In 2016, two long-time best friends left their corporate jobs to launch an e-commerce company specializing in kratom and CBD products. The kratom market at the time was very new; many people were just starting to hear about this super leaf and with an unregulated market, it was hard to find safe, high-quality kratom.
Fast-forward to today, Super Speciosa is one of the leading kratom companies in the industry, providing consistent, clean products to kratom users across the country and beyond.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with the founders, Ken and Aaron, to talk about how they are setting a standard for kratom worldwide, and all the steps they take to ensure that Super Speciosa is delivering top-notch products to their customers.
S: What was your inspiration behind starting this company?
A: Ken and I were both working full time. Ken was an accountant and I was an engineer. We were in corporate America and we were hoping to get more out of our jobs than we were getting.
We had a friend who was big into kratom and it helped him out personally in his life. We looked into it and saw there were a lot of deficiencies in [what other kratom companies] were doing.
[Kratom] is serving a really important function right now. We saw an opportunity to provide a better and safer product… Being able to help people and make an impact is probably more rewarding than our corporate jobs.
K: At first we didn’t really know much about kratom. We just jumped into it, just thinking, let’s try our hand in this.
[In the beginning] my responsibility was to deal with our customers and getting the product out there in the market, and Aaron was the engine making sure we had what we needed to make the business run. That’s when the lightbulb went off for me and I was like, ‘Wow, there’s something really interesting about this.’ After that, we got more interested in learning about kratom, what makes it unique, and how we can make it better.
A: When I was going into Engineering, I thought it would be a lot more creative. I thought I would be presented with problems that I would be able to solve on my own. It was more cookie-cutter, you just go through the book and pick an X, Y, & Z solution.
With this, once we started working on the processes and getting the equipment, I went down a more creative engineering route. This [company] brought that side back out of me.
S: How is Super Speciosa different from other kratom companies?
K: We are the brand that has a real quality system that was built from the ground up. Where our equipment, our entire process, has been tailored specifically for kratom.
A: lot of our competitors claim they have a Good Manufacturing Process (GMP), but they miss crucial steps. We offer something trustworthy, clean, safe, and it’s not enhanced in any way. More importantly, we make it available at a fair price, and we also offer a lot of discounts too. [Super Speciosa] is a premium product, not at a premium price point.
K: Another example is all of the trial and error we went through to figure out how to ensure our kratom was consistently clean after the e. Coli outbreak that the kratom market experienced in 2018. Ever since then all of our kratom is pasteurized to ensure safety and we were one of the first kratom brands to figure this out.
S: Did you develop this pasteurization process?
A: Yes, we did a ton of experimentation. I’m not going to say we developed it for the industry, but we developed our process, in-house, from scratch because we had to. We wanted to provide a clean product and [at the time] you could not buy clean kratom anywhere, you couldn’t get it pasteurized anywhere. It was something we had to do to meet the goal of providing a safe product to our customers.
“We are the brand that has a real quality system that was built from the ground up. Where our equipment, our entire process, has been tailored specifically for kratom.”
— Ken, Co-founder of Super Speciosa
S: How is transparency important when it comes to kratom and the industry in general?
A: Customers need to know where their products are coming from. There is a lot of misleading information in the kratom industry, and [customers] might not get what they think they are buying. We give them the real information, and I think that’s important on a lot of different levels. [Transparency] is shown in our efforts to provide a clean product to our customers. There wasn’t a solution out there, so we came up with one ourselves: did the work, spent the money, and did the experimentation in-house to get it done.
S: What products make you stand out from the rest?
K: We were one of the first to have the QR codes on the back and offer that transparency. We grade our kratom based on the mitragynine content. Our Super Speciosa [signature variety] offers the most mitragynine naturally without enhancing it. We are now identifying more profiles of alkaloids that are in kratom. We are going to be adding new products to share these different profiles with our customers.
A: We listen to customer feedback, and we create products based on that… Kratom doesn’t taste great so putting out the teabags and tablets was an effort to give [customers] a format that tasted better and was more convenient for them to use.
S: What’s the production process like? How is it different from other vendors?
A: We have a fully automated process that blends the kratom, so when we put out a product, it’s consistent from a texture and cleanliness perspective.
[When other companies] get a shipment of kratom, they just take a sample from one of the packages and say that if that sample is good, all the other packages must be good. Whereas we will take the whole shipment and blend it, and from that mix, we will know that the entire unit is clean.
K: I’m sure other companies are offering products with batch numbers, but a few years ago, no one had batch numbers on their stuff. I think what’s common in the industry is that a batch isn’t necessarily a mixed and blended batch. With us, it is mixed and blended. Based on our process, there’s consistency and uniformity and that’s important to kratom users. What other people have doesn’t guarantee that.
S: How is Super Speciosa taking the necessary steps to protect kratom users?
K: I think the most important thing is operating in a way where we set a good example [in the kratom industry]. The American Kratom Association is great. There is no doubt that kratom might not exist in the United States if it weren’t for them.
There are many businesses selling kratom out of their garage. We could run this out of a garage and make more money, but we want to do it our way because we think it’s the right thing to do for the customers and we also think that it provides more longevity to the [kratom] industry. We inspire other kratom companies to follow suit.
A: We go to the AKA summits, and we’re involved with them in their calls. The Utah Department of Agriculture was working on a kratom spec to sell kratom in their state and we provided their department advice, walking them through our processes on creating criteria that were beneficial for the kratom industry and the consumer. We were one of the first to put the QR codes and the mitragynine on the bags. That wasn’t something we were hoarding to ourselves. When we were at the AKA summits, it was something we talked about actively with other vendors and encouraged people to move in that direction, to help the industry as a whole get better, which at the end of the day, helps the consumer.
S: What should people look for when they are shopping for kratom?
K: There are 3 things [to look out for].
First, is the kratom high quality, does it have alkaloids in it? There are different grades of kratom, and some stuff is not very good, maybe it’s from immature leaves.
Second, is it clean, would it pass modern food safety standards, does it have e-coli in it, is it going to make someone sick?
Third, are there issues with heavy metals?
Overall, are you taking the right steps to protect your customers?
A: We make an effort to educate customers and that’s our commitment to transparency, giving them the right information. Does the packaging have:
- A lot number
- A QR Code linked to an accurate and up-to-date lab result
- An expiration date
- Directions for use
- An ingredient list, etc?
If consumers are more educated, it will either force those “garage vendors” to start changing, or they’re going to lose customers.
S: What is “adulterated” kratom?
A: Some companies try to add mitragynine extract to bring low-testing kratom up to par. From a regulatory perspective, that might be adulterated depending on the circumstances. This is not from malicious intent, but sometimes companies do that to get a more consistent product, or to make it stronger. That’s not to be confused with adulteration where someone is putting an illicit substance into kratom.
S: Compared to other companies, how are you marketing kratom differently?
A: A lot of vendors go the route of labeling the product a certain way to make certain claims, and it’s sold next to sketchy products in gas stations. Kratom is a natural product and it works great the way it is. People love it in its natural form, so that’s the direction we go.
K: We stay away from making drug claims. We don’t ever say [kratom] will help you for a specific [medical condition or health] reason. We present the information and point someone to do their research. We want customers who are conscious about what they’re putting in their bodies.
“We want to help usher in a day when kratom is more mainstream and accepted on all levels of society, a day when it’s not under attack anymore.”
— Aaron, Co-founder of Super Speciosa
S: What’s the main message you want to give customers about kratom?
K: We appreciate and value their support. Everything that we do is from the perspective of trying to gain more credibility and trust with our customers. Whether that’s providing a good user experience when they’re checking out on our site or compensating our customers when we make a mistake, we try to be fair and treat our customers the way we would want to be treated.
When we make our products, we ensure that we aren’t cutting corners. If something is out of stock, we don’t rush and make exceptions or pull tricks to get it back in. We’ll wait for the lab results to come in and continue to follow the process.
It’s just an exciting thing to be a part of. People who use kratom are super passionate about it, you see that in the online communities. I think kratom is only going to get bigger and bigger and it’s exciting for our customers to be a part of that too.
A: We love seeing the passionate support for our company. I want customers to know that we do listen. We love getting feedback and we make changes to our products based on that because we want to provide the customer with what they want.
I think we have the best kratom product. That being said, we’re committed to getting better. As we grow, we want to be good stewards of the kratom industry and we want to help usher in a day when kratom is more mainstream and accepted on all levels of society, a day when it’s not under attack anymore.