VAPE Opinions

Crowd Chasers: Professionalism is Intrinsic to Intrinsic E-Liquid Founder

February 5, 2016

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By Maria Verven

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.

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Vaping From the Outside – Deconstruction of a Vape Show Host

January 29, 2016

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By Susan Oser

For those of you who venture online and have come across an online vaping show (whether it’s a podcast, VapeTV.com or vapers.tv), you probably have enjoyed one or two focused on D.I.Y., modding or giveaways. Perhaps, you’ve always considered how cool and easy it might be to become a host.

As an online show host for vaping and non-vaping alike, there is a lot to learn and do when it comes to going on camera and hosting a show. It takes planning, finding the right equipment, getting music and marketing yourself, to name a few. However, though you need to be both host and producer, and it might seem a lot of work at times, it also can be rewarding and a lot of fun.

Having said that, let me give you a list of some things to consider if you are thinking about becoming a vape show host:

Channels
Believe it or not, there are a lot of channels to choose from when it comes to hosting on a vape network or channel. Some have some names that you might know. Some channels are fairly new. Some have been around five-plus years. So, how are you to decide where you’d like to host?

The best thing that you can do is surf around. Check out the browse preview to see if there is anyone who looks remotely interesting to you. If you don’t have that option, pick a channel name that sounds interesting and jump in.

Once you do that, sit back, relax and listen. However, if you feel comfortable enough with the hosts and the chatters to participate, by all means, go for it. You might find yourself a regular of the show and a regular to the channel, while making some good friends along the way. However, don’t limit yourself to that one show or one channel. If you develop a positive relationship with chatters or hosts, ask about shows they recommend. Look into hosting possibilities, but allow yourself a few months to observe the chemistry and interaction of the hosts and chatters to make sure that it’s where you want to host and what you want to do.

Sponsors and giveaways
It’s important to remember that giveaways and sponsorships are marketing. They’re a great way for vendors to get their names out there to potential markets and buyers. That’s why it’s free, and it’s also why these generous vendors offer coupon codes. However, you have to make sure that you have a substantial number of people in the room, or else their sponsorships will not be to your benefit; vendors want solid numbers so they can reach the most people possible.

Also, choose a vendor with whom you have a good relationship. Research who they are and find out what their goals are: are they in it for the money? To save lives? Do they have clean e-liquid? Are they activists in the community? You might also try the e-liquid yourself; that way, you’ll be able to gauge whether the juice is worth buying or giving away.

With all vendors, paid customers are first in line for their goods. So there may be times a vendor offers to sponsor you, but becomes so busy that they do not have time to send giveaways. As a host, make an effort to maintain communication with vendors to find out exactly what’s happening in their world; make sure that they, as well as your viewers, are happy.

Some vendors may like the idea of sponsoring you, then see how your show or channel works and decide you are not the right fit for their brand—or vice versa. Sometimes, this causes a revolving door effect. As a host, this can be frustrating. However, with every vendor that leaves, a new one can comes your way. Sometimes, you have to go through a few to find the right fit.

There also are some vendors that will do giveaways, but are slow to send their prizes. Or, your winners might contact you after three weeks, letting you know they did not receive their prizes. Not only does this look bad for your sponsor, it also looks bad for your show (and maybe even your channel).

Because this is a big frustration with most hosts, many decide to drop giveaways altogether.

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Content
Most, if not all, vape shows emphasize content and talk about something related to vaping. It doesn’t matter if it’s e-liquid, product reviews or vaping activism; there always is something to talk about in terms of vaping. But, what if that’s not your thing all the time? That’s when you learn to find your voice and create a show that is unique to you and the audience who visits you. For example, some shows focus on hanging out and having a good conversation about vaping and other topics. Some have trivia shows, where the prize is vaping related. Some give away vaping products. Others use the host’s personal hobbies as a theme for the show. You never know what kind of audience you will draw or the regulars you’ll gain. Sometimes, that audience becomes a part of your show; other times, your commentary is the show. Sometimes, the best shows are unplanned, when you throw away the script and just be. It’s all a matter of what works for you.

Rules (if any)
Almost every channel has rules to follow. Sometimes they are followed. Sometimes they are just there to look good or for legality. Most of the time, they’re common sense, like no slander or drama, no talk of drugs, and sometimes not to do anything without permission of the owners or management of the channel. Some channels will have newcomers try out for the show by being a co-host, go on a probationary period for a matter of weeks or try out for a spot you’re interested in to see if you’re a good fit. For the most part, it works out. Sometimes, it isn’t meant to be. But that means you can still shop around for another channel that’s a perfect fit for you.

Social media
Advertising yourself online is key when it comes to being an online host. It’s best to create a Facebook page or group to promote your show, post updates and establish rules. Twitter also is one of the best ways to advertise your show in a few short sentences (it also gives your followers a chance to retweet and spread the word about you). You also can use LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest to get the word out, but it depends on your show and how active you are on those sites. Your best bet is to stick to the social media platforms that most vapers use regularly.

As far as how much you advertise, it’s truly up to you. Generally, more is better. However, you don’t want to come off like a spammer or someone desperate to get viewers. Instead, advertise a few days ahead of time, as well as the day of your show, so it can serve as a reminder to your audience.

Other important points to remember:
Despite the contrary, hosting on a channel is not a popularity contest (even if you are on a popular channel). It’s all about being entertaining, informational and, most of all, welcoming and friendly. Your biggest reward should be what you get out of it as a host, and whether the audience gained something from you in return. I know personally that it is for me.

Don’t let the pressures of hanging out at other channels influence how you host or what you talk about. Learn from the shows in which you’re a member of the audience, and learn from what they do. Find out what makes their audience tick and see how you can improve on it. That’s how your change and grow every time you do your show—from openings to topics and more.

Hosting should not feel like a 9-to-5 job (unless you are actually getting paid or are able to make a career out of hosting). If it does, you might want to find another channel or give yourself a break for a while. There could be times when life gets in the way and you just don’t have the time. That’s OK. Your audience will understand. Hosting shouldn’t be an obligation. At the end of the day, when the camera is turned off, every host has their own life with work, family and other offline commitments. You shouldn’t be any different.

You are one of the many voices out there in the vaping community. It is up to you to be the name and face of vaping in a way that is comfortable to you. Overall, hosting should be fun, and it should be a great tool to teach others about what you know, and to show to world that vapers are respectable people. As long as you don’t let drama get in the way or get too involved in it, you should be OK. Remember: it’s an experience that can you use to help gain new friends, networks, self-esteem and more. Don’t do it because you want to be popular or for attention’s sake. Do it because you feel like you have something to say and because you want to.

So, do you think you have what it takes to be a host? Are there any questions you’d like to ask? If you are a host, what’s missing for this list? What additional advice would you give? Contact me at angelwritercreations@gmail.com.

Learn more about me and my knitted goods store on my website (http://www.angelwritercreations.com), and connect with
me on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, I currently host a show on VapeTVLive on vapetv.com on Thursday nights at
11 p.m. – midnight EST. I hope you come by for a visit, and make sure you mention you read about this topic in VAPE.

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Mastering the Vape Space: 2016 Vape Industry Survival Guide

January 27, 2016

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By Norm Bour

This industry is going through a massive shift. And, that shift has just begun. Going back just a few years anyone and everyone could open a brick and mortar shop, and many did. Some chose to develop and launch an e-liquid company and even became prominent enough to become modern day rags to riches stories.

But, those days are no more. Sorry if the boat has sailed, but there are other ships ready to be boarded. The bottom line is, the industry is not dead and will outlive most of our lifetimes. The biggest issue at hand right now: new regulations.

We’ll not go into every nuance and possible outcome since many are still speculative and are covered in more details in other more in-depth pieces. Even so, there are certain aspects that will affect you soon, whether you are a shop owner, e-liquid company vapreneur or user.

Sampling and Other Regulatory Changes

An almost for-sure outcome, sampling probably will not be permitted in vape shops. In a recent FDA update webinar hosted by VapeMentors and presented by attorney Azim Chowdhury, head of Keller & Heckman’s cigarette and vape legal practice, Chowdhury said that “sampling will not be permitted under the new proposed regulations.” According to Chowdhury, “sales will probably take place behind the counter and products may not be able to be displayed under the new guidelines.” Some states already have proposed, but not instituted new laws that would require special licensing. Indiana has such a law on the books, scheduled to take effect July 2016.

Though the proposed regs do not address common sense concerns like clean room requirements, ingredients and labeling, flavoring restrictions and nicotine guidelines, they do state who is considered a “tobacco products manufacturer,” and the answer is “almost everyone.” If you build your own mods or carry your own house liquids, get in line; this law affects you. If you carry only pre-made and branded products, you may be exempt.

How Would Your Shop Change?

Imagine this: Your vape shop is no longer a hangout. It is no longer a fun place to be. It is a place to buy product, pure and simple. Devoid of any emotional connection, it could be as sterile and cold as walking into a 7-Eleven and buying a pack of cigarettes. Your biggest competition would not be the shop down the street, it would be online sales, which also is your biggest competitor now, in 2015.

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When your customers know what they want they may have less incentive to visit you. Their consumer dollars will go to less expensive online sellers.

The reality is, these scenarios do not have to play out this way, and you can still have a fun and profitable venture. Can you have a cloud competition? Probably not. But, you can host events and bring in entertainment and offer education and guidance. The business will not go away, but it will be different.


PREDICTIONS

“Those who live by the crystal ball are doomed to die from eating broken glass,” is a quote referenced by many. With that said, here are some predictions for 2016 and beyond:

• There will be less retail shops, doing more. A few years ago shops grossing six figures per month were more common than today. The dilution of the business has made $100,000 months harder to reach, but the closing of the majority of retail shops is inevitable. The net result: less shops overall, but being more professional and profitable.

• Fewer e-liquid companies. Period. But, there will be many using contract manufacturers. At my recent testimony at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C., I spoke about the effect of new regulations on manufacturers. I estimated that there were 8,000 e-liquid companies today, though no one really knows for sure. Most of these will go away. The big names will remain and new players will surface. Survivors will use third party giants like Molecule Labs, Purilum and JSPR since it may be cheaper than doing it yourself.

• More consolidation. Acquisition will be a key component in 2016 and beyond as the big players consume and merge with the smaller ones. What matters most to a purchaser? Marketing presence and posture, solid branding and a good consumer following.

• Big business will play a bigger part. Big tobacco controls the e-cigarette and closed tank market, but have been less present in the vapor, tanks and mod market. They already know how to play the regulatory game and will be developing their own products as well as buying the smaller players. See prior bullet No. 3.

• Consumers will be winners in this brand new world. They may have less selection, but quality will be high and prices may be low. That is the formula that drives most consumers.


What are your thoughts for 2016 and beyond? This information will be presented in more detail in an upcoming webinar hosted by VapeMentors. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list to be informed about the date.

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors, which offers online educational programs, services and resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands. He’s also host of Vape Radio, a podcast series that interviews the masters of vape and thought leaders in the vape space. Contact him at norm@VapeMentors.com.

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Let’s Ask GrimmGreen

January 25, 2016

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By Nick Green Photo by Metal Jeff

 What’s the best flavour? I use Spider Venom by Vapemunki, but want a change with still as much flavour hit.

 - Ciaran Hickson

Hey there! In the world of juice and e-liquid the term “best” is a hard one to nail down. Taste is a very subjective thing. What one person likes, another might find repulsive. Kinda like asking “what’s the best soda?” Everyone enjoys something different. The best advice I can give here is to go taste some juices and see what you like. Find a local brick and mortar store and see what they carry. Chances are if you walk in and say “I really like Spider Venom juice, what do you guys have that is similar,” they will be able to lead you in the right direction.

Some of these brick and mortar stores have tens of dozens of different flavors available for tasting. Try as many as you can. You never know, you may walk out of the store with a brand new favorite e-liquid.

- Grimm


I have been vaping for about four months now, and love it! I just recently got into sub-Ohm with a eGo One, and want to get into rebuildables. I read the three steps to rebuilding an atomizer, and was wondering what are some good beginner mods and RBA’s to start with?

- Chris Wise

Hey there! There are actually a lot of great atomizers and mods out there. For a more entry level mech mod I would take a look at the Sage or Beacon, both from BeyondVape.com. They are authentic mech mods that are both pretty reasonably priced. One of my favorite mech mods around is the Shotgun from EmitVapor. It’s a bit pricier, but it’s very fiddle free and easy to use.

For atomizers, there is a Chinese company named WoToFo that makes some very nice and very reasonably priced atomizers. Both their Troll and and Sapor atomizers work great—nice easy decks to build on and an adjustable airflow for tweaking your vape to exactly how you want it.

Hope that helps out!

- Grimm

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Letter from the Editor: All Good Things…

January 24, 2016

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I’ll never forget early 2014, when Matt (Schramel, our owner and publisher) asked me to come on board at VAPE. I was teaching English in China, and this was nothing new; Matt had asked me to do several editing projects over the years. However, what was to happen next was new. An idea for a vaping magazine stuck, and before we knew it, we were the No. 1 international magazine in our industry.

It hasn’t come without its ups and downs, like any job, and now that I’m stepping down as editor in chief, with this being my last “official” issue, I want to highlight some of the amazing times I’ve had over the past two years.

The best week of my life, hands down, came at the end of my life in China, with a tour of 14 e-cigarette battery, device and e-liquid factories in Shenzhen. The Wingle Group took me on this whirlwind tour that culminated with a night in Hong Kong and the industry’s first-ever China issue published in the United States. Even though I’m fairly well-traveled, nothing could prepare me for the flight in—I felt like I was flying into a James Bond movie. I made lifelong friends on that trip, and it was fitting that my time at VAPE would end with another Wingle Group trip to the Moscow Vape Expo in December. Another “highlight” was traveling to a conference in Amsterdam last spring with almost 103 temperature. Thank goodness for voice recordings, because I could barely see straight during that conference. Our trip to Paris for their show last year was another hit, along with my special trips to Albany, Ga. and Greenville, N.C. to visit a nicotine plant and an e-liquid bottling facility, respectively, on home soil.

I can’t thank the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I dedicate my last issue to you. Thank you to Cynthia Cabrera, who always comes through with a column and a bent ear; thank you to GrimmGreen for becoming one of our first columnists and always answering even the most tedious of reader questions; thank you to Steffanie Atkins for constantly making me laugh; thank you to Gregory Conley, Paul Blair, Julie Woessner and the countless others I’ve interviewed who continue to fight; thank you to Norm Bour and Susan Oser for also being one of the first writers on our team and always coming through; thank you to Dman and Anton and the entire Wingle Group team; thank you to all of the shop owners and events organizers who always come through with an interview; thank you to my art director Van who is the best teammate in the world; thank you to the entire VAPE team for producing such a wonderful product; and thank you to my dad, who is the inspiration for all of this. Vaping would’ve given you a chance. I did all of this (and will continue to do so every day in life) for you.

Happy reading.
Alyssa Stahr

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Vaping From the Outside – 15 Kinds of Vapers You May Meet

December 31, 2015

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By Susan Oser

I decided that, since it is the holiday season, I’d do something a bit on the lighter side. Based on my own observations and experiences, I created the following list of vaping personalities that make up our community. If you merely just chuckle a little, then more than likely you totally understand and get it. If you get offended, well, there’s not much I can do for you there … but perhaps maybe I ended up saying what your friends and colleagues might be thinking but may not have the heart to say.

1. The ADOS Buyer – This is the person who, every time he or she sees a new shiny, can’t help but stop and stare at the equipment in shops or spend hours online trying to find the best deals. These usually are the shop owners or reviewers who have to BETA test everything and want to keep at least one of the new pieces for themselves. Yet, when that next new Aspire comes along, you see …

2. The vaper with buyer’s remorse – I can’t count the number of times I’ve come across this one. A vaper buys something at a shop and doesn’t feel happy with it. He or she got the right information and paid good money for it, but there is something about that mod or tank that just doesn’t feel right. It’s as if these were the people that went out on a great dinner date, had great food, but felt like the food they had while good, was just not good enough. Or the service was just not up to standard. These people might do one of two things: PIF to a fellow vaper, or put it somewhere in the corner and let it collect dust.

3. The vaper who complains about having no money, when they spend too much of it on vaping products and not on essentials – Being on a budget is understandable, but if you’re on a budget, that is COMPLETELY understood, but aren’t you forgetting your priorities a bit when you decide to buy that nifty new shiny thing on the market? I think this is one of those cases where it’s a matter of changing your priorities a bit. Pay for what you need, and save the rest for the vape gear you always wanted.

4. The “Vape Famous” – I don’t want to name names to create controversy, but we all know who these people are. They’re the ones that have one million people in their shows or subscribed to their YouTube channel. Granted, I hate the term “vape famous”

5. The vaper who doesn’t care about advocacy – For advocates, this is the most frustrating person to deal with. They’re the ones that choose to tune it out because they just don’t want to hear it—until it’s too late. A lot of people want to make the money, dream the dream and live their lives; as long as an issue doesn’t affect them, they don’t care.

6. The juice connoisseur – I would definitely put myself in this category. I don’t like to stick to one kind of juice unless it really grabs me. I’ve also noticed that the longer I vape, the more picky I become. I find D.I.Y. shows and juice vendor shows interesting and fascinating, and that’s why I like to interview e-liquid vendors, because not only do I like to share their stories, I also like their products.

7. The mod collector – To me, anyone who becomes some kind of “collector” is a hobbyist. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with a collection. I just wish I had the money to buy these beautiful mods.

8. The charity vaper – This is the dying animal of the community. This person will go out of his or her way to help a vaper in need. The charity vaper is not afraid to raise money for causes he or she feels passionate about.

9. The teacher/mentor – I love these kinds of vapers because they’re the veterans in the group. Unfortunately, they don’t get the respect they deserve. These people are not afraid to answer your questions and give an honest opinion on what’s good and bad in the market. Though chatting with them online is one thing, it’s even more rewarding to meet them in person.

10. The world meet traveler – I wish I were able to travel to all the vape meets and conventions I want to attend, like this kind of vaper does. I wonder how some people are able to attend multiple meets (if not all of them).

11. The tinkerer – If you’re an engineer or techie type, you belong in this category. You’re the one who plays with your tanks and mods to create better cloud and vapor production. Unfortunately, I’m not this type of person, because I just want a good tank and mod that work; I want the basics.

12. The vaper who likes drama because it gives them attention, money, fame — you get the idea – This one is kind of frowned upon, but they exist. We get it that you want to stand out from the crowd, but you don’t have to do it by bashing someone else for what they did or did not do. For those of you who don’t believe me, check out some of the Facebook groups that go crazy when news pops up of a juice

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company not being totally honest, misunderstanding of hosts’ personalities, etc. It’s one of the reasons why I’m super picky about the groups I belong to and the vaping shows I watch.

13. The dirty vaper – This is the one who gets the pitchforks and torches out in the community these days, especially with several companies who have been outed for their dirty practices and how they mix their juices. We all have to use common sense when it comes to e-liquid making and being responsible. We also need to own up to it.

14. The drunken vaper – This is the fun one you see at the vape meets. Let’s face it, that’s the best part of the vape meet themselves: party time. Trust me, vapers definitely play hard.

15. The vaper you’re friends with because you formed a bond! – It’s better to have friends in this community than enemies, because these friends become your support and your lifeline, and will have your back when you need it most. I’m grateful for the connections I’ve created in this community as an online vaping host and as a writer for this magazine. To me, when someone says that I’ve done a good show, wants some advice, or just needs a good laugh and says thank you, I know that all of this has been worth it.

I’d like to hear from you. Did I miss any standout vaping personalities? Do you agree with any of my insights? Let me know at angelwritercreations@gmail.com

Susan E. Oser aka Angelwriterspeaks is a host on Monday nights on Vapenet (http://vapenet.com/). She is an online tutor, a part time freelance writer and a passionate activist for vaping rights. Find her at http://angelwritercreations.weebly.com/, http://twitter.com/angelwriter78 and https://www.facebook.com/Angelwriterspeaks?ref=hl. You can buy her knitted accessories (esp for you the vaper) at https://www.facebook.com/knitzyknitz. Contact her directly at angelwritercreations@gmail.com.

Mastering the Vape Space – A “How To” Guide to Develop Your Own E-liquids

December 28, 2015

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By Norm Bour

It’s where the money is: e-liquids.

If you’re new to the industry and haven’t realized that yet, you soon will. And if you are a manufacturer, you know the profit potential. For any brick and mortar shops, this is a market that you must pursue to increase your profits.

A retail vape shop can improve revenue as much as 50 percent with its own house line. It’s also one of the easiest things to do wrong—and be put in a liability position.

According to research and statistics reported by vape directories and academics, about 60-65 percent of vape shops in the United States currently have their own lines. Using the estimated numbers of 6,000-8,000 shops, that means that 3,600-5,200 currently have their own line. And when the FDA rules are released, a large percentage of them will need to totally redo their business models.

Why?

Many house liquids are produced on-site or in a lab that does not
conform to FDA standards. Labeling, ingredients, warnings or
chains of custody are not within regulatory guidelines. Many of
the contract manufacturers that are used today will also not pass
FDA scrutiny. For the minority of shops that do not have their own
house lines, there’s an easy process to develop that model.

Contract Manufacturing Versus Do-It-Yourself

Not that long ago, there were few options to develop your own e-liquids. You typically had to create or buy your own “clean room” to whatever degree your budget, expertise and commitment would allow. In the last two years, the “contract manufacturer” industry has increased and we have a plethora of options. Well-known names like Molecule Labs, Johnson Creek, JSPR and Purilum have made it easy to develop private lines. A large percentage of inhouse manufacturers actually generate more revenue from other companies’ lines than with their own brands.

In 2013, there were an estimated 300-500 e-liquid manufacturers in the United States, and virtually all of them created products in-house. Today, the number of e-liquid companies has explode ten-fold, and just a few of them make their own products. Most contract them out. Options include creating your own “proprietary” formula or using an “off-the-shelf” formulation, which can be private or white labeled. Michael Guasch, CEO of Molecule Labs, sees a huge shakeout of the e-liquid industry and says that “as many as 80-90 percent of them may be put out of business after the FDA decision.”

Take Control of Your Market

The loyalty factor in the vape space is fleeting. Most consumers do not stay committed to any product for very long, which makes it challenging for manufacturers to command and maintain that edge. The number of consumer choices may be curtailed severely after an FDA decision.

Welcome to a New Option: Your E-liquids

VapeMentors has been working with some of the top companies in the e-liquid space and developed a turn-key, 60-day program to launch your own house brand. And, it all starts at the beginning: developing your strategy. What will make you different and distinctive? What will set your brand apart from the rest? After that is worked out, the following sample schedule would be rolled out:

Week 1: A sampling of up to 15 flavors from a nationally recognized and ISO-certified lab will be sent to your shop.

Weeks 2-3: The top flavors in desired formulations and nicotine levels will be chosen by the shop owners based on surveys and feedback from staff and customers. The names, logos and branding will be developed based on years of experience working with brick and mortar shops and e-liquid companies.

Weeks 4-5: After final flavor selections are determined, products will be ordered and pre-launch of marketing campaigns will be initiated.

Weeks 6-7: Inventory will be delivered to a shop, ready for launch.

Week 8: Launch new line.

What Now?

There are certain caveats to avoid when developing a house line, and, according to David Collins, VAPE U instructor and CEO of California Vaping Company, “You should never name your liquid after the name of your shop. For internal sales purposes, it’s OK, but if you want to develop a wholesale line, you will be limited by outside shops that don’t want to sell another competitor’s line.”

For information on this new program, please send a note to sales@VapeMentors.com. The first 10 shops that participate in the new “Your E-liquid” program will have the normal setup fees waived. As the founder and president of VapeMentors, I constantly seek out new services and products to bring to the vape space. VAPE U training programs offer online courses for both brick and mortar shops as well as e-liquid companies. Our goal is to help create and grow Vapreneurs that will survive and thrive in this dynamic industry. If there is anything you need or ideas you want to launch, please contact us.

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors, which offers online educational programs, services and resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands. He’s also host of Vape Radio, a podcast series that interviews the masters of vape and thought leaders in the vape space. Contact him at norm@VapeMentors.com.

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Safety First: A Dangerous Duo – Using a Hybrid Mod with a Sub-Ohm Tank

December 14, 2015

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By Nick Bessette

Many of you already know the dangers of using a sub -Ohm tank with a hybrid- style mechanical mod, but on a nearly monthly basis, I hear horror stories about mods blowing up in people’s hands. Some of these stories may be made up, and some may be true; however, I do know there are serious risks of using the combination of any tank or atomizer that has a positive connection that sits flush with the 510 threads. Hopefully, the following article will shed some light on these issues, and possibly prevent any uninformed readers of risking their battery, mod or even hands while vaping.

First, let’s go over one of the most recent cases and why we have to try to avoid these situations in the future. On March 10, Chris Bookins from Santa Ana, Calif., was vaping normally when he noticed the battery in his mod began to heat up. According to photos, it appears as though his hybrid- style device with a sub- Ohm tank exploded in his face; the tank section even shot into his ceiling, lodging it there. He suffered minor injuries and, luckily, put out the accompanying fire with relative ease.

According to FEMA, there have been 25 cases of e -cigarettes exploding between 2009 and October 2014. Of those cases, two reportedly happened while using the device. Another tale of misfortune is the case of Travis Nummerdor in May. He was using a hybrid mod and tank setup when it exploded in his face, causing burns on his chest, face and tongue. Some skeptics say the injuries he received weren’t consistent with other, similar, cases, but rather a suicide attempt using blank ammunition. However, other members of his squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base back up his story. In any case, these stories are becoming more commonplace in today’s market as hybrid mods become the staple in mechanical mod technology.

I saw this happen first hand, when a customer purchased a brand- new, high -drain battery and walked out of the shop, only to return moments later complaining that his battery was getting hot and wouldn’t work. It turned out that he was using a hybrid mech with a sub-Ohm tank. I informed him that he was shorting out his battery, and he was lucky it didn’t vent or explode. He proceeded to take it out as slowly and carefully as possible. I explained to him why it happened, and offered to swap the mod he had for a safer alternative. He agreed, thanked me for the help and continues to be a faithful customer to this day.

Why do lithium -ion batteries fail in the case of e -cigs? FEMA says e -cigarettes are different from other electronic consumer devices, because the battery is installed in a cylindrical device that has its weakest structural point at the ends. When the battery seal ruptures, the pressure within the e- cigarette cylinder builds quickly and instantly ruptures, usually at the end. As a result of the battery and container failure, one or the other, or both, can be propelled across the room like a bullet or small rocket. What does this mean for our industry? We need to educate ourselves and others to prevent these types of accidents from happening in the future.

Now that you know what can happen, look at the mod in your hand. Is it a hybrid style mechanical? If you don’t know what that is, it’s a mechanical mod without a pin at the 510 that connects the battery’s positive terminal to the positive terminal of your atomizer. If it is, then look at your atomizer. Does the positive pin protrude further than the threads? If not, you may be taking a serious risk! The reason this is so dangerous is that the energy from the battery, which is intended to flow through the positive connection on the atomizer, to the coil and back out via the 510 threads, may end up causing a short at the connection due to the threads (the negative connection of your atomizer) coming in contact with your battery’s positive terminal. That may sound like a lot of technical terms but, to put it simply, imagine a race track with cars speeding down it. The track represents the circuit and the cars are the flow of electricity. Now, picture a shortcut, where the cars could drive even faster; that’s the short in the flow of electricity. Since the cars are moving faster, their engines heat up more and the corners of the track are sharp, which can lead to a catastrophe.

The reason I write these articles is to educate and inform the masses so that we can prevent accidents like these from happening again. Safety is crucial, and I hope to make these types of accidents a thing of the past. I usually tell people that about 90 percent of things that can go wrong with vaping are user errors. From using the wrong type of battery to ignoring a torn battery wrapper, these issues that are preventable. Hopefully, I can inspire some of you to be more mindful of the safety of the device that’s in your hand. It’s also imperative that shop owners and employees know this type of information so they can recommend to their customers the right types of products for their specific needs. So, remember, using a regulated mod with a floating positive pin with your tank will always be safer than risking your battery, mod or even your hand.

Nick Bessette works at Voltage Vape shop in Springfield, Mass., and he does video reviews for his own YouTube channel, Daily Vape TV, among others. He has been building for two years and conducting battery safety courses at VCC events over the past year. Teaching the safety aspect of vaping is his passion, and he believes that it’s an extremely important topic for every vaper to know about.

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TECH REFLECT: PAX Labs, Inc. JUUL

December 10, 2015

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By Chris Mellides
Photo courtesy of PAX Labs, Inc.

Founded by two Stanford Design Program graduates in 2007, PAX Labs, formerly known as Ploom Inc., entered the e-cigarette market in June with what it claims to be the truest product alternative to combustible tobacco in the arenas of user satisfaction and general ease of use.

The device is called JUUL, and when I first heard the product claims, I quickly erred on the side of skepticism. After all, the size, weight and nicotine cartridge delivery system is something we’ve all seen before.

Whether it be an off brand gas station cigalike or a bigger name like Blu eCigs, most intermediate to advanced vapers can agree that this type of device is easily dwarfed by the plethora of products flooding the industry that can not only do the job of a cigalike, but out perform it across the board.

Having said that, the JUUL e-cig is definitely a product that surprised me. For one, this rechargeable device lasts longer on average then any other cigalike I’ve ever used. In my experience, it’s held its charge for about four or five hours of moderate usage, and when the high discharge battery runs low, charge time is twice as fast as other devices in its class.

Combine that with a sleek and minimalistic design offering an unobtrusive indicator light that goes from green, to yellow to red to communicate battery life percentage, and you’ve got a product that can easily appeal to beginners.

Performance is nice and the device’s automatic switch is very responsive. You just take a drag without the need for pushing buttons, and JUUL does the rest.

Obviously, you won’t be getting tons of vapor as this little mod clearly is not meant for cloud chasing. However, the vape is satisfying, allowing you to do those mouth-to-lung hits that all smokers are familiar with. Also, despite its boxy shape, the device is incredibly comfortable to hold and has the feel of a traditional cigarette with a more refined look.

As far as flavors are concerned, users are limited to four at the moment. They are: tabaac, miint, bruulé and fruut. They all have a high nicotine content, which I would guess is around 18 mg, that you cannot customize, and the cartridges are non-refillable, which is a bummer.

My favorite of the bunch is the miint, which gives a cooling sensation with every drag and leaves a refreshing aftertaste, akin to a light menthol. The fruut was also a nice flavor with a flavor profile that can closely be compared to a mixed berry vape.

However, I did not care for the tabaac or the bruulé. They both tasted very similar, and I simply did not find their flavor agreeable. Of course, if you’re fresh off of combustible tobacco, you may find these flavor pods to be more to your liking.

The cartridges are easy enough to install. You just remove the protective sheath and press the cartridge into the top end of the device until you hear an audible click. Follow that up by taking a soft pull for three to five seconds on the newly installed cartridge to enhance wicking, and you’re good to go and free to vape normally from that point onward.

The JUUL pod nicotine cartridges have yet to leak on me, but I have found that if you take a hard enough pull on the inhale, you do get a bit of juice in your mouth. Harder, prolonged drags may also lead to flooding, though I have not confirmed this.

A feature I wish worked better is the option to double tap the device near its LED to read your battery life via the colored lights. A lot of times, this process simply does not work and it can be very frustrating.

Overall, you could do much worse for an entry level device. While perfect for beginners, I’ve found that stowing it in my pocket as a backup, or simply using it when I’m on the road, are qualities that can make JUUL appealing to more advanced vapers like myself who are looking for something compact, discreet and highly portable.

The JUUL starter kit, which includes a device, four JUUL pods— each containing a different e-liquid flavor—and a USB charger will run you $49.99. Additionally, each JUUL pod four-pack retails for $15.99. This could get pricey depending on your e-liquid consumption, but JUUL is a closed-ended system, so you will need to buy these cartridges from JUUL or an authorized reseller when you’re running out.

The JUUL is currently available at select stores nationwide and can be purchased online at JUULvapor.com.

Chris Mellides began vaping in 2012 and witnessed the rise and fall of the cartomizer tank firsthand. A multimedia journalist, he has contributed to various local and national publications and has worked for WSHU Public Radio. Mellides takes an honest approach to reviewing the latest vaping hardware, separating the diamonds from the rough and suggesting where your money might be better spent. He works weekends at one of the first vape shops to launch on Long Island and lives in a fortified compound near Queens, N.Y.

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Let’s Ask GrimmGreen

December 8, 2015

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By Nick Green Photo by Metal Jeff

Trying to find the best flavors of e-juice. Right now favorites are Cuttwood Sugar Bear and Space Rocks. Any suggestions from anyone that likes these two flavors that are a must have/try?

Thanks!

- Wayne Downs

Hey Wayne! The funny thing about vaping is the juices one person LOVES are the juices that another person HATES. Taste is so incredibly subjective that I have a difficult time recommending juice for people. What I would suggest doing is finding a local vape shop and trying out some of the juices they have. I wander into some of my local shops from time to time just to taste, and chances are I’ll end up walking out with something I’m very happy with. Additionally, I always challenge my pallet. I’m usually a sweet/bakery kind of guy. I love to try juices that I would generally stay away from. You never know what you may fall in love with.

Thanks!

- Grimm


I’m trying so hard to vape—50/50. Lowest power I can have, 2 w, still makes me cough like smoke going down the wrong way. Will keep at it as want to quit, but I so need advice.

- Richard Muzza Aitken

Hey Richard. There could be a lot of reasons why you are coughing. Without knowing exactly what setup (atomizer, juice, mod) combo you are using. I’ll tell you about the things that make me cough when I’m vaping. No. 1 is higher nicotine levels. Nicotine, when inhaled, gives you a tight clenching feeling in your throat and chest. The higher the nicotine level of your juice, the more intense that tightening feeling will be.

No. 2 would be airflow. Sometimes if the airflow is too tight, or on an RDA (rebuildable atomizer) not aligned properly with the coils, it can cause an intense tickle sensation in your throat as well. Oftentimes when the airflow is tight or not aligned properly it causes a thin, but warm stream of vapor, which will always cause me to cough.

Lastly is flavoring. There are some flavors out there that I just don’t get along with. Some citrus flavors will cause me to cough, as well as some stronger berry flavors. It could be one of these, or a combination of a few of these. One last thing is PG. PG is great in juice and carries the flavor well, but can also cause a strong throat sensation. Trying a higher VG juice might help out quite a bit.

Hope that helps out.

- Grimm

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