Go Der: What was your passion growing up?
AK: Basketball I grew up playing ball. That was my dream that was my passion
Go Der: So were you very athletic coming up then?
AK: Yeah, that is where I learned being committed, goal oriented, building unity, and learning about teamwork. That is what kept me in school. I used to miss so much school that I would go to school on game day, and the teacher would think I’m a new student. I would only attend school on game day because you had to attend 5 classes out of that day in order to play.
Go Der: So you use to cut school and stuff? You use to get out Der?
AK: Yeah, because I use to have ball practice at 5’Oclock in the morning right? So then after that I would get cleaned up then go to second period, but I was already tired by then. On top of that they would only give you thirty minutes for lunch and that’s not enough for a growing man. So, now you must take an extra lunch break. Then school is almost over (Both laugh). You get it? Then there’s sixth period, nobody counts the last period (Go Der “naw, naw you just go home”) yeah you must go get your 40 then (both laugh again).
Go Der: Did you play any more basketball after high school?
AK: I had a full ride basketball scholarship at Irvine, and I went for a year. During that time, my family wasn’t financially set. I wasn’t the one with the oil, more like the vinegar (both laugh). I had to quit school, and literally support the whole family. My mom and dad were having it real rough.
Go Der: How many siblings do you have?
AK: Just two of us I have a sister thats it.
Go Der: Who is the oldest?
AK: She is, I’m the baby boy lol.
Go Der: What year did you drop out of school?
AK: I was 19 years old. I dropped out after my first year at the university. I started working at some dumb job. I remember I use to sit there bruh I shit you not! I use to sit there on the beach and cry for like a hour. Saying to myself “I gave up my scholarship for this shit.” It was real life shit you know…
Go Der: So, how did you get into the tobacco Industry?
AK: Well, I got into the tobacco industry, because I was a big vendor mainly with general merchandise. I developed such a huge route from northern California to southern California and all the way to Memphis driving in a cargo van selling yeah, by myself. Man, then I had my boy, a homie for the road. Its like when I come back to L.A. I’m already loaded up and ready for the next zip code, it’s a non stop circuit. So while everyone is fuckin’ around sittin’ on the corner drinking 40’s… you’ll find me one day in San Antonio Texas, then San Diego California, after that to Sacramento, take it down to L.A., then push it through to New Mexico. Man, I can be anywhere! I built that many connections. In 1996 and 1997, when the domestic cigars started booming. At that time there was something called Phillies, blunts, and Mexicali Blends that was taking over the market. From there, I launched a product with the company called Garcia Vega, Cigarillos. See, at this time swishers wasn’t popular. So then I said lets see if the hood has a thing for swishers. So, they started paying me on the back to move the shit. Then BOOM! Swishers blew up! A few months later, the Mother Fucker went full blown. So you could say, I did most of the footwork for the Garcia Vegas, Phillies Blunts, Swisher Sweets, Black & Mild, and Mexicali Blends all that behind the scenes in distribution. Even with Black & Mild’s they never really made any money until I started to put them out. From there, I went to being number one in distribution of every main domestic tobacco products. Okay so a few years down the line, I hit my first million around 23 years old. So now I find myself flying to Jackson FL, meeting with the President and Vice President of Swisher Sweets. So I tell them that they are going to make my brand of Splitarillos, or I could just go somewhere else and have them made myself. And, of course they made it. Because, they already knew I had the most control on the main distribution level knowing I sold most of their stuff. With that being said, I signed up for a three year contract for Splitarillos. In the beginning of the contract everyone laughed like it was a joke… then Splitarillos blew up all around the US. Many orders were never complete or something was incorrect. So, I was stuck in the contract and I couldn’t make the move I should have made in the first place, which was to do it all on my own. They had control of my business in so many ways. So after the three-year contract was up. I was free and determined to do my own thing with Splitarillos. I built my own factory in the Dominican Republic. From there, that’s how we got the three for a dollar movement. Now we are starting this 6 for a dollar packs. Which is a major game changer, with all the flavors on the market.
Go Der: What made you want to do the six for a dollar packs
AK: I didn’t want people to go to the store trying to make a life decision for a pack of blunts you know.
Go Der: Anything new you coming out with now?
AK: Yup, all natural cigars in the process right now.
Go Der: Have you ever dealt with any artist?
AK: Yup, Nate Dogg
Go Der: What motivates you to keep going?
AK: What motivates me now is I have a gorgeous wife, I have three amazing kids, and one is 9 months old. My goal is to make millions for them. While, watching my products on the shelves being one of the top name brand on the market.
Go Der: You have any shout outs you would like to give before we get up out of here?
AK: I want to shout out to the whole bay area and all of California as a whole. I want to shout out to Rappin-4-tay for being a real one. Shout out to E-40, San Quinn, Go Der that’s for sure. Everyone that fucks with Splitarillos in general. I cant forget about Tony Tag. Shout out the whole industry keep your heads up don’t give up on chasing your dreams.