Paulla McCarthy is a serial entrepreneur and the first Black woman in New York State to own and operate a water bottling company. The single mother of three was inspired by her twin children to start a water bottling company, YSS Water Works, during the pandemic.
McCarthy is also the CEO of Youth Saving Society, a financial literacy club. Since starting her bottling company, McCarthy has put on hold her financial literacy education and workshops. McCarthy has been teaching her children financial literacy and when they turned 20, they launched their own water distribution company in New York called Water Boys. Just when the business started, the pandemic struck and the young men were forced to start home deliveries.
They sold to bodegas and also landed a contract with 21 local supermarkets following the success of the company. It was then that McCarthy reached out to the supermarkets to find out if they would carry a private label water brand to support her nonprofit, Youth Saving Society.
When they all agreed to a deal, McCarthy started locating a water company. Eventually, she and her children met water plant owners, in Poestenkill, New York. The elderly couple agreed to sell her their 15 acres of land, including an Aquifer, also known as “The Spring.” She utilized help from family and friends to fund YSS Water Works.
Depending on family and friends was the only option left since banks were not willing to loan to her. Across America, black businesses struggle to obtain bank loans or get venture funding. The problem is more pronounced among Black women than men, according to a Harvard business school report.
In 2020, McCarthy officially acquired the bottling plant, making YSS the first Black woman-owned springs water bottling plant in the state of New York.
As with many entrepreneurs, McCarthy had little knowledge in the field she was venturing into. Instead of hiring people with knowledge in the sector, she committed herself to study and research more in her field.
According to McCarthy, she has been approached with mouthwatering deals by major water companies to sell her property. However, the Black entrepreneur says she is steadfast in holding on because of the significance of Black ownership of natural resources.
“I’m not going to sell. I want to change and move this narrative that we don’t own anything,” McCarthy told Earn Your Leisure.
Data shows that worldwide, there is an increasing fight for the control of water sources, resulting in many experts predicting that water may be valuable than gold in the next fifty years.