Disclaimer: I wanted to deliver a video to accompany this interview. CEO of Lowkey Dispensary, Jeff Similien was kind enough to grant me not one, but TWO dope ass zoom calls to get it done. My meetings are set to automatically record, and yet the footage for both sessions is nowhere to be found on my laptop. I want to cry.
But then, maybe everything isn’t meant to be seen..maybe only heard or felt. So please read the words captured in conversation with Jeff and enjoy the youtube playlist link. Feel the energy that has helped propel the continuous, graceful grind of Lowkey Dispensary. Learn a little more about the background work that Lowkey is doing both in business and community.
Special thanks to Jeff for sharing his time, wisdom, and energy for this interview.
Jeff Similien and business partner Robert Nichols are in low key building mode. The dispensary, Lowkey Dispensary, is set to open March 2022, in Dorchester, Massachusetts (an area of Boston, MA). The real estate and emerging cannabis moguls are always ready for community engagement, expressing their mission loudly and affirmatively.
Scroll through the Lowkey Dispensary Instagram page and you will see that the work is being done and relationships are definitely being made to ensure a promising and equitable experience for Lowkey Dispensary supporters. Every adult and patient should, if they so desire, have equitable access to cannabis.
Of equal importance to the Lowkey team is the closing of the wealth gap with education and land acquisition. I gathered a lot of wisdom from Jeff, as he shared the plans for Lowkey Dispensary and got to see videos of what they have already accomplished in 5 short, powerful years on this journey (click the Lowkey Dispensary hyperlink above to tap into the journey).
The videos show a 5 year journey involving: paperwork, meetings at the State House, travel for research and development, and perseverance. Lowkey is actually high key and worth the watch. They deserve the support and credit that they are earning along the way in their foot-to-ground approach to cannabis business.
Jeff’s energy was seen upon approach and felt in the handshake. It was clear that we would cover Lowkey Dispensary at some point because these are the stories and people that we capture in the cannabis industry.
I didn’t know when but knew it would happen, and so when Vee asked me to lead this interview and write up, I wasn’t at all surprised. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Lowkey Dispensary.
Q&A with Lowkey Dispensary CEO: Funding, Investments, Travel, Business Planning, Real Estate, Investing in Employees, and More
Photo credit: Lowkey Dispensary
Tap in to the interview and take in the magic. *conversation has been edited for clarity*
Peace and thank you for sharing your time with me! For this interview I want to focus on your business, of course, but also on what drives you and your best ideas! First, can you tell me a little about Lowkey, and the inspiration behind the name:
“Lowkey is an idea that I had watching so many other people leverage the cannabis game in their favor. If I can consume it, I can make it work for myself and my community. I’ve been working in cannabis almost 5 years now, from research, to networking and acquisition of property. It’s been a steady build up and consistency has been the key.
Lowkey used to be called Level Up. You know, it just made sense with cannabis, at the time. One day I’m sitting with a friend of mine discussing business and I decide to light up. My friend was like ‘Oh wow, I didn’t even know you smoked. You’re really low key with it.’
I heard that and thought it sounded more like who I was and how I wanted the company to be represented. Lowkey is definitely my style, not so much in your face with it. If you really want to do business in cannabis there is a way about it. For me that way is ‘low key’.
[Fast forward to] community ties and dealing with different opinions from the people in the community. If everything is riled up and I’m only concerned with my agenda, I’m not applying my own logic. For example, a parent in the community could be jaded by cannabis because his son was killed in a bad deal. So now he’s demonized cannabis. I can’t be upset and allow my own personal feelings to cloud my logical understanding of opinions of those that I need to vote for cannabis. I have to be low key, not belligerent, understanding and open to conversation. That’s been my understanding of moving within this business.”
Please talk about your personal relationship with cannabis. How did you become a consumer?
“I came to the United States from Haiti. We weren’t worried about that over there. When I got to the U.S I still wasn’t consuming cannabis, and wasn’t smoking yet. I was an athlete all through school and college, playing soccer and football. A lot of my teammates were smoking cannabis, and of course I believed the worst about it.
Oh your lungs, oh it makes you lazy…but I would see my teammates consume right before game time and then dominate on the field. My mind was changed but I didn’t start consuming it until I was older, and then it was for stress relief. A friend of mine suggested I try cannabis and it was over after that. I smoked my first joint and never looked back.
But I wasn’t thinking about it business wise yet. I was concerned with real estate, because land in this country is wealth. I knew I wanted to have access to that. The cannabis business came later.”
Do you have a favorite strain?
“Can I be honest? All weed has the same effect on me. Satica, Indica, Hybrid, it’s all the same. I might be out of an idea or having trouble working something out, then I smoke and suddenly things become clearer. I’m in here thinking about “how to take over the world” (Que Pinky from the 1990s cartoon Pinky and the Brain: What are we gonna do today, Brain?”)
In the videos you sent introducing Lowkey Dispensary, you speak about traveling to a few different places for research and development. Can you describe some of what you learned on the journey to opening a dispensary.
“I traveled to a lot of different places to learn as much as I could about this business, starting in Massachusetts in 2017. Since then I’ve been to.
Colorado, Washington, Florida, Vegas and even Toronto doing research, touring facilities and asking lots of questions. I’ve attended legislative and licensing meetings in Boston and made phone calls that most people avoid simply because they are afraid of the answers they seek.
In 2021, I finally got to go to California, the granddaddy of cannabis in the United States. I’m thinking it’s gonna be smooth, like let’s catch a flight and just go to Humboldt county and ask questions. It did not happen that easily, because I quickly discovered that it takes more than a quick ride to get there. A visit to Humboldt requires much more planning.
But the places I did go to, I studied. I toured labs and manufacturing and a couple dispensaries, studying everything from the building location and layout, to the way the companies are run. I paid attention to how they display and advertise products.
Some places had too much room, all because they throw these huge parties once a year, but it was too much building for the type of everyday business, to me. Once I got a full idea of what I did and didn’t want it was like, ok cool. All I need is a location now and we are set. That was in March. It’s December now and I have real estate locked down. Now it’s all funding for the next steps.”
Photo Credit: Lowkey Dispensary
Speaking of funding, you and your partner are raising capital for Lowkey using a crowdfunding method. Can you explain the reason for and the benefits of this method?
“Crowdfunding is a communal way of raising capital. It helps others feel that they are part of building a company from the ground up, even in the most modest way. Cultivating community relationships is a big part of seeing a plan through. If I was anyone else I would want the opportunity to be part of something like Lowkey, or any other cannabis venture.
Every investment helps! It’s like getting into mining bitcoin. Even a little can have a decent return for an investor. I want everyone to feel like they are part of building Lowkey. A $100 investment feels like $1 million when you’re part of a group!
The cannabis business is run by political giants, mostly white men, who pretend to be at each other’s throats but secretly invest in each other behind everyone’s backs. They all win and we are all looking at each other wondering how they did it.
With crowdfunding, there is room for all kinds of investments, sometimes from the most unlikely of places.
Employees of Lowkey will also have the opportunity to invest back into the business as well as into a real estate portion of their own.
In the videos I sent you, we mention our Main Vest profile. Anyone with the link can tap in and invest money towards the building of Lowkey Dispensary.”
Please expound on the real estate give-back program for Lowkey Dispensary employees. That part of the business really makes me smile!
“Cool! So the employees of Lowkey Dispensary have the opportunity, if they choose, to purchase real estate with help from the company. They are paid a living wage so that they can actually make good use of what they earn. If someone has worked all that time, saved money, and is ready to purchase, we will help with closing costs.
Everyone knows about the 1.5% needed for first time home buyers but they seem to forget about closing costs, or not know too much about them. Closing cost is like that extra tax you forget to put in with the cost of an item.
When I was younger I saw these really dope ass shoes I wanted. $99.99! I was like cool, just need to ask my dad for the $100. I asked and he gave it to me, but when I went to the store to purchase the shoes, the tax was an extra $20. Of course I didn’t get the shoes that day and I had to ask for the extra money. My dad was able to give it to me but imagine all the people that don’t have someone to ask for the extra $20. Lowkey wants to come in the clutch…we want to be that extra $20!
Specifically for Black families, assistance like this will help close the gap. We want to empower our employees and people with education, financial assistance, and more!”
This is super amazing! I’m excited to know that there are more programs out there created for and by Black people in the name of wealth and health!
“I’m all about my people! I want to see us all win! Of course we have to put in our work. Understand our buying power and what we can get from what we experience. I want to help give my people more leverage.
One thing that is important in this business, or really any lane you want to be in, is to make sense of the relationships and people you want around. I manifested my partnership because I knew who I wanted to be around and what type of energy we needed to perpetuate the vision.
My partner doesn’t even smoke, but he believes in cannabis healing power and also in the vision for Lowkey! He also has a lot of wisdom and knowledge in real estate. Our business relationship started as a conversation. I have knowledge as well but there is always more to learn especially from those we connect with. What I don’t know, I seek. What I want to attract is attracted to me. It can be that same way for everyone if they want it.”
I love that energy! Speaking of manifesting dope conversations, if you could share cannabis with one person, dead or alive, who would that be?
“This is gonna be a weird one but…JEFF BEZOS. I know, I know…it’s weird. He probably doesn’t even smoke. But I want to know what type of mindset he had that helped him come up with Amazon. Like what type of energy is he on? I like to pick brains and have good conversations. He is definitely on my list.”
One more question and I promise I’ll let you go! If you could choose one song to sum up the energy that you feel embodies Low Key, what would it be?
“It’s kinda of hard to narrow it down to one song! I have so many artists to choose from! Can I say an entire album? Because I recommend Young Dolph (RIP).
Young Dolph’s “Role Model” album has my energy so high. I feel motivated because and can relate to what he is saying and apply it to myself. He has a song called Playin wit a Chek, that talks about balling out with your money. Anyone can relate to that because if you work or have a business, you get paid. When you get paid you have the opportunity to do what you want with that money. Playin with a check! Just make sure you do it at your level!
I like to listen to artists that talk about and that are showing progress. They embody growth, are admirable, touchable and understandable. Check out the 2018 album by the late rapper, Young Dolph on YouTube!
“It’s important to have a clear mindset and vision and to stay open to receiving. There is information and opportunities there for those that want them. When we cultivate relationships and stay consistent in what we want to accomplish, we are unstoppable!”
Boston is in for a treat when Lowkey Dispensary opens in March! When the community is a part of the planning, everyone wins. We are all looking forward to watching the quiet evolution of a brand created in the name of all things LOUD! In the words of Jeff Similien, “We level’n and Living Lowkey”.
To check what the team is doing and how building of Lowkey Dispensary is going, click here and subscribe to their Youtube channel to stay in the know.
I’m Mama Dom, aka Goddess Dom. I am a Magical Mama of 4 precious human children and a few plants. I am a writer, claireaudient, sonic healer, holistic heling coach and a cannabis advocate and user. I own and operate Green Hart Holistic, a plant based kitchen and apothecary. Our mission is to wake you up to the healing power you already possess and help you harness that power using crafted Earth items, including food and herbs.