‘The Betty Crocker of cannabis’: 22-year-old Mass. local releases pot brownie mix
May 7, 2023, 10:30am EDT
Sabrina Clebnik, the founder of Clebby’s.
When you think of edibles, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
“I think of pot brownies,” Sabrina Clebnik, the CEO of Clebby’s, said. “I think a lot of people share that view.”
Clebby’s is a new Massachusetts-based brand of box mixes for cannabis infused brownies and lemon pound cake. The products hit Massachusetts dispensary shelves on Wednesday.
Clebnik, the company’s founder, is a 22- year-old graduate student at George Washington University and Newton native. She got into the cannabis industry when she was home from school in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Her father was working on opening a cannabis dispensary, and she asked to help out.
“I’m a college student. I’m obviously like, ‘weed is fun,’” she said.
As an intern, one of her first tasks was to look online and learn what the business’s product mix should be. Clebnik, a lifelong baker, naturally looked around for a cannabis-infused brownie on the market — but she couldn’t find one.
“I was selfish, and honestly, I was probably mostly looking for myself,” she said. “I bring brownies to everything — even before they had pot in it, from the time I was 12.”
Clebnik soon learned that edible cannabis products are required to be sent off to a lab to test, which doesn’t work well for baked goods, as they would likely be stale before hitting the shelf. This gave her an idea for a cannabis brownie mix.
“We can’t sell them fresh in store, but we could do a baking mix,” she said. “That was the easiest innovation,”
She named her company Clebby, after a nickname she’d gotten at summer camp, and got to work doing recipe development. Clebnik originally thought about putting cannabis flower into the mix, but realized this wouldn’t quite work due to state laws.
So instead, she decided to infuse vegetable oil with THC. Vegetable oil is often used in box mixes, so it’s familiar to people, she said, and cannabis oil, tinctures, are easy to find in the market. Clebnik sends vegetable oil to a lab in Massachusetts to infuse it. The oil is included in the box with the mix, and the home baker only needs to add eggs and water.
At time of sale, the product is legally considered a tincture, not an edible. This opened the door for Clebnik to sell to recreational users in the cannabis market who may want a higher dose of cannabis than what’s typically available in edibles for non-medical consumers, she said. Her boxes offer between 125mg and 250mg of cannabis.
“We’re sitting on a way bigger opportunity than I really thought because there’s a huge market of cannabis consumers out there that are rec consumers that don’t want to be medical, don’t want to be in a system but also are not happy with the rec dosage. Five milligrams for a lot of people isn’t cutting it,” Clebnik said.
Since these oils are easy to buy in any dispensary, Clebnik said she also wanted to set herself apart from people who go to the grocery store and pick up a box of Duncan Hines and make their own brownies. For her, this came down to taste. As an avid baker, making pot brownies that taste good was also a point of pride.
Clebnik said that her recipe completely removes the taste of cannabis.
“No one wants to bite into a brownie sundae and taste weed. People want to taste fudgy brownie,” she said. “People just want the weed effect.”
Clebnik completed her undergraduate education at George Washington in December, meaning she did a lot of the work of launching Clebby’s while balancing a full time course load. She is currently in graduate school and has a part-time job on campus, so she is staying busy, but said she can now spend more time on the company.
Clebnik has paid for the businesses all out of her own pocket, with money she’s saved and funds she won in business competitions at George Washington. She won $1,000 through the GW Pitch Competition in 2021 and $15,000 through the school’s New Venture Competition in 2022.
Although she’s still living in Washington D.C., where her school is located, Clebnik said that she wanted to launch the company in the Bay State, as this is where she started building knowledge and connections in cannabis, as well as where her family and favorite sports teams are.
“Massachusetts, as a cannabis market, is in the perfect spot for a product like this,” she said, adding that the market isn’t entirely new but hasn’t seen as much creativity as other states. “The Massachusetts market wants something other than gummies.”
Eventually, Clebnik hopes to bring Clebby’s products into more states, but with the variable state laws surrounding cannabis, she knows this will take time.
“I’m gonna be the Betty Crocker of cannabis,” she said.
Reporter – Boston Business Journal