CannaProfile An Interview with Green Labs

     Making the move into a new brand can be a challenging process. In late December 2015, Green Labs, LLC, launched its Swifts edible brand onto the Washington recreational cannabis market. This undertaking did not come without a thorough evaluation of the consumer demographic, the value-add that the Swifts brand brings to retailers and, most importantly, the necessary brand appeal.
As one of Washington’s first I-502 producer/processor licensees, Green Labs has been blazing a trail into the retail markets with two distinct brands and what they believe is the best oil produced in the industry.
     Defining, differentiating, personalizing and positioning a brand can take some time. Fortunately for Green Labs, their thoughtful work has begun to pay off in relatively short time.
CannaBiz Journal sat down with Jordan McAulay, Director of Sales from Green Labs, LLC, to chat about their new edible brand Swifts.

CannaBiz Journal:
     First off, congratulations to everyone on Green Labs team! How you do feel about the Swifts Mints winning the Dope Cup Washington 2016 Best CBD Edible—Recreational award?

Jordan McAulay:
     I think it’s a great win for that product. We know we have other products that we’re really proud of that we felt could have won an award, but I feel our mints in particular can benefit the most. It’s a little bit more expensive of a product as we produce a nearly pure CBD mint. Some vendors are slow to pick it up because of the cost, but we expect it to gain traction and its following to grow.

CBJ:
     What kind of growth is the Swifts brand seeing since its launch?
JM:
     Growth has been excellent. We’ve seen consistent growth month after month. Many retail outlets have their existing relationships with various processors, so we really take the opportunity to engage with new stores. As new outlets come online, we’re engaging with them. Of course, we look to add as many retail partners as we can. New sales are regulated a bit by how many new stores come online. Despite this, things are looking good. We’re looking to hire more people to keep up with growth.

CBJ:
     How do you see the brand growing outside of the Washington market?
JM:
     We’re evaluating a variety of options. We have the ability to license or franchise our brand to other markets. This gives us a lot of flexibility without having to make large capital investments. We have a proven methodology, standard operating procedure and set of ingredients. Still, we need to keep our focus so that we can sustainably compete in Washington.
CBJ:
     How do you think you compete with these major personality brands from Tommy Chong, Snoop Dog, Willie Nelson, Whoopie, etc.?
JM:
     That’s hard because we were able to walk into this without the big competition and big money all across the board. We were able to establish ourselves a bit; we had the time to figure it out and develop the brand. For small guys, their only hope will be to fight, fight, fight, or get acquired.
We are positioning ourselves as a lifestyle brand. We use high quality ingredients, we are established in our market and we are always working on new products.
We’ve also built our brand within the retail outlet, we’ve built it with the people in the outlet, the bud tenders, etc. We feel if we take care of our customers they will take care of us.

CBJ:
     What are your thoughts on product safety, namely children. Little kids sees a box of candy and they will eat it. They don’t know.
JM:
     It is on bud tenders and the store to educate. All we can do is put the labels we need on our packaging. Hopefully if the bud tender doesn’t get through to them, the adult in possession will read it and they follow the directions. That is just a responsible adult-use expectation. As far as the consumables with the kids, that’s hard for us, we cannot parent everybody’s kids. You can only expect a grown adult to be as responsible as you would be with their own kid. If they allow their kid access, that says something about their parenting practices. We hope and pray those situations don’t happen because we all know how that makes our industry look.

CBJ:
     What do you think gives Swifts and Green Labs its competitive edge?
JM:
     We were early movers, which has allowed us to establish some connections. My focus is alway, always, always service. From there we build the brand within the store.
We’re working with the hexane extraction method and we use higher quality ingredients. Our product is a lot more homogeneous; it tastes better.
As an example, everyone has a hard candy. The market is cluttered. We’re putting a twist on it by offering something no one else is doing. Once we get it into the customer’s hands, we expect to grow our market share.


CBJ:
     On a personal note, from a career perspective, what brought you into this line of work?
JM:
     This all happened quite interestingly in that I had just graduated from Western Washington University with a business degree and I was presented with this great job opportunity. It all kind of lined up. Like many people, I had background experience in the industry during the medicinal cycle and so I was able to quickly take my knowledge learned at school and apply it to building the Green Labs sales model.