Interview with Jaya Kratom
ILK: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to know the industry?
Team Jaya: My partner and I are Mitragyna Speciosa researchers and work daily at our specialty Kratom dispensary in Portland, Oregon.
I first discovered this wonderful plant circa 2010 when it was still niche. I enjoyed Kratom for many years but really fell in love with the plant when I moved to South East Asia in 2018. I was blown away by how much higher quality the product was in Indonesia compared to what I had encountered in the US.
This, along with a lack of clear information about production inspired my wife and I to embark on a month long research trip into Borneo rainforests to learn more.
ILK: How long were you a customer of Kratom Products before you decided to start your own brand?
Team Jaya: Just about a decade give or take a couple of years!
ILK: What was the key driving force to start your own company? What drives you to continue?
Team Jaya: When we first set out for our research project in Borneo, it was just a passion project and we honestly had no intention of starting a Kratom company. It was our Indonesian friends we met through the journey in the rainforests who convinced us of the idea and helped us along the way. All the positive feedback on our products and the lovely people we meet inspire us to continue.
We also thank the tree itself everyday, this plant got us through all of the challenges of opening a business. Praise the plant!
ILK: Tell us a bit about your quick growth and experience with your customers?
Team Jaya: Luckily, having a physical store front in addition to e-commerce allows us to engage with so many amazing people and members of the community we might not otherwise meet. Everyone has a story with Kratom and we love being able to share our knowledge. Having a physical space has really allowed us to elevate kratom and give it the beautiful setting it deserves.
ILK: What is the culture like within your company? What would your employees say about you?
Team Jaya: We’re a husband and wife operated and owned company. Daily operations are run by the two of us. We’re pretty busy, but we love what we do.
We were travelling for years before setting up Jaya, so it’s fun to pour all of our energy, inspiration and love into building a company.
ILK: What is the typical day like for the owner of a vendor?
Team Jaya: Our days are very busy, but a little Kratom tea in the afternoon makes it a joy.
What are the Most Popular Products?
ILK: How did your company handle the pandemic? What was it like to pivot manufacturing over the last year? What’s your take on how the pandemic affects the Kratom industry
Team Jaya: We were actually in Indonesia when the pandemic started, so getting back to the US was quite a journey.
In terms of import, the pandemic has made things tough. We fly all of our Kratom out directly from Borneo for the sake of freshness, so with Covid eliminating the vast majority of flights from Indonesia it’s been challenging. My wife and I were able to manage it with a bit of extra planning.
ILK: Tell us the name of your most popular product and what makes it so?
Team Jaya: Our Super Green from West Borneo is probably the most popular, it’s potent, balanced,
and lovely in every way.
ILK: What are your go-to strains and a typical dose? What is your choice way of taking kratom?
Team Jaya: We call them ‘varieties’ rather than strains since all kratom comes from the same tree, and it’s
the drying process that distinguishes whether the result is a red, white, green, etc. (we write in
detail about this on our website).
As to favorites, we love them all and they all have a special place in our life- red is comforting and great for mellow days, green and super green are great for the workday and socializing, finally, white is perfect for hiking, climbing, yoga and all high energy pursuits.
We have perfected our kratom tea and iced tea recipe that’s our go-to.
ILK: Do you have a favorite Kratom Recipe?
Team Jaya: Kratom tea with lemon, honey and hot water is our hands down favorite. Lemon juice helps to make kratom’s alkaloids more bioavailable and in combination with hot water it helps to break down the plant’s cell walls, making it really smooth on the system. You can also add in any spices you like, turmeric and cayenne add a great kick.
ILK: How do you see the industry unfolding over the next couple of years? What can
people do to help?
Team Jaya: We are strong proponents of the Kratom Consumer Protection Act here in Oregon. We really believe common sense regulations, cGMP facilities and lab testing will help ensure the safety and long lasting legality of kratom.
All of our facilities are licensed and inspected by the state and we go to great lengths with our lab testing. People can help by speaking to lawmakers and supporting KCPA initiatives in their own states.
ILK: What are some issues that you can see with the Kratom Industry?
Team Jaya: Selling ‘strains’ which don’t actually exist, for example ‘Bali’. We lived in Bali for nearly two years and never once saw a Mitragyna Speciosa tree growing there and it’s a pretty small island.
There is a lot of deceptive marketing which confuses consumers. Likewise with ‘vein color’- yes leaves sometimes have red/green/white veins, but there is no real difference between them and I promise no farmer in their right mind is sorting leaves by vein color. There’s a lot of deceptive marketing, we have written about this on our website
ILK: Do you take any other natural supplements? If so, what would you recommend?
ILK: What should a kratom customer look for to find a proper vendor?
Team Jaya: Lab testing for safety and transparent sourcing are big ones. Seeing Kratom marketed by the vein color or from places that don’t actually grow it or can’t legally export it are big red flags.
In terms of lab testing, it’s not enough to lab test once per batch (that could be hundreds of kilos), it’s important to lab test with greater frequency. We break every batch down into dozens of ‘lots’ and lab test each individually for maximum safety.
ILK: It seems to us that most of the top vendors are paving the way for the industry to leave a positive impact. In what ways can a brand uphold the social/ corporate responsibility that other industries are held to?
Team Jaya: On the Indonesian side, it’s important to go out to Borneo and meet your suppliers! It’s the norm in many industries to visit their suppliers to see where you are sourcing from, but most Kratom companies don’t do this. Vendors should inspect their farms, equipment and working conditions, as well as take the opportunity to learn about the process of growing great M. Speciosa.
We also advocate for not over haggling with suppliers. It is uplifting communities and doing wonderful things for people. Muscling out the small players and always searching for the lowest offer means that wealth won’t be fairly distributed.
On the US side, Kratom is an unregulated product in the sense that FDA guidelines for consumer safety have not been established, nevertheless, it’s frequently treated like unregulated, which means there are no rules. It’s a food product that’s consumed by people, so companies should comply with the standards that are established for all food products. Companies need to start registering with their local health departments and following food safety code.
ILK: How hass Kratom improved your quality of life?
Team Jaya: In so many ways it’s hard to know where to even start! It has, definitely, improved our motivation, focus and drive. I’d go as far as saying that I wouldn’t have gone into the business world without it.
ILK: We have been asking other brands about the social and corporate responsibility that lays on the shoulders of this industry’s leading vendors. In your opinion what steps should brands be taking to ensure safety, good products and most importantly keeping it legal?
Team Jaya: First of all, while we all know that Kratom is a fantastic plant, the FDA does have stringent rules on health claims. Brands shouldn’t make any health benefit claims on their packaging or online.
Secondly, Kratom companies should all be registered with their local health department and be subject to regular inspections to make sure they are preparing products in a food-safe environment. This includes all food-grade equipment, adequate conditions, proper labeling, no pests or contaminants, employees wearing hairnets, gloves, masks, and packing clothes.
Finally, transparency. Companies need to be knowledgeable about their products and share that information with their customers. There are too many customers coming into our store who have been taking Kratom for years and who have no idea about where it comes from, what the trees look like, and how it’s produced. It makes us sad to see that so few vendors are making the effort to be transparent, knowledgeable and informative.
Some fun Questions….
Favorite Kratom Strain? Kratom that is dried to retain a bright vivid green color and has been harvested at peak maturity.
Favorite Band? Too hard to choose!
Favorite Movie? I’m more of a documentary person- I always recommend Leaf Of Faith or Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia to people wanting to learn a bit about the plant.
Favorite Coffee Brand? Stumptown for their beautiful packaging and lovely single-origin sourcing.