“On weekends, I do not exist.”
That’s what my mother would tell my brother and I when we were growing up. If we wanted a meal: we had to figure it out. If we wanted a treat: we had to figure it out. We got pretty good at figuring it out.
To be clear, my mom’s pretty awesome. She wasn’t neglecting us on weekends, she was building us on weekends. To this day, my brother is the best Caribbean-style chef this side of the galaxy as far as my tastebuds are concerned.
And, let’s just say, my baking is pretty darn good as well.
The Early Days: s’mores for the block
Being industrious wasn’t an option – it was the only way of life I knew.
I come from two Caribbean immigrants (mom: St. Kitts & Nevis, dad: Barbados) who know nothing other than hard work. And for good measure, add some more hard work on top of that. My father worked the same job until the day he retired and moved back to Barbados part-time. Monday to Friday, for 30 years, he was the first to the lunch table at 5:30 am – ready to have his breakfast before the shift start.
I worked with him for 1 summer when I was 20 – the summer he retired. That man’s job was so hard, I was ready to retire before he retired. Out of respect, I waited a month after he retired to quit.
My, mother is… my, mother.
This woman did every job under the sun – concurrently and successfully. Just, wow. Her path was a little bit rougher than Padre’s was. He came from money, you could say. She came from hope. I saw her doing hair in the house, taking odd jobs cleaning houses, taking care of the elderly, raising my brother, myself, and several other children in foster care. She did everything she had to to make sure we had everything we needed, but intentionally, not everything we wanted.
I wanted my own TV, Gameboy, Pringles, juice boxes, CD player (am I aging myself yet?), 95 Jason Kidd’s… Who wants to try sharing all these things with 4-5 older brothers (who actually had gone through puberty)? I wasn’t stressed though. I was built for those dilemmas.
I got an Easy-Bake Oven from a garage sale and started selling mini pizzas for a dollar to the kids in the neighbourhood. I set up a lemonade stand across the street on Saturdays to drive some more revenue. All the raw ingredients for my products were items that were readily available in my mother’s kitchen, so, profits were nice.
Then I got smarter. With the profits, I invested in Zeddy (I’ve definitely dated myself now). I stocked up on Zeller’s chocolate chip cookies, and marshmallows from Giant Tiger (Tigres Géant pour les gars chez nous). Slap a marshmallow between two cookies, run that sucker through the microwave for 20 seconds, and we’re selling s’mores now, baby.
I got the TV, Gameboy, Pringles, juice boxes, CD player, 95 Jason Kidd’s – and then some. I even got Padre to open a stock trading portfolio trusted to me, so I could start buying penny stocks and work on building percentage gains.
I was a business man, from young.
The Middle Ages: Dough Into Tuition
Using an Easy-Bake Oven to make money was borderline cute at 9. At 12, people would have looked at you a little funny back then. As a teen, I kept the baking ability indoors and just enjoyed having baked goods and home-made pizza pops in the house for my brothers and I.
In my 20’s, a whole new reality hit – on my bedroom door.
I am the only son out of 6 boys my parents have had that ever graduated high school. Much less, attend university. My mother was struggling financially (more than she let on) to keep a roof over our head. It was just the 2 of us left by now. But she always promised to keep a roof over my head while I pursued my education.
One day, she knocked on my bedroom door, came in and stood idly with a face of defeat I had never seen before. I was fully entrenched in an FFX battle scene on my PS2, but I could tell she was just standing there with something important to say. “Well, pack your things. We got evicted.” Ignorantly, I ask why. “I fell behind after I got sick. We’re going to stay by [person],” she said.
We were semi-homeless. And a month later, after a short stay at a family member’s house, we became fully homeless. Moving forward, I slept at a friend’s house for half the week. The other half at my girlfriend’s house – sneaking in at night and jumping off the roof in the morning. Living the life.
After a lifetime of seeing my mother perform magic, I finally saw her lose – it was humanizing. My mother was human, just like me.
Her cousin took her in while she attempted to rebound. When she finally found us a new home, she had to spend half the year in Florida working to pay for it. Thinking back on it now, the new place she found was just for me. She still found a way to make something out of nothing.
I wasn’t my best version during all of this. It was hard to be. The first few months in the new place were like living in a frozen Tundra of depression animated by low supplies of food, co-habitating critters, and 0 dollars. The new place was barely a home. I quickly dropped out of university. I couldn’t afford it (I was paying some rent now) and much worse, I wasn’t physically or mentally fit for it. I was literally surviving on Michelina’s, flour, and sugar. The little change I had, I’d use on groceries and overripe bananas. With those bananas, I would make a banana bread that I would eat for 3 days for most of my meals. Sounds like a lot of banana bread, but honestly, it was that good. Even though my mother was in Florida, she was still taking care of me through the lessons of pride and industry I learned as a child.
I started making 2 loaves, 1 for me, 1 to sell. Within 2 weeks, I was delivering orders to friends who missed my baking from when we were kids. Through word of mouth, I was getting weekly orders that started to generate serious income. With this rekindled aptitude for business and baking alive and well, I began courting local restaurants to sell my treats on consignment – it went well. Being a businessman was like riding a bike after a long hiatus.
I was back in business, for myself, just like my mother ensured I knew how to be. The following semester, I was able to cover my university tuition.
I was making dough again.
The Vancouver Days: Flower Power
I call Vancouver home now. And I do so because it keeps presenting me with opportunities. The commerce of cannabis being one of them.
When I moved here in 2010, I arrived with 7 bags – fresh off a $150, 3-day, cross-country Greyhound bus ride of hope. I had $100 in my bank account and my first month’s rent. Montreal (my birthplace) was not working – as was mentioned above. I had to go. It was either sink where you stand or hope where you land. I chose hope, and to bet on me.
One day, through what some would call an “act of God,” a religious friend I met advised me that they felt compelled by God to tell me my baking is a gift from him – God. Now, I’m not a religious guy, but I took that as a sign that maybe I should try doing something with my baking again now that I lived in Vancouver.
Well, I did, and it was successful, but the margins on a loaf weren’t exactly hitting the same with a Vancouver cost of living attached. I had to think smarter. So, I did, and decided, “let’s add cannabis to this.”
I only started consuming cannabis regularly when I moved to BC. But I quickly realized all the power the flower had to offer.
Through my consumption of cannabis, I conjured a working relationship with local weed dispensaries to create edible products under their own branding (white labelling) with my recipes. The business model was of value. After a year of white labelling success, I began my own line of treats called TREATSANDTREATS – like it was called back in Montreal. In 2014, we launched our own e-commerce site and began selling locally. Shortly thereafter, we began to see our customer base naturally grow to a national footprint with weekly orders from British Columbia to Nunavut to Newfoundland and everywhere in between.
Although we were fairly new to the game, what made us so successful was our dedication to having unique and awesome-tasting treats. Every other edible on the market was focused on the “High,” but none of them were focused on the “Taste,” like we were.
Through research and development, we constantly improved our infusion methods to maintain the taste integrity of our treats. Our slogan since day one in the cannabis market has been, “high grade high, high grade taste.” Over the past few years, we have refined our infusion abilities to now produce treats that are void of any taste or smell of cannabis. This has made us a market leader in the legacy space.
To Legal and Beyond: Health Canada Hoops
Full disclosure: I never wanted the title of “Drug Dealer.” I’ve always wanted legalization to occur. I play better with rules than guns – that’s just me. The 420 protests/events in Vancouver were great – they truly were, there wouldn’t be a legal federal program without the Vancouver legacy market – but I prefer the efficiency and scalability of business-to-business deals over fighting for tent space on a beach.
Man was it hard getting across to the legal side – with your business, integrity, and margins intact. But, almost 4 years after legalization, the hope to become a licensed distributor has been realized.
Over the past 4 years, the market pretenders (old corporate money) have started to fade out of the limelight with their bloodbath-balance sheets and made way for legacy brands to shine through.
Seeing other great legacy brands (successfully) make their way from legacy to legal like Fritz, HashCo, and Ghost Drops, shows where legal cannabis is going. The next frontier of licensed Canadian cannabis will be led by legacy brands – not the market cap leaders on the exchanges.
In the next 3 to 5 years, consumers will not only ask for legacy-quality products but will demand them.
In closing, I’ll say that every good brand has a story that’s just as good as its product. When you are looking for a quality legal product in the coming months, I hope TREATSANDTREATS INC. fits the criteria with our story and cannabis-infused baked goods – and continues to do so for years to come.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer