When Cydnie Smith-McCarthy was in college, she had no interest in dining hall food. Luckily, she had an off-campus apartment; it was there that she started to explore wellness, making smoothies and cooking for herself. She would send her father, who did most of the cooking at home, pictures of the things she would make as she dove deeper into that world. “He’d say things like, ‘Ooh Cyd, that looks delicious, you have to make that when you get home,’” she says. When she did fly back from New Mexico, she and her dad started to play around with juicing, smoothies, and healthy food.
All the while, Smith-McCarthy’s father was living with an undiagnosed heart condition. “Doctors would say, ‘It’s just heartburn, here’s some heartburn medication,’” she says. He died suddenly, from that heart condition, in 2018. At that point, wellness wasn’t just an interest area of hers; it was a human rights issue. “There isn’t access to wellness for Black people,” she says. “Growing up and witnessing that is just proof of it.”
Her whole family became more interested in health, and, while stuck at home during the pandemic, she started making juicing videos, talking about easy ways for people to boost their immune systems. It wasn’t until June that she started her company, Drink Mamey, delivering bottles of watermelon and pineapple juice to people across the city. In a whirlwind summer, she went from delivering her first orders to landing her own space: Drink Mamey will soon open its own juice bar, taking over the Tea Bar location on NE Killingsworth. “I launched in June with the intention for it to be small,” she says. “Now it’s bigger than I imagined.”
She and business partner Richard Bunch, her cousin, will open Drink Mamey juice bar on Halloween weekend,, incorporating things like cucumber, watermelon, and herbal blends. The drink menu is generally split between very health-specific drinks and drinks that are just tasty; for instance, the first three juices she sold will appear on the menu, with blends like pineapple-celery-cucumber, watermelon-lemon-apple, and carrot-pineapple-lime. On the “feel good” side of things, she wants to create drinks that specifically target certain health issues, utilizing things like ashwagandha, an herb often used to help with high blood sugar or cortisol levels.
However, the space won’t just be a juice bar: Smith-McCarthy wants to feature other Black makers and business owners of color, with skin care products, candles, and flowers available, as well. Down the line, she wants to create a line of superfood face masks inspired by the juices, as well as supplements under the Drink Mamey umbrella. She also plans to feature grab-and-go food from other vegan chefs of color in the area. “I want to give space to showcase different wellness makers, and also work to solve the problems for the community that’s always been on the back-burner for other wellness industries,” she says.
For now, her juices are available at Tea Bar in the Pearl District; Tea Bar’s matchas and golden milk will be available at Drink Mamey once it opens, as well. She’s currently raising money to help develop the company through IFundWomen. Drink Mamey will be located at 1615 NE Killingsworth Street.
• Drink Mamey [Official]
• Mamey says ‘Drink Ya Juice!’ [IFW]
• Racism in care leads to health disparities, doctors and other experts say as they push for change [WaPo]
• The Importance of Black Spaces in Wellness [WG]