Q&A with Judson Hill of Bespoke Financial: Lending Tailored for Cannabis Businesses

What makes something Bespoke?

Bespoke means custom-made—made based on the specifications of the person ordering it, as in a bespoke suit. In the strictest sense, bespoke means made-to-order, as opposed to being mass-produced.

Bespoke Financial is exactly that: a leading VC-backed financial solutions provider that offers custom-tailored funding within the niche business environments of the cannabis industry. They provide immediate access to liquidity for the enhanced cash flow that is so important for growth.

Welcome to the World of Fintech

Considered a fintech company, Bespoke offers cannabis cultivators, distributors, brands and more access to short-term loans via invoice and inventory financing. Invoice loans offer companies upfront capital while they wait for their invoices to be paid, while inventory financing is designed to ensure dispensaries are able to keep their shelves stocked. Which is always a good thing!

Meet Judson Hill, VP of Business Development

A southerner by way of NYC’s fashion industry, Judson Hill, joined the Bespoke team in June 2019 as the VP of Business Development.  As a proven business development leader with experience building out sales teams in start-ups, Judson moved to LA to open the first west coast office for Trunk Club.

Prior to Bespoke in 2013, he joined Trunk Club as one of the first 50 team members in Chicago and after Nordstrom’s $350M acquisition of the company in 2014, his interests shifted into cannabis and joined Trellis in 2017. During his two years at Trellis, he was able to meet cannabis operators nationwide while gaining extensive knowledge of cannabis regulations and supply chain issues.

And who wouldn’t want to be part of a cannabis tech company that received an initial investment from Snoop Dogg? In October of 2019, the venture capital firm co-founded by the Doggfather himself, Casa Verde Capital, led Bespoke Financial’s $7 million funding round.

Our financing is really a tool to scale up successful businesses whose sales begin to outpace their production capabilities…many old school cannabis people think of debt as bad term but really we are providing a service that is available in any other industry to top operators.

Candid Chronicle: How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?

Judson Hill: Back in 2016 I saw the recreational market really developing into something similar to the fashion industry I was accustomed to with a complex supply chain and branded products really coming on strong at the consumer level. My good friends at Casa Verde Capital helped explain the current landscape of California cannabis and I began working for one of their portfolio companies up in Oakland. My passion for brands drew me to Higgs, a pre-roll brand my friend had founded, and I became a partner in 2017. Where I assisted them from the Prop 215 model into 2018 recreational. After learning the struggles of scaling up a business under California’s regulations and no traditional bank financing, I found Bespoke and loved the problem we solve for operators!

CC: Why did you join Bespoke?

JH: My background in brand development and sales from the fashion industry lead me to become a partner in Higgs–a lifestyle, pre-roll brand in 2017 after seeing similarities in the new cannabis industry and fashion. After working on Higgs for 2 years of true start-up mode, I realized that cannabis brands were at a severe disadvantage from other industries due to their lack of access to banking and more specifically lending.

CC: What sets you apart in the cannabis industry?

JH: Bespoke Financial is the first lender providing revolving lines of credit specifically to cannabis operators. We started here in California and now are licensed to lend in 10 recreational cannabis states! Our financing is really a tool to scale up successful businesses whose sales begin to outpace their production capabilities…many old school cannabis people think of debt as bad term but really we are providing a service that is available in any other industry to top operators. 

CC: What life changes occurred when you entered the cannabis industry?

JH: I truly feel that my work is meaningful by legitimizing the cannabis industry and providing businesses with the tools they deserve. Which has led toward more personal satisfaction and career development opportunities.

CC: What about the cannabis industry and community do you love?

JH: Entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry genuinely want to help each other and work together to write the rules of business that will direct our future. 

CC: What were some of your challenges getting started in cannabis?

JH: Learning the details of the regulations and how businesses work within them.

CC: Where would you like to see yourself in the cannabis industry 3 years from now?

JH: I would like to see Bespoke Financial be an international lending firm that is the go-to for cannabis businesses.


CC: What does the future of cannabis look like to you?

JH: I think the next 5 years will show that cannabis really has gone mainstream and become federally legal. From there, I see large corporations and financial institutions starting to acquire businesses and partake in the cannabis industry. Soon cannabis will be sold like clothing, food, or health products!

CC: How do you plan to make a positive difference in the cannabis industry?

JH: By supporting social equity license holders and looking to support their businesses as both a customer and as a working partner.

CC: What makes you proud or gratified to be a part of the “legal” cannabis industry?

JH: To see the progression since 2018 for people that had to formerly run “illegal” operations to now have an opportunity to legitimize their business.

CC: Do you consume cannabis? If so, how do you prefer to consume?

JH: Yes, I definitely am a fan of flower and as you can see from the Higgs brand…joints are my preferred way to smoke.

CC: What’s your favorite strain/cannabis product/etc?

JH: Jack Herer is my favorite strain. Baby Jeeters are infused pre-rolls made by my good friends at Dreamfields and I love the product! Higgs joints all day.

CC: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or your business?

JH: Bespoke Financial is a direct lender based in LA that focuses on providing licensed cannabis operators with debt financing solutions similar to what traditional industries would have access to from their bank. Most operators face cash flow pains as they wait to collect while trying to scale their business at the same time, Bespoke solves this problem.