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How an entrepreneur founded the 'Heinz of cannabis' after struggling to find opioid-free relief for her veteran parents

Yoonji Han   

How an entrepreneur founded the 'Heinz of cannabis' after struggling to find opioid-free relief for her veteran parents
  • Black- and queer-owned company Dose of Saucy sells cannabis-infused condiments.
  • Tess Taylor started the company to help her veteran parents find opioid-free pain relief.

When Tess Taylor, a Texas-born military brat, saw her veteran parents struggling with joint pains and body aches, she turned to two things she knew intimately: weed and food.

Taylor's 76-year-old dad is a Vietnam War vet, and, after he retired from active duty, worked as a government contractor at Operation Desert Storm. When he was in the Middle East, he wore 60 pounds of gear every day, which started to wear down his body. He had to get over 10 costly surgeries, from knee and hip replacements to metal rods inserted into his spine.

"The German doctor in Heidelberg joked and was like, 'Mr. Taylor, you paid for the lien of my hospital,'" Taylor told Insider.

The pain for both her dad and mom, who also began to experience the aches of aging, kept worsening, but Taylor wanted to find more holistic solutions beyond the opioids that doctors prescribed.

This led Taylor to launch Dose of Saucy, a company that sells cannabis-infused condiments like BBQ and hot sauces. Her mission is to make cannabis inclusive and accessible for all.

"We set out to be the Heinz of cannabis," Taylor said.

Getting Dose of Saucy off the ground

When California legalized recreational weed in 2016, Taylor spied an opportunity. She applied to Our Academy, an accelerator program for BIPOC entrepreneurs looking to enter the cannabis market, and eventually launched Dose of Saucy in April 2020.

Taylor said social equity programs like Our Academy are especially important in the face of large, mostly white-owned corporations that are looking to cash in on the increasing legalization of cannabis.

"It makes it harder for mom-and-pop shops who are the ones doing the work, telling their stories, and educating consumers to introduce them to cannabis," Taylor said. "But then consumers turn around and get the cheapest weed they can find from mass producers."

Effective government regulation that protects legacy operators in the cannabis market are also key to ensuring diversity, according to Taylor. Dose of Saucy works with BIPOC and woman-owned or -led operators in their supply chain.

Using food and cannabis to bring people together

Dose of Saucy's emphasis on inclusivity was inspired by Taylor's grandfather, Jesse James Robinson, who was born into a sharecropping family in Waco, Texas, in 1927.

"My grandfather was just everyone's favorite family member. He was stupid handsome, and on top of that, he could cook," Taylor said.

Robinson became a top chef in the Navy and was also heavily involved in the NAACP. He eventually moved to Portsmouth, Virginia in one of the country's largest middle-class Black neighborhoods.

"Growing up, I really wanted to seek out examples of Black excellence and of what a community of color looked and felt like. My grandfather's house was one of the only places where I really felt that," Taylor told Insider.

Taylor, a queer Black woman, said she was inspired to make Dose of Saucy a brand that uses food and inclusivity to bring people together. She saw that in the way her parents started to become more open with how they communicated with each other after they began using low-dose cannabis.

"Cannabis goes beyond just mitigating physical pain. It's also improving their quality of life all around," Taylor said. "It's healing."


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