SPINFUEL: When and why did your company decide to get into the e-juice business?
AiV: We had the idea to start our shop in late January 2012 and didn’t launch the website until June. It took a long time for us to become comfortable with our product. To be honest, we loved our juices and so did local vapers but we weren’t too sure how well we would be received in the juice community at large. We do tend to be a little different than other juices because we wanted to make something special that we could be proud of and change how people perceive vaping. With that said… If Alice if Vapeland doesn’t work out, we can always open our brunch spot in DC…Alice In Crépe Land!!!! Is that stretching it too far?
SPINFUEL: How did you learn to make eLiquids? Did it take long? At what point did you decide to go “pro”? (decide to sell eLiquid to the public)
AiV: We learned by trial and error. With a background in science and research, we were curious about how we could concoct our own e-juices. After tinkering around with flavor combinations, we started making our own natural juices for ourselves and friends. It has always been our priority that we use only natural ingredients, no MSG or other artificial flavor enhancers. We thought we had come up with some original recipes that could appeal to a broader audience because they were flavors that had never been seen before and we felt they were absolutely, uniquely delicious.
SPINFUEL: Speaking of going ‘pro’, was it a particular flavor, or group of flavors, that you believed were good enough to offer to the public that launched Alice in Vapeland?
AiV :The one that really made us want to start our shop was a blend we called “He Said, She Said”. Ironically, we ended up pulling that flavor because most people hated it (it’s bourbon & peach). It was funny because we really hoped it would be our flagship juice . . . but the strong feedback actually ended up helping guide our development a lot.
So with that one off the list, tea flavors really were what helped set us apart. For folks who want a tobacco-less yet “hrummph” vape, tea flavors are a perfect fit. We like tea, citrus, and fresh fluffy bakery flavors, in particular, because they make lovely naturally flavored juices. They’re the perfect complement for our new hearty tobacco flavors in the works. And they go nicely with cakes at Vapeland tea parties.
SPINFUEL: Why did you choose amber glass bottles for your eJuice?
AiV: Besides keeping light away from the juice, there is something nostalgic and old timey about amber bottles that just lends to our Alice in Vapeland feel, and the history and mystery that fits our style. We visited a place called “Tinkertown Museum” outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico right before we opened and just fell in love with the look of old time glass and the feeling that it portrayed. Some of the walls of Tinkertown are made entirely out of old bottles and adobe.
SPINFUEL: Your labels are beautiful, and the metal ‘dog tag’ around your bottles is a brilliant touch, and each bottle is professionally sealed. Why go through these extra steps?
AiV: Thank you! Being that we are two dedicated artists and humanists, we really wanted our packaging to portray our commitment to the care and preparation that your juice deserves. Our packaging process does take a lot of extra steps and foresight, but it’s part of what helps bring a smile to the faces of our Vapelandians. We’ve gotten several emails from people ordering from us for the first time who email us before even trying the juice… just to tell us how they had an awful day and opening our package made their day just a little bit better. Knowing that we helped someone have a little cheer at the end of their day just makes us glow.
SPINFUEL: Who or what inspired you to get into the e-Juice business?
AiV: We inspired each other in the beginning, and it’s wonderful to make delicious juices everyday, especially for the best people ever. It’s also our creative outlet, and sometimes, when we’ve been working on developing juices for hours and most everything is just turning up blah, and we’re ready to quit it all and apply to work at Blockbuster Video, we’ll open our inbox, and get the sweetest email from one of our Vapelandians and it makes our hearts sing.
SPINFUEL: Why is American Made e-Juice so important today?
AiV: Faster shipping? Seriously though, we love the high standards of American products, and are happy to have an opportunity to keep the bar raised.
SPINFUEL: Are you concerned with the upcoming FDA regulations?
AiV: We try to keep abreast of all the latest developments, and believe strongly in the freedom to vape. Having worked in the drug R&D field, we are very familiar with government regulations and feel that all the new studies and potential safety regulations will help the industry and help people feel more comfortable with vaping, and with people around them vaping. We anticipate future regulations and are happy to comply and move in that direction.
SPINFUEL: Living in Washington D.C. is like living in the heart of the government. Do you know of any politicians who vape?
AiV: Haha! No, but we know a lot of interns who vape and, hopefully, will pass it on to their bosses!
SPINFUEL: How do you come up with the names for your flavors?
AiV: Our friends and the vaping community have helped us time after time with both flavors and names. Crunkberry came about after one of our friends said, “You guys need to have a Crunkberry one.” And when we came up with a mandarin and lime flavor that we loved but were absolutely stumped as what to call it, we went to the ECF and held a contest. Everyone submitted the most amazing ideas, and the winning name was born: “Mystic Mandalime”!
And for our “Lemon Loves Cake”, Lemon really does love Cake so that one was easy. They should be married soon.
SPINFUEL: You describe your flavors as “subtle”. Why has this approach worked for you?
AiV: Honestly, describing our flavors this way helps us to let people know what to expect from our juices. We don’t think we’ll ever make the show-stopper juice that someone passes you saying, “You gotta try this!”, and blows you away with out-of-this-world flavor fireworks. But we actually like more subtle flavors because we can vape them without getting overpowered. In our experience, when the flavor is less strong, it seems to surprise the senses more since they’ve had a chance to “forget” the flavor from the last vape.
SPINFUEL: When working on a new flavor: How long does it take to go from an idea to the final product, on average?
AiV: It takes about 6~8 weeks on average. We usually start with a concept and then work with it to develop a basic flavor recipe. Then we work on optimizing the carrier ratio. We have had so many more flavors that we’ve chucked than have ever made it to “the shelf”. Sometimes the art comes first – “The Devil ate my Food & Cake” was a flavor that we were in love with, conceptually. We’ve tried for months. It’s still un-vapeable. If anyone has the magic devil’s food feather, can we please borrow it?
SPINFUEL: Can you briefly tell us a little about your non-eJuice background?
AiV: Jah, one of the co-founders/creators, is a graphic artist who worked with Wounded Warriors (a non-profit), and does endless favors for friends needing graphic work. He is also a complete foodie, although his guilty pleasure is the occasional Baconator from Wendy’s! Nicole, the other co-founder/creator, is a bio-engineering wizard who loves woodworking as a hobby (when she used to have time for a hobby). Lori has a background in interior design and marketing and recently joined us to help out with communications and media.
SPINFUEL: Safety is a huge factor today. What kind of measures you take to make sure that your e-juice is safe to consume?
AiV: We honor that our customers trust us with providing them something they can feel safe putting in their bodies. We develop juices that we feel good vaping, and we vape them everyday. We never use any MSG or other artificial flavor boosters because our mission is to provide safe, healthful, and delicious vapes. We very carefully source our ingredients for the highest quality, and use only natural flavorings. Our production lab is a dedicated clean room just for juice manufacturing. All of our equipment is sterilized, and all ingredients are kept in optimal conditions at all times.
SPINFUEL: How important is it to use pharmaceutical grade ingredients? Do you use any distilled water? Are there ever any “filler liquids” in your juice?
AiV: For nicotine, we only use pharmaceutical grade. Because of our particular sensitivities, we personally have had difficulties vaping liquids made with other types of nicotine. Demineralized distilled water is our go-to for achieving the best consistency. We do not use filler liquids.
SPINFUEL: How do you make sure that your flavors are always consistent, that each batch delivers the same flavor and nicotine levels time after time?
AiV: Having extremely accurate laboratory equipment for measuring recipes is essential to our consistency. In addition, certified laboratory analysis allows us to know the precise strength and purity of our nicotine.
SPINFUEL: How many flavors do you offer today?
AiV: We’ve finally officially run out of fingers to count our flavors; we have 13 to date. We also have about half-a-dozen that we’re getting feedback on. The community is so unbelievably wonderful in helping us develop flavors – several of our flavors, “White Rabbit”, “Twas Brillig”, and “Cherry Blossom Tea” were inspired and named by our fellow vapers. We loooove our “Alicandrians”!
SPINFUEL: Why should our readers buy their e-Juice from you?
AiV: We make the juices we like to vape and there are a lot of juices out there. If you are looking for a lighter, naturally-flavored juice with some hints of whimsy, you might enjoy our juices. They are not for everyone, but if you’re like us, they might be what you’ve been looking for!
SPINFUEL: Do you sell to other vendors? (Wholesale)
AiV: Yes! We know wholesalers are very selective of their vendors, and we’re particular about our wholesalers too. We like to do a lot of talking first, to see if it’s a good fit. Our juices are available in the UK from Switch2-ecigs.com, in Orange County, CA at the Vapor Loft, and more locations coming soon.
SPINFUEL: Tell us a little about your non-eLiquid products. For instance, what is a ‘tanklet’? Are your tanklets and drip tips made “in-house”?
AiV: We love our Vapelandian Glassblower, Teena, who imagined the tanklet idea with us and made it real. Tanklets are a little unnecessary creations you can put in your tank to deck it out a bit. We have gnomes, sock monkeys, skulls and more. Her creations are amazingly intricate and she has an endless flow of new ideas. We’re especially excited about the gorgeous blown glass drip-tips that Teena started making for Alice in Vapeland. And, in keeping with American-made craftsmanship, Teena hand-makes everything in her own studio.
SPINFUEL: Can you tell us a little about your plans for the rest of 2012 and beyond?
AiV: We want to keep doing what we’re doing, grow slowly, and get better. Our community gives us wonderful feedback that we take to heart. We want to continue to help people vape safely, happily, and deliciously.
SPINFUEL: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. We truly enjoyed your eLiquids. You made some new fans here today. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers? Any tips or tricks to getting the most out of your eLiquids? The floor is yours…
AiV: Thanks for giving us a vape! We would like to say, when it comes to vaping, it’s like a choosing a good restaurant: it depends on what you’re craving. Sometimes you want an old favorite, and sometimes, something spicy! Vape to your mood. Have an arsenal of juices – things that go with happy times, worky times, party times, and melancholy times. And, most of all, we hope our customers keep sharing and chatting with us! We’ve met so many amazing people on this journey. It’s changed us forever.