Meet the Youngest Black Dispensary Owner to Build a Budding Cannabis Empire
Photo Credit: Hope Wiseman
The cannabis industry has proven to be a growing enterprise over the last six years and has provided many lucrative opportunities for Black business-owners to thrive.
While most twenty-somethings are still using early adulthood to figure out their life plans, this young entrepreneur had her sights set on success and carved a lane for herself as the youngest Black dispensary owner in the business.
Hope Wiseman, a graduate of Spelman College, started her career in investment banking but wanted to get involved in the emerging cannabis industry early on to secure a spot as a major player in the business.
Her historical accomplishment came with the expectation to pass down her knowledge on the business, but now she has plans to both expand her dispensary and resources to help minorities and the Black community build their businesses.
Mary and Main, Wiseman’s Maryland-based family-owned dispensary, serves premium medical marijuana to state residents with a medical card.
A priority for her business has always been to create a positive work environment where their employees, referred to as experience agents, can be passionate about their work and provide a knowledgeable experience for customers.
“I take it [to] heart to be able to provide for my employees and ensure they can put food on their tables and that they’re happy at work,” shared Wiseman.
Wiseman’s dispensary stands out amongst other companies because the family-owned business caters to customers by providing a warm, welcoming experience.
Wiseman stated that the application process for starting a cannabis business is often met with a lot of pushback from legislations as it’s a very competitive process. Mary and Main currently competes with around 90 other dispensaries in the state of Maryland.
“You’re having to put together the best package and show that you can bring the best quality,” said Wiseman. “It’s very difficult to do especially since there aren’t a lot of blueprints out there.”
When Wiseman first started her business in 2014, the cannabis industry was still developing so her dispensary was a product of learning as she went along.
She went on to explain that every state has different regulations for the cannabis industry, which can present challenges if you don’t have the proper knowledge or connections.
With Mary and Main, Wiseman hopes to be an example for other minorities and Black entrepreneurs to follow.
“We are inspiring people to look outside of the box and look at alternative industries, look at what they can build and use the skills they have to build businesses,” said Wiseman. “Outside of the cannabis industry, we strictly just want to help provide resources for people to build generational wealth within their families and make it something they can pass down.”
Wiseman shared that her younger 14-year-old brother wishes to pursue marketing in college to learn skills he can later apply to the family business.
“These are the types of conversations we need to have in our families,” said Wiseman.
She also shared that her mother gave her a solid foundation growing up teaching her about taxes, bank accounts, and how to write checks early on.
Wiseman’s next priority for Mary and Main is to continue to build her cannabis empire and give people resources to develop tangible skills they can apply to their own business ventures.
“We have gotten our foot in the door in this industry and have built a business that will transcend generations,” said Wiseman. “Our next phase of being an inspiration to others is going to be more about hands-on resources and helping people build businesses that can surpass generations.”
Wiseman’s piece of advice for those looking to get into the cannabis business is to “lean on people like me and other African-Americans in this space for help.”
She also added that just as she built her business from the ground up, others should expect to do the same.
“You have to grind for this yourself,” she said. “Take some initiative for yourself and don’t expect people to give you anything.”
Additionally, Wiseman encourages people to discover other lanes within the cannabis industry outside of owning a dispensary, cultivation, or processing center.
“Look at ways you can further expand this industry,” she said. “We need you, we need your services, and we need people who understand the quirky nuances and heavy regulations of the industry.”
For more information about Mary and Main, visit https://maryandmain.com/.