Dec. 2021 - Alaska Leaf

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Medibles Last month, an unseasonable cold swept through the Kenai Peninsula. Temperatures dropped well into the negatives, cracking car windshields that were thawed too quickly by drivers struggling to find warmth. Underfoot, crystalized snow let out loud cracks and squeaks that were tempered only by the joyful prancing of Max, a large Bernese Mountain puppy. The source of his exuberant personality became clear as Tasha Grossl swung her front door open. Wearing a black and white polka dot dress with purple-tipped hair, Grossl is the personification of her Lady Gray Medibles brand – effervescent, polished and delightful. Licensed in 2018, Lady Gray Medibles has become the gold standard of Alaskan edibles, in large part because of Grossl's determination to succeed. "In the beginning, there were a lot of tears and frustration. You know, you're working with not just yourself, but with the lab and all of the legal parameters. Even some of the tiniest details can throw things off, and mistakes in this space are always expensive," said Grossl. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and that was the case with Grossl's initial launch of seven products. "We were definitely too small to do that! Looking back, it's probably good that we didn't realize it at the time, because it forced us to dive in headfirst," said Grossl.

DEC. 2021

Childhood friend and one of Grossl's first employees, Autumn Newby, recalls working 20 hours a day to help get Lady Gray off the ground. "I remember leaving the bakery at like 3:30 in the morning, only to be back at 6:00 in the morning for pickup. Everything was really grassroots, and it was hard dialing everything in. But at the same time, it was just the most exciting thing to be a part of. It's amazing what a lot of coffee and excitement can do to keep you moving," said Newby. Since then, Lady Gray Medibles has grown exponentially to include a new facility, 11 employees and over 20 unique products, including ice cream, tinctures, chocolate bars, baked goods and personal lubricant. However, Grossl's success has also come with a lot of uncertainty and fear. "The goal has always been consistency, but that can be a really hard benchmark to hit. In this business, every single decision you have to make is a big one," said Grossl. Stringent regulations from AMCO mixed with lab discrepancies and the potential for human error make producing edibles a harrowing endeavor. Add in an unprecedented global pandemic, and the stakes become even higher. "We didn't have access to the same suppliers and ingredients we were used to, and we found out the hard way that even changing the brand of flour we use could negatively affect our bakes. We had cookies that fell flat and couldn't be sold, which is a huge financial loss when you factor in ingredients, manpower and overhead," said Grossl. Now heading into what Grossl calls the "busy season," the potential for error is once again amplified. "We all end up working on not enough sleep, so this time of year, it is so important that we prioritize staying focused and following our protocols," said Grossl.

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