“Truly Conscious Capitalism”: New Store Undefined Collective Focuses On Brands Created By Women And Minorities
As a beauty entrepreneur, CBD trailblazer and woman of color, Undefined Beauty founder Dorian Morris is keenly aware of the difficulties indie brands, especially ones rising out of underrepresented communities, face getting their products in front of interested customers. She’s opened the store Undefined Collective to help address those difficulties.
“I built a disruptive platform for like-minded, conscious brands to democratize retail and take control into our hands: for us, by us. As indie brands, one plus one can equal five when we pool our resources together for the greater good of the group,” says Morris. “It’s truly conscious capitalism by elevating female-founded, minority-owned, LGBTQ, local and CBD brands. I’m giving us a voice and place to tell our story in real life and online.”
Located on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, Calif., Undefined Collective showcases 50 emerging brands across several merchandise categories, including ingestible and topical CBD, clean skincare and wellness, clothing and accessories. Roughly half of its selection is dedicated to CBD, and the other half to female-founded, minority-owned and local brands. Among the brands are Morris’s CBD clean skincare line Undefined Beauty, Golde, Lady Suite, Juna, Black Travel Box, Lauren Napier Beauty, Curie, Cordial Organics, Vertly, Prim Botanicals, Saint Jane, Luna Volta and Soul Addict.
“The store is a natural extension of my social impact strategy. At Undefined Beauty, across my supply chain, I only partner with female-founded or minority-owned businesses because I feel strongly that business can empower business,” says Morris. “This was an opportunity for me to say, ‘OK, as an owner of a store and platform, how can I expand the strategy even broader to focus on elevating those that come from disenfranchised communities?’”
Morris emphasizes the passion behind the brands at Undefined Collective sets it apart. Discussing the CBD segment specifically, she says, “There are a lot of me-too brands that have been created that I don’t think have staying power. People are focusing on the backstory. It’s not going to cut it anymore to have white guys creating a brand to make money. People are more reflective about where they are spending their dollars. That’s why I think conscious capitalism is a sustainable trend.”
“As indie brands, one plus one can equal five when we pool our resources together for the greater good of the group.”
Morris is pushing Undefined Collective’s assortment beyond CBD by dabbling in THC offerings. The store displays products with THC from Juna, Besito and The Garden Society to bring awareness to them, but doesn’t sell them on site. It collaborates with cannabis delivery services Sava and Good Tree, and inclusive cannabis purveyor The People’s Dispensary to supply THC products to customers.
Morris describes Undefined Collective as a safe place for consumers to step into cannabis territory and brands to educate them on their products. There are testers allowing customers to try CBD tinctures, and Morris welcomes brands to throw events at the store to connect with curious shoppers and experiment with products on its shelves. “I can test different scent profiles, for example, and use consumer insights to assist with the product development pipeline,” she says. “It’s almost like a mini laboratory.”
Undefined Collective took over a 500-square-foot space previously occupied by the store Concept Forty-Seven. Stevonne Ratliff, who operated Concept Forty-Seven, owns the skincare brand Beija Flor Naturals, which is available at Undefined Collective, and decided to concentrate on the brand. Morris says Ratliff preferred to tender the space to a friend and fellow woman of color rather than a disconnected prospector looking to profit from the booming Temescal neighborhood of Oakland. Morris added white fixtures to the space and painted the walls white to suit her minimalist sensibilities.
Although it’s littered with cool retail, restaurants and bars, and is home to Temescal Alleys, pedestrian alleys filled with artisans where herbal remedy destination Homestead Apothecary has set up shop, Morris points out there hadn’t been a store dedicated to CBD and conscious brands for discerning customers in the neighborhood. She says, “It’s an amazing area that gets a lot of traffic, and it’s something unique and new in the neighborhood.”
“It’s not going to cut it anymore to have white guys creating a brand to make money. People are more reflective about where they are spending their dollars. That’s why I think conscious capitalism is a sustainable trend.
Undefined Collective returns Morris to her professional roots. She worked in buying and planning at Macy’s before plunging into the beauty industry with positions at Kendo, Coty and Sundial Brands. Morris launched Undefined Beauty in 2018, and the brand has entered Free People and Urban Outfitters. Its debut collection called Indigo Glow features CBD beauty oil Glow Elixir and gel serum Glow Gelée.
To make sure Undefined Collective’s concept is right for its neighborhood, Morris is trialing it as a three-month pop-up. If business goes well over the three-month period, she’ll run it long-term. Morris is already considering expanding Undefined Collective to Los Angeles and has been scouting real estate in the Arts District. At the Oakland store, CBD spa services are future possibilities in two rooms at the rear of the space. The brands available at the store are also sold at Undefined Collective’s website and shipped internationally.
Asked about what would spell success for Undefined Colllective, Morris responds, “Are we bringing something new and novel to the neighborhood? Are we providing value to each of the brand partners via events, testing innovation and sales? And is it something additive to me personally? I only have so much bandwidth.”
Feature image credit: Ashleigh Reddy