By Chris Mellides
Widely known on Instagram as “JuicyClouds”, Maria G is an East Central Florida resident who went from casually posting selfies and photos relating to food and cosmetics, to amassing 100,000 followers on the popular photo-sharing platform when her attention shifted to vaping.
The 29-year-old celebrated her third year of being smoke-free in August, an anniversary that reminds her of the success she’s made switching to vapor products after more than a decade of smoking traditional cigarettes.
Maria says that what she finds most appealing about vaping, other than the health benefits she’s experienced, is being able to vape freely indoors without having to smell like an ashtray.
Additionally, the wide variety of products currently available and the ample room for customization they provide users are elements to this reduced harm alternative that she appreciates as she continues her journey away from combustible tobacco.
“For the most part I’m enjoying trying out new flavors, I can’t be stuck on the same flavor all the time after all,” Maria said. “Seeing how the devices evolved over the past few years, and being a part of the vape community on social media has connected me to other people, interacting with like-minded individuals is always fun.”
Maria has a number of sponsors whose products she features in photos uploaded to social media, and is the co-captain of the Royal Wires team in Florida state, which includes two other members who promote the specialty wire company along with Maria.
“Usually I pick my most favorite flavors/products from each one of my sponsors and promote it on my page by sharing my thoughts, and [taking] pictures or videos of those products when I’m out and about,” Maria said.
She added, “It’s humbling that my sponsors value and appreciate my presence on their team and allow me to be one of the faces to represent them!”
The young product model says she had no idea that she would gain as much attention as she has in the three years she’s been posting to Instagram, but has vaping to thank for the popularity of her account.
“I was just posting random daily things like food, makeup, cats and selfies until I bought my first vape kit and posted it,” Maria said. “Then I realized there was a whole community of vapers in the hashtags.”
Her follower count grew over time, but Maria says that she considers the term “followers” to be misleading, instead she views her own followers as real supporters who have helped her reach more people online who might not have otherwise experienced the vaping lifestyle or are in the dark about the companies whose products she promotes.
Maria believes that vaping has opened the door for her to become more physically active and enjoy the outdoors. She’s also taken the time to further pursue photography, which translates to a burgeoning picture-rich social media presence.
“I’ve always enjoyed taking photos with my digital camera, just basic stuff like landscapes and my friends,” Maria said. “When I got more serious about my vape photos I picked up a better camera, nothing fancy, just something that allows me to be creative and showcase my favorite products in good quality.”
Promoting and using products that she enjoys is something Maria does not take for granted, and this is especially true when considering the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory authority over the vapor product industry.
Maria is well aware of the current state of the industry, and the regulations that are in effect, and while she does believe that some regulations are needed to ensure user safety, she’s in staunch opposition to oppressive regulatory overreach.
“I think at this point, the ones in our online vape community who truly care about vaping already know what’s happening,” Maria said. “The only way to reach outside of the Internet is by talking to people in the physical world.”
She added, “Talk to more older folks, talk to vape shops, talk to anyone who doesn’t smoke to see if they would rather support vapers walking around instead of smokers.”
Like many others, since taking up vaping Maria has witnessed the benefits of the smoking alternative as one that’s healthier than traditional tobacco and is amazed at how many people share her passion.
“It [vaping] has helped me be more conscious about my health in general,” Maria said. “I even started being more physically active again.”
“Besides that fact, vaping has introduced me to my sponsors and team members and everyone else. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to spread good vibes and a positive outlook on the vape lifestyle.”