Jacquece Jennings is on a mission to help people understand and heal their bodies through more holistic measures, particularly CBD, a currently booming market that could reach $20 billion by 2024.
Jennings, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, is currently one of the few Black Female CBD store owners in the nation and is actually the first Black woman in Georgia to own a non-affiliated CBD company.
Her journey to owning a CBD company started back while she was stationed in Seattle, Washington, while serving in the Army.
“Being from the South, you’re not really used to being around the marijuana industry and it being legal,” Jennings told ESSENCE. “So, I used to go to different dispensaries, and I started shopping and actually researching those different stores because I had an interest in having my own dispensary one day.”
But then, a health scare back in 2015 changed the course of her life. During an eye exam, she was told there was pressure in her eyes that was a cause for concern, prompting her to go get an MRI. It turned out to be a pituitary gland tumor. That scare jumpstarted her research into holistic health and medicinal herbs.
“I had to find the best CBD product for myself because you find out you have a tumor, your anxiety increases, depression comes,” Jennings said candidly. “So, my own personal journey right there was an extra boost to say this is what I want to do.”
As of today, while the tumor is still there, it is small and non-cancerous. CBD has helped her manage her anxiety and pain.
Jennings officially launched her company Nuleaf #1 in October 2019. And Nuleaf #1 isn’t just a CBD store, which sells a variety of products, from oils, to salves and creams to supplements and even dog treats; it’s a health and wellness store, where they even handle life coaching, Jennings proudly emphasized.
But one of her first roles is being an educator, and helping people understand CBD and its properties and bring awareness to the wide range of uses it can have for your health.
“I pray that I have the ability to be on every platform to educate people on what CBD is and how it can help the body,” Jennings said. “It doesn’t matter where you shop, because I know everybody is not going to shop at Nuleaf #1. But I want them to be able to know about the product that they’re shopping for.”
On the flip side of that is helping people heal their bodies fully, instead of covering up underlying issues.
“I want people to really understand their body, their immune system, the endocrine system so they can start healing themselves properly because if you go back to the day of our great grandmothers or just back with our ancestors, they didn’t take medication. They did vegetables, they used herbs to heal themselves, and that’s where we have to get our mindsets back to,” she said.
At first, Jennings acknowledged that getting the support in the Roswell, Georgia community where her store is located was hard, but through being creative with marketing and using social media she has been able to build a solid clientele.
And for Jennings, it is important that she shows up as a Black woman sharing this message with the community and getting her story out there and sharing her products to show them some path toward health and wellness.
“In our black community, unfortunately, we wait until death is almost near before we start taking care of [ourselves]… I want to change the environment,” she noted. “It was hard for me to start exposing my medical condition. It was hard for me to start exposing my anxiety and depression that I had in the past. But we’ve got millions of people that are dealing with it right now. And so, what I did is I used myself. I started to be more relatable and the more relatable that I am to people it makes them say, ‘You know what? I’ve experienced that. Now I want to listen to her. She does look like me. Now I want to listen to her.’”
“I have been speaking to my sisters and brothers and they have been opening up to me saying, ‘You know what? I am stressed out. I do have anxiety. I don’t want to just be a weed smoker. I don’t want to take Adderall no more. I do want to change my life,” she added. “Even if I get someone that only has 10% of ‘I want change,’ I can help them turn that around to 30% just by having a conversation with them and being relatable.”
As such, Jennings is looking forward to the continued growth of Nuleaf #1, having her eyes set on expanding to having more locations and helping others in the community join in and become advocates for holistic healing.
But at the root of it all is the passion and drive to help others and change lives.
“My gift is to be able to change lives one day at a time or really inform people about everything that’s going on with the CBD industry and just motivate them to change their mindset and unlearn some of the things that they have learned and be able to learn new things,” she said.