The Cannabis Business Office's Social Equity Licensee Highlight series dives into the stories of social equity licensees currently operating in the cannabis space. By exploring the unique backgrounds, challenges, and opportunities of these owners, our case studies serve as unique window into the cannabis industry and a way for businesses to learn from one another.
La Vida Dulce is a social equity licensed cannabis bakery in Colorado, owned and operated by women of color. The startup launched in 2022, and also holds a transport license called High Point Transport and Delivery, so that they are able to deliver their products. We heard from the Founder and CEO, Desiree Duran, on her journey and the background of the business.
What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry?
I always knew I wanted to run my own business, but never found my passion. Two years ago, I became a customer of and fell in love with the plant, and only thought to myself, “why isn't cannabis more accepted?” I had to share the benefits I experienced with others, but I also wanted to incorporate the recipes I grew up with - and that was pan dulce.
How will your work impact the community?
I am from the community, and it’s very important to me that I stay connected. From personal experience, there was a stigma in the community about how horrible cannabis was. If we only could have had education around it, it could’ve had a different impact on people’s lives.
La Vida Dulce plans to help remove that stigma and educate our communities about how cannabis can be an alternative medicine. It starts with our neighborhoods, and we want to help the communities affected by the war on drugs.
As women of color, we also hope to be an example and make a path for other Latina’s coming into the industry. From working closely with the National Hispanic Cannabis Council and The Color of Cannabis, we have a voice - and we are here to use it!
Is there anything interesting about your backstory that you’d like to share?
Growing up, I was around cannabis with friends around the neighborhoods, but I always knew my boundaries to not get involved with it. Cannabis only led to one thing, and that was being locked up. With that mindset, growing up I stayed away from it.
Cannabis was not a subject you ever brought up in the hispanic culture, especially around the elders. Before I started this business, I made sure I had my grandfather’s blessing out of respect. Even though I knew he would support me in anything I set out to do, I had to have it.
Please share something unique about your company.
La Vida Dulce is the first panaderia de cannabis owned and operated by women of color. Each team member is an entrepreneur outside of the company. We want to uplift women of color to strive for what they want, and we give them the schedule to work with us while continuing to grow their own businesses. We also hold a transport license - High Point Transport and Delivery - so that we are able to deliver our own products.
What challenges do you face as a small business and social equity licensee?
Definitely the access to capital to continue my businesses. As a social equity licensee, not many people are willing to give us the chance. I have to work twice as hard to prove we deserve to be in this industry.
As a woman in general, I don’t know if I will be given the same opportunities as a man. I was blessed to have a powerful influence in my life that showed me what working hard can accomplish, so I will never give up.
What would you change about the Colorado cannabis industry if you could?
Because I am going through it right now, it would be the fees for licensing. Then before you know it, renewals are around the corner!
Want your business to be featured in a monthly highlight? If you are an operational social equity licensed cannabis business, apply to be a part of our Social Equity Licensee Highlight series. To be considered for upcoming highlights, please complete our form. The next two questions are screening questions. Additional questions will appear if you are eligible.