Jamie Lea saw a void in the cannabis industry that needed to be filled by someone who would effectively represent Black women and women of color in this competitive industry.
To Jamie, her business exceeds being just another CBD brand and aims to create community, connection, and social impact.
Read below as she talks about the obstacles she faced when launching her Toastyy brand and how ignoring the naysayers ultimately led her to her success.
Jamie Lea Interview
Why is it vital for CBD brands like Toastyy to exist for women of color?
Jamie Lea: Honestly, I think it’s important for women of color to not only have CBD brands but more so having Black and women-led brands in whatever industry we want. That type of ownership allows us to express ourselves and show much-needed representation across multiple industries.
For myself, it was crucial to dive into the cannabis and CBD space because it is a predominantly white industry. Within this space, I saw a need for products like topicals or haircare products that specifically cater to an ethnic sector of women.
Generally, I believe Black women and women of color need to see this type of representation – allowing them to see a brand that stands for and is created by them.
How do you hope to impact and diversify the current CBD and hemp industry positively?
Jamie Lea: Not only do I want to provide women of color-owned products to the industry, but I also want to provide a welcoming community. Toastyy is more than just a brand for me. It’s also a place that women can talk about their CBD experiences, what works, what doesn’t work, what different recipes they’ve tried, etc.
I want them to be able to talk about things like how they decide to dose and how they decide to track different things like that. Additionally, I want to impact the industry in a way that gives back.
Right now, we are partnered with the Last Prisoner Project for the Roll Up for Justice Program, and then ultimately, I would also love to create some type of athletic scholarship because I’m an athlete at heart.
Since I was about six or seven, I’ve been playing volleyball, and I think it would be really awesome to go back to my small town in Efland, North Carolina, and create some AAU scholarships down there.
I want to give younger, less fortunate athletes opportunities to gain exposure, get out there and play, and participate in tournaments, regardless of whatever their house situation may be.
What obstacles have you overcome in this industry, or just being a business owner in general?
Jamie Lea: So many. Just being a businesswoman of color and being someone without a business degree has created some challenges. I have a sociology, criminal justice, and educational degree.
Starting the business altogether was a lot of work, from creating an LLC to business insurance, to securing a bank account, and just being in the industry as a whole is really difficult. I feel like a lot of banks see “cannabis” and “CBD” and just run.
Maybe it’s because they feel like it’s a high risk, but it’s definitely more common than people think, so that was a bit of an obstacle.
Thankfully, I have an incredible mentor, but trying to find investors or people who believe in you with lots of money for funding is difficult.
Right now, it’s just kind of like starting from the ground up and showing the industry what I bring to the table. I’m showing what I can produce and hopefully allowing my talent and work to speak for themselves.
Secondly, in the cannabis space altogether, I am often the only woman and/or the only woman of color in my meetings, so that as a whole can make someone feel a little uncomfortable.
What successes has Toastyy already achieved?
Jamie Lea: I think a huge success was making it to the launch. It’s really a lot of work, and I think I changed my launch date four to five times. So that was definitely a huge success.
Kicking off, we’ve had many PR opportunities with editors that love the product – they’re not just writing about it, but they are trying it and having incredible experiences. They’re telling friends and different things like that, which is so awesome.
I also had the opportunity to connect with Playboy for our stance on criminal justice reform and looking to go way further with that in the future. We did a Playboy Twitter takeover, where I got to submit a video and give a brief description of Toastyy and do a call to action.
What advice would you give to other women of color that want to start their own businesses successfully?
Jamie Lea: Just do it. Don’t let anybody steer you otherwise. For example, when I entered into this space, and I’m sure this could go for almost any industry, a lot of the feedback was like, “Oh, the CBD space is oversaturated.”
I think about a popular TikTok video that says something like, “Do you think Rihanna created SavageX because she felt that she couldn’t make a difference in the lingerie industry?” No. My thought is that, yes, an industry can be saturated, but there’s also no YOU.
Find your passion, make a plan, and execute.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2021? What can we expect to see from you?
Jamie Lea: As things are slightly opening up outside a little more, I would love to have an in-person hard launch to connect with some customers on my Toastyy base and be more customer-facing.
I also definitely want to add some new products to our assortment. I want to dive a little bit deeper into skincare by working with some formulas that I’ve found have helped me personally. This will include some under-eye patches, face masks, and things like that.
I’m hoping to connect with some artists and participate in some festivals too. A lot will be in the works for Toastyy for the rest of 2021.
Photography: Lena Ocean
Makeup: Tiesha Randall
Hair: Alicia Nelms