Interview – Leigh Mendoza and Jennifer Higgins of Gen.X Vapor
SPINFUEL: Welcome to the pages of Spinfuel. We’ve been looking to talk to you for some time now. Would you like to introduce yourselves to our readers?
-We are Leigh Mendoza, and Jennifer Higgins
SPINFUEL: What position(s) do you hold in the company?
-We are Co-owners/Operators.
SPINFUEL: Getting down to business. Who or what inspired you to get into the e-juice business? And when was that?
-We started Gen-X in 2011, initially beginning with electronics.
In early 2012 we switched our focus to e-liquids in the believe that we had something special to offer the vaping community.
SPINFUEL: Where are you located? What’s the local and state level situation there with electronic cigarettes? What’s the “attitude” of the people there about eCigarettes?
-We are located in Northern California, I think there has been an overall acceptance towards e-Cigs. There have been some attempts to classify e-Cigs with analogs, but I think this is primarily due to plain ignorance, and the lack of actually taking a few minutes to research the differences.
But overall I think this is a good state to be a vaper.
SPINFUEL: When you launched Gen.X Vapor how did you decide on your first “set” of flavors? How many flavors did you launch with?
-We started out with 4 Flavors:
Gen-X Peanut Butter Cups
and Great Mellonballs of Fire
I had always wanted to see if I could recreate a Hostess Zinger, it was always one of my favorites as a kid.
And the Great Mellonballs of Fire that was just one of those strange things where I wanted to come up with a combination that you would never think would work – Cinnamon and Watermelon just seemed like the most awesome, unlikely combination that I could come up with, and it ended up working out great!
SPINFUEL: We steep all the eLiquids we receive for review purposes, even if we’re told there is no need to do so. It’s become a habit I suppose. Do you steep your eLiquids before they are shipped? If so, how long do they sit before you ship them out? If you do not, do you suggest that customers ‘home steep’ them before vaping?
-All of our 30ml e-Liquids are mixed at the time of order fulfillment and shipped at that time.
We normally recommend anywhere from 5 to10 days for a juice to come into full flavor.
We do pre-mix our samples, we let them steep about 1 week before shipping.
SPINFUEL: What’s the best way, in your opinion, to ‘steep’ eLiquids at home? Does Gen.X Vapor have an area in their facilities where your liquids go to steep? Like wine makers and their wine cellars?
I would say a cool, dark place is optimal, while I don’t personally think that refrigerating e-Liquids is necessary, for those people living in extremely hot climates it may help.
In our facility, we simply store them in a closed cabinet, and that has worked great.
With that said, I will add that it is very important that they remain out of sunlight where bacteria can form.
SPINFUEL: Let’s talk about packaging. How are your eLiquids packaged? Not only their physical appearance, but also how are they sealed?
We use standard HDPE plastics. I am very excited to announce that we are in the process of switching over to child resistant bottles in the coming months, it’s a small precaution but we feel it’s a necessary one.
SPINFUEL: There is a lot of concern these days about how and where eLiquids are being made. Could you describe your ‘mixing’ area? Where do you do your mixing? (Ask for Photos of general areas)
-All mixing is done in a contained, temperature regulated office space.
SPINFUEL: How do you make sure your mixing tools and containers are kept clean and sterile? Would you call your mixing environment a ‘clean room’?
– While at the moment it’s not an official “clean room” facility, we do strive to model the “clean room” concept. Our mixing and shipping areas are thoroughly cleaned once a week, at that time dispensing equipment is alcohol sterilized. During mixing & handleing of all open e-liquids we use lab coats, hair nets, nitrile gloves to also ensure that our e-liquids are contamination free.
We do have plans of relocating to an official “clean room” later this year.
Spinfuel: I don’t know if this is something you can talk about, but I’d love to know; do you have an “opening” and “closing” procedure every day? Are there steps taken each morning to get the place open and ready for mixing? Can describe a typical workday, in general terms, from opening to closing?
-Each morning, a basic visual inspection is made, if any issues are apparent they are dealt with before the day gets underway, or before work resumes.
Spinfuel: It is said that if you love your work it’s not really difficult to work around the clock. Having said that, do you and your employees find time to relax, get away from the world of eLiquids, and clear your heads, reenergize, etc.?
-Absolutely, it’s important to keep a separation between work & personal life.
We are both music lovers, especially live music, so it’s always fun to get out and catch a show.
I love to travel, it’s so awesome to get out and explore the world around us.
And Jennifer is also a guitarist, so, music overall is huge part of her life.
SPINFUEL: Safety is also a huge factor today. What kind of measures do you take to make sure that your eJuice is safe to consume? What methods do you use to prevent contamination or other factors that can harm your product?
-Aside from the protective clothing & items we wear while mixing,
once a week all liquid items, flavorings, nicotine ect. are thoroughly inspected for color variations, contaminates, optimum temperatures ect.
SPINFUEL: Let’s talk about nicotine for a moment. Tell us about the nicotine you use in your juice. What is the most effective way to determine the nicotine level in your individual batch/bottle?
-We use laboratory equipment for measuring/calculating ratios of the undiluted material as well dispensing once mixed in a PG base.
On a bi-weekly basis we test dispensing equipment with centrifuge tubes to verify accurate dispensing levels.
SPINFUEL: Does your crew wear any type of special clothing when they are mixing?
Yes, Lab Coats, Nitrile gloves, hair nets. And for mixing raw nicotine we have a whole separate set of written procedures which include respirators, protective eye covers ect.
SPINFUEL: Do you mix everyday? Bottle by bottle, to order, or in batches?
-To order for 30 ml size, and in batches for the samples.
Spinfuel: Does mixing in batching help with any steeping issues? Is it cost effective?
-I would not say it’s cost effective, as if a product does not sell in a certain period of time, it must be disposed of.
But, it does help with steeping issues.
Spinfuel: Why do prepare juice on a “per order” basis? Why is it better than ‘batch’ mixing? Do you mix the order directly in the bottle it will ship in?
-Yes, it’s mixed in the bottle it’s shipped in.
C: Other answer option
SPINFUEL: Do you have a specific audience in mind for your eLiquids? When coming up with new flavors, is demographic data used to determine what flavors would sell to “your base”, or do you come up with flavors that please you, that you want to vape, and hope that your audience will want to as well?
-We make flavors that we think will translate well into a vape, or if it’s something that is unique, as well as on suggestions from customers, family members ect.
I think even people who do not vape find the subject of e-liquids to be an interesting one, so there is never a shortage of suggestions.
SPINFUEL: What types of hardware (mods, tanks, cartos, etc.) do you use when testing your liquids? Is there any specific hardware that provides the best ‘vape’ for your eLiquids?
I like to keep my setup relatively simple, I switch between my eGo, and a few 5V mods.
SPINFUEL: What is your suggested PG/VG ratio for your eJuice? Is there a reason for that ratio? Some people want pure VG mixes today, not many, but it does appear to be growing. Can customers order 100% VG and if they can, should the customer order the juice with extra flavoring or higher nicotine content?
-I would have to say for us 30% VG is about the standard, we just started offering
50% VG as an option. It’s diffacault to do 100% VG simply due to the majority of flavorings, sweeteners ect. being PG based. It’s an area that we haven’t explored as of yet.
SPINFUEL: How do you make sure that your flavors are always consistent, that each batch or bottle delivers the same flavor and nicotine levels time after time? How long will your eJuice last if properly stored? By the way, how should a customer store their eLiquids before they open them and after they’ve been opened?
-This is a very good question, we’ve begun to test our flavor dispensing equipment with centrifuge tubes on a regular basis to ensure consistency.
As well, maintaining consistent recipes in higher nicotine levels was an area that did pose a challenge and we had to “scale” the recipes to make them universal for nic levels, this is also the reason that we offer 50%VG on e-liquids of 18mg or lower, all of our recipes were created on an idea that we would use as much flavorings as possible, and when you have, say; 30mg of nicotine, and your recipe there simply isn’t enough room for 50% VG.
This may not be the most sophisticated solution in the world, but it was a way to at least accommodate some leniency with the VG levels.
SPINFUEL: Were you a smoker before you switched to vaping? If so, what made you decide to quit smoking? Was it difficult to quit?
-I was not, though now I vape regularly.
-Jennifer was a smoker for several years, and struggled to quit.
SPINFUEL: What type (and/or brand) of eCigarette did you use to break away from analogs?
-A basic eGo
SPINFUEL: How long did it take to completely leave analogs behind?
-Jennifer- I went cold turkey initially, after failing on two other occaisions, then months later started vaping-which was a huge help in dealing with cravings ect.
SPINFUEL: Do you have a “favorite” flavor? What is your favorite category of eLiquids for your personal vaping? Fruity, tobacco-based, sweet, and so forth?
-Leigh: Mine is Great Mellonballs of Fire
-Jennifer: Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
SPINFUEL: Do you have a favorite mod or APV that you use or do you use more than one?
-Just a basic eGo, with a dual coil carto setup.
SPINFUEL: What makes a good eLiquid? In other words, what order of importance are flavor, vapor, and throat hit in a Gen.X Vapor flavor?
-A good e-Liquid is full flavored, and satisfying, with a very heavy vapor, and a noticeable throat hit.
Something that when you open the bottle and smell your mouth starts to water!
SPINFUEL: Where do you think the e-Cigarette industry is headed? Are eCigs the future of smoking?
-Everyday, more and more people are realizing that this is not a fad or a gimmick, and that vaping really is a viable option. At Gen-X we try daily both in, and outside of the work environment to educate as many people as possible.
I hope it is the future, and I believe that it is, the numbers are growing everyday!
Spinfuel: Are you concerned about the FDA ruling coming soon? Do you have any gut feelings about which way the FDA is leaning; toward more taxation or banning?
– As both a business and vapers we are concerned.
We are working to ensure that our operations are as compliant as possible, although only the future will tell as to the extent of the guidelines that will be imposed.
Lives, and individual’s health are at stake, banning would be dissasterous for so many people. We all need to be as active, and informed as possible on local and national legislation.
SPINFUEL: Why should our readers buy their e-juice from you?
-At Gen-X Vapor we take our eliquid creation as an art form, I think our prices are excellent, and we recognize our customers for what they really are; the life-blood of our company, so we will do whatever it takes to make every sale a great experience!
SPINFUEL: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers while you have their complete attention?
-Why YES! I would like to invite Spinfuel readers to stop by and check us out,
We are offering a 25% off discount with the code “spinfuel” as an invitation to give us a try!
SPINFUEL: I can’t thank you enough for talking with us today, even if it through email. We really enjoyed your eLiquids and we look forward to arranging a “sequel” down the road.