Grow, Gift, Repair

Equity applicants in Oakland working together

Part of Augusté’s learning curve also meant figuring out how to maneuver through the state’s regulatory instability. After a promising launch in the first quarter of last year, momentum stalled when California’s new regulations officially went into effect in July. Cannabis brands struggled to achieve compliance under the new state laws, leaving Vista with no product to distribute for over a month, “which, for a small startup, is crippling,” Augusté wrote in an email. She went from distributing five brands to one.

But that brand, SF Roots, has become a strong ally. “She was working incredibly independently as well,” said Augusté of SF Roots CEO Chelsea Candelaria, “so we kind of just joined forces as two Brown women in the industry earning our stripes. But also, knowing that we had to support each other, we had to vent to each other, we had to come up with realistic solutions.”

Their meetings evolved into self-care focused coffee dates, yoga classes, and eventually resource sharing. The two female entrepreneurs also recognized that the self-advocating didn’t end once an equity permitholder gained a general partner. “It’s great to dream but you have to be realistic,” Candelaria said. “It’s the job of equity applicants to push the city and be like, ‘You guys said we need this. We don’t. We need this,’ so we have to advocate for ourselves.”

For Augusté, this realization has made a huge difference. “What we’ve talked about is that if we don’t move through this process literally joining forces together, then other equity teams are going to have it just as hard, if not harder,” she said.