Shayla Cabrera is a self-described serial entrepreneur with a passion for horticulture.  As the owner and operator of Tia Planta in Jersey City NJ, she is a purveyor of plants, educational workshops, industry seminars, repotting and styling services.  Her popular “Plant Parenthood” workshops earned her media attention and a growing list of corporate clients and local businesses who engage her for plant care.

Shayla decided to take her green-thumb talents, business acumen, and love of community into the world of cannabis.  She successfully navigated the complex and rigorous application process to become one of New Jersey’s first black women to be granted a cultivation license by the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission. 

For Shayla, getting her license was a big step but she still has a number of hurdles to jump and hoops to get through.  Access to capital has been a challenge given the fact that she can’t go to her local bank because of the federal ban, then there are all of the local zoning issues that have limited the available approved locations which in turn has seen rents skyrocket.

“I’m up against corporations, predominantly white male-owned corporations, that have taken a hold of this plant and this industry and made millions of dollars, while people of color are incarcerated to this day. It’s a shame.”  she said.

Shayla speaks from personal experience, as quoted in her feature with PBS

“I didn’t know who my father was until I was about 20.  It was not really discussed in my home at all, because he was regarded as a criminal.  Now here I am, and I have a license to distribute cannabis and my father is still incarcerated to this day.  It’s difficult even now to know that there are so many black people incarcerated.  It makes me angry honestly.  With that I use the anger as fuel to get me into this cannabis space.  [And of those] that have been negatively affected by this criminalization of a plant.”

Tia Planta has been dodging sharks and predatory offers looking to take advantage of her license, but Shayla is committed to remain in control of her vision and mission “I am not only a cannabis business owner but a consumer. It’s very important to me to be able to share this medicine and destigmatize the plant and the plant medicine in general,” she says. “I think that given today’s society and what the norms are, it’s really important to me to share alternative medicines outside of pharmaceuticals, especially for people of color.”

CW co-founder Eric Paulin has enjoyed providing advice and technical assistance to Shayla along her journey.  “Shayla’s limitless ambition extends to her passion for plants, her business endeavors, and her dedication to the community. Given her extensive background in the horticultural industry, it was truly an honor when she chose to partner with Cultivation Warehouse for assistance. Collaboratively, we have been thoroughly examining facilities, assessing equipment, analyzing budgets, and ticking all the boxes to guarantee a smooth start-up and operation.”

For the past two and half years Cultivation Warehouse has been working with a number of individuals and firms who have qualified for licensing under local and state social equity programs.  It’s a commitment we made in 2021 to invest $1m in projects that advance the inclusion of populations and communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs.  We reviewed applications from around the country from eligible businesses and individuals seeking our assistance in planning and procurement and we’re proud to have been able to help many of them advance their projects.

At Cultivation Warehouse we believe Shayla will achieve her goals and we’re committed to help her.  If you are a social equity license holder looking to start or upgrade your operation give us a call and let us try and help you too,  Go to to learn more about our social equity programs.

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