An Employee Owned Cannabis Dispensary Offering Products Exclusively from Woman and Minority Owned Operations; Meet Chicago’s: Socíale

Grand Opening Day at Socíale.
Photo provided by: Socíale

Annu Khot founded and launched Socíale, a cannabis dispensary based in Chicagoland, largely owned by employees, and set to expand to 10 locations within the next 5 years. Annu’s journey to Founder was all but brisk. Like many minorities in cannabis, her journey to cannabis started with a painful story of loss and seeing loved ones suffer. Continue reading to learn more about: Annu’s personal story that led her to cannabis, her relationship with cannabis, Socíale- the cannabis dispensary, plans for industry change, and more.

Getting to Know Annu Before and After Her Move to The United States

Annu and Illinois House Rep. Lashawn K. Ford. Photo provided by: Socíale

Annu Khot was born and raised in a steel township of Odisha, known as Rourkela, in East India. She says: “I  lived in this quiet suburb until I graduated from high school. Post-graduation, I lived in a variety of Indian states for college and work”.

A lot of research shows cannabis being used as medicine in Indiana dating back to 2000 BCE., but Annu says it wasn’t a part of her life while in India. She says: “cannabis has been a part of Indian traditional medicine for decades, but has been taboo in India for years. In fact, cannabis is currently outlawed in India, though it’s culturally accepted and has been part of Hindu celebrations”.

Before cannabis, Annu worked as a Managing Partner for a successful real estate and technology venture, and earned academic credentials that include a Bachelor of Laws degree in Banking, Corporate, Finance, and Securities Law from the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. 

Pain Turned to Passion Fuels the Launch of Socíalethe First Cannabis Dispensary Blessed by a Hindu Priest

Inside of Socíale. Photo provided by: Socíale

Here in the United States, Annu launched careers as a real estate and technology ventures entrepreneur. Annu didn’t begin exploring cannabis, which started with RSO, until she experienced a number of miscarriages, before the birth of her now nine-year-old son. This exposure to the power of the plant, made her an advocate set on making a difference in the lives of women, and in the way underserved and underrepresented communities were involved in the industry. 

Socíale is an employee-owned cannabis dispensary exclusively offering products from woman and minority-owned operations, and embodies Annu’s vision of providing ownership opportunities to those disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs; a topic that Annu says “many cannabis dispensary owners don’t focus on”.

Socíale was born in 2019 and Annu’s leadership has earned her a spot as one of the Top 50 Women Leaders of Illinois for 2023, and she has received the distinguished Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Award. Through Socíale, Annu and the team aim to provide the best cannabis dispensary experience in Chicago and the Chicagoland area. 

The team guides visitors every step of the way to create a positive cannabis shopping experience and to ensure that visitors get the cannabis products they’re seeking. When I asked Annu about opening day, she said: 

“Socíale’s opening day was in late August, and what a magical experience! I was surrounded by family, friends, team members, and journalists. They all wanted to share in my joy of building Socíale and launching it to the world.”

As it relates to opportunity and distribution of wealth in cannabis, Annu says: 

“When I founded Socíale, I knew that I wanted to do things differently. As the owner of a social equity dispensary, I feel that it’s my duty to help create financial equity for all. I am proud to employ those from traditionally under-employed communities throughout Chicago. Since its opening day, Socíale has made incredible strides in donating to cannabis social justice causes, enabling employees with profit-sharing, and supporting fellow cannabis ventures. We feel strongly that this kind of support and job creation benefits families, communities, and the entire state infrastructure”.

Final Words 

Photo provided by: Socíale

I asked Annu to close out the interview with what she wants readers to take with them as it relates to Socíale’s passion/purpose/mission/goals. Annu said: 

“Socíale aims to end cannabis taboos, fight for cannabis social justice every single day, and provide opportunities for financial stability and growth to each of its employees. I have found that in the cannabis industry, many employees don’t win (or see the financial benefits) when their employers win. Thus, I am changing that reality through profit-sharing once employees spend a year with Socíale.

Also, we raised $3 million in capital; funding will be instrumental in supporting the expansion of Socíale’s retail footprint across the state, and reaching more communities while advocating for social equity. I am keen on reminding the community that my efforts with Socíale are my way of giving back and saying, ‘Thank you’, to America for granting me opportunities to grow and thrive after coming here from India. 

Lastly, my unwavering dedication to empowering the community and providing ownership opportunities to those disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs bleeds through every initiative.”

Photo of Annu and Budtender Mike Taisch provided by: Socíale

Huge THANKS to sponsor:

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Veronica Castillo is known as the Traveling Cannabis Writer. She was a nomadic writer on the road covering all things cannabis/ hemp/ and overall plant medicines and recently came back home to Florida, making it her homebase once again. Her body of work can be found in multiple industry publications both digital and print where she provides cannabis industry and community insights from her 5 year journey around the country. She is a collaborator, connector, always seeking to bring to light the hidden gems in the plant space. You can follow her journey on Instagram: @vee_travelingvegcannawriter and/or LinkedIn: @Traveling Cannabis Writer