Fashion’s Favorite Cannabis Lifestyle Brand Is Finally Entering the Edibles Game
This isn’t your average edible.
“A weed skeptic and four cannabis entrepreneurs hop on a Zoom…”
We’re kidding, but only slightly, because Gossamer, the stylish and discerning lifestyle brand “for people who also smoke weed,” has launched its first edible after nearly two years of producing the widely beloved “Dusk” CBD tincture (and more recently, its daytime counterpart, Dawn) as a part of a limited-edition collaboration with Rose Delights and Chef Tara Thomas. And anyone would be right to ask why. Why an edible, why now, and why does it include peak-season tomato and watermelon?
Well, formulating a quality edible—either CBD or THC—without the venture-capital cash reserves many of Gossamer’s peers possess isn’t easy. Plus, the fact remains that cannabis use isn’t safe (or legal) for everyone.
But Gossamer, Rose, and Chef Thomas had a different idea: What if we made an edible in the same way we’d make food in our own kitchen? And what if we used produce from local farms, harvested precisely at their peak? And what if we did it with our own money and then gave a percentage of the sale—not the profit—to organizations fighting the disproportionate targeting of, well, anyone who’s not white?
Rose Delights’ founder Nathan Cozzolino, Chef Tara Thomas, Gossamer’s co-founder Verena von Pfetten, and Alex Capano (the first person in the US to receive a doctorate in medical cannabis science and advisor on the formulation) allowed this admitted cannabis skeptic to dig into all of it during a roundtable discussion. More on the new limited-edition edible (which is available in both a CBD and THC formulation) ahead.
Nathan Cozzolino: “As the founder of Rose Los Angeles, my role has been to source the flower and direct the pressing of it and help Tara source produce from the local farmers.”
Verena von Pfetten: “I’m the co-founder of Gossamer. I’ve always wanted to do something in THC, and our way of doing that would be we would collaborate with a brand we really, really love, and Rose was top of the list. Nathan spotlights culinary talent in terms of the recipes, and we knew for sure we wanted to work with a chef who, like us, was in New York and ideally already in the Gossamer family. And that’s where Tara comes in. We met at a dinner that we hosted when the entire restaurant flooded.”
Tara Thomas: “I was sitting there like, What’s going on?”
VvP: “Everyone had to pick up the tables, the chairs, move to another room. And I think that’s how we ended up sitting next to each other! I just loved what she stood for and her approach to food.”
COVETEUR: Making this edible the way you’d make [it] in your kitchen—the ingredients are treated as respectfully as they would be if you’re making a salad. It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of manipulation going on there.
TT: “Yes! Growing up in Portland, I felt very connected to local farms and agriculture. What excited me about this was that we’d be working with what’s actually in season, not ‘dream of whatever you want.’ It was, This is when these things are meant to be harvested. All of quarantine, I was at my local community garden growing certain foods for the first time. All three flavors came together like alchemy.”
COV: That’s actually a perfect place to start explaining what an edible is. It’s rare people get to hear it in human terms. The explanations tend to be either super-scientific or really fluffy marketing speak: ‘vibrant, tasty, zingy.’ The way you talk about edibles reminds me of the way a server would come up to your table and say, ‘Here are the ingredients, there’s a little bit of heat, it’ll feel soft on your palate.’ And by the time someone gets a Gossamer x Rose Delights edible, they’ll be eating it after the season when they would be working with those ingredients themselves.
TT: “Nathan gave me a list of all the produce that’d be at its peak from the local farms he works with. It felt like the way I create a menu for an event—picking what makes sense for that moment. Knowing this comes out at the end of October, I wanted to create something that’s kind of like the ‘last kiss of summer’: watermelon, tomato, and green tea. It’s earthy but energetic, which is good now that we’re falling into more cozy times.”
COV: And shopping at farmers’ markets is something that Nathan’s been doing for 20 years.
NC: “Our entire staff is made up of people who’ve worked in restaurants in San Francisco their entire careers. It’s funny—when we go to the farmers’ markets, people say, These guys are using the same produce as Outerlands, as 20th Century Cafe, Ramen Shop [in Oakland]. We’re all ordering from the same farms around here. We ask the vendors, ‘Which melon is sweetest right now? Which tomatoes will cook down the nicest?’ Imagine yourself walking around there on a Saturday morning. There’s so much inspiration. It’s kind of like grocery shopping [while] high.”
VvP: “We’ve never experienced making anything like this. Like, Gossamer makes a magazine and tinctures with Alex [Capano]. It was truly like individual people just coming together to make something. At the beginning, we were exchanging photos of handwritten notes. Rose was going to the farmers’ markets buying things the same way you or I could—not some industrial farm, ordering industrial amounts. So it was truly just like, five people plus the Rose production team making this. It wasn’t faceless. It was super fun and eye-opening to make something like this with such a small scale and have such a big impact.”
COV: And the flower is an ingredient, too! What’s happening along the journey in order to get into the actual edible at the end?
NC: “It’s funny—you mentioned the whole scalability of consumer packaged goods, and the influx of capital is stripping away any real value. Business-minded people can say, ‘How cute. Look what they’re making. This isn’t scalable.’ This is wildly scalable. There’s so much opportunity to invest in regenerative farming: unused land, underfunded operations that deserve to be capitalized better. This doesn’t have to exist on this cottage-industry scale. It will never be industrial, but you can scale quality and honesty.
“But back to how we ‘get’ the flower in, both THC and CBD. We cut down the plant, hang it for four to five days, trim, and the sugar leaf—the trichome-covered leaf—when the stems are starting to snap, we press it. It’s so simple. We put it between two warm plates of a hydraulic press to steam out the oils. Then you infuse it into a coconut oil and heat it at 180 degrees to make the chemical properties more bioavailable, and convert the THC to a psychoactive chemical from a non-psychoactive chemical. That infused oil gets massaged into sugar. Nothing funny in it.”
Alex Capano: “Rosin is simply cannabis transformed into a full-melt oil. Why does it have this different effect? There’s not a bunch of literature yet. But synthetic cannabinoids have been around for decades and are FDA-approved. But they act on our bodies in a completely different way than plant-derived cannabinoids. Your body has evolved alongside these plants for millennia. Phyto-cannabinoids in their most natural state—our bodies respond the best to them.”
COV: Does an edible create a different experience than a tincture?
AC: “It comes down to where and how we metabolize the form we ingest. With edibles, they just last longer. You have to really trust who’s making it, because if you’re having a bad experience, there’s nothing you can do but wait.”
COV: How do you pick the right product for you? Why a tincture, why an edible? How do people metabolize these differently?
AC: “After you place a tincture under your tongue, it goes directly into your bloodstream—what is called bypassing the first-pass metabolism. When you eat an edible, it goes through your digestive system first, and it gets metabolized in your liver, then your bloodstream. That’s why we say tinctures, bypassing first metabolism, gets you more bang for your buck. Basically, you’re going to get that greater bioavailability than losing some to first-pass metabolism.”
VvP: “We focus a lot on education precisely because there’s so much misinformation and crummy ingredients out there. We shied away from producing a CBD-based edible because if you’re taking it to get the most impact, a tincture is the best way to do it. Until we met Nathan. I sit across from him and I’m like, ‘Whatever you’re making, I’ll buy.’”
AC: “And with edibles, the other ingredients actually increase the bioavailability of CBD.”
VvP: “We were getting asked to make edibles all the time. We don’t make anything that doesn’t come from people asking us to do it. I never felt like I could recommend an edible above a tincture. And fortuitously, the CBD-infused edible is something Rose had been working on at the same time.”
COV: You bring up an interesting point: Gossamer’s chosen to grow your assortment in a way that works for your people, your consumers. You had three SKUs, and one’s a magazine. It’s beautiful. This is one of the benefits of not taking outside funding, particularly in the form of institutional VC money. You could use that cash influx to make hires, test a bajillion products you never launch, to wallpaper every subway in New York. But there’s a lot to gain from choosing to sidestep that.
VvP: “When someone gives you money, they’re buying a piece of your company and can start to dictate what the company does because they care about return. And when you start to look at only the return, you stop looking at why the company existed in the first place, which I would hope was to provide some sort of benefit. As someone who doesn’t come from money, we took a very small friends-and-family round—and I really mean friends and family—to get Gossamer off the ground. We wanted to grow really, really slowly. I don’t want to knock investment. It is so capital intensive to launch a cannabis business. The problem is, the people who have access to millions of dollars, historically and currently, tend to be white men. You don’t see a ton of women, let alone women of color, in this industry, because those are not people who have access to capital. Add to that layer the historic criminalization and persecution of the plant and people touching the plant, criminalizing the plant in order to disenfranchise voters.”
AC: “Nixon said that. He directly said that!”
VvP: “People don’t realize that, though! We now have this entirely lopsided industry in which white men give money to other white men, while communities of color are harmed by that. What people need to understand is that when cannabis is legalized in a state, people don’t just get let out of jail. It takes an incredible amount of money and resources and legal access in order to have your record expunged, let alone to participate in the industry. I have never, ever, ever had a potential investor ask or care about the answer when we talk about social justice in this space.”
COV: What do they say?
VvP: “I say, ‘I believe very strongly that a portion of the profits that we make from something that is still causing other people to go to jail should go [to] restitution and undo the harm of this criminalization.’ They hear you’re not a businessperson. You don’t want to make any money. People like to say we’re in cannabis, not politics. The nature of cannabis is inherently political. As far as I’m concerned, you cannot exist in this industry without being political and without doing something about that.”
COV: How is Gossamer doing something about it?
VvP: “Every issue, we donate ad space and ad pages to nonprofits and organizations dedicated to doing this work that I’m talking about. We donate creative time and editorial services because, for nonprofits, that’s not the best use of their cash. But we’ve pivoted to donating as much as we humanly could to bail funds. In March we donated a full 25 percent of a week of sales to bail funds. Since then we’ve donated five percent of all incoming cash. That’s not five percent of profits—that is five percent of the money that comes into our bank accounts.”
COV: A percentage of income is wildly different than a percentage of profits.
VvP: “Right. You have no way of knowing what a company’s profit margin is. They may have no profit. If a company’s VC funded, they are able to exist without a profit.”
COV: The whole conversation we’re having is thematically about transparency and creating products for people with more intent, and not a desire to add clutter or harm, all the way down to working with a chef who has roots in New York City who understands flavor, who approaches ingredients as working pieces of a bigger puzzle, not just things you’re going to tinker with and extract flavor from in a lab.
TT: “Rose’s focus on agricultural-based edibles was really attractive.”
COV: Were there any recipes or flavors you had to put on the back burner?
VvP: “Our whole list of them. But the one we’re launching with, watermelon tomato green tea, was the first one Tara ever mentioned.”
TT: “One ingredient that’s stuck with me is the fig leaf. It would be nutty, bright.”
NC: “It’s not too late!”
COV: This is a unique way of discussing cannabis. Some companies focus on getting you super, super high. Some talk about cannabis as this earthy self-care thing. There’s room for both. But your approach seems to view cannabis as another element of a very human life. Think about Gossamer’s tagline: ‘For people who also smoke weed.’ People may not identify first and foremost as someone who smokes weed. They’re just a whole person. And that happens to be part of it.
AC: “You know, this sounds maybe a little woo-woo, which is typically not my way, but we talk about cannabis therapeutically or recreationally. People separate them too much. It doesn’t have to be either-or.”
TT: “It’s alchemy, creating an experience that you want.”
NC: “What’s exciting about this collaboration is it’s the first-ever CBD-flower rosin-infused edible. And that’s never happened commercially. A huge piece of our motivation is we want to make available ‘the thing,’ the flower, in its simplest form. We don’t have [a] million dollars. And if we ever do, we’ll never abandon any of these values. Our whole mission is around the consumer experience.”
VvP: “Nathan and Rose’s approach are so singular.”
NC: “But it’s almost impossible to communicate this message. Because any angle has been destroyed by people who have been irresponsible with their messaging. So all you can do is get it and try it. And we hope the messaging is in the experience. That’s why Tara’s recipe was amazing. There’s an emotional component.”
VvP: “I appreciate working with men like Nathan, and certainly my business partner David, who understand that women and women of color and people of color need to take up more space in this industry.”
The Gossamer x Rose Delights with Chef Tara Thomas edibles are available today, October 15th, as part of a limited-edition run. The CBD edibles are available on gossamer.co, and the THC edibles are available at California dispensaries (a list of Rose’s current stockists is here) starting tomorrow. As a reminder, supplies are limited, so we’d recommend scooping up your preferred variety sooner rather than later.
Photos: Emily Simms and Courtesy of Gossamer
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