Mercedes C. Young is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. She holds the titles of actress, television writer and producer, children’s book author, and serial entrepreneur. While writing a book, acting in roles, and producing, she started a cannabis company, Earth’s Dew, during the pandemic. Earth’s Dew products are made with all-natural, organic butter and oils.
Young garnered a loyal following amongst her customers through word-of-mouth marketing and selling great products. Young is among the paltry 4% of Black women business owners in the cannabis industry. Despite this, most people that carry cannabis convictions are disproportionately Black.
BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke to Young about why she pursued a business in the cannabis space, the difficulties she faced creating a company during the pandemic as a Black woman, and how she juggles her artistic and creative work with her newly formed business.
You’ve started a cannabis company, Earth’s Dew, during the pandemic that sells products ranging from CBD teas, edibles, body butters, to name a few. What sparked your interest to enter the cannabis space and why during the coronavirus crisis?
I grew up in a household that was deeply rooted in the Christian faith. I always thought that cannabis was a horrible thing and a sin to consume, so naturally, I stayed far away from anything cannabis-related. In 2015, my father was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and malignant brain cancer. He had two successful operations to remove the tumors, but they kept coming back. After countless radiation treatments and chemotherapy sessions, I started doing research on homeopathic treatments. This led me to discover the miraculous benefits of the cannabis plant. Both THC and CBD are known to kill cancer cells, relieve pain, regulate and prevent diabetes, reduce seizures, help with sleep, mend broken bones, alleviate anxiety, and so much more. I decided to treat him orally with the extraction of pure THC & CBD oil. After weeks of this trial, the results came back and showed a shrink of the tumor size. I was then convinced that God put this natural plant on earth to heal us and not harm us.
Fast forward to quarantine 2020. I wasn’t working because the world was shut down, so I prayed to God and asked Him to help me come up with an idea for a business. And the Lord led me to create an all-natural and organic brand that aids in plant-derived holistic healing. Both of my Fathers (my heavenly & my earthly) helped me create Earth’s Dew. One of my passions is to destigmatize and re-define cannabis while educating people on the wonderful benefits that it provides.
With numbers that go considerably against Black business owners in the cannabis industry, how are you finding success in selling your products and thriving during these times?
It’s nothing but the grace of God. Just about anything that you can think of that tried to stop me from remaining in business happened. Unlike other businesses, this is still a relatively new and heavily regulated industry, so I didn’t have a mentor nor the blueprint of how to navigate in this space. I am genuinely passionate about helping people. People suffering from seizures, insomnia, debilitating pain, anxiety are all so grateful for the relief that we provide. That’s the secret behind our brand: High-quality products that work. You can also order our products online to be shipped to your house, which makes it easier for the consumers.
You’re also an actress, producer, and writer within the TV/film industry and have written two children’s books, Look At All The Things My Hair Can Do and I Can Do Anything! How can you devote time to your creative ventures while running a business as an entrepreneur?
This is a great question. It was definitely challenging trying to juggle all of these hats, but I’ve just gotten to the place where Earth’s Dew can run autonomously. My agent can send me a six-page audition, and it will be due 12 hours after I’ve received it. And when I’m on set filming, my schedule is completely blacked out, and acting is the only thing that I’m focused on because you have to be very present and in the moment. I write when I become inspired. The only time that I have to be stationary is when I’m at elementary schools or youth programs reading the books to the children, which is one of my favorite things to do! A calendar, set parameters, and discipline are key to successfully not allowing things to fall by the wayside.
Being a Black woman, I’m sure you face challenges based on your sex and race. How do you navigate through those difficulties to break through as an entrepreneur and artist?
In a field made up of less than 4% of Black female cannabis owners, there are so many challenges that I’m met with based on my sex and race. Everything from the looks that I get when I attend cannabis conferences to being asked if I’m in the right place, all the way to not being able to get distribution deals in the dispensaries. As an artist, Hollywood is finally coming to a place where they’re creating more roles for us, specifically, after the Black Lives Matter movement. This has been the most diverse period that I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m proud of the progress, but we still have so much farther to go, especially during award show season.
What advice would you give anyone passionate about their career and who wants to do well and stay consistent in what they do?
My advice would be to figure out your ‘why.’ When your passion and purpose intersect, then you’ll know that you’re on the right path. Winners never quit, and quitters never win. It’s OK to sacrifice one year of your life to create a better 50 years where you and your seeds can reap the harvest of your labor. Keep God first because if you keep God first, you’ll never be last.