Boston Officials, Community Members Celebrate Rooted In Ribbon-Cutting

“This is an opportunity for … residents who would find it very difficult, almost impossible to open a business on Newbury Street.”

At first glance, Rooted In may look like just another slick Back Bay boutique. But while the shop has luxury appeal and stocks top-shelf products, the story behind this dispensary stands out—in part because it’s not a single story. It’s more like 50-plus stories. As they explain it …

“The Rooted In team created a new model of shared benefit using their network of people they know in their neighborhood and through the community organizations they participate in, targeting friends and local people of color.” That led to the business having 55 local investors, “of whom 96% are of the BIPOC community, 50% are women, and many are Boston residents from Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park.”

Their goal: for “the revenue generated by Rooted In establishments [to] create a pipeline of generational wealth opportunities for Boston families,” and to “return these revenues back into their own community.” All from “a model with a low threshold minimum participation of just $1,200 to offer people who are not wealthy a chance to have a financial stake in this newly emerging cannabis industry.”

That strong community element was on display on Friday, as dozens of friends, vendors, and neighbors lined up for a ribbon-cutting. Rooted In opened in December, but waited until last week for its big unveiling. After four years of navigating the application and building processes, they were thrilled enough to just get up and running.

“This was not easy,” Joanne Keith, who founded Rooted In with her husband Brian and another local couple, Solmon and Rokeya Chowdhury, said during Friday’s festivities. “This was a lot of sleepless nights. It was a lot of meetings.”

All for something bigger than any one of them individually … 

“This is an opportunity for us and for our investors—Boston residents who would find it very difficult, almost impossible to open a business on Newbury Street,” Joanne Keith added. “We feel that our business adds to the diversity of offerings on Newbury Street and are excited to be a part of the community.”

Segun Idowu, the chief of economic opportunity and inclusion for the City of Boston, recognized Rooted In’s BIPOC ownership and status as a Social Equity program participant: “A year ago there was one of these equity candidates opening a shop. Today there are seven.”

Idowu and others credited former Boston Mayor Kim Janey, who was on hand for the event, as helping make the Hub hospitable to businesses like Rooted In.

“When the story is told about cannabis in Massachusetts, I hope you understand the amount of work that Mayor Janey and her office did to make sure that equity was not just a buzzword,” the city economic chief said.

In her turn, Janey added, “I’m grateful to see the kind of leadership that we have in the city that recognizes the significance and importance of what is happening.”

“My partners and I were approached by major out-of-state companies wanting us to be the face of their company in Boston,” Brian Keith said. “We said no, we said we could do better. We believe that the people of Boston should be the ones to participate, own, and invest in cannabis businesses in the City of Boston.”

“[The owners of Rooted In] got it right,” Janey said. “This is what it’s all about.”