“More so than specific strains, we’re building a brand … So people know that if they’re trying something by Ideal, it’s going to be solid.”
There are two rather reliable ways to get your company recognized as a relevant cannabis brand.
You can go the traditional mass-market route, like some of the biggest names in the game, and spend millions mining user data while lining the interstate with billboards.
But if you don’t have that kind of budget to play with, one alternative approach is to grow grass that blows the lid off of containers and has legacy snobs and newjacks alike praising your product.
Ideal decidedly took the latter path, with a tiny grow and manufacturing facility in Uxbridge, and a retail location in Blackstone. Similar to Trade Roots in Wareham, they’re a rare vertically-integrated independent outfit that pays extra attention to all the little things—genetics, nutrients, curing—that add up to big beautiful buds.
They have only been in operation for about eight months, and wholesaling since August, but in that short time Ideal has started to develop a rep for outstanding flower. Their weed is already on shelves in more than two-dozen shops, and heads are buzzing over their buds and making the trip to Blackstone for the freshest bags. A first-place win for their Jokerz, in the 2023 NECANN Cup Boston Indica Flower category, helped start the momentum back in March.
On a recent trip to their boutique cultivation, a 7,400 square-foot building with 1,200 square feet in use for growing and an additional 800 square feet of canopy coming soon, I met the main maestro orchestrating this sweet symphony, Director of Cultivation Mike Tzanetakos.
“I’m from Massachusetts, but through traveling with motorcycles, I got to explore California a bit.” Tzanetakos said he started growing at scale around 2006. “Where my friends live out there, everything is based on cannabis cultivation. Realistically, all of the weed that we were growing in California, whatever wasn’t going to dispensaries in Oakland and San Francisco was coming back here.”
Still, it’s a dream come true to actually plant seeds in his home state. Tzanetakos continued, “I was already into distribution from my youth into my adulthood, and it was just an easy transition to cultivation because I have a real passion for it. I love being in the room, feeling all the humidity, smelling it, making sure everything is growing right, and getting in tune with the plants, having that connection.”
While the Cali market is a world away from the Mass cannabis industry, Tzanetakos watched how trends unfolded out west, and relies on past experience to guide his current setup. “When I was leaving California,” he said, “the big thing was having flavors. … In a 10-year span it turned into if you don’t have a lot of flavors, you’re going to be hurting. So we have 10 tables running between two rooms currently, but it’s a different flavor for every table.”
Tzanetakos showed off Ideal’s Runtz, plus Sunset Sherbet, Truffle Cake, and Cheetah Piss. Some strains are newly acquired; others, like Blueberry French Toast which he described as an old Bay Area favorite with high THC levels, came from his Cali crew. James Caviness, the director of sales at Ideal, said the variety is part and parcel of a bigger picture.
“More so than specific strains, we’re building a brand,” Caviness said. “So people know that if they’re trying something by Ideal, it’s going to be solid.”
He’s not just talking about buds. Despite its small size, Ideal was selected by Beard Bros Pharms as the Massachusetts manufacturer of the popular national cannabis brand’s full-spectrum Rick Simpson Oil (RSO).
“Aside from our craft flower, we specialize in RSO as well.” Caviness said they “use a blend of [various strains],” with the latest batch coming back at about 2% CBG, “which is not something we’ve seen on any other RSO in the Massachusetts market.” A highly sought after minor cannabinoid, CBG has reported benefits for people suffering from glaucoma, depression, anxiety, and even some forms of cancer.
From their CBG discovery, to other unexpected happenings, it’s all part of the journey. Having been in business for less than a year, Ideal is still burning its path while adapting to realities—like that prerolls, despite being one of the fastest-growing categories, weren’t working for them.
“We were kind of just seeing a little too much heat on the prerolls in terms of loss,” Caviness said. “It was trimmed, whole flower in there, and we were sifting out any of the bad stuff, so the prerolls were fire. And you can still get them at Ideal in Blackstone, but rather than wholesale them, we’re doing [a product called] the Plug, which is 7g or 14g of smalls.”
“Out with the prerolls,” he said. “In with the smalls.”