Edibles are a fabulous way to ingest marijuana in a discreet way without the stigmas and smells attached to smoking the herb.
Companies who are creating these incredible edible products are diversifying quicker than the industry is legalizing. This is to the benefit of cannabis consumers who now have a number of delicious and healthy choices when it comes to infused foods and drinks.
Two of the companies that are making waves in the cannabis edibles and drinkables space are The Baker’s Shop and Mary Jane’s Touch. They are also both owned by Sarah Gilles, an entrepreneurial force to be reckoned with in the pot world.
Herbal Dispatch caught up with Sarah to discuss her ventures and what’s next for the burgeoning businesswoman.What inspired you to start these companies and to get into the cannabis industry in general?
I was introduced to natural health at a very young age from my mom, she had cancer but was able to extend her life nearly a decade by choosing “alternative” treatments.
Afterwards, as a teenager, I had a bad reaction to the medication I was prescribed to deal with depression. The doctors offered no support, so I decided to stop taking them myself. This caused me to have seizures, thankfully I was a cannabis smoker as I found that it was the only thing that stopped them.
At this time I was just getting involved in the Toronto cannabis community and I got a job at one of the clubs and was mentored by Puff Mama. She was one of the original bakers in Toronto and it was here I began to first make edibles.
Several years later I co-founded the High 5 with a group of girlfriends, one of whom desperately needed to raise funds for dental surgery. So we all donned green wigs and took over our friends’ restaurant kitchen at night and produced enough edibles to pay for her surgery.
Through this, I was asked to bake for one of the only 3 dispensaries in Toronto at the time. It was at that time we created The Baker’s Shop and Mary Jane’s Touch to focus on the traditional edible market and on natural health and spa products.
I love being in the industry and helping people who might have not known of this alternative option before.
What are the main differences between your two companies?
The Baker’s Shop has always been about offering the products that people are used to seeing. Initially it was cookies, brownies, and candy like the majority of infused products.
We have since expanded to offer more unique items but based on the same idea our drink mixes are based upon, which is a technique we developed for producing pre-infused baking mixes. This technique is something we began as we discovered patients were driving 4 hours to visit a dispensary and taking a month’s supply [of edibles] home to freeze. The pre-infused option allowed them to whip up a batch at home, at a more affordable price and always have fresh baked goods.
The traditional edibles are still very popular, but as more cannabis goes online, we’ve put a lot of focus into developing products that are shelf stable.
Mary Jane’s Touch began just as a single salve all those years ago, but I remembered what I had learnt as child and the ethos was always “less is more”.
As many patients have sensitive skin, we only wanted essential ingredients in there. The more we discovered that topical cannabis products weren’t just effective for pain but also could work wonders for patients with skin conditions, especially assisting those coming off steroid creams, the more effort we put into this field. We went from a single cream to an entire line of bath bombs, soaps, body butters, bath salts, facial scrubs and massage oils; all based around this same idea.
As the line expanded we began to touch on other areas of the natural health world I was passionate about, with the idea of expanding from just skin care & spa products to other healthy items. We added in a line of infused supplements and even had a range of cold pressed juices, but unfortunately post Project Claudia we lost access to the facility we were making [them] in.
Recently you sold Mary Jane’s Touch to MYM Nutraceuticals, can you tell me some of the details of this deal?
As we expanded, we began to invest in equipment capable of handling a much larger volume with the idea that we would grow into it.
In the interim we began to take on private label clients, so we would formulate and produce products to their specifications. This side of the business has grown steadily, to the point where we are regularly asked to develop infusion methods or infused products for brands from both inside and outside of the cannabis industry.
The deal with MYM essentially was for this portion of our business, rather than our current brands. We have separated off the white label and product development arm to form a new company “MJT Manufacturing”, which currently focuses on the development and production of CBD products for a range of different companies.
So overall to the casual observer, not much has changed. Just that “MJT Manufacturing” is now a separate entity from The Baker’s Shop & Mary Jane’s Touch.
What are your best selling products for The Baker’s Shop and why?
Our number one seller is our lollipops, it has been a staple since our first year. We started making them around St Patrick’s day so we bought all clover leaf moulds as it was the only shape in stock in a big enough number, and years later we’ve stuck with it! The only change we’ve made to them is moving from shatter to distillate as we wanted to ensure consistency from batch to batch. We also added more flavours and kept the same price, which probably helps with sales!
Our [drink] mixes have been taking off too, in part because online is becoming the number one way to shop in Canada but also because of the convenience factor. Especially over summer, a lot of patients have told us they enjoy having a social drink that isn’t alcohol!
Let’s of course not forget Mary Jane’s Touch. What are the popular products in that brand?
Our original balm is still our number one seller.
We have two varieties, a 500 mg balm primarily for skin conditions, and a 1000 mg for pain relief. We still use RSO for it, as we did at the start, as we find the medicinal benefits of having a full spectrum of cannabinoids far outweigh any other option available.
Why do you have two different companies for drinkables?
We always wanted Mary Jane’s Touch to be a healthy lifestyle brand, so we developed the smoothie boosters and sports recovery blends to fit specifically in with that ethos. The idea being that cannabis could fit into a whole body health approach.
The Baker’s Shop on the other hand is focused on cannabis as the primary medicinal ingredient, as not everyone shares the same ethos. That’s the beauty of cannabis it’s powerful both in it’s own right and as a part of a healthy lifestyle.
How are you planning to take your rightful place on the shelves once legalization in Canada is a reality?
That’s a hard question as we don’t know where the law is going right now.
Currently there is no provision for legal edibles, so we may be waiting a while on that front. But we are keeping our ear to the ground and will be interested to see what opportunities arise.
You are also one of the founders of the Green Market. How did that event get started and why?
Green Market is a pop-up Edible Farmer’s Market showcasing craft cannabis makers and providing access to patients and recreational users.
Under the R Vs Smith supreme court ruling, it was declared unconstitutional [for the government] not provide access to extracts for patients. As LP’s didn’t offer patients these products, we attempted to fill that void.
Our first event launched as a method to allow patients to meet the producers and ask questions, to really find the right products for them.
Just prior to our second event, the Toronto Police launched Project Claudia, raiding a large percentage of the cities dispensaries. Many dispensaries closed and the ones that remained open stopped carrying edibles. This left many patients without access, especially to edibles.
It was our mission to offer that access and an awareness to this cause, while also working to develop standards for edible producers. We asked for proper packaging, nutritional information, ingredients lists, child safety warnings and lab testing. We also offered information on getting your food handling certificates and running a clean, safe kitchen.
The hope was to show what edibles could be in the face of all the scaremongering going on in the newspapers.
The goal for the future is to be able to find a space with the new framework, in which we can operate under a similar model. Essentially offering a space for the craft producers to connect directly with consumers and showcase their products.
Sarah’s many products are available in a number of places including at the various Green Market events and, of course, on Herbal Dispatch.
- Edibles Are Not Legal Yet, What Do I Do Until Then? - October 2, 2018
- It’s a New Dawn, a New Day, a New Life - September 25, 2018
- Canada’s Activists Reveal Their Thoughts on Legalization - September 17, 2018
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