recounts times she faced discrimination as a woman in the workplace. “There was a lot of sexism,” she says. “But then I saw the blatant racism on top of it, right? It was rough. I call it career trauma. I had to learn as a woman, you literally have to take up space. You have to be assertive. You have to make your voice heard.” Andersen advises other women to live and work unapologetically—precisely like Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday did in their day. In fact, the very name of the dispensary harks back to the larger-than-life entertainers and role models.
Whitney Beatty and Ebony Andersen are building new inroads for LA’s 1.3 million residents who are women of color.
The stage is set: It’s time for the show.