by: Ilana ‘Sugar’ Laytart
I remember when I first laid my eyes on the sweet seductive treats of The Nutty Baker; They were a vendor at the Cannabis Compliance Conference in Rohnert Park last Spring. Before I walked up to the table, I promised myself to have no more than one of each kind, or else I’d be hovering their table all weekend long... Sugar does love her sugar! Our Northern California cannabis industry offers so many products to choose from, and it’s growing by the day, but when you can find one you like, it’s a very exciting moment. It’s like when you are in the middle of a first date and realize you want a second date. When you find out that a product you like was made by a local family-run business for almost a decade…that’s the jackpot! Cannabis consumers in Northern California, from my humble opinion, prefer to support local businesses with good-intentioned people behind it, who see the value of cannabis as medicine, not as just a commodity. It is my honor to share with you a little bit of the soul and family spirit behind The Nutty Baker. Now, let’s get nutty with Susan Merla, Head Baker, and her daughter, Jennifer, Director of Sales and Marketing at The Nutty Baker.
The Nutty Baker is a family-operated company by Susan and Jennifer Merla, a collaborative mother-daughter duo. Susan got her start in baking at a very young and was in the industry for several years before branching out. She is a mother of two and a grandmother of a beautiful little girl. She loves to garden and spend time with her granddaughter. She has always used cannabis as a medicine and believes it helps others, whereas western medicine does not. Jennifer got her start working in dispensaries and has been in the industry for 12 years. She has a charming 3-year-old daughter that she loves to spend time with. She loves the color purple and her dogs: Ruger and Violet. When these two aren't concurring the edible works, they spend a lot of time together because family is the most important thing to them.
Tell us a little about the history of The Nutty Baker: How did it get started, and how was ‘The Nutty Baker’ name chosen?
“The Nutty Baker was created after Susan left an exclusive baking job for a dispensary. Her and her son, Steven, started going out to make sales; while working at a dispensary full-time, Jennifer still managed to help with sales and packaging. When Jennifer had her daughter, she came on board full-time and together they brought The Nutty Baker to the next level.
The name The Nutty Baker was actually Steven’s idea. During the holidays Susan would take a week off of work so she could bake, and it would get crazy! Her kids weren’t even allowed near the kitchen when she was baking. Steven has always called her the nutty baker so we thought it was time to make it official. We still get nutty from time to time.”
What is your favorite product in The Nutty Baker line? What is your most popular product? (Tell us about the flavors and potencies)
“Susan’s top two favorites are the Red Velvet Cake Truffles and the Peanut Butter Cups. They each have small doses, so it is much easier to manage. The Red Velvet Cake Truffles come in a pack of three at 35mg a piece; they are just so pretty, and who doesn’t love Red Velvet! Being a peanut butter and chocolate freak, Susan’s top contender are the Peanut Butter Cups. They are the perfect dose at 50mg.
Jennifer absolutely loves the Caramel Corn! The 150mg bag is just the perfect amount. It’s always smart to start with a small handful, so that you don’t overdo it. The caramel and cannabis flavor make a tasty pairing, it’s a challenge just to stick to a small amount.
One of the most popular Nutty Baker products is the Assorted Rock Candies at 25mg each. They come in a 5-pack variety of yummy flavors; anywhere from Lemon, Watermelon, Orange-Pineapple, Raspberry Mist to Melon Margarita. The other top seller is the 200mg Brownies for those patients who have a higher tolerance. They are gooey and delicious!”
Have you seen changes in the Sonoma County cannabis industry since you started? Please explain.
“From what we have seen in the last 9 years, presentation, quality, variety, medicine and so much more has evolved. The packaging alone has been a creative and challenging process, from the laws to having a marketable design. We know things are going to change here very quickly and we want to be there when it all happens. Being in compliance will open new doors and opportunities for The Nutty Baker. We are excited about all the new opportunities coming our way!”
What do you love most about working in the cannabis industry?
“The best thing about working in the cannabis industry is the unity and love. The compassion we have seen and experienced would never happen in any other industry. We have lost patients but we know we made their lives better with this amazing plant. It's not just a job, it's a culture, a lifestyle and it's all about love and light.
We hate to see patients resorting to other medicines that don’t/won’t work. Rather than sticking to Western medicine practices, we prefer the healing of medicinal cannabis. It wasn’t until we started The Nutty Baker that we truly understood the power of medicinal cannabis!”
The cannabis industry is in a state of fast-paced change and growth right now - what would you like to see in the future of cannabis?
“So much has changed for us over the past few years and it’s been exciting! We would love to have a store-front bakery, and be able to provide comfort to those in need more easily would be the most rewarding. The cannabis movement has evolved. From out of the woods and into the future!”