Hailey’s gets blunt about smoking stigmas

Hailey+Alessandra%2C+senior+in+LAS%2C+opened+a+smoke+shop+off+South+Sixth+Street+in+Champaign+to+help+fight+negative+stigmas+about+girls+who+smoke.+Alessandra+hopes+to+hold+a+grand+opening+on+Friday.

Candice Zhou

Hailey Alessandra, senior in LAS, opened a smoke shop off South Sixth Street in Champaign to help fight negative stigmas about girls who smoke. Alessandra hopes to hold a grand opening on Friday.

By Cecilia Milmoe, Features Editor

Hailey’s, located at 712 S. Sixth St., Champaign, is pink from floor to ceiling. Shelves are lined with pink, girly products, and everything has a cutesy feel to it.

Despite its looks, Hailey’s is a smoke shop.

The store, which had its grand opening Friday, is run by Hailey Alessandra, senior in LAS. The store sells vape cartridges, bongs, grinders, bowls, accessories and more. Alessandra said the store has “pretty much everything you’d think that you would need if you want to smoke or chill.”

Alessandra’s goal is to break the stigmas surrounding girls who smoke.

“I come from a family where it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re a girl. You’re supposed to be ladylike. You’re supposed to be this or that,’” Alessandra said. “Obviously, I’ve been a pothead smoker since forever, so my goal here is to break the stigma of ugly, bad stereotypes of smokers — especially girls.”

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    Alessandra explained that she’s heard words like “lazy,” “unmotivated” and “dumb” to describe people who smoke.

    However, Alessandra said that she wants her shop to be a welcoming place.

    “Why not have a safe space for the gals, you know … It’s obviously for anybody, but we want to just have girl workers here, so I think it’s safer and more comfy,” Alessandra said.

    She also specified that while the shop is primarily aimed at girls, there are things for everyone.

    Alessandra explained that the idea for the shop came to her last December over winter break, adding that her fiancé put the shop under her name and let her run it on her own.

    “This used to be The Cookie Jar, and we literally got the keys Wednesday last week, and it was really fast,” Alessandra said. “Boom, got the pink in, got the shelves in, and then as soon as we got that, it was just product right away.”

    She added that she wants to build trust with her customers.

    “I want to involve my customers,” Alessandra said. “I want them to feel like they can give me recommendations (and) inputs. I want this to be a girly safe space.”

    Alessandra explained some of the ways she plans on involving customers, including a punch-card system where for every eight vapes a customer buys, they will get one for free.

    Alessandra said opening the shop as a student has made things somewhat challenging.

    “It has been a little hard (with) classes, and I just want to be done with (undergrad) already so I can focus on this and just get into my entrepreneur mindset before I even start thinking about law school because I’m feeling really burnt out,” Alessandra said. “This is a fun project for me (and my) mental health.”

    She talked about the positive effects smoking weed has had on her as well.

    “Obviously, I’m a stoner; I’m a hippie and girly,” Alessandra said. “The main thing is, don’t judge me because of a habit that is said to be bad. I don’t think it’s bad. Whenever I’m not motivated for school, I smoke a joint. Boom, now I’m studying.”

    Alessandra said overall, the process of setting everything up has been fun.

    “I have so much fun going to the (suppliers) and picking out all the stuff individually and really thinking about what would the customers like,” Alessandra said. “I’ve had a lot of fun with it, and I think it will continue to be a lot of fun.”

     

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