How did Nicky Drops get started?
A couple of years ago, my coworkers and I were looking for an alternative to vaping, which was ironic because we were working in the Vapor Industry. One day my wife came to me with an idea: she asked if I knew if there was anyone out there making nicotine lozenges that actually tasted good. I told her there weren’t really any on the market, but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that a light bulb went off in my head and I thought to myself, “wait a minute, why don’t they make lozenges that come in enjoyable flavors? And why don’t we?”
We started investigating if it could be done and why no one had done it yet. We began to look into exactly how we could create what ultimately became Nicky Drops. We developed flavor combinations that were interesting to us, the equipment, the machinery, the process, the website (nickydrops.com) – all of it. The only problem with creating something new, is that each step of the way requires a lot of innovation – but with hard work, we pulled it off. We did a soft launch in 2016 while we finalized our patents and processes. It was hard to wait, but we proudly held our international coming out party at the Tobacco Plus Expo in Las Vegas and introduced the world to Nicky Drops.
What products make up the current Nicky Drops lineup?
We currently have 4 flavors in the profiles that vapors already know and love – two fruit flavors, a dessert flavor, and a mint. The flavors are Watermelon, Laguna Peach, Whiskey Tango Flan, and Cucumber Mint. However, we have lots of additional flavors in our “recipe black book” that we can’t wait to release.
In addition to the great taste, what makes Nicky Drops stand out from other lozenges out there?
The other lozenges on the market are targeted towards smokers or vapors who are looking to quit. We see Nicky Drops as a product to use when you can’t smoke or vape: in the office, at the game, on an airplane, at your in-laws, etc. You get the idea. At this point I have moved to exclusively using them, but then again I might be a “little” biased.
I was really committed to not only providing great flavors, but also to building a brand. I wanted to create something that was adult oriented. At the end of the day, I really believe in harm reduction and job creation – and with Nicky Drops I was able to get both of those things.
Additionally, Nicky Drops are also unique because on the packaging we don’t have to include the Proposition 65 warning. With Prop 65 in California, manufacturers are required to list if something is carcinogenic or if it causes reproductive harm. But Nicky Drops doesn’t have to list cancer as one of its warnings – which, to the best of my knowledge, makes Nicky Drops the only product out there in the space that doesn’t have to list this. Most products out there have to be inhaled or cause damage to the gums and mouth. With Nicky Drops, all the ingredients are FDA approved and food grade and that falls in line with what is at the core of our company – which is reducing harm to millions of people around the world and to providing economic opportunity. When I look around at what is happening in the Vapor Industry, I’m proud to offer something that people can enjoy while the CDC sorts out the latest health concerns due to vaping.
What has been the most important factor in the success of Nicky Drops?
The most important factor is innovation. We didn’t just sit on this idea; we expanded it and saw it all the way through. More importantly, we filled an unmet need in the marketplace. We are the only small business in the world making what we make. Some people have tried to point out to me that being a small business is actually a disadvantage, but I think that opinion is borderline un-American. This is a bootstrap nation and we embody that spirit – we had an idea, we worked hard, and we created something new and unique. The only reason our company continues to exist is because people want what we make and we work really hard to provide a premium product.
Looking forward to the future, what are you most excited about?
I am most excited to be a part of society’s journey away from traditional cigarettes. I think that, given the climate of everything that’s going on in the vapor industry, there are a lot of political actors making broad decisions based primarily on fear. Most of these laws that are being drafted by governors in states like Michigan, New York, and Rhode Island – don’t affect my product, they only affect flavored E-liquid.
With my company, I have no interest in attracting new nicotine users. Absolutely zero. Nicky Drops is built on the choice of people wanting to move away from traditional cigarettes. I do not claim it to be healthier and my marketing does not make those claims either, but you can look at the side of my package and discern that for yourself. Either way, I am excited to be a part of the world’s journey away from what we know to be harmful and making better decisions one day at a time.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
My father is a successful entrepreneur and small business owner and my father-in-law is a former ad-exec, so I get world-class advice on a weekly basis. I’m truly blessed. But one piece of advice I got when I moved to New York City stays with me to this day. A family friend of mine and longtime New Yorker told me, “Keep your head up and keep your head down.” I think that really relates to how I approach my day to day life and career. I keep my head up for new ideas, opportunities, and inspiration. But I also keep my head down, nose to the grindstone, and feet planted firmly on the earth – and I keep moving forward.
What habits do you have that you feel have attributed to your success?
I write down my goals. I complete them. Then cross them off. And repeat.
Small things become big deals if you just show up every day.
What is your favorite thing about working in this industry?
I love being part of a vibrant community of people who are looking to build the life of their dreams. When I look around the industry, I see a lot of people who took the leap and have been able to find success in this bold, new area.
At Nicky Drops we have three core values: Good People, Good Work, and Good Vibes. It is very easy to see when we are upholding those and when we are not. We have an incredibly positive and productive workspace and we are a family.
Are you in involved in any advocacy groups or organizations?
From day one I have been very involved in advocacy and education. I am the former president of the California Smoke Free Organization. Every year I go several times up to Sacramento and out to Washington DC to talk with policy makes about responsible legislation. When you see these new bans happening, these are emergency sessions called by the governor signing in executive orders that go beyond the reach of the legislative bodies. Most conversations that we have center around the fact that these are small businesses that employ thousands of people in California alone. We are an industry that has for the most part been self-regulating and we have a bad reputation due to a handful of bad players. I’ve gone around with The Vapor Technology Association and we handed out guidelines for responsible marketing practices for industry members. The industry is mostly filled with people set out to make the world a better place.
One thing that has always been really important to me is helping people understand that at the end of the day, I am a father of two young daughters. So when people ask me if I would want my kids to use these products, my answer is that if I found my kids someday smoking cigarettes, I would absolutely encourage them to transition. That being said, I have no interest in attracting the next generation of smokers. The health and wellbeing of people, especially the youth, is at that forefront of my mind all the time. I do what I do to provide for my family and I believe in creating a better world for them to grow up in.