Take Black The Block: Drink Mamey
Interview with Cydney Smith McCarthy for Brown Haus Presents: Boss.
Cydnie: My business is called Drink Mamey, and we are a one stop shop wellness.
We’re in Portland, Oregon, on Killingsworth St. And if you’re not from Portland, you wouldn’t know, the history of Killingsworth in Northeast Portland. But a lot of the the black people in this area were pushed out because of gentrification.
Q: What was the inspiration behind Drink Mamey?
Cydnie: I’ve always been into health and wellness.
I got more into it when my dad got sick and passed away. He passed in 2018 due to a heart condition he didn’t know that he had. He was diagnosed with a heart disease that couldn’t have been cured, but maintained so he would have had a longer life.
That was part of the inspiration, but was also during COVID. We were all on lockdown, I was bored at my job because we were on standstill. And I just started making videos about how to juice and how to boost your immune system.
Then people started asking me to do it for them, and that was cool, extra money on the side. I made a label and got some bottles and just made them super cute. Right after that, it blew up.
Q: What juices do you offer?
Cydnie: We have three green juices. One is our most popular right now, which is magical; it’s pineapple, mint, pineapple, mint and E3 live.
We have a matcha juice called wild. We have an apple juice, which is super good, but super spicy.
I think we have eight juices right now and they fly off the shelves.
Q: So you were like, OK, this is poppin, this could be a business?
Cydnie: Yeah. So my good friend Erica Swanson, she owns a business here called T-Bar.
Her initial question to me was if you could do anything with Drink Mamey, what would it be?
And, you know, like to be 100, 100 you get really.. I don’t want to say scared, but just cautious around around white people as black people. So, you know, I go into situations like that guarded.
But Erica was super nice and she’s still been super nice.
So I was like well, right now, short term, I think I would love to have a juice shop. And she was like, if you could do that, where would it be?
I say, Oh, probably where I grew up in the northeast, where, you know, the black community kind of knows.
A few days later she emailed me: Any chance you’d be interested in taking over my shop on Killingsworth.
At first I was like, No, I’m not ready for that. But I thought about it for like a week. And then I brought in my business partner and we were like, How can we do this?
And we did some negotiation with her. And because her father owns the building it’s a negotiation with him, it was like three months of negotiation.
Q: Do you find that a lot of women support each other in the business field?
Cydnie: This is something that I have observed and I really try to not to give in to: that women are always in competition.
I have experienced is nothing but love from other women. I also think it comes from me showing love to other women. Women in general and black women specifically have our guard up. It’s because this world is super cruel to women and specifically black women.
But I love being a woman owned business, and I love advertising that because I think it’s important.
Q: You mentioned your father, you mentioned Killingsworth and trying to be around your people. Is there some form of your blackness that informs your business and or marketing?
Cydnie: When I think of juice, I think of my dad he grew up in the hood.
He grew up in a really interesting time in Portland. I think of his food insecurity.
We had food to eat because he grew up not having food to eat. He grew up eating unhealthy foods. And that’s what a lot of people black people have experienced in growing up is food insecurity and not enough education on how to nourish our bodies.
I also think that we have not been educated enough to learn how to listen to our bodies and what foods are doing us good and what foods are doing is bad.
I’ve learned how to do that on my own. What is what good is knowing that on your own? Before my dad passed, I was trying to teach him that as well. You feel this way because you’re eating this food.
Why do you keep eating it?
Q: Is there anything else you want to tell the people?
Cydnie: Drink ya juice at drinkyajuice.com
Drink Mamey was just featured in Vogue Magazine.
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