As is customary now, with every “new to Spinfuel” eLiquid brand we review, we like to sit with the owner or representative and talk about the company, the eLiquids, and maybe even a bit of personal attitudes about electronic cigarettes and the vaping industry. Below is our interview with Cyclops Vapor. Enjoy!
Spinfuel: Is there a special meaning behind the name and the mythology behind Cyclops Vapor?
The Cyclops is a race of one-eyed giants in Greek Mythology, well known for their craftsmanship. It was the Cyclops who forged weapons for the Gods including Zeus’ iconic thunderbolt. That incredible craftsmanship coupled with the fact that I have only one good eye and my partner is a 6’6” giant… well it seemed like a good representation of us.
Spinfuel: Why Greek Mythology?
Each flavor has its own story; a richness that we try to bring to it to deliver something beyond just the premium juice our customers are buying. We didn’t want to be just another brand with off-the-wall naming conventions. Mythology gives us a consistent theme we can work with, from the stories to the artwork and branding. When we work on new flavors we spend a lot of time digging into mythology and reading stories about the individual Gods, creatures and legends. We try to find the ones that are the most fitting to the flavors, and then we put our own twist on them. It creates a little backstory for each juice that customers really enjoy.
Above all else we just love it. We even created mythological personas for ourselves that we use in marketing and social media. I’m Cyclops, my partner Gary is Orion and our marketing guy, Derek, goes by Mercury. This approach helps us avoid that faceless corporate branding that a lot of companies do and it puts us out there with our customers. We’ve got a personality and a voice that customers can see, feel and interact with and it’s fun. They know who they’re talking to in social media as well.
Spinfuel: Your company produces two flavors right now, with a third just about ready to go. Why so few, and do you plan to ramp up in the future?
We believe in making truly great quality flavors, and that takes time. Each flavor goes through extensive research and testing over the course of several months. The end result is that we have a slowly growing selection of extremely tasty eliquids that perform very well regardless of the device our customers use – as opposed to pushing out a large volume of mediocre flavors just for the sake of having a larger selection.
We are working on additional flavors. As we’re discussing this right now we’re about to release Athena which is a green apple flavor. We’re also working on two more flavors that will be released very soon. In addition to that our growth to this point has required a move to a much larger space. We’re hiring a number of staff including another experienced mixologist that will allow us to speed up our research and development time without sacrificing the quality that our customers have come to expect from our premium juices.
Spinfuel: How long have you been selling your juice to the public?
We started working with local B&M’s in the summer of 2013, and our online cart for ordering juice directly from us went live about 5 months ago.
Spinfuel: How long have you been creating eLiquids? What was the first flavor you created that you felt was unique enough to offer to others?
Close to 2 years now I think, which is a long time in this industry. So much has changed. I remember some of the first juices I made while experimenting with mid-grade ingredients. The first flavor I mixed for a close friend was a strawberry tobacco. Even with the mid-grade ingredients it had a great flavor and was a decent vape. I figured if some lesser-quality ingredients could result in that I absolutely had to see what higher quality stuff would produce.
Colossus was the first premium “gourmet” flavor I created and was comfortable enough with selling to the public. I created it before custards were big in the market, and it quickly became my all-day-vape. It still is to this day!
Spinfuel: Tell us a little about the process of getting an idea for a eLiquid and seeing it through your finished product?
The ideas for individual flavors come first, we don’t even worry about the mythology until later. Flavor ideas pop into my head while I’m cooking. I love cooking and just make what comes to mind to try it out. Juices often start as one thing and if it actually makes it out of the lab it’s probably transformed into something completely different by the time I have people sampling it. I’m extremely picky about what makes it out of the lab, and even those few flavors that go from lab to sample level still get tweaked and modified for months before it even gets close to something we would ask our customers to pay for.
There are countless hours of testing across a variety of devices and then we rely heavily on public testing, because everyone has different taste preferences. We take all that feedback from testers and if we get the feedback we’re looking for then we move on to the process of digging into mythology, naming, custom artwork, copywriting and marketing to round out the juice into its own little experience.
Spinfuel: In what ways, equipment, vaping times, and other factors go into working with a recipe in order to get it ready to release to the public?
We have a ton of equipment in the lab for testing in order to ensure consistency across all the devices that people use. This includes clearos, cartos, drippers, genesis style, etc. We want our customers to get the most out of the juice regardless of whether they’re using an ego with a T3 or they’re a sub-ohm vaper. I know how frustrating it is when I get a juice and try to vape at .7 and the flavor completely disappears.
Beyond the equipment and working in a sterile, clean commercial environment we also source only the best ingredients from right here in the U.S., as close to home as we can find them. We definitely want to support the local community and our own economy wherever we can.
Spinfuel: Your eLiquids are pre-steeped. How do you go about preparing your juice for sale as pre-steeped?
Our juices are made in large batches so we can properly steep each one before they are shipped off to vendors and customers. Waiting for vape mail is hard enough – there’s nothing worse than getting a note with an order that tells you that you can’t but it open and vape it for another week or more!
Spinfuel: Boy, you can say that again! Safety is also a huge factor today. What kind of measures you take to make sure that your e-juice is safe to consume? What methods do you use to prevent contamination or other factors that can harm your product?
Safety has always been a focus from day 1. We started vaping so that we could quit killing ourselves with analogs. It’s up to companies like us to make sure that it’s a safe alternative for our customers – we have that obligation. That’s why we only use pharmaceutical grade base ingredients and work closely with our flavor suppliers to ensure that we’re getting only the freshest FDA approved ingredients. We refuse to work with anything that includes diacetyl and we don’t use cinnamon flavors.
Our mixing and bottles is done in a clean, sterile area where we utilize body-substance isolation (BSI) protocols similar to what you see in healthcare – non-latex gloves, protective eyewear.
We only use glass bottles for storage and for packaging our juice to avoid any issues with leeching from plastics. While there hasn’t been any significant studies showing that plastic bottles or containers are unsafe where eliquid is concerned, we refuse to make compromises around the purity of our juices or the health of our customers just to save on production costs.
Spinfuel: How do you make sure that your flavors are always consistent, that each batch or bottle delivers the same flavor and the same nicotine levels time after time? It can’t be easy!
Each batch we make it tested for quality and consistency before it ever gets bottled. We double-check the nicotine content not only to ensure that our customers get what they pay for, but also to ensure that the nic level is accurate for safety purposes. This kind of checks and balances is necessary if you want to market a juice that’s worthy of the Gods who inspire it.
Spinfuel: Do you have more than one person mixing eLiquids?
Right now it’s just myself mixing, with my partner and staff contributing input and ideas for flavors. However, we’re working on adding another mixologist to the team.
Spinfuel: Oh, I almost forgot, how long are your juices steeped before they are ready to ship to customers?
Our juice has a 4 day minimum steep time before we’ll ship it out. At that point, with shipping time included, it will typically hit a 6-7 day pre-steep before customers open the package. We turn over inventory fairly quickly so our liquids never sit for long in our warehouse.
Spinfuel: How is your eLiquids packaged, and what sizes do you offer your customers?
We use glass bottles for both sizes that we offer, which is a .5oz (15ml) and 1oz (approx.. 35ml) filled right to the top. There’s very little empty space in the neck of the bottle. Our smaller bottles include a dropper cap and all bottles are factory-sealed to prevent tampering so customers always get the juice the way it was manufactured as we intended.
The bottles are labeled with a UV protective coating so if a customer spills a little juice it can be easily wiped away without soaking into the label – no harm done. We put a lot of time and attention into the production so that our customers can enjoy our juice without worrying about the little things.
Spinfuel: Why is American Made e-Juice so important to you? (If it is) Before you became an eJuice flavorists/creator/mixologist, was “buying American” as it pertained to eLiquids important you personally?
“Made in the USA” is very important to us. We source every ingredient from the US because we believe in supporting our economy. Beyond that, we’re dealing with products that are not yet regulated so there’s a safety concern as well. We’ve carefully selected partners in the US we trust to provide Cyclops Vapor with the safest ingredients right down to the nicotine because it falls on us to set the bar and make sure we are putting out a safe, quality product.
Everyone on our staff have always vaped American-made liquid from reputable vendors. I started vaping so I could live longer and set a good example for my children, and we’re just not sure what goes into liquid and ingredients from other countries. We’ve met people around the globe that are as passionate as we are about vaping and smoking cessation but they don’t always share our passion and caution about what goes into the liquids.
Spinfuel: What is your idea of an ‘all-day’ vape?
Personally I love a good clean and smooth flavor, something savory.
Spinfuel: Indeed, my favorite as well. After a hard day’s work, what category of eJuice do you reach for? Is it different than your ideal all-day-vape? Is it to relax, re-energize, or just unwind?
Creamy and smooth, which for me is Colossus. That’s my go-to juice. My partner Gary prefers Athena around the clock and our marketing guy, Derek, is locked onto Poseidon.
Spinfuel: I think for myself it would also be Colossus. So creamy, smooth, velvety. Can you describe your facilities a little? You know, like where are your juices made, how are they stored and shipped?
Right now we work out of a small commercial facility that’s just under 1000 sq ft and we’re in the middle of upgrading and moving to a much larger facility (3,000sqft) to accommodate all the growth. Within our facility we have a designated clean room where our juices are mixed and bottled. They’re then moved to a cooled dark room and stored in large glass jugs to steep. Once bottled we wrap the orders in air-filled bubble bags to prevent breakage when shipped to vendors and customers.
Spinfuel: Nice. Let’s get personal a little, when did you start vaping? What is your current favorite hardware?
I started vaping about 2 years ago, same for Gary. I’ve got a nice selection of hardware that I move through on a regular basis. Currently I’m vaping with my Chi-you with a Versa Atty and my Billet Box with a Diver V2. Gary is all-day-vaping Athena on a Provari + Aspire Nautilus.
Spinfuel: Let’s get your take on the coming FDA pronouncements. What kind of regulations do you see coming from the federal government this year, concerning e cigarettes?
Gary and I both feel there’s going to be a hard push against online sales. Overall though we see regulation as being something that is necessary, especially where nicotine handling and ingredients is concerned. I’ve seen some scary stuff in B&M stores where employees are just mixing at the counter and have no clue what they’re doing and they’re doing it in ways that aren’t clean or sterile. That’s not safe. We definitely need some regulations in place that are going to make this industry safer.
Spinfuel: I had this discussion the other day with another vendor is also believes there will be a ‘hard push’ against online sales. I hope you are both wrong. As much as I love the idea of brick and mortar stores popping up around the country, it will be a grave mistake to make it illegal to buy online. After all, you can buy wine online. There will be a lot of pushback from vendors, and ourselves actually, should there be a proposal to ban online sales. We all agree that there needs to be regulations, and this mixing on the back counter thing is all too prevalent these days, our position is to handle B&M stores much like inspectors going around to restaurants making sure things are clean and up to code. But, banning online sales will kill this industry, we believe. Well, anyway, what comes next for Cyclops Vapor?
We’re continuing to expand and add new flavors, and doing it carefully which means a slow consistent release of quality juices. Our new commercial site will have enough room to expand our staff and we’re looking into creating a location that provides a retail space to sell juice, hardware and host workshops & local events here in Alabama.
We’re working daily to expand the number of B&M locations carrying our juice, and it won’t be long before we’re in vape shops coast to coast in the United States.
Spinfuel: That is fantastic! We certainly wish you all the success in the world. Everyone here was mightly impressed with your eLiquids. Before we end the interview portion, this is the part where I turn the floor over to you and let you speak directly to our readers and say whatever it is you’d like to say.
We definitely want to thank you guys at Spinfuel not only for taking the time to meet with us and share our story, but also for being a great source of educational information for Vapers around the world. For our fans, we can’t thank you enough. We’ve received an overwhelming response from customers and they’re the ones we’re doing this for. We’re not just doing this to make a profit; we sincerely love what we do, we have a lot of fun every day, but we take our jobs very seriously when it comes to providing a great tasting, safe vaping experience. We regularly hear stories from customers who were finally able to kick their smoking habit because one of our juices became an all-day-vape they could enjoy. Those stories make it all worthwhile, and it’s what inspires us to keep making juice and developing new flavors. I’m eager to see where this journey is going to take us and we’re thrilled to have so many people along for the ride. Vape on and keep an eye out for what’s coming next. There’s exciting stuff happening at Cyclops Vapor!
Spinfuel: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today, we are definitely looking forward to trying all your future eLiquids! Good luck in the months and years ahead!