For this month’s one on one, I decided to sit down with my new friend Brandé Elise. I was first introduced to Brandé when my company produced an Out On Film event with Lexus and she was on the list as one of Atlanta’s most sought-after social media influencers. I immediately felt a connection with her as I learned that she was so much more than a typical thirsty Instagram star. She is a smart, sassy, Black and beautiful entrepreneur who is ready to change the world with her own CBD brand based right here in Atlanta.
Bill Kaelin: Hey Sweetie. How are you doing today?
Brandé Elise: I’m just now waking up from going to Killer Mike’s Birthday party last night and finally feel like I’m not high anymore. It was such an uplifting night that I’m finally coming back down to Earth. Literally and figuratively. LOL.
BK: I know what you mean. I remember a few weeks back when I called you because I had accidentally put the wrong kind of honey in my coffee and instead of using the one made by bees, I actually put the kind that can be grown among the trees in my morning cup of Joe. I was a hot mess for a minute, but it was a blessing in disguise when you said, “Girl the only suggestion I have for you is that you need to just take the day off” and truthfully, that’s exactly what I needed. I spent the entire day just to breathing deep and relaxing. I swear to God I spent half my day in child’s pose. LOL.
BE: OMG. Yes! That’s the thing about cannabis. It sort of forces us all to slow down and just be present.
BK: It really does. We are all running around a mile a minute in the modern world and truthfully, it’s a gift to have a natural resource to connect with and actually ground us for an hour or two. You and your gorgeous partner of three years, Danielle Gray, own and operate a 100% legal cannabidiol (CBD) company called UNOIA, that actually helps people achieve this goal. How did this come about? Did one or both of you have past experience with CBD and the creation of all the products you carry?
BE: So, I’m a hustler. I’m sure you already know that about me. I have done a lot of things for work. I have always had my hands in a variety of different projects, but one of the bigger sources of income that I have is voiceover work. I love to partake in a spliff here and there, but honestly, it’s just not good for my voice, so I started to explore different ways I could benefit from all the amazing things CBD can provide. Our first creation were these amazing CBD honey sticks, and we slowly just gave them to friends and family to try. People were going crazy over them and the next thing we knew we couldn’t roll them out fast enough. That’s when we knew we were on to something.
BK: You also have created agave that mixologists are adding to cocktails, no?
BE: Yup! We started bringing our honey straws to events to promote our brand and started having conversations with bartenders and promoters on how we could incorporate UNOIA into cocktail culture, and the next thing we knew we were creating killer margaritas with our agave, which is the perfect balance to tequila.
BK: So, what is the definition of UNOIA?
BE: UNOIA means “Beautiful Thinking,” and really what we hope our product helps provide for the masses is “Mental Wealth, Mindfulness and Self Care.” When people talk about CBD, you really don’t hear them mention those things. You’ll hear them say “It helps me go to sleep,” which is cool, but us helping to aid people to find that mental wealth is what our number one goal is. It is important to me to educate people that CBD and cannabis will only help put you on the path to wholeness and that it is still really important to incorporate other forms of self-care like meditation, eating right and maybe simply taking a walk.
BK: This is so important. I am one of those people that really needs to learn more about all the benefits of CBD besides using it to go to bed. Can it be used as an alternative to Xanax if you suffer from panic attacks?
BE: There is a movement of people turning away from their prescription medications for anxiety and depression because they don’t like how they are making them feel long term. It is a personal choice that should be made with your doctor.
BK: I love this. I don’t think we will really know all the benefits of CBD and marijuana until it is made 100% legal. Do you think we will see this happen in our lifetime?
BE: Oh yeah. I think if we keep control of the House and Senate during the midterm elections, it may happen in the next four years. Y’all better get out there and vote again.
BK: You got that right. Gotta keep our Georgia blue! So where can we get UNOIA products?
BE: There is an all-Black-owned store in Ponce City Market called The Village Retail. It’s so amazing and inspiring and a great way to support the Black community. The paintings, the clothing and the furniture is all African American owned and operated. Even the walls are painted black. LOL. You can also order it online at our website or even go to Virgil’s in College Park and get it added to your cocktail or get a doughnut infused with UNOIA at Sublime.
BK: Girrrrrl doughnuts and cocktails infused with CBD? Sign me up. When are we going to get a cocktail together? I miss your face. I am vaccinated and ready to go to one of your balls. I love watching you walk on your Instagram page. When did you become a member of the House of Balenciaga?
BE: I became a member of the House of Balenciaga in 11/22 of just last year. I always wanted to be part of the ball scene but didn’t think I had the guts. I also am not shady at all and I didn’t think I could get into some battle with someone. My most favorite thing to do is to put outfits together. If you know me, you know I love fashion, and instead of looking at the runway as a place to battle, I look at it as a safe space for me to get as creative as I want to get and that freedom to express my creativity is what gives me the guts to do it. The balls give me the freedom to be extra and to add more feathers to my outfits. They are my chosen family, and they support me so much. It’s just so awesome.
BK: It weird because sometimes it’s really hard to be 100% authentic around our blood family. It wasn’t until I met my first drag queen friend, “Tweeka Weed,” back in the ’90s, that I learned how to be completely myself. It takes so much courage to do drag. Atlanta was so wonderful in the ’90s. What do you love about Atlanta and what do you think needs a bit of improvement?
BE: I love all the parks in Atlanta. It really is the city in the trees. There are so many parks that you can discover. Our parks bring me so much peace and joy. The one thing that really bothers me about Atlanta is how segregated the nightlife scene is here. Everything is divided between Black nights, white nights, gay clubs, straight clubs. It doesn’t make any sense.
BK: I couldn’t agree with you more. It wasn’t always that way. I feel like it has gotten a bit worse over the years. Everyone needs to get out of their comfort zones and come together. It’s almost like the nightlife scene needs a big dose of your CBD products to chill out and perhaps everyone just needs to wear more feathers. LOL.