Company: The Heritage Club
As one of the few Black women to own a cannabis business and even fewer to do so by the age of 30, Nike John, the CEO of the cannabis retail store The Heritage Club in Boston, says if there is one lesson she could impart to future business owners, it is the value of networking.
“I would not be here if it wasn’t for all the connections, friends and community that were around me,” John says. “This journey is a hard one. I think if diverse owners and entrepreneurs stick together, we can continue to make equity initiatives last.”
John spent the first 10 years of her career in real estate. As the owner of her own real estate brokerage firm, she unwittingly gave herself a leg up for when she eventually transitioned into cannabis.
“This is a major hurdle for other social equity applicants, as securing real estate is often backed by generational wealth,” she says. “This is unfortunately reflective of the real estate market in general, which means Black communities are impacted greatly.”
John places great emphasis on The Heritage Club being a mission-driven business. In addition to diligently working to source from diverse brands, John also founded The Heritage Home Foundation as a way to utilize her prior experience in real estate to make an impact in communities affected by the War on Drugs, helping others buy homes so they can build generational wealth.
“I saw low-income housing programs limit the long-term gain of the people they were designed to help,” John says. “We will host financial planning, credit repair and home buying seminars. The Heritage Club also pledges to cover the closing costs for 10 qualifying residents per year.”
Can I get an update on how Heritage is doing? Are you hitting your goals? Planning expansion? What’s going on?
Things are going well! We opened doors less than one year ago and have made so much progress in the Boston cannabis community. The market in Massachusetts shifted drastically as far as pricing and consumer mindset. This was tough to navigate. Despite industry setbacks, we’ve seen slow growth month-over-month and continue to grow our local community through curated education engagements for customers, pop-ups with local brands and community events.
We’re also diligent in continuing to source from diverse brands – we’re currently at one-third brands sold at our dispensary are from diverse cannabis brands. We also continue to source from cultivators who truly care about the product, which sounds so simple, but it takes an extra level of patience and commitment to find partners who care as much about the plant as we do!
As far as expansion, we are working on multiple license applications and navigating the competitive climate in the city. Our hope is to open another location very soon and continue to grow The Heritage Club brand. We’re also expanding into delivery and getting a license that would allow us to incorporate residential home delivery into our business model.
Later this year, we will also officially announce and start publicizing our non–profit, The Heritage Home Foundation. Our program will offer home buying assistance to help communities affected by the war on drugs build wealth.
Why was founding the Heritage Home Foundation important to you?
I thought that being in cannabis meant the only way to pay it forward was in the industry of cannabis, but I found a way to bring my passion and previous experience in real estate into the equation as well. Before I founded The Heritage Club I owned my own real estate brokerage. This gave me somewhat of an advantage when it came to finding a property, but it was still difficult. This is a major hurdle for other social equity applicants, as securing real estate is often backed by generational wealth. This is unfortunately reflective of the real estate market in general, which means Black communities are impacted greatly.
I found there is a way to build generational wealth outside of the cannabis industry and make an impact to help communities affected by the War on Drugs. I saw low income housing programs limit the long term gain of the people they were designed to help. One of the founding principles of the program was to not limit this. So instead, we will host financial planning, credit repair, and home buying seminars. The Heritage Club also pledges to cover the closing costs for 10 qualifying residents per year.
Being one of very few Black women to own a cannabis business in the state/ industry and also being one of the youngest operators in the industry makes you an ambassador for aspiring operators – what do you wish to convey to them?
Try to make yourself as accessible as possible to other entrepreneurs like yourself. It’s so important to have a circle of supporters. I would not be here if it wasn’t for all the connections, friends and community that was around me. This journey is a hard one. I think if diverse owners and entrepreneurs stick together we can continue to make equity initiatives last.
What is your biggest milestone thus far?
Initially, actually being able to open our doors was a magical moment that seemed like it would never come. Then after that, it was the moment we finally broke even and realized we could keep our doors open and lights on.