We have had the pleasure of getting to know Solomon and his team at Pharmacy Dropout LLC over the last few years. They are the type of brand that we like to highlight on the ILK Forum. Also known as PDO Botanicals, they are one of the leading brands that have been around for quite some time and have made a positive impact to the Kratom industry.
They have great customer service from a staff that truly cares about their customers and products that they offer. They adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices. This industry has taken many strides over the last decade and Pharmacy Dropout LLC helps the image through their continued excellence.
Jump on their website and read the customer reviews. Their customer service is great!
Interview with Solomon at Pharmacy Dropout
ILK: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to know kratom products?
Solomon: My legal name is Hyperion Grey Solomon and I own Pharmacy Dropout LLC. I go by my last name only, Solomon. Some people call our company PDO Botanicals. We are a small, family-owned, and operated business that survives in an industry saturated with corporations that tend to care more about money and less about people. The way in which I became involved in Kratom, is one heck of a story, let me tell you. I was in college, six years in, studying Psychology and Pharmaceutical Sciences with an emphasis in Pharmacognosy and raising a bunch of kids back on the mainland, in Corvallis, Oregon. I took a break after the sixth year because of burnout and got into Kratom because my childhood best friend, Matt Bogle told me it would help with my ADHD, severe depression and social anxiety, and free-floating anxiety. It worked better than the plethora of pharmaceuticals I’ve been prescribed. I went from barely functioning, being irritable and sedentary to becoming all that I could be. I was happy too and for the first time in my life, I felt fixed. Everything required so much extra effort before, but now, it’s easier, because that depression has lifted a lot. I was on food stamps and assisted housing, with four kids and I managed to work myself off the system by selling Kratom, but I knew nothing about it when I started. I was completely ignorant. I initially sold it to people on Craigslist, to pay for my own Kratom, but in one month I was making our whole rent and more. I decided to go online, and I made millions while I educated myself and become involved with the American Kratom Association, this was when they were operated from their homes when they were in their most basic and infant state. Most people think I pocket all that money, but most of it goes to other people and back into the business, which is funny because we’re barely above the poverty level in Hawai’i. I often work 12 to 15-hour workdays and I feel good about what I do because I’m changing people’s lives, giving my family an okay life, I’m helping the extended family make money so they can support their families and I went into the field I wanted, on accident! I’m giving back! I must admit though, my success is partially due to the people around me, also. I can’t take all that credit.
ILK: How long were you a customer of Kratom Products before you decided to start your own brand?
Solomon: I was a customer of Kratom products for a very short time before I started selling it. When I started selling it, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with anything, it’s nearly black and white. I had to learn as I was on the grind, which is and continues to be an uphill path, oftentimes, 12 to 15 hour days, sometimes six days a week and there still isn’t enough of me to get it all done. Great
ILK: Pharmacy Dropout seems very consistent with its customer base. How do you keep customer loyalty in such a saturated industry?
Solomon: The driving force behind starting my Pharmacy Dropout is complex and multi-faceted. It’s not a simple “mission statement”. It’s more intimate and complex. The first factor for me, I needed to pay for my own Kratom because I couldn’t afford it being on assistance, it felt bad and my kuleana (my duty) was to support my family. I felt a moral obligation to pay for it. I didn’t expect online sales to skyrocket in a month. The second factor is that I want to help people, I possessed and still possess a strong desire to improve the quality of life for other people too, I want my life to have a purpose! I want to die knowing I made a difference in this world! My driving force was to succeed, to strive with every last breath, to push myself as far as possible, to grow and evolve while retaining the human factor this business possesses, not extinguishing the humanitarian aspect that big companies fail to provide! I don’t want people to feel like a number, I want them to feel like we know them as people a little bit.
ILK: PDO Botanicals seems very consistent with its customer base. How do you keep
customer loyalty in such a saturated industry?
Solomon: The fire, the blaze that burns intensely inside of me is a rainbow of colors, even after seven years of exhaustion from trial and failure, operation choke point, and government corruption that I thought was fake, is a profound drive to protect my family and give the best products to people so they can live well. There is also an inherent fire that I carry, I’ll quit when I’m dead – it’s that simple. Some days I want to quit, some days I can barely get out of bed. This job is extremely difficult, borderline impossible and 99% of us go out of business very quickly. This job, is oftentimes, terribly stressful. Let me talk about what fuels my fire. My wife is very sick and at one point, we thought she was going to die at age 30. She has rapid onset Dystonia with symptoms that looks like Parkinson’s with Trigeminal Neuralgia and Fibromyalgia, and a myriad of other issues. These were all diagnosed roughly, around the same time. It was a death blow, over and over, including necessary surgeries, life simply became too much for her. Trigeminal Neuralgia is like giving birth, through the face, it’s labeled a suicide diagnosis because the pain can become so bad, that people take their life instead of writhing in extreme pain, forever. My wife requires two open brain surgeries, and we have three kids together, she has too much on her plate, and in order to care for her, I need to stay in this business and make adequate money. What makes me fight, is my family. I fight for my wife and my children; I fight for quality of life. The fire inside of me burns so I can care for those who are suffering, in my family and outside of my family. I fight to get our products into other people’s hands also because I know we carry the finest products and they truly make a difference.
ILK: What is the culture like within your company? What would your employees say
Solomon: We keep our consistent customer base, year after year, in this hyper-saturated industry by treating people like people and giving them the care that we would provide to our own family. We’re small enough to remember people’s names, that their word is good, that they’ll pay their debts, their birthdays, kids’ names, their medical conditions, and what we’re able to deduce their needs. We have customized care, and we deeply strive to make an impact, to genuinely help people! We establish a relationship with people when we can, instead of simply taking their money. We don’t always have the time to chit-chat, but we are conscious, aware, and we care. We also make sure to treat people the way we want to be treated, with aloha, with respect and we genuinely care, we tend to be frank, yet professional and this helps us stand out. We deny about 90 to 98% of products that are offered to us by vendors and only focus on the best, and sometimes, we test things for a year or two before they launch (like our CBD). We make sure we aren’t selling junk, we make sure the risk factor is low, for products and transactions and when we do make a mistake, we man-up/woman-up/human-up, we always fix it. We make things right, and make our customers feel good about doing business with us. We also offer humanitarian aid to customers who are in peril. We retain our loyal customer base by being damn-good people ourselves.
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ILK: What is the typical day like for the owner of a Kratom vendor?
Solomon: I believe those who work for us, which would be spot jobs for tiny jobs, would say we’re generous, understanding, flexible, and laid-back while retaining the ability to be professional, yet friendly. I believe the family who assists in running our business, would say we’re fair, and helpful, flexible, and generous. You see, we’re a family ran outfit. The culture in our industry is interesting. This is important, when I started out, a lot of people were doing this in their homes, some doing it clean, some were not and they’re out of business. This industry wasn’t dominated by large corporations at first, instead, it was small vendors, mainly online. These days, I see A LOT of corporations are taking over and some of them have good hearts while other entities don’t possess a soul, because they are corporations who know where the money is, and they’ve invested tens of millions on inferior, mass-produced products. They don’t genuinely care about the end-user. I see a lot of hippies, a lot of businessmen, I see different cultures and some of us share resources to help one another, there are some beautiful people, of all shades. Here at PDO, we try to help people, we endeavor to give back and we don’t fit into any one culture, we’re a mix of different people with different attitudes, belief systems, and so forth. There is a mix of tolerance, LGBTQ, conservatism, liberalism, paganism, neo-Judeo-Christian, nerdism, biker culture, it’s a long list and no stereotype fits us, it’s truly a mix!
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?
Solomon: Our company barely survived the pandemic, and we are still struggling a lot. We resolved to suffer, rather than take out money which we were entitled to because we felt there were millions of people who were suffering who needed that money more than us. It was morality, not pride, that kept us from using the funds that were distributed. We were sheltered and fed and we were grateful, and we don’t believe in parasitic relationships, so just because we qualify, we didn’t take out assistance and still haven’t. It’s been very difficult, and I’ve been worried about going completely under a few times. Pivoting manufacturing has been extremely difficult, because no one wants to take on Kratom, and it’s difficult for a company that can do this, with white labels, labs, and the proper procedures. It’s also very expensive! I think SARS-CoV-2 has led to many people not being able to afford what keeps them alive, which saddens my heart. We’ve tried to work out deals with people who have been struggling. The devaluation of the American Dollar and the economic blow to our country, have made it challenging for people to make their ends meet, and we felt that a lot at PDO, with massive dips in sales and customers in severe needs. Many care packages went out this past year to victims!
ILK: Do you have a favorite Kratom Recipe?
Adam: I’ve tried so many different kratom recipes in the past 10 years. We sometimes have fun coming up with new ways to take it at the office. My favorite is whisking kratom with hot water and adding honey. I also love our kratom shots on the go, they’re super convenient.
ILK: What would you say to someone new to kratom or someone who is interested but has not tried it yet?
Solomon: I would advise them to look for a reputable vendor and start off small. Read reviews and try different strains and see what works best for you.
ILK: Do you take any other natural supplements? If so, what would you recommend?
Solomon: I’m also a big fan of CBD. It helps me curb anxiety. I also take a daily supplement of echinacea in capsule form.
ILK: How do you feel about the American Kratom Association?
Solomon: Kratom Spot has partnered with and donated to the American Kratom Association for several years now. We are an AKA compliant GMP vendor and we appreciate their work advocating for the industry. We think their work is vital to help promote the safe consumption of kratom. As a kratom vendor, I would like to see them grow to be independent of the business side of kratom. The AKA will better serve the kratom community in the coming years by acting as a watchdog for bad players who enter the industry.
ILK: What should a kratom customer look for to find a proper vendor?
Solomon: A transparent company that has a customer service number where you can speak to a live person. A company that also posts transparent reviews openly shows lab reports upon request and is proud of how they package and process their kratom. It’s also a great idea to look for a vendor with GMP certification through the American Kratom Association.
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 kratom brand uphold the social/ corporate responsibility that other industries are held to? You mentioned Lab tests on the product, what else can a company do?
Solomon: I think as a natural supplement industry we have a big responsibility to stick to the all-natural benefits of kratom. As an industry, we should avoid adulterating the natural leaf in any way. As for corporate social responsibility, we adhere to fair trade principles with our suppliers in Southeast Asia. We believe our employees should be treated fairly in the United States and the same principle should apply to our partners across the world. We happily pay a premium for our kratom to ensure that it is sustainably farmed with good working conditions for our farmers.
All kratom vendors in the U.S. should focus on packaging their products following GMP standards and in an independently audited clean room. It starts with us ensuring safety and widespread acceptance of kratom. Kratom needs to be handled with care, all the way from seed to sale, and we’re proud that Kratom Spot is leading the way in these efforts. Solomon