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The story of Flor Royale begins at Stanford back in 2008 when two freshmen from different backgrounds forged a friendship built on their shared love of theater. Nikki and Benno would perform in several productions together, all the while developing a bond that would make them inseparable. While living in Los Angeles post-graduation, the pair would attend the grand opening of a marijuana greenhouse owned and operated by Benno's family after medical marijuana became legal in California. Benno became more involved in his family's business, finishing up graduate school as Nikki was starting her PhD. 


As recreational cannabis started to become legal for adult use in more states, Nikki and Benno realized how few of the major players in the space were people from historically minoritized backgrounds. Not many heads of cannabis retailers shared their own social identities--Black female and gay Jewish male--and further, few focused on repairing the harm that the criminal justice system has done to Black and brown communities over marijuana distribution. Thus, leveraging Benno's experience with his family's cannabis operation in California and Nikki's social justice scholarship, the two founded Flor Royale in February 2021, anticipating the legalization of recreational cannabis for adult use in New York shortly thereafter. 


The company mission centers on equity in all aspects, from hiring managers and employees with prior drug convictions to sourcing store artwork from local artists of color. We believe that education is key to providing a safe, enjoyable cannabis experience to future customers, so our trained store associates will have exceptional product knowledge. Additionally, Flor Royale is deeply committed to the communities in which its future retail locations may reside. We plan to partner with local organizations to ensure that we leave every place we are better than we found it. New Yorkers deserve high-quality cannabis products from people who care about their communities and Flor Royale is ready to deliver.



Nikki has a deep passion for social justice that has guided her academic and professional careers. Although Nikki is a newcomer to New York, she lived on the East Coast in Washington DC, where she worked for a nonprofit focused on providing funding and resources for current and future Black engineers. Currently, she is remotely finishing her PhD in Urban Education Policy at the University of Southern California; her dissertation focuses on the relationships between Black students' racial identity and their academic outcomes. She has also studied the effects that criminal law and juvenile sentencing practices have on the motivation of Black students.

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Benno has been working in the regulated Cannabis space since 2016. Originally brought in by his sister, Benno raised capital for four funds in the regulated cannabis space which later were consolidated into the Glass House Group. Benno has been involved in Glass House as it turned from an idea to a fully vertically integrated business. His belief in the potential for the Cannabis Space has spurred him on to start his own venture with Nikki Yates called Flor Royale. He is currently attending Columbia Business School, Benno is excited about the potential for the Cannabis Industry and truly believes that by approaching Cannabis with a mind for equity that he and Nikki can make their mark on the New York Cannabis industry. 

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