Recently, John Manzione from Spinfuel eCigs Magazine talked with Chris Snuffer of Vape Dudes and discussed the eJuice business and specifically Vape Dudes. They even talked about a new flavor currently in the beta stages.
Below is an edited (for space) interview.
SPINFUEL: Tell our readers why you decided to get into the e-juice business.
Chris (Vape Dudes): Back in the middle of 2010 was our first experience with electronic cigarettes. We tried a tobacco and a fruit flavor created by a local business in Houston (I was looking to grab an analog at the time). Instantly we knew this is a product we could really have some fun creating.
Our company is always looking for unique items for wholesale and upon returning to Dallas we noticed that eJuice had not really taken off in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. We focused primarily on offline wholesale and introducing our friends and family to our initial blends we had created (Blue Honey & Buttery Nipple among a few others). We received really great feedback that drove us further down the path to creating Vape Dudes.
SPINFUEL: Who or what inspired you to get into the e-Juice business?
Chris (Vape Dudes) A good friend of ours that owns a tobacco shop in Houston. He didn’t inspire us necessarily, but introduced us to the world of vaping. The moment we tried the product, my partner looked at me and instantly wanted to investigate creating a few blends. I guess what truly inspired us to move forward was the feedback we got locally. We had no experience with any other company’s juices, but thought we must be doing something right. That led us to more research of the industry and to perfect our blends.
SPINFUEL: Is your eJuice available through any resellers at the moment?
Chris (Vape Dudes): The last 10 months or so we have really focused on our retail business online, although over the last few months we have started to receive many reseller requests.
Currently we are carried by a couple dozen shops in the DFW metroplex through a partnership with a local distributor. We are also sold in Australia now, and in various locations in the Midwest as well as recently being picked up by a few industry shops in Washington state. We are preparing our first wholesale order to Hungary and working on a reseller agreement with a new partner in Japan. With the current growth of the industry, we are seeing more and more shops popping up across the country, and the world, and they are looking to carry Vape Dudes eJuice.
SPINFUEL: Why is American Made e-Juice so important today?
Chris (Vape Dudes): Not to say other countries can’t or don’t create good eJuice, but I think Americans want to purchase products created in their own backyard. We find it very important to source all of our ingredients in the US. We value quality; consistency and knowing that American based companies are playing a big role in this fast growing worldwide industry. By the response we see inside and outside the US, it’s not just Americans that enjoy US made eJuice.
Also, I think it comes down to customization. Every ex-smoker is striving to find his or her “sweet-spot” in vaping. Being able to offer an eJuice that is hand made to the exact specs of our customer allows them to find the perfect fit for them and not have to settle for stock eJuice.
SPINFUEL: How do you put together such a large array of flavors?
Chris (Vape Dudes) The beauty of making eJuice is that you can find inspiration for new flavors almost anywhere. The sky really is the limit when we are creating new blends. The most important aspect is understanding each flavor concentrates and what you are working with. For instance, Boston Cream Pie obviously requires multiple flavors to create the perfect taste. It’s a matter of trial and error to find that perfect balance, but understanding the strengths of your concentrates really helps in nailing down the perfect flavor. We also listen to our customer’s suggestions for new flavors. Mint Chip Ice Cream was created this way, among others.
SPINFUEL: How long does it take to go from an idea to the final product?
Chris (Vape Dudes): We have a bit of a beta testing program at Vape Dudes. We value all of our customer’s feedback and take that into account heavily. As there is no rush to get new flavors to market, we will play with different blends and see how they perform over time. It can take weeks to finalize a blend, or there are times when we create a blend and we all look at each other…”put it on the site now!”
SPINFUEL: Can you tell us a little about your background?
Chris (Vape Dudes): Restaurant management and media sales. Most recently working for AOL selling Internet advertising. That has really helped to navigate Vape Dudes in the direction we have headed thus far online. Our “Vape Dudette”, Jen, has a background in customer service and is our social networking guru. Facebook plays a big role in how we connect with our customers and we are quite proud of the community that is quickly forming.
SPINFUEL: Safety is a huge factor today, and getting larger. Tell our readers what kind of measures you take to make sure that your e-juice is safe for your customers to consume?
Chris (Vape Dudes): We strive to put out the safest and best quality product we can for our customers. We work closely with our suppliers on consistency and quality assurance. We test our wholesale batches prior to bottling, but our retail bottles are hand made a bottle at a time due to the many variations requested. We utilize consistent measuring techniques to assure consistent level of ingredients in each bottle we create.
SPINFUEL: How important is it to use pharmaceutical grade PG, VG? Do you use distilled water? Are there any “filler liquids” in your juice?
Chris (Vape Dudes): We keep our juices simple. We source our PG and VG from reputable suppliers as well as our flavor concentrates. We let the flavors stand on their own. We don’t utilize any coloring or sweeteners in our blends. I believe the proper use of concentrates in the blends is what truly creates unique flavors and lends to an overall joyful experience of Vape Dudes eJuice.
SPINFUEL: Is your flavorings “organic”? Are they also “American Made”?
Chris (Vape Dudes): We only use American made flavoring. We use organic and artificial flavoring, but rarely cross the two. Our Naturals line of eJuice uses only organic flavoring and allows us to make a truly 100% VG blend if needed. With our customers many different tastes, we try to diversify as much as we can with flavorings and mixtures. Our goal is that every visitor to the Vape Dudes website will find something right up their alley.
SPINFUEL: How can you make sure that your flavors are always consistent, that each batch delivers the same flavor and nicotine levels time after time, especially since you create each bottle individually?
Chris (Vape Dudes): Consistency is king here at Vape Dudes. We take pride in our “recipes” and the quality and consistency is a huge factor for us. Making each bottle to spec allows us much more control knowing the exact measured amount of ingredients that goes into each bottle. We guarantee each bottle we ship…
SPINFUEL: How many flavors do you offer today? Which are your favorites?
Chris (Vape Dudes): I think we are sitting around 200 flavors as of today. So it’s tough to pick a favorite. Jen is really big on the Sweet Tart and our new Naturals Zing! I have recently been gravitating to the organic flavors the last few months. My current rotation is Shades of Grey, RB Float…and The Brunette (still in beta, but a Naturals Espresso with a few goodies added). I’ve really been into the organic tea flavors. Great stand alone tastes (offers a break from sweet), but oh so fun to play with. We have a lot of flavors in testing stages now that are being trickled out. When I’m looking for something a little sweeter, I always have a nice steeped bottle of Blue Honey ready to throw in the tank…can’t go wrong.
SPINFUEL: Why should our readers buy their e-Juice from you?
Chris (Vape Dudes): Many of our customers come to us because of our selection and options to customize. I think a lot of new vapers come to Vape Dudes due to our customer service. We love to take the time and talk to our customers that call and really explain vaping and how/why it works. I often make it my personal mission to help vapers find their “sweet-spot” in eJuice and hardware. I love to hear feedback from our customers and tweak their eJuice based on how they describe what they enjoy about a blend and what they don’t.
Ultimately your readers should buy from Vape Dudes because we care about their experience above all else. We strive to make customers happy with their experience…but at the same time we are here to just listen as well. Moving on from analogs is a life-changing experience. I try to get people to embrace the change in their life and help in any way I can. When a smoker is trying to make the move to vaping, sometimes they need to hear from an ex-smoker on how the process works and what to expect, not just what they should buy.
SPINFUEL: Lastly, What are your plans for the rest of 2012 and beyond?
Chris (Vape Dudes): We have plans in the short term for a larger facility and bringing on additional employees to help with our growth. We are not as interested in opening a retail shop, although we want have a location where locals in the area can come try out flavors and really just hang out and talk shop.
We are really excited about our international growth as well and look to keep expanding into 2013. We are also looking into the possibility of franchise retail shops in the future as the requests continue to grow.
Most of all we want to keep cranking out awesome American Made Vape Dudes eJuice!