VapeBash 2 in Chicago was by far the biggest Vaping event we've been to yet. There were more than 1600 in attendance with the main ballrooms overflowing into the halls, lobby area and bar. The large ballroom had vendors booth lining all four walls. There was an almost palpable haze from a combination of vaping and smoke machines.
There was no order and the air felt clean, but the hotel apparently changed their stance on vaping half way though and designated some areas to be "vape free."
VAPE News magazine talked to a number of vendors and attendees, here are their quotes and more photos from the event!
"VapeBash, where do I begin? First thing that comes to mind is "EPIC" I mean so many amazing people, tons of vaping gear and E-Liquids, the reviewers we all watch via YouTube, the hosts of our favorite vaping networks, our favorite modders and devices. I mean it's on the verge of vaper overload! All that being said, the best part for me was finally meeting some of the people that I interact with through the web. The only thing I regret is not having enough time to spend with everyone, but hey, there's always next year! Big thanks to Sgt.Taz, DangerGirl, Scott(MrEcig) Weeeeee!, and Ed The Green for all their hard work on putting such an amazing event together!" - Rob Ermolovich
Fluid Flask, a unique, modular cartomizer tank. Prior to VapeBash 2 they were only available in polished aluminum finish, for VapeBash we debuted Gunmetal,Black,Red, and Blue anodized finishes along with the original polished aluminum. Also debuted at VapeBash is the PowerPro, which is a 26650 Provari conversion kit for modders.
Also at VapeBash were two prototypes of the upcoming CyBorg, which is a DNA20 driven Advanced Personal Vaporizer System. Its the first DNA20 device in tube form intended for production.
The Fluid V.A.V (Vaping Assault Vehicle), a right hand drive Jeep with a 6-inch lift, 35-inch tires wrapped around 20-inch rims, and one hell of a sexy body wrap!
Left to right: Adam (production manager), Toni (owner/partner), Adam Knudsen (me, owner/partner)
"VapeBash was a fantastic success. As far as I can tell, there were more vapers in attendance than any other large meet. The list of vendors was impressive and the room accommodated everyone well. The Windy City Vapers did an amazing job and their dedication shows in the level of organization they bring to these meets- registration table, etc. Completely outside of their control was the way the hotel changed their stance on vaping midway through the event. That was disappointing. Of course, that is nothing to dwell on. WCV hit a home run!"
" Generally, I am positive about the entire industry's future. I believe there will be regulation, but it will be somewhat reasonable and malleable. Vapers need to be vocal and refuse to be classified into an existing bucket- this is new territory and with that comes uncertainty. But generally, I am quite positive. On a more micro level, I see a return to more mechanical mods with an emphasis on rebuilding coils- within the community, of course. E-cigs can be found all over our town now- from the grocery store to the gas station. Sure, they aren't what I vape but who knows- that will slowly evolve as well." - Adam Knudsen
Keith Mautner talks about his products at VapeBash 2:
"We are the inventors of the infamous Drip Shield. We also came out with the Empire Mod, a telescoping bottom button tube device which made in very limited runs. We have been selling them and they utilize the 901 atomizer standard native connection. We have a premium 901 made for them and comes with them as well which is well known for great flavor and vapor production. The drip shield was made around the 901 atomizer but also will work for 510 and 306 with a 510-510 sealed adapter or raised connection like a eGo battery."
Keith Mautner, owner (left) and EmpireMods employee Dave Borrero (right).
Limited edition "Empire Mods" only available at Vapebash.
LEFT: Joe battista, owner and founder of iVape. iVape had a varity of products on display including the Tesla, Evic, Zmax variable wattage, Tec Mod Mechanicals and very realistic looking E-Cigars.
"Vapebash was a very successful event for us. We were very busy!"
RIGHT: "VapeBash was an amazing experience for the Mister-E-Team. We all had a wonderful time and meeting all the wonderful vapers at Bash was out of this world. There were so many people! We released a new juice called Blue Voodoo which became very popular as we sold out, in a matter of hours the first day. Apparently the Vapebash released Blue Voodoo, was so popular that a customer came up to us on day 2 and discretely showed us his 36ml bottle, (which was already half gone) mentioning he was worried about getting jumped if someone saw the bottle of delicious blue juice! " - Dan Lawitzke, Mister-E-Liquid Founder
LEFT: Ty, Katie, Adam & Mike from RoarVapor
RoarVapor specializes in items for the beginner vaper. Quitters is the brick and mortar business of RoarVapor, which specializes in online sales.
RIGHT: Delaware Vapor has been in business since October 2011 and sells liquids and vape accessories, batteries, cartos, clearos, tanks, atties, drip tips, and APVs.
"I thought Vape Bash was an excellent event. Probably the best one I have been to yet. Great turnout of people." - Andrew Wolford
Honest Vapor co-owner, Violet Nole talks about Vapebash and gives us a little background in her company.
"I thought VapeBash was incredible, I did attend last year and this event was definitely 3 times the size! I have 2 partners in Honest Vapor, my boyfriend Luciano Manente ,who is also the sole owner of the largest Vaping social network- VapeTV.com, and his sister, Rosanna Manente. We are an online store and hope to have a brick and mortar store before our 2nd Anniversary of HonestVapor. What separates us from other vendors, aside from the fact that our juice is made in a sterile lab (which is SLOWLY becoming more common) is the fact that our bottling and packaging not only meet but EXCEED the standards of what is expected from an ejuice company. As well as the fact that our liquid is made with much attention to detail and only the top quality ingredients are used to create each and every one of my flavors."
"VapeBash was Amazing! Great People and tons of them Over 1600 in Attendance! I met lots of great friends and met many of our existing customers." - Jason Cornfeld, President of ElectronicStix Corp.
"Vapebash 2 was a great experience for me in general. This was my first actual Vape Meet that I attended. All of the fellow Vapers I meet were very nice and really seemed to be enjoying themselves at the meet. I am a blogger/reviewer of sorts and also host a weekly spot on VapeTv.com (9pm PST Fridays) and I had many people come up and say high and also thank me for my YouTube videos (youtube.com/crashvapes). I got to meet Mike from houseofhybrids.com (Zen) and that made me very happy. I am a hybrid Genesis style vaper and without him we may not be vaping the way we do because he really was one of if not the first guy to make a Genesis style device publicly available." - James “Crash” Vapes
"Vapebash 2013 was truly an event to set the bar for next year! Being in the business for over 4 years this years Vapebash was the biggest. As a business owner and has attended previous vaping events, this hands done was not only the best, but done 100% perfectly. The WCVC crew organized and ran the event without a hitch! The only thing I regret is that we have to wait another year for vapebash 2014! Vapebash and other vaping events help my business by getting us not only to promote in states and locations we may not be known, but to also get to meet our online customers face to face. Which honestly meeting your customers is one of the highlights of this business." - Chris Ray, founder/owner of Cigtechs
"We were blown away from the turn out this year, HUGE jump from the 600 they had last year. Events like Bash allow us to talk to customers who we normally only interact on line with. We like the pre event gatherings because as a vendor its our chance to hang out with everyone and not be behind our table." - NatureVaper
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Parrot Vapors has been a source of Web chatter lately, especially the hosts of Vapenet, who have become addicted to this e-liquid. It’s probably because their good friend Adam Miranda (A.K.A. vaping_goat), a host on Vapenet, decided to connect them to a few people. In fact, Adam Cericola, co-owner, was the one who asked me if I could do an interview with his brother Aaron a few months ago. I’m glad that I did, because Parrot Vapors is in it for the long run.
Susan: How did Parrot Vapors get started? Aaron: It all started with the idea that my brother had. He was convinced that he could make a few flavors himself that people might like. Toward the end of the year in 2013, he asked me to join him, and we had to come up with a company name. Since I had a couple of parrots myself, we thought that that would be a simple, easy and recognizable name for the company. Thus, the name Parrot Vapors was born.
Susan: How did you get into vaping in general? Aaron: My brother Adam introduced me to vaping back in 2013. He took me to a few vape shops here in the Phoenix area to take a look at some of the products that were on the market at the time. I was told that I should start with a mechanical mod. This way, I would not have to dump or waste money on products that probably were not going to work for me.
Susan: Why did you choose to get into selling e- liquid as opposed to equipment or other things? Aaron: At the time, there were not many max VG lines available. We wanted to focus our efforts in creating one of the first high VG [or currently called max VG] e- liquid lines that you could actually vape all year long. My brother wanted to create a high-VG line that was light and functioned like an all-day vape, or at least something that could be vaped over and over again. At the time, most lines were selling mainly 50/50 or 60/40 blends.
Susan: What are your most popular e -liquids? Aaron: Currently, the most popular juice is turquoise, which is a tangy berry vape, or turquoise. It is by far the hottest selling flavor out of Arizona right now. Everybody loves it. Our line is primarily a fruit line, and as the market changes from heavy desserts to fruits, Parrot is really expanding and starting to become a household name when it comes to delicious fruits or candy based e- liquid lines.
Susan: What has been the best thing about creating Parrot Vapors? Aaron: I would have to say that the best thing that has come out of creating Parrot Vapors is the friendships and the connections that we have made, without a doubt—locally, nationally and globally. I also think it’s the ability to be able to create an original brand that people actually like. It takes a lot of effort to push hard every day, keeping up your focus through ups and downs in an oversaturated marketplace for e -liquid.
Susan:What has been your biggest disappointment with the company? Aaron: I wouldn’t necessarily say there has been one major disappointment with our company. I mean, business is business. It’s always a risk and roll of the dice. You want to do your due diligence to make sure you are putting your best foot forward to limit your failures. At the end of the day, every week could bring change in how you have to reposition your business. It’s all about being open -minded and keeping on your toes. Flexibility is key to being successful and learning which cards you have to play or hold back. I would say people in general are the most disappointing factors to any business. People’s actions nowadays are hard to come by. So, if you find a reputable partner that will help you expand your business, while also seeing if you can help them as well in the same space, make sure not to burn the bridge and keep the channels open.
Susan: What do you want to see improved with Parrot Vapor? Aaron: We are at least in 25 states now in various stores, and plan to be a national company soon. As we grow as a company, there are growing pains from sales to management to customer service relations. There are always things to work on. Having said that, we feel that our No. 1 priority is taking care of our customers. If we mess up, we must be quick to resolve the issues and make it right. Everyone makes mistakes and falls down on their swords. It’s not about how you fall; it’s all about how you get back up.
Susan: How has your life changed since you started vaping? Aaron: Well, that’s a great question. I guess it has changed a lot. I went from vaping to starting a business to running around town getting to know our local customers, shop owners and distributors, to expanding into different cities through social media awareness and exhibiting our Parrot brand all over the United States. We are also gaining traction in the U.K. nowadays.
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Susan: What has been the biggest surprise you’ve seen with the vaping community? Aaron: I guess the response from so many happy vapers vaping on Parrot. I had no idea there would be such a demand. You always hope for the best when starting a business, and so far, it has been an amazing ride and [we] plan on so much more to come.
Susan: What has been your biggest disappointment you’ve seen with the vaping community? Aaron: Well, we don’t know what the regulations from the FDA are going to say, exactly, until it gets passed through the OMB. From the looks of things (and I’m not saying this to scare anyone), but things don’t look good as far as what’s coming down the line. We have to be hopeful that the rules won’t be so severe that tens of thousands of jobs are just taken away by their ignorance or just lack of caring about our health in general; we are literally changing people’s lives.
Susan: What are you doing to protect yourself from regulations? Aaron: Our primary focus at this very moment is preparing for our second e-liquid line that will be released toward the end of December 2015. The proART line is a three-flavored 60 ml bottle that will retail for $26 to $30. It will be some of the cleanest juice on the market by far that will have data backing this up. This lab is an “FDA registered” facility as a tobacco manufacturer, and all of the formulas are on file with the FDA. They practice in accordance with cGMP guidelines (21CFR Part 111). The liquids are tested in their own A2LA accredited ISO 17025 analytical laboratory, on a GC/MS, GC/FID and HPLC, to assure purity and proper nicotine levels. All formulas are made by degreed chemists for maximum shelf life. They use no diacetyl, acetyl propanol or acetoin in any one of their products.
Susan: How do you feel about vaping activism? Aaron: We all feel strongly about activism and advocacy. Parrot is a board member of our local National Advocacy Vaping Business (NAVB) Association. We are constantly in communications with peers of ours who are members of SFATA and of course The Vaping Militia. Being in the fight and taking part is an ongoing, day -to- day battle. I’ve also found out that joining these organizations makes a big difference in the local community.
Susan: Why should people care about the vaping community? Aaron: I think that people are misinformed and not aware of what vaping is. I feel that people need to do their part and be aware of what’s happening at the local, state and national levels. They should care of the positive experience of vaping. There is a lot of money thrown against it in general. I hear these stories of those who got off cigarettes who smoked for 20 to 30 years. To me, vaping is a revolution that is needed in our society today, especially if people are just trying to find a way to quit smoking.
Susan: What do you see with the future of vaping? Aaron: I’m not really sure about the future of vaping. I’m hopeful they won’t take it away from us. I would hate to see so much innovation from juice to mods just suddenly go away. At the moment, all we can do is live one day at a time and make more progress each and every day. Keeping up the fight, educating more people coming off cigarettes [and] sharing our experiences with others are the things that truly matter and what strikes a chord in every community. It is inconceivable for me that with a pen stroke, the FDA has the power to wipe out a billion dollar yearly industry and destroy so many jobs, livelihoods and dreams. Keep watch, my friends; keep fighting, and “Drip on, my friends.”
Visit Parrot Vapors in Phoenix, Ariz. or visit http://www.parrotvapors.com. Order retail products from them at http://dallasvaporsupplies.com. For wholesale inquiries, call Aaron Cericola at (480)436 -2029, like Parrot Vapors on Facebook, join the #parrotNATION business page, and follow them @parrotvapors on Twitter. If you connect with them, please let them know that you saw their article in VAPE. They just happen to be subscribers.
Agent VAPE recently received this press release regarding nicotine-containing e-liquid packages:
With the passage of the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act (S. 142) by both houses of Congress, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will likely soon get new authority to require child-resistant (CR) packaging (“special packaging”) over certain packages of nicotine-containing e-liquid. Assuming the president signs the bill, as expected, covered products will be subject to the same requirements that CPSC already enforces on packaging of prescription drugs, some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and other potentially hazardous products found in the home.
Specifically, the law applies to “liquid nicotine containers,” defined to include “package[s] from which nicotine in a solution or other form is accessible through normal and foreseeable use by a consumer and that is used to hold soluble nicotine in any concentration.” Thus, bottles of refillable nicotine-containing e-liquid sold directly to consumers for use in “open-system” electronic vaping devices are covered, but packaging for zero-nicotine e-liquid—a growing segment of the e-liquid market—is not covered by the definition.
The new law also creates another important exception. Special packaging requirements would not apply to “sealed, pre-filled, and disposable” nicotine containers that are “inserted directly into an electronic cigarette, electronic nicotine delivery system, or other similar product,” so long as the nicotine is not accessible to consumers “through customary or reasonably foreseeable handling or use, including reasonably foreseeable ingestion or other contact by children.” In other words, “closed-system” electronic cigarettes (cigalikes) where the e-liquid is not intended to come into contact with or be handled by the consumer are not required to use CR packaging.
CPSC already implements the Poison Packaging Prevention Act of 1970 (PPPA), Pub. L. 91-601, 84 Stat. 1,670 (Dec. 30, 1970). That law requires certain household substances to have packaging that makes it significantly difficult for children under five years old to open within a reasonable amount of time. The PPPA is regarded as one of the CPSC’s biggest successes. For example, CPSC estimates a 45 percent reduction in deaths of children under 5 due to the unintentional ingestion of aspirin or oral prescriptions.
To meet PPPA requirements, 80 percent of children should not be able to open the special packaging after 10 minutes of attempting to open it. The CPSC has adopted specifically prescribed testing. Additionally, 90 percent of adults must be able to open the packages. A minimum of one panel of 50 children must be tested, along with 100 adults aged 50 to 70 years old. Manufacturers or importers of products that require special packaging must issue certificates of conformity indicating that their products comply with the special packaging requirements, and must issue/furnish them to distributors and retailers, and make them available to the CPSC or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon request, under provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).
The bill—formally presented to the President for his signature or veto on January 19, 2015—was originally introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in summer 2014 in part because of the increase in Poison Control Center-reported incidents involving possible e-liquid ingestions, which can cause death or severe illness in large enough quantities. Indeed, in one case—although the facts are controversial, as apparently the consumer mixed e-liquid at home with very high concentrations of nicotine rather than using a commercially available product – one child death has been associated with access to an open bottle of e-liquid. Several states, including New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Minnesota, have passed laws requiring CR packaging for e-liquid products.
Vaping advocates agree that CR packaging is necessary and note that most responsible manufacturers have been using such packaging for some time. The American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association (AEMSA), a trade association of e-liquid manufacturers dedicated to the safe and responsible production and handling of these products, has required CR packaging for its members since 2012.
The new bill, which would take effect 180 days after it is signed into law, does not limit or pre-empt the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate e-cigarettes, and FDA would still be empowered to impose its own packaging requirements. Specifically, the Act mandates that FDA consult with the CPSC if the FDA “adopts, maintains, enforces, or imposes or continues in effect any packaging requirement for liquid nicotine containers, including a child-resistant packaging requirement … taking into consideration the expertise of the Commission in implementing and enforcing this Act and the … [PPPA].”
Electronic cigarettes and e-liquids that contain nicotine derived from tobacco fall within meaning of “tobacco product” under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the Family Smoking and Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA). While the FSPTCA only gave FDA the immediate regulatory authority over cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco products, it also gave FDA the authority to promulgate a regulation to “deem” other, currently unregulated tobacco products (including nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and e-liquid) to be regulated products subject to the FSPTCA. The so-called “Deeming Regulation” is currently in the final stages of review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and is expected to be published in 2016.
Regardless of any new authority it obtains over e-cigarettes, as it has with certain drugs, it seems likely that FDA would defer to CPSC’s relatively successful approach to safeguarding children from ingesting easily openable dangerous products. Manufacturers and importers of liquid nicotine refill containers should begin planning to implement this new requirement, and expect enforcement by the CPSC down the road if packaging does not comply.
All Luke Tschantz ever wanted to do was be a pilot with the Blue Angels. Though he received devastating news that would end his dream, he didn’t quit. While stationed in Hawaii, he found vaping through Volcano, a vaping company, and took his love of aviation and vaping back to his home state of Iowa. After moving to Atlanta to finish his MBA, another dream was realized—opening an e-liquid company called Nighthawk ELiquid. Tschantz recently shared his tough road with VAPE, including his drive for success, having a military-owned company and bringing vaping to the Southeast.
VAPE: Can you take me a little more in depth about your background in the military?
Tschantz: I grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, and joined the Army after high school. My grandfather and my dad both served in the military; I was not really interested in college, so I enlisted and joined the Army. I always had a passion for aviation, and wanted to be a fighter pilot one day. I realized that I couldn’t fly jets in the Army; if I wanted to fly, it was helicopters, and I wasn’t really interested in that. I got out after my enlistment and started school at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the No. 1 school in the world for aeronautics and aeronautical engineering.
While I finished my degree at Embry-Riddle, I started to apply for the Naval Aviator pipeline for the United States Navy. I applied three times before I was accepted, and after I finished my degree in aeronautical science, I left for Officer Candidate School.
VAPE:And then your dream to fly for the Blue Angels was crushed.
Tschantz: During OCS, the flight surgeon found minor back injuries in my medical record and disqualified me for naval aviation. I was devastated from the news. The only thing I wanted to do in my life was to fly. To get that close and kind of have it yanked away—it was pretty difficult. I decided to re-designate as an intelligence officer and was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from 2011-2014.
VAPE:Having your dream crushed after being so determined must’ve been terrible.
Tschantz: The Navy flight program is actually one of the hardest things to get accepted to, and I think I was one of 50 people in the class that I got accepted to, and there were like 5,000 applicants. I was ecstatic at that point; I had worked so hard for this and I got it. Halfway through, they’re like, ‘We looked through your medical records and you’re still OK to be an officer, but you can’t fly.’ So, that was probably one of the hardest parts in my life to go through. Just the feeling of being defeated and not really having anything, not being able to do anything about it.
VAPE: And in Hawaii is where you found vaping?
Tschantz: In Hawaii, I noticed a lot of military guys using e-cigs as a replacement for cigarettes. I, myself, was an on and-off smoker for 10 years. I tried e-cigs in 2012, and was able to wean myself off of traditional cigarettes. While I was out there, I saw kind of the e-cig boon, especially in Hawaii with Volcano. What I realized [was] that [in] Iowa, where I’m from, there wasn’t any e-cig stores within a 100-mile radius. I would quit for a while and get back on. And the vapor products and e-cigs were really the only thing that helped me stay off. So, I approached Volcano at that time and I said, ‘I see you’re doing really well in Hawaii; there’s nothing back home where I’m from in Iowa. Can I distribute your products and have my own volcano store?’ They said, ‘Yeah, we can set you up as a distributor; there isn’t anybody in Iowa that’s carrying Volcano.’ In 2013, I opened my first vape store. I founded Hawkeye Vapor in 2013 while still serving in the Navy.
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VAPE: And then you decided to launch an e-liquid company.
Tschantz: After receiving multiple e-liquid samples from companies throughout my time owning Hawkeye Vapor Lounge, I realized that there were multiple companies that didn’t have great branding, and the e-liquid wasn’t the best. I thought that I could provide the vaping industry a better quality product, with branding that people could relate to in the industry. The military vape community is growing exponentially. I started doing my research for e-liquid labs and branding companies to start my own premium e-liquid line. We reached out to Showcase Marketing because of their work with Suicide Bunny, and had them design a militarized, aviation-type e-liquid brand. We launched Nighthawk E-Liquid in August, and got our first partnership with Vapor Beast in October. Next year, we are planning on doing all the major conventions and hope to increase the amount of international vape shops that carry Nighthawk E-liquid.
VAPE:Tell me a little more about your smoking journey and how you began trying e-cigarettes.
Tschantz: I was in Hawaii; I was working for an intelligence agency, and some of my enlisted members (so, the people that I was in charge of) started using these e-cig eGo pens. So, they brought it to me and I was like, ‘What is that?’ I was kind of familiar with it, but back in 2012 it was still pretty new. Sub tanks weren’t even around yet. They let me try it. I went on a search to try and find that specific one. It didn’t dawn on me that I probably could’ve Googled e-cig Hawaii and Volcano. I went around for a couple of afternoons to head shops and I was like, that’s not the one that I saw, and they were trying to sell me some other brand and I finally went into a shopping mall. And, Volcano, they kind of got their start in the kiosk side of the business. They later expanded to lounges. But, I ended up buying my first one and kind of went through the ranks of Volcano, and I really liked their products back in the time when there really wasn’t much other option. Then, I started to bring it home with me. I’d go home on leave and I’d come back to Iowa and my friends were like, ‘What is that, man? I’ve never seen anything like that.’ And a little lightbulb went off in my head that said, ‘You guys don’t even know what this is. It’s huge in Hawaii; it’s huge on the West Coast. Why can’t I bring this here and open my own business?’ And, so, that’s how I got started.
VAPE: So you moved back to Eastern Iowa?
Tschantz: I got out of the Navy and went back to Iowa and ran our vape lounge full time. I’m doing my MBA right now. When I moved to Atlanta, my goal was to either open a vape shop down here, or to develop our own premium e-liquid line. Once I got down here and got into school, I realized there are a lot of vape shops here, unlike in Iowa, where I was, like, the only one in the city. There’s probably 150-200 shops in Atlanta metro. And, I didn’t really want to be the new guy jumping into the pond with everybody else. That kind of solidified my quest to developing an e-liquid company. I still run the brick-and-mortar in Iowa. I have a great manager who does everything for me. I order all of the products and I do the payroll and pay rent and the bills. I spend the money and they go to work—it’s a good tradeoff.
VAPE: What were you finding wrong with other liquids that you wanted to change?
Tschantz: Owning the vape shop and being on the retail side for a couple of years, I saw what sells. I saw what flavors sell really well, so that was a good kind of inside knowledge for me to base our flavor profiles off of. I knew custards sold really well; some of the dessert vapes sold really well. I kind
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of saw everybody coming out with the same stuff. Everybody had a strawberry milk or a strawberry custard … everybody’s trying to, basically, copy everybody else. They see the success with the companies, and they say, ‘Well, I can do that, too,’ so they bring out strawberry milk, and there’s 5,000 different strawberry milks. I kind of knew what flavor profiles we wanted, but we didn’t want to do what everybody else did. So, how we developed the flavor profiles is that we had a manufacturing lab send us 30 or 40 different flavors, and we whittled those down to about 10, and we wanted to launch five. But, we couldn’t eliminate the sixth one. We couldn’t eliminate one, so we just decided that, hey, the six are so good, that we’re just going to do six. On the branding side, our branding has a fighter pilot-type military logo, and I think that best describes my background. I think that it can relate. Military guys can relate to it. People that go to air shows just to go see the Blue Angels, they can relate to it. It’s really edgy. It almost has, like, a video game, like HALO, first-person, shooter-type branding, and I don’t think anybody in the industry has a military geared brand e-liquid company.
VAPE:What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced in making the liquid?
Tschantz: The challenges that I see is not only the e-liquid market’s pretty saturated, it’s the challenge of kind of going into vape shops and talking to owners and having a blank slate. Because, me, as an owner, we get samples every day. We get emails all the time—‘Hey, we’d like to send you this’–and we just kind of get blinded by all of these companies that are almost spamming the vape shop owners to the point where they don’t even want to hear it anymore. OK, you’re just another e-liquid company that’s soliciting me. So, that’s probably the hardest challenge. That, and being a brand that nobody really knows about yet. We’re coming around; we’re getting there. We’re getting a lot of face time on the social media platforms. People are asking questions. We did a really nice website; I think that set the bar for other e-liquid companies to strive for. If you look at the overall branding of e-liquid companies, it’s almost you have the ones that it doesn’t really seem like they put a whole lot of thought and work into it—just bad labels or the fact that they’re borderline copyright infringement. I’ve seen a lot of companies that are knocking off cereal companies. When we were in the development stage for branding, we didn’t just want to put Froot Loops on the label. We wanted to develop our own brand and to have a brand following—have people who look at the brand. I was really impressed with Suicide Bunny and the way that they did their branding. Cuttwood has a huge following—Cosmic Fog, Space Jam—so we kind of wanted to go that route and develop this Nighthawk brand that people can get excited about, and kind of feel like they’re a part of the Nighthawk family. We went through a company called Showcase Marketing. They’re unknown to a point, but they’re also very well respected with those that know their work. We partnered with them, and they’ve designed our entire brand from start to finish. The website, the logos, most of the Facebook images.
VAPE: Do you plan on working with any of the military in the future?
Tschantz: If we ever get to the point to where we do a follow-up line, I want to do some type of donation—a portion of that donation to some type of military cause. Whether it’s the Wounded Warrior Project—some type of non-profit that supports the military.
VAPE: So, you do have plans for expansion?
Tschantz: If the high-VG stuff sticks around, I don’t know if that’s bad or not. The cloud chasing stuff has been around for a while, but I think it’s going back to more flavor chasing. Or, looking for the flavor vapes. So, if there is still a high market for high-VG stuff, I think that would probably be our follow-up line, is do like a special-edition, high-VG line where five or 10 or 20 percent of the proceeds goes to such-and-such military cause.
VAPE: Regulations: Where do you stand?
Tschantz: How we’re going to deal with that, I think, [is] being responsible as a company in the e-liquid manufacturing game [and] making sure you don’t do any type of copyright infringement. Ensure that there isn’t any childish pictures or types of childish marketing. So that people take us seriously and not a bunch of renegades-a bunch of e-liquid companies that are marketing to children. So, we tried to stay away from that when we did our branding. I think that it’s going to be some type of regulation, but I don’t think the government is looking to put us out of business, per se. I just think that they’re trying to have this unrelated industry have some type of rules and regulations, which I think is appropriate for any company.
VAPE: Anything else to add about the line?
Tschantz: One thing that kind of makes us stand out is, because we’re based in Atlanta, we wanted to give the southeastern side of the U.S. something to root for when it comes to e-liquid. Most of the major e-liquid companies are based out of California. And, there’s really no up-and-coming e-liquid companies in the Southeast. You have Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina. So, what we did with our flavor profiles, is we kind of wanted to give, like I said, the southeastern side of the U.S. something to root for, something to call their home e-liquid company. So, most of our flavor profiles kind of have a southern feel to it. We have the Arnold Palmer lemonade iced tea, which a lot of people enjoy; Peaches and Cream; Caramel Cinnamon Roll; kind of the southern past things that the people in the Southeast kind of enjoy. That’s what makes us different, and we’re proud to represent Atlanta. There’s a big vape community that kind of gets overshadowed by the California vape scene, but the people here are really passionate about it.
For more information, visit http://nighthawkeliquid.com/.
New E-Liquid Company Makes Big Waves Right Out of the Gate
The first question one might ask the owner of a new e-liquid company is: Why start an e-liquid business at this late a date?
Jodi Santino, co-owner and founder of Intrinsic e-Liquid, fired back a quick answer.
“When we attended the ECC show in 2014, we saw a lot of companies run by people who seemed very inexperienced with regard to the big business world,” she said. “It was like the wild, wild West. With my biotech background, I already understood the fact the FDA was coming, but it didn’t appear to be a main concern of many I met.”
After earning a degree in accounting and a master’s in international business, Santino and her husband/business partner both garnered years of business experience. “Thanks to our finance and biotech backgrounds, we understand what it takes to launch and sustain a successful business,” Santino said. “I have a knack for numbers. We bring more to the table than most.”
She continued to work full-time as a controller for a large insurance provider while writing the business plan for Intrinsic, finally quitting her job in June when they launched Intrinsic at Miami’s World Vapor Expo. Their debut was quickly followed by appearances at Chicago’s Vapor Expo and the ECC in Pomona, Calif.
Like many, Santino’s passion for the industry comes from having someone close to her die from smoking-related illnesses.
“I’m the epitome of the heavy smoker’s kid from the ‘70s,” she said. “My biological father passed away from coronary disease at a young age. When my little brother took up smoking, my mom and I were vehemently against it. At the end of the day, vaping helped him quit. That impressed the heck out of me because he had tried to stop on numerous occasions.”
Intrinsic’s e-liquids are made by a contract manufacturer in an ISO 7 clean room inside a cGMP compliant lab. “I got the impression at the 2014 show that if you used a manufacturing company to produce your juice, you were a poseur, a fake,” Santino said. “But, flash forward to 2015, and I’m amazed to see how much the industry has matured in just one year. People understand this is a serious business, and government regulations will be imposed to ensure the safety of the consumer.”
Intrinsic uses NicSelect USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia-grade) nicotine for all of its flavors. “It was not a hard decision at all,” Santino said. “We tested others. We weren’t going to mess with anything from China. We wanted something that was premium. Hands down, NicSelect is the best. It was almost a given, but we did our research. We let our manufacturer do some blending and testing and make sure it was all kosher. We’re exclusively using NicSelect and have no plans to use anything but.”
Intrinsic also uses USP kosher food-grade vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol in all its flavors; the mix is 70 percent VG, 30 percent PG. All Intrinsic e-liquids are diacetyl free and come in four nicotine levels: 0 mg, 3 mg, 6 mg and 12 mg.
Before launching their first three flavors, Santino pulled together a tasting group that included a local vape shop in Simi Valley and a circle of advisers. “The market is oversaturated with juice companies, but we feel our flavor profiles stand up and hold their own against the competition,” she said.
Thanks to aggressive outreach directly to vape shops, via distribution channels and strategic alliances, Intrinsic has made great headway in getting its e-liquids out in the market. Santino said they worked hard on the pricing structure “so everyone makes money up and down the chain.”
Intrinsic now is “firmly planted” in the areas where the vape shows were held; somewhere between 50 and 100 shops in Florida and the Carolinas, New England, Chicago and the Midwest, and all over the West, now carry the brand. Thanks to an aggressive international sales rep, Intrinsic now is carried in a dozen other countries, including Australia, Guam, Lithuania, Malaysia, South Africa and the U.K.
Santino attributes their early worldwide success in part to successful branding. “When creating a concept for our premium e-liquid, we turned to our city for inspiration. We took the city of L.A., the most photographed city in the world, and used it as our backdrop for marketing,” she said. “People all over the world want stuff that comes from L.A. It’s been a very pleasant surprise.”
The names of their e-liquids clearly reflect the frenetic pace of the city where they’re made: “Rush,” a blend of vanilla and mint; “Skyline,” a mix of lemon, dragon fruit and raspberry; and “Traffic,” their dessert blend of peanut butter and banana. “We sure stopped traffic with this flavor,” states the description on the Intrinsic website.
Santino said Intrinsic will be debuting two new flavors around Thanksgiving. They’re keeping the names and flavors secret for now, but there’s very little doubt they will be intrinsic to vapers’ tastes and the city of L.A.
For more information, call http://www.intrinsiceliquid.com/.
The original Vaping Vamp, Maria Verven is partner and chief marketing mentor with VapeMentors.