The New Kids on the Block
Pakalolo is the Hawaiian word for cannabis. Translating to crazy smoke.
Interview with: Keenan Hollister
Interview By: Heru Amun
Photography By: Konsider
Heru: This is Konsider Magazine, engaging in discussion right now with…?
Keenan: I’m Keenan Hollister representing Pakalolo Supply Company and Denali Tricom Productions is our production company, hopefully the grow side of everything. We’re working on getting into the legal industry here as the legislature is coming down and getting closer and closer to licensure. We’re going to be ready to be the supplier of cannabis products.
Heru: Yes sir, that’s awesome. Tell me a little bit about your background that influenced you in the cannabis and marijuana business.
Keenan: There is a bit of family history from back in the old days, the wild west in Alaska here. Really we got started with it for medicinal purposes. My sister has a seizure disorder, and I remember I walked into my parents’ house one day for Sunday dinner. Me and my brother both go over there for Sunday dinners. My mom is watching this show on TV, and it’s got weed plants everywhere. I’m like ‘what are you watching?’ It just seemed odd to me. It’s not something my mom would normally watch. It was the CNN documentary by Sanjay Gupta on weed. I was like ‘what’s up mom, what are you watching?’ She said ‘I’m trying to decide if I’m going to start giving your sister weed.’ My sister at the time was in high school. She was kind of making light of it, but in all seriousness considering a switch of her medication.
My sister has been on seizure medication since she was a little girl. It’s pretty hardcore pharmaceutical, and for a long time they couldn’t find any that really worked. She was having seizures for ten years, so we decided we were going to get into growing her high CBD cannabis.
We ordered seeds; we started getting going. I have a friend, Walker, that’s going to be part of our company as well, Walker-Millikin. He lives out in Healy now. He’s been my best friend; we played baseball together since we were thirteen years old. He’s been my best friend for a really long time, so kind of a family business. It’s my family then Walker is basically my brother. He had some experience growing down in Healy with his uncle, so he kind of taught me how. We did this joint venture trying to grow some weed for my sister. We were going to process into oil, and we were considering that option.
In the meantime, she ended up switching pharmaceuticals to a pharmaceutical that for the first time in ten years really worked. Her seizures were completely under control, so we ended up not. We didn’t want to mess with that because with seizures every time she has one it’s life threatening. Finally finding something that works … It was desperation turning my family to ‘let’s try cannabis,’ but when they found something that worked it was like ‘we’re not going to mess with it.’ She’s actually never even taken cannabis medicinally, but that got us into it. That introduced us to other people that used it medicinally and to a lot of people that grow it medicinally, so that kind of started the whole thing.
As summer approached, that was a couple winters ago, last summer people were really getting started on the legalization end. I have friends, just happen stance, some buddies of mine were leading the CRCL. Brandon Emmett and…
Heru: Okay, we’ve got him this week too.
Keenan: I found out that Brandon was really involved in that, and it’s something I was really interested in. I found out he’s the executive director, called him up, then I started volunteering at the fair. We kind of dived in at that point still weary of if we were going to get into the industry or if we just wanted more information and to support the movement.
We did, we started supporting the movement, and I was really active with helping those guys at the fair, holding up signs on University Avenue, and all of that.
Heru: The work.
Keenan: Yeah, we put in the work. That’s the thing is that we put in the work. At that point, my dad retired as an All-State insurance agent. It’s kind of funny, from the corporate realm and business experience. He is ready to put his retirement into starting this business. He really believes in it. He’s our president; he’s our CEO. It’s kind of cool getting to do something with my old man as well.
Heru: That’s awesome.
Keenan: You know, that we’re both passionate about. Yeah.
Heru : Okay, that’s very interesting. How did you accumulate the name? What was the passion behind the name?
Keenan: The passion behind the name kind of comes from my dad’s background. Half of my family is in Hawaii. Pakalolo is the Hawaiian word for cannabis. Translating to crazy smoke. Paka means smoke and lolo means crazy. Smoke or weed, it could translate to a lot of things, but yeah it translates to crazy smoke. It’s the Hawaiian word for cannabis. My dad spent a lot of his time there before he settled down in Alaska. He was working for the airlines flying back and forth between here and Hawaii. My uncle ended up marrying a Hawaiian lady and staying in Hawaii, so my cousins, who we’re all really close, they’re living in Hawaii; they’re half Hawaiian guys that live in Hawaii. We’ve always had that kind of background and influence from the island. My parents own a house over there, and that’s where they plan on retiring after this business gets started and going well. My brother will take over the business aspect, and my dad will go full time out of the cold.
Heru: That makes sense, especially up here.
Keenan: Yeah. We saw, it’s funny, all the names being reserved as this thing got started. All the names were being reserved, and we watched all these Alaskan, Great Alaskan, North, High North, all these different very similar names. It was like we have this background in it, from Hawaii, that’ll set us apart here in Alaska.
Heru: Big time.
Keenan: Marketing, but also we’re just passionate about the whole Hawaii thing.
Heru: Key, that’s definitely key. That’s a great point. Since your startup. Tell me a little about your job title, you responsibilities, what you actually do?
Keenan: What I personally do, I am the owner with my family, but I’m one of the primary owners and vice president right behind my old man. What I will be doing once everything gets started, I’ll oversee everything. I’ll be a part of the grow and the retail store, but my main influence will be at the retail store. I’ll be owning and running the retail store.
Heru: That’s what you all are establishing?
Keenan: We are seeking an integrated license to where we’ll have a full grow, from seed to sale. We’ll have a full grow up to having a retail store as well.
Heru: That’s pretty nice, like that California or Colorado
Keenan: Yeah, Colorado allows the vertically integrated market. Washington completely denied them, so they require you to not be vertically integrated. If a store is a store and sells the product to the public, they are not allowed to grow, process, or package. It all has to be prepackaged coming into their store. The retail stores really have nothing to do with the product.
Heru: I got you, it kind makes sense to an extent.
Keenan: Just somebody buying it wholesale, selling it retail like any other good.
Keenan: It’s kind of like the liquor store market.
Heru: Indeed, prohibition to…
Keenan: Yeah, it’s like the liquor store market there. In Colorado, there’s a different market, they’re allowed to grow their own. A lot of the companies are integrated. That’s what we plan to do; we plan on doing it all.
Heru: What are some of the products and services you actually provide?
Keenan: We plan on having a full retail store carrying everything you could possibly want. We’ve already talked to two edibles companies that plan on being pretty large edible companies. From our growth side, we plan on a trim arrangement to where we give them our trim when we’re done with our grow. They use our trim to process and make oils that turn into edibles. We’ll sell those edibles in our store, so we plan on having the full line of edibles from multiple companies. We plan on having a wide variety of cannabis products from the regular bud, to oil, to vape pens, just pretty much anything you would see in Colorado and Washington. As more companies start up, we plan on having their product in our store as well. We want to have a large strain variety between the stuff that we grown and other growers that we’re comfortable with providing our store with more variety. That’s like the store side of it, and we also want to start kind of a brand behind it that people can get behind and get excited with the T-shirts and all of that.
Heru: I was asking if you had a facility..?
Keenan: Yeah, we’re as close as we can be until the borough tells us where we can setup. If they hand me a license, and they tell me what the zoning regulations are, we could be started up in a month. We could have seeds and dirt and be ready to roll. We’re ready; it’s just a slow process.
Heru: Okay, so on that point what are some of the product trends you’ve been following within this particular industry?
Keenan: I did a trip down to Arizona, Colorado, and Washington. I saw the medical side in Arizona then toured as many grow facilities as we could. We got to meet with some business owners down there and two of their grows, like Medicine Man in Denver Euphoria Colorado. We got meet with them, so we got to see both their retail side and some of their grows. What we saw is bud is still king. The flower is still the majority of the industry, but we are seeing a trend for the concentrates, especially the concentrates put into discrete vape pens or they put off very little smell. The mixture in there basically is like taking a normal hit from a joint.
There was a lot of fear that people had of ‘legalization, people are just going to be walking down the street and smoking joints. We’re going to have marijuana smoke everywhere.’ That’s really not the case. You see the vape pen evolution starting.
Stay Tune Interview Continues in next Konsider Magazine Issue