Besito means kiss in Spanish, which makes it a great name for a cannabis company. And though its vaping pens aren’t just for women, the brand’s lipstick-in-your-purse-like appeal is undeniable. With news of vaping dangers killing the buzz on pen use as of late, a focused approach and dedication to transparency and the bigger picture is key. The woman behind this innovative company has both.
L.A. WEEKLY: How did you come to be involved in the cannabis industry?
MAGGIE CONNORS: I’ve always loved cannabis, but it took moving to California in 2014 for me to realize it was an “industry” — or rather a plant coming into the legal light. I immersed myself in the medical market by attending meet-ups, trying the leading brands and visiting dispensaries.
Ultimately, I was inspired to join the work of so many advocates before me in helping build a legal industry from the ground up. I had worked in consumer products previously and was passionate about using design to expand the perception of cannabis and how it can be consumed. The therapeutic benefits had personally helped me greatly with chronic pain and I wanted to share the truth about this plant with a more mainstream audience.
I was also passionate about building a business for good, which was especially meaningful given the history of cannabis.
Why vape pens? How are you dealing with the recent controversy about vapes?
We started with vaporizers as a discreet and convenient way to get a little high. We love that you can throw it in your bag and not worry about the smell, and also that it’s healthier than smoking.
The health issues caused by unregulated, illicit vaporizers this summer have been tragic. It’s critical for consumers to buy legal cannabis to ensure product quality. One of the main benefits of legalization is consumer safety — legal products are tracked from seed to sale and have passed stringent state testing. We continue to educate consumers on the safety of our product and are continuing growth of the business.
How did you come up with the unique, gold-hexagonal design?
We loved the simplicity of the all-in-one vaporizers, and that it can be used hundreds of times and become more like an accessory. However, we felt they all looked the same: cylindrical and [they] rolled off the table. We created a flat, industrial but sleek hexagonal vaporizer as a statement piece. The grip is akin to a pencil, and it stays put on a surface. Our 2:1 THC:CBD blends create a happy high, delivered as a little kiss from our hardware. The effects are a light buzz that takes the edge off without getting you stuck to the couch for hours.
How do you think your product appeals to women and how are you marketing to them?
As a team we talk about this a lot, namely that Besito is not focused on women or any gender really. We designed what we personally like, inspired by L.A. culture and our love for the plant. We wanted to bring sophisticated product design and a bright, colorful, fun aesthetic that was missing from cannabis, so I understand why it’s interpreted as feminine.
Ultimately, we are making products for everyone, but do aim to elevate POC, womxn, queer folks and other marginalized groups as a business. It’s who we are, and reflects communities we are part of. We value equality and seek diversity in our partners, investors and growing team.
Tell us about your work on the doc A Record Shouldn’t Last A Lifetime, involvement with Equity First Alliance.
At besito we believe it’s a privilege to work in the legal cannabis industry given the criminalization of this plant and the failed War on Drugs. From the beginning we wanted to bring this mission and education to life in our brand and business model. After a wide search, we decided to donate 1 percent of profits to Equity First Alliance given the alignment of vision. Their focus on racial equity and reparative justice in the legal cannabis industry is exactly the work we wanted to support. They are also based in Los Angeles, but have done incredible work to connect similar organizers across the country.
As part of our sponsorship of National Expungement Week, we also released a campaign called “A Record Shouldn’t Last a Lifetime.” Produced with our friends at TreeFemme Collective, we highlighted stories of individuals here in Los Angeles who were most affected by the War on Drugs. We believe it’s the legal industry’s responsibility to help repair the harms caused in these communities and to create an equitable cannabis industry.
“A Record Shouldn’t Last a Lifetime” will be screened at the Standard Hollywood, 8300 Sunset Blvd., Tues., Nov. 12, 7 p.m. Q&A to follow. For more information on the film and products, go to besito.la.