Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your business?
My name is Chris Young. I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. This is Blue Leaf Hemp. The store itself I wanted to use to show what hemp has to offer. Everything you see in the store has something to do with hemp. Whether it’s the t-shirts, bath bombs, candles, CBD oil, dog collars, or leashes—everything has something to do with hemp. We have a lot of CBD stores in Memphis, which is derived from hemp, but I wanted to take it one step further and show everything that hemp has to offer. So, everything you see in the store like the backpacks, purses, and everything all have to do with hemp.
Why did you choose the Medical District as the place to start your business?
I looked around at a bunch of different areas. I saw that the Edge District and the Medical District were very up and coming. There are a lot of things going on in this area, especially in this container park here that I’m in. I decided that this would be a good spot, especially with the Wonder Bread development coming up. I know that there is also an upcoming Ravine Park project, so I thought it would be good to plant myself here and grow with the community.
Can you shed on what it’s like vending in this retail incubation of Shab Chic? What makes this vending experience unique from other traditional styles of retail?
It’s worked well for a lot of the things that I’m offering. I’m not selling a lot of big product, so I didn’t need a huge space. This is a very inviting, cozy space. It’s definitely different as far as the square footage as we only have 160 square feet here. Though, this is good for me as it allows me to save money on rent and overhead costs.
When did Blue Leaf Hemp open?
The beginning of January
What was the process like becoming a tenant here? Did you receive any supports from MMDC?
Working with Brian, it was very easy. We developed a clear plan and timeline for my move-in. I met with Vonesha Mitchell, and she’s offered me her support, provided me a bunch of different support applications on the website, and told me about marketing opportunities for my business. I’ve been very collaborative with the owners across the street at High Cotton and Edge Alley. It’s been very inviting, and I’ve felt very welcomed here.
You mentioned local businesses. Do you see any possibilities for collaboration with District businesses?
Yes, I’m hoping potentially I can work with Tim at Edge Alley on maybe making a CBD coffee. We are still talking and thinking about that. I’ve talked with Ross at High Cotton about potentially making hemp beer or possibly working with other local breweries on making hemp beer. These are all new ideas and I look forward to possible collaborations in the future.
You specialize in providing hemp and hemp-derived products. What is hemp? What are its benefits? How did you get into hemp-based retailing?
Absolutely. The hemp plant itself is awesome. The hemp plant is easy and a great crop to grow. You can harvest it twice a year. You don’t have to use harmful pesticides and herbicides on it because it grows so quickly, and it’s a natural and safe repellant. When farmers plant it, not only does it absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but it also replaces nutrients in the ground when it grows. I really started researching hemp itself and wanted to get into growing, but I didn’t really have any land or farming experience so I decide to open up a retail shop and show everything that hemp has to offer. There are literally thousands of products that can be made from hemp, so I not only wanted to show the benefits of CBD, but the benefit of everything that can be made from it. Hemp plastics, hempcrete (which you can build houses out of), clothing, and hemp’s medicinal properties are just a few of its benefits. There are hundreds of ways to use CBD to treat different ailments from anxiety to inflammation. People who have ADHD and ADD will use it instead of using something like Ritalin or some other type of stimulant to help them focus. People will use it to help battle Crone’s disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease as well. The main benefits are the ant-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects. There are many forms of it—oil, vapes, inhalers, salves, and creams. If you’re suffering from arthritis or joint/muscle issues, you can use the joint cream, and it provides a great healing effect to the body. Essentially, the reason I wanted to do this is to help people and really educate the community on what hemp is and all the benefits of it. It’s not some drug that is going to get you high. It is just something that is really going to help you and benefit you. It is derived from the cannabis plant, so that is what turns a lot of people off of it. When a lot of people think of cannabis, they automatically think of marijuana, but it’s not marijuana; it’s industrial hemp. It is on the other side of the spectrum.
How has the Medical District community been receptive towards your business? Have you gotten good business while you’ve been here at Shab Chic?
Yes, I have. I am still working on getting foot traffic in the door and getting creative with advertising. Luckily the Memphis Flyer has allowed me to advertise with them. As far as the Medical District, everybody that’s come in has been very receptive. It’s been great being able to educate people that come in not knowing what hemp is, and they’ve all been very respectful and supportive of everything that’s been going on here.
What are your signature/most popular items?
The most popular by far is the 500 milligram CBDol from CB Distillery. It’s a salve. A lot of people will come in that have joint or muscle issues. My aunt, for example, came in with a cyst wrapped around a nerve on her wrist. It was very painful for her. She was about to have surgery on it and she wanted the CBDol just to get rid of the pain not realizing that it was also going to get rid of the cyst itself. The cyst was gone and the pain was gone. She made a post on Facebook, and a lot of her friends saw the benefits of it. My other aunt uses it for the carpal tunnel in her hands. My uncle rides bikes. One day he was riding his bike and pulled a muscle in his leg. He rubbed it on his leg and the pulled muscle pain was gone. That’s probably by far the best seller in here just because people can automatically see the benefits of it. They come in, sit down, and I offer free samples of a lot of my products. I have lots of customers come in expressing pain and they take a little dab of the CBDol and within five minutes their pain is alleviated. The free samples of the oil, balms, and lotions have also been very helpful for people.
Are there any upcoming events or specials at Blue Leaf Hemp or at Shab Chic in general?
Shab Chic itself has a Happy Hour every Friday from 4-7pm. We offer free wine and beer. My store offers 15% off the entire store during the Happy Hour.
How can people get in touch with you and your business?
I have a website. We are on Google search, Instagram, and Facebook as well. I use Instagram most heavily. Also feel free to reach out to my business phone anytime. My regular hours are Tuesday through Friday 12pm-8pm, Saturday from 10am-8pm and Sunday from 12pm-5pm.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Medical District/ greater Memphis community?
The main thing I want share is to come check us out. Come prepared with questions. We’d love to answer them! The main reason for opening up this store was to help people. A lot of people are taking prescription medications, addicted to opioids—especially in this area. CBD has been shown to help treat people with such addictions. A lot of people are suffering from pain and taking pain medications that have harmful side effects. CBD products can help treat pain without causing the harmful side effects. I really want to educate people on what hemp is and its healing benefits. Feel free to visit, look around, and ask questions. Hemp is not marijuana and not something that is bad for the community. It’s really here to help people.