448: Welcome to the Family Tree Series Season 2 Episode 7 Prelude. We got Justin (Buck) with Pearl Rolling papers here.
Justin, tell us a little bit about your company. Introduce yourself. Let the folks know who you are, what you do, why you do what you.
Justin: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. Thanks. First just thanks both of you guys for having me on the podcast, or at least a prelude right now.
A little bit about me, I grew up in PG County, Maryland for the first 18 years of my life and then I went to Atlanta, Georgia. After that, I went to Morehouse College. That’s where I kind of started to use cannabis. Really. I didn’t really use cannabis in high school that much cause I was an athlete in high school.
So when I got to Morehouse, that’s when I started to use cannabis recreationally. Once I started using recreationally and started using more frequently, within like the first two years of my time at Morehouse it turned from recreational to like, you know, this is something that helps me focus and slows my thoughts down and helps me think a little more clear.
So, for me, that’s what it started to become as I started to use it more recreationally. So once I started doing that then it kind of, I guess at that point turned medically cause it helped me do homework and stuff like that. But I didn’t like rolling up in blunts cause at first, that’s what I was usually rolling up in.
I didn’t like blunts. So I started rolling in papers, and then that’s when I like started figuring out that papers were harder to roll, in my opinion, than blunts. So I started looking on YouTube, started figuring out different tips and tricks. Eventually I came across a video, the Wiz Khalifa video of him in the hot tub.
He was teaching us all how to roll a joint, but he taught us to pinch the end. But when you pinch the end he didn’t say like to do anything to the top. So if you were really stuffing the joint, weed would fall out the top of the joint. So it wasn’t complete in my eyes. So, I just started licking the very end of the joint.
So just sealing that end and then just showing that to all my friends. And then once I started doing that, they loved it. They showed it to their friends. Through this I started to see that people really liked having their joints that way.
That’s when I had the idea of it turning into a product. Then I filed a patent while I was still in college. And, yeah, so that’s kind of like a glimpse of how it all started. Being that I filed it while I was in college, you know, I made some mistakes just trying to do it myself. But then once I got a job out of college, and I got my signing bonus and everything, I was able to hire an attorney to push it all through.
So that’s kind of how the patent got accepted three years later. But you know, that was in 2020, it took us a year to find the right supplier. Then now 2022, 2023, we’re in business, um, and we’re, we’re steadily grinding and doing our thing.
448: Dope. Dope. That’s super dope, man. So you start pearl rolling papers and..
Would you say was something that was hard to get off of the ground? Was this a grind? How was the process, of being an entrepreneur and what it takes to put a company together from conception to product?
Justin: Yeah. Um, I think a lot of the things that I’ve heard about entrepreneurship are true in terms of it’s very lonely.
It’s gonna take much longer than you think that it’s gonna take for you to get your company to where you want it to be. But, you know, I think. . It’s definitely been a grind. It’s definitely been a grind mentally. And then I just think it’s been super challenging intellectually actually.
But I really enjoy that part of it, but I don’t enjoy the mental torment that I kind of go through sometimes, but I think it’s all gonna be worth it in the end. I think some of the process, that was really hard was, finding a supplier! The creative aspect of Pearl, I’m just a naturally creative person.
So all of the creative stuff you see with Pearl, it took some time, but it was really more of my creativeness and just having a vision of something. I’ve always envisioned this, so this is just like my thoughts put on a package, basically. But the operational part, was intellectually challenging because I didn’t study it in school, but actually doing it, in real life and having to talk to suppliers is way, way different.
So with that coupled with creating a product that is innovative, right? Having something that’s not like any other product on the marketplace. That’s our value that we provide to the market is that we’re different than everybody else. But in order to do that, you have to have a different supply chain.
You have to do things differently, and things are gonna cost a little bit more, you’re gonna have higher minimum order quantities (MOQ’s) with your suppliers. So it’s just all those things. For example, we went through like 25 suppliers before we got to the one we’re partnered with now. Just because every supplier has their own standard operating procedures (SOP’s) that they follow because that’s how they make things in bulk. They do the same thing over and over again, and they make ’em in bulk.
That’s why it’s really easy to make your own rolling paper company, because if you have the money, you can just send them your graphic design and they’ll slap it on just like a regular rolling paper and then that would be it.
So for us it was really difficult because we wanted to change the design. We wanted to make sure that we had a say in the type of paper. Then we also changed the design of the entire packaging. So we had to go through like 25 suppliers as I said, before we got to one that would agree to do that for us.
Even when we agreed to do that with that supplier, we had to have a certain quantity ordered upfront just because this was our first time working with them. Now that’s not the case, but in instances of first time supplier relationships you need to put more money and stuff upfront.
So it’s just a lot of things that go into that and that’s why I think it’s really important not to quit because now we have a relationship with our supplier, we have net terms, now we have different things that we can take advantage of because they know that we’re serious and we are an actual business that can sell rolling papers.
So it’s different. That’s why you just have to keep going. And then, you know things happens, fortune favors the brave. So I feel like that’s kind of where we’re at. I feel like we’re at a point where we’re doing well and things are starting to come our way, and opportunities are starting to come our way because we’ve just continuously put in the work. Right. So it’s definitely grind though, for sure.
448: Dope, dope. So two more questions and we’ll wrap up and we’ll get to the actual interview. Over on Zoom.
So with Pearl being black-owned company, do you guys have a social mission?
Justin: I would say like the social mission for us, in my career I kind of separate that out. I do a lot of advocacy and cannabis education because I have a degree in that. But for Pearl, I think for us we really just wanna represent as a black-owned company and take back equity in this cannabis related ancillary space.
Even though we’re not directly dealing with cannabis, we’re an adjacent product. So for us, we believe in just claiming the space. I can’t say like our mission is to, you know, change the world. Like we’re really just trying to help smokers out, because we’re smokers.
So that’s our mission. I would say for the owners though, like us as owners, it’s really important to us to contribute to that. But just not with Pearl directly. We just have a position to have fun, run a good business, and have a great product that actually provides value to our customers.
448: Got it. A hundred percent.
In terms of educating and giving back, what would you say were some of the best resources you’ve got from people who are also doing the same thing, trying to educate as many people as possible. Are there general resources for people that want to educate themselves should know?
Yeah. , uh, so resources.
There are different resources that, you can get access to. I would say it definitely depends on the type of resource. Honestly, with me just being an actual student of this is PubMed and that’s like where you can go and find the latest research.
But this is like actual medical research where they’ve gone through clinical trials and stuff like that. That’s where the real information is at. You can always go on Google or these different search engines. But for me, I actually like reading the research of people who are bold enough to actually fund these research studies because obviously the federal government can’t fund them.
But private companies and private individuals can fund them, and they’re still gonna have just as good data as a gold standard if the scientists and the researchers are of quality.
So that’s what I would say, PubMed. There’s also the National Institute of Health. There’s also AmericansForSafe.org as well. So all three of those sites are really good resources, but they’re like in-depth resources. So these are not just like overviews, these are actual resources that you can really pull facts from, or at least know that there’s still more facts to be uncovered.
448 (Raz): Wonderful. Thank you for that.
Justin: Yeah, of course.
Where can people find Pearl products?
Justin: Yeah. Yeah. So right now, we’re in a few smoke shops in the DMV area, Chicago, Atlanta. So we’re really in those places right now. I think this upcoming year in 2023, that’s going to be the states that at least are going increase a lot.
That’s right. Now, if you’re NOT in one of those areas, you can check our Instagram @PearlRollingCo and you’ll find where our smoke shops and stuff are located, on our Instagram right now. And also if you just want them like tomorrow, within 48 hours, you can go on amazon.com and type in the search bar, pearl rolling papers and you’ll be able to get them within 48hrs.
Oh! From website too. My bad. You can get them directly from the website pearlrolling.com.
448: Awesome. Awesome.