Meet Anu Bernier, the woman ensuring our products are safe, correctly dosed and of the highest quality

 

What’s your role at Wabi Sabi Brands?
Officially I am the Quality Assurance Manager for Wabi Sabi Brands Ltd. but my actual role is defined on a daily basis. We are a small team at the moment, and we all contribute equally towards building our brand. It is a fun experience, as I get to learn new skills. For example, I can proudly say that I am now the procurement expert!

As a Quality Assurance Manager, I am responsible for the development and implementation of our food safety and quality assurance program. This program ensures that our edible products are made in a hygienic environment by trained personnel and meet the regulatory requirements of cannabis dosing. In a nutshell, my role is to make sure that our consumers are consuming safe and quality products.

What did you do prior to working for Wabi Sabi Brands?
I am a BRCGS Professional. BRCGS (BRC Global Standards) is one of the highest-achievable certifications in global food safety standards. Prior to meeting my Wabi Sabi team, I was working as a Food Safety and Quality Assurance Manager for Calgary Italian Bakery Ltd., a  renowned bakery in Calgary since the 1960s. I was responsible for developing and implementing its food safety program in order to produce safe, quality and authentic products for Calgarians to relish.

Anu Bernier graduated in 2014 with a Masters Degree in Plant Biology from University of Alberta. Before joining the Wabi Sabi team she worked for Calgary Italian Bakery Ltd.

What propelled you on this journey? Care to share some of the highlights so far?
I am not a cannabis user, however I care deeply about food safety. When Cannabis 2.0 products were becoming legal, I told myself that people would need help – and I could help fill that role.

What hurdles have you faced so far? How is it different from other, more established industries?
This is my first time building a facility from scratch. I have always had the luxury of working in a built facility and just making simple requests for supplies. Some of my hurdles have been understanding finance, making informed decisions on equipment, learning lead times, and making informed decisions on price breaks to add better value to our purchase.

I believe every established industry was built from ground zero and years of perseverance are what established them. At Wabi Sabi, we are at ground zero right now with an amazing team contributing our everything to be an established industry.

What advice do you have for other women looking to get into the cannabis space?
Go explore your dreams! There are tonnes of opportunity out there in sectors like operations, marketing, finance, quality assurance and many more. Do not be afraid to test the waters. It is an upcoming industry and you can always transfer your skillsets to other industries.

What are some of the best and worst parts about being a Quality Assurance Manager in the cannabis sector at this moment?
Best parts: The ability/freedom to define your food safety and quality assurance program. As it is a new sector, it is easy to coach your team on best industry practices and have your senior management team on board with food safety.

Worst parts: haven’t seen any yet. However, I do anticipate clashes between production, sales and quality assurance just like any other manufacturing facility. However, at Wabi Sabi Brands we lead by safety and quality. Our potential production and sales employees will only be hired if they can put food safety and quality first.

What do you think the edibles space will look like in five years? 
The edibles market is a booming industry. I really appreciate Health Canada’s efforts to make sure that the edible products are produced to stringent standards. Currently the edibles market is facing a supply-demand challenge. However, in five years I expect the market to be stabilized and the shelves being stocked with a variety of edible goodies for consumers to enjoy.

Where do you see Wabi Sabi one year and five years from now?
In one year, I see ourselves making an impression in the Canadian cannabis market. In five years, I see ourselves making an impression globally.

What’s something someone would never guess about you?
That I am a skydiver, yet I am scared of water slides!

Favourite “guilty pleasure”?
Grey’s Anatomy with Fiasco’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Gelato.