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Charlotte Hanna: Rebelling With a Cause

Charlotte Hanna is a name you’ll get use to hearing among cannabis enthusiasts. The New York native is the founder of Rebelle, a cannabis brand looking to elevate what it means to be a connoisseur of the medicinal plant. With partners Geraldine Hessler and Penelope Nam-Stephen, Hanna also founded Rebelle’s parent company Community Growth Partners, the only woman and minority-owned vertically integrated cannabis company in Massachusetts. “I always thought that you could create a business, a brand and a lifestyle that did good, but also had a sort of elevated aesthetic to it. I think that people who care about style and aesthetics also care about good causes and social purpose—those two things aren’t mutually exclusive,” Hanna states. “Our mission is to offer a lifestyle and the cannabis plant in all forms to people that want it. In doing that business, we also want to help bring people up who have been marginalized by the criminalization of the plant.”

Penelope Nam-Stephen, Charlotte Hanna and Geraldine Hessler

Hanna’s love for cannabis goes back many years. A self-proclaimed hippie, she toured with bands like The Grateful Dead and traveled in circles where marijuana was as common as water. Hanna then worked in real estate, finance and philanthropy, and was a VP at Goldman Sachs among many other high-ranking positions. Through it all, cannabis was sure to make appearances. “The funny thing for me is that cannabis has been in my life and in every social circle that I’ve been a part of—and I worked on Wall Street,” she quips.

All For The Community

Community is at the heart of everything Hanna does. Through Community Growth Partners, Hanna has collaborated with Roca, a nonprofit whose mission is to disrupt incarceration, poverty and racism by engaging young adults, the police and the systems at the center of urban violence. Roca helps talented individuals who may have been in trouble with the law not only find work (through working with Rebelle and CGP) but build wealth. “The goal is for every single person in my company to have access to equity in the company at all levels—even part-time employees,” Hanna says. “You can earn equity quarterly, based on the number of hours that you worked. It’s about creating capital for yourself.”

While this is a brilliant idea, it doesn’t come without any setbacks or hurdles. “We’re just getting started and It’s much harder than I thought because we’re talking about people that are coming out of the criminal justice system,” she says. “There’s a list of felonies and misdemeanors that the regulators say will make you ineligible to work in the cannabis industry.” Hanna continues by stating, “I would love to see someone from Roca who’s had a real tough time get a job with us and be able to exit with equity at some point, so that he had a nest egg to buy a house or something along those lines.”

Elevating Cannabis

Rebelle’s retail store is located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Designed by Hanna herself and inspired by Danish designed principles, the Rebelle—described as the LVMH of cannabis—elevates the cannabis retail and cultural experience. “In addition to the flower, there’s so many other things that go with the cannabis lifestyle. We are developing a combination of leather goods, stash bags, jewelry and apparel. You can hide your stash in little secret compartments,” Hanna explains. The first of the leather collection, called the Jerry Bag, is now available for purchase, with more products being released as soon as Labor Day.

Growing the Rebellion

“I want to see us continue to grow. It’s all about continuing to grow into the market in Massachusetts. We’re going to be launching a delivery business here at the beginning of next year,” says Rebelle’s CEO when speaking on future plans for the company. There’s no doubt Rebelle is on its way to great things and Hanna has goals of doing great things in her home state. “My roots are in New York. I’ve lived here for 27 years in the city and I’m there for a reason: because I love that city. I really want to bring Rebelle and our brand to my hometown.”