By Susan Oser
John Castellano (aka wacky vapes, host on VULive’s Dripping Wet and Cropdusting) and creator of Fog Fluid, has been involved in vaping for over 3 years now. When he began mixing, he still had his day job at Kraft Foods as an electrical Technician. Working nights left him wanting something to do during the day time. With a passion for Cooking, and aspiring to be an amateur weekend Chef; Juice making was a logical choice as a hobby for him at the time. Just like other vapers and e-juice company owners, he began to research and soon took to DIY.
Soon after, He introduced his coworkers to vaping and his creations. They loved it so much, that he was encouraged to create his first line. Better yet, when others in the company got word of his creation (including a few higher ups), they too loved his juices and soon supported him with finances. Soon, John was selling bottles for at least $10 at work, and soon after his first local vape meet.
This Blossomed into the first 2 lines that began selling locally in Dallas, and was eventually picked up for a short time under the Wacky Vapes label via the Vaping Watch website. They were called the Zombie line and Symbiance line, which included such flavors with such names as Teflon Don, Redemption, and Scarface. From there, John connected with various Facebook groups, which is where he became familiar with the Dripping MiSpFiTz. Shortly thereafter a partnership was formed, and so became the Dripping MiSpFiTz Fog Fluid Line of Max VG Liquids.
It was around this time that John wanted to expand his creations more. While his line on the Vaping Watch website was selling, it never really sold the way he had hoped. He was also getting more local clientele than the national one he was hoping for. Thus, he started a national campaign to push the product nationally on his own; with the help of friend and sales rep Kevin Haynie (formerly of Vape Dispatch) and currently of Craving Vapor and Pelican Designs, which is a 3D printing company started by Haynie in 2015.
By now he was connected with some big vape names in the industry, and had gotten word about the lack of a competition juice for the Dripping Mispfitz’s first Meet; this was an opportunity to feature a juice in front of a Plethora of southern California juice makers and Modder’s; and The Mispfitz themselves. When he asked the organizers about needing juice, and asked if it was alright to create a flavor for the event. He was given the green light, to which he only produced 50 bottles of the flavor which was a hit amongst the Group Admins and contestants alike.
Shortly after, he was asked to produce 3 initial flavors for the group and agreed, and another 3 flavors to follow up. flavors called Balls Out, Poundsign and Handcheck were becoming increasingly popular, with Muff Diver and Daddy Issues rounding the line off at 5 instead of 6. With Pending FDA regulations yet to be announced, but vigorously predicted. John Received continued pressure from other vendors and distributors to change the way they had gained any success. The names were too abrasive for a conventional approach to marketing, and the continued decline in interest of the group due to Internal issues; left John with no other choice but to split from the group and do a complete rebrand of the product names, and the name of the company as a whole. However, at the time the flavors were released. John was very active in the group, and the group was based as an anti-authority, antiestablishment type of group. So hence the names Handcheck with a middle finger pointed up, or Balls Out, or Muff Diver. But with the Industry tightening up on advertising he wanted to be proactive, to try and set a precedence in the industry. This was unfortunate since the popularity of Balls out was increasingly getting larger, but it was done anyways for the betterment of the community. Balls Out was one of the first cereal flavors to come out during the big cereal craze last year, in good company with others like ANML’s Looper, 9 South’s Cereal Killa, and Aisle 7’s Nora’s Dream. All coming out within a month of each other. After they set this trend it was nothing to see every juicemaker creating a fruit cereal flavor thereafter.
That was not the only issue that John was dealing with. Some people thought that his labels were too confusing and just a bit too busy. Once he heard about the FDA and their issues with the labeling of all eliquids, he became a bit concerned as he began talks with Jason Henshaw from Vapor shark, who was willing with his team at Vapor Shark; to help him commence the rebrand for not only the company Logo but individual labels and flavor names as well, at no cost. Which, as a random act of kindness, was greatly appreciated.
The process for this change took at least two to three months. Of course, John was pretty excited and started telling people of his plans. In hindsight, John felt that those announcements were a bit premature causing some customers to walk away and stop ordering entirely. This cost John dearly to the point that he had to take out a loan of $40,000 to totally rebuild and rebrand his company.
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John also had to act fast, because soon ECC 2015 would begin and he had to push hard to get everything ready in time to meet the deadline in Pomona. Luckily, with the Vapor shark backing (along with a few other supporters), and some fast acting maneuvers from him and his team. He was able to get it all done, and not only welcome returning customers but attract new ones.
If one looks at the label, they are now much cleaner, more professional, and they have different colors to identify each juice from one another. John figures that once the official FDA regulations kick in, the generic, less Controversial look will more than likely be the way to go in the future of the industry.
The way he sees it, cartoons, fonts, and what most companies thought they could get away with can’t anymore. This even includes advertising at big vape events such as ECC where the pomp and circumstance of a stripper pole (for example) could take away from the actual product; and more importantly hurt the Industry. Which we are beginning to see every day.
John is just one of the few juice makers in the industry who has not only rebranded because of its product implications, but also because he feels like he has a responsibility to uphold the reputation of the Industry he chose to jump in with, with both feet. To him, Fog Fluid is more than just about making money. It’s an art form and a passion; An expression of his love for food, and life! It is something that has become a part of his moral fabric and a career.
As John sees it, like a lot of people when they get into the business. Vaping looked like a goldmine, but later realized it was a lot of hard work and sacrifice. “Just like anyone else chasing the American Dream.” “It isn’t as easy as it looks” John said, “People think because you make a lot of posts on Instagram or Facebook, or because you go from city to city; that you are rolling in the dough. Sadly, nothing can be further from the truth. However, I’m going to have fun trying and keep on plugging!”
He loves the fact that not only has vaping saved his life, but that he can now save other lives. These days he is busy as a co-host on two shows on the VULive Network on vapers.tv called Dripping Wet (Monday nights at 10pm EST) and Crop Dusting on Thursday nights with Kevin Hayne at 10pm EST. He also has become an activist for vaping rights supporting groups like SFATA and Vaping Militia as well as make charitable donations to auctions and fundraising (as long as it goes towards the cause or for those in need).
For more information on Fog Fluid you can log on to http://fogfluideliquid.com/e-juice/, http://Instagram.com/fogfluid, https://twitter.com/fogfluideliquid, and https://www.facebook.com/fogfluid/?fref=ts. To catch one of John’s Shows on VuLive, you can go to http://vapers.tv/vulive or http://www.vapingundergroundlive.com/schedule.html (for schedule times and more information).
So what specifically are the changes that John has made to his Fog Fluid line?
Hand check is now F.O.G. (First Original Gangster). This is a strawberry white chocolate cream. Under the original label it was quite popular. For a while it died out as a flavor but is on the comeback.
Balls Out is now Tricked Out. This flavor that was originally supposed to be a lemon coconut sugar cookie became lemon Trix Cereal. It is definitely one of his happier accidents.
Poundsign is now Mulligan. This is a minty crème Brule. It is John’s personal favorite because of its complex combination of flavors. It was decided to change this flavor to make it more appealing to the masses, so it is now a pomegranate and lite strawberry crème Brule with a toasted Brioche wafer.
Daddy Issues is now Shattered. This is a combination of banana, strawberry, coconut, and toasted almond. It’s a pretty popular dessert vape from the line.
Last but not least is Tainted, which is Formerly Muff Diver. As you can imagine, this juice truly needed a name change because of the name alone. It is butterscotch, double peach cream filled donut. It is John’s second favorite of the line.