Spinfuel had the opportunity to ask Bryan Peck of Highbrow Vapor some questions about Highbrow, their company philosophy, importance of “going American”, and other topics. Below is our interview in its entirety.
SPINFUEL: Thank you for participating in this interview. Let’s start off with when and why did your company decide to get into the e-juice business?
Highbrow: -Firstly, thank you for the opportunity to talk a little about our business with your audience. We certainly appreciate it and hope your readership can learn a little bit about us in the process.
Highbrow Vapor has been live a little over a year now but the seeds were sown quite some time before that. As many of you out there can attest, we are reformed smokers that have a passion for vaping and our business model benefits those out there that have the same interest. We are a relatively small company that sells only juice. In turn our customer base is comprised primarily of folks that have been vaping for quite some time or have taken a quick liking to it and have spent countless hours watching reviews or scouring through forums and blogs. Ultimately what led us to the industry is the lack of customizable options offered out there for the countless individual taste buds.
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)
Highbrow: -After being introduced to the ecig a number of years back when juice was a bit different then it is now we spent quite a bit of time coming up with our own flavors which we preferred over what we were purchasing. For some time we were happy with our bounty but once the industry began to grow we felt it time to share our passion with others in the hopes they would enjoy our juices as much as we were.
There is a learning curve to making juices as with anything. Not to stray from the question but this it is interesting to me that some things just don’t work and this is a reality. Doesn’t keep us from trying of course but that is half the fun. Since flavor is often associated with texture and vaping has no texture it can get a bit tricky making a flavor for a particular person that wants a particular flavor to shine through. Another aspect of juice making we try and encapsulate is the essence of aroma and its importance in detecting flavor. A juice that smells good will more often than not taste good as well. Before I began my juice making journey I thought that making juices was much like mixing a cocktail. Nothing could be further from the truth lol.
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 Highbrow?
Highbrow: -We felt strongly that our fruit flavors were going to please a great many people particularly our take on citrus flavored ejuices. Fortunately our drink, dessert, and tobacco flavors have been equally well received by many which gives us great joy. When you enjoy what you are doing I really think it shows in your final product.
SPINFUEL: How is your eLiquids packaged? What sizes do you offer?
Highbrow: -We take a great deal of time and care packaging each order. Ultimately our goal is to give our customers the feel that from the ordering process to delivery and opening of the box that they made a good purchase with us. We offer both 10ML and 30ML sizes.
SPINFUEL: Who or what inspired you to get into the e-Juice business?
Highbrow: -The entrepreneurial spirit has run in our family for generations and with my own history tending bar during my formative years and working in the medical field for some time longer it seemed like a logical progression to combine my passion for two professions into a single business. I guess you could say it was a like tossing an unfinished puzzle into the air and somehow a few of the pieces falling to earth ended up fitting together rather well.
SPINFUEL: Why is American Made e-Juice so important today?
Highbrow: -I think in the times we live in American Made anything is important and in particular smaller producers that have a more intimate handle on their businesses direction. Having a relationship with your juice producer as with any product you receive is a luxury in our society. Along those lines America has always been an innovative place and what better industry than the ecig industry to let that innovation shine. Americans in general have different tastes than other countries as far as flavors go from my experience in the industry so I think we might just have an edge on our foreign juice making brethren.
SPINFUEL: How would you describe your flavors? (Subtle, obvious, strong, etc.)
Highbrow: -Absolutely depends on the flavor in question. One thing is for certain, however. Almost all of us as vapers have fried taste buds so a bit stronger is par for the course. We do have a number of flavors with subtle nuances that peek their respective heads out at times. Depending on the wattage in question this can create an entirely new experience even with the same flavor. This is what I love about vaping!
SPINFUEL: When working on a new flavor: How long does it take to go from an idea to the final product, on average?
Highbrow: -We are a little hard on ourselves over here. Some flavors take a long time and others take even longer. The ultimate point of reference is that I am not always making a juice that I and I alone enjoy. There are different folks with different loves of flavor in this world and I think that having that general knowledge going into the process can either complicate tremendously or simplify the process depending on the idea in question.
SPINFUEL: We received 7 sample flavors to review. How and why did you choose those particular flavors?
Highbrow: -Quite honestly we went to our analytics page and picked our customers top 7 most preferred flavors. A little blend of everything we offer in a single serving was the order of the day.
SPINFUEL: Safety is 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?
Highbrow: -The ingredients we purchase are lab grade and tested. We have relationships with our vendors and many of our customers which I feel is crucial and fosters accountability. Once in our possession product is handled with care using the appropriate equipment. Measurements of nicotine are auto-syringed with a programmable device that ensures the appropriate dosage is in each bottle. We have access to a lab scientist and a pharmacist and most importantly we just use aseptic technique when handling our core equipment and ingredients.
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?
Highbrow: -I feel the ingredients used determine the value of the finished product. Using pharmaceutical grade Nicotine as well as PG/VG is important as they have the least chance of contamination prior to use. Production of consumables is all about the least amount of contaminants prior to delivery to customer. We use distilled water but never filler liquids. What you get with our products is nic, PG/VG and flavor.
SPINFUEL: You develop some of your own flavor extracts. Why do this?
Highbrow: -Flavoring more than anything is what makes a product likable. When you offer something off the beaten path you are creating a unique experience for your customer. Hopefully they enjoy that experience enough to come back and experience it again. Ultimately raising the bar in the industry is what we all strive to achieve. If a high quality flavor was an ingredient in and of itself it would be second to none.
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?
Highbrow: -A little patience, practice and lots of testing.
SPINFUEL: How many flavors do you offer today?
Highbrow: -I think we are just a touch over 50 on the menu. However, since we are made to order and 100% customizable the options are limited only by imagination and the gravity of practicality.
SPINFUEL: Why should our readers buy their e-Juice from you?
Highbrow: -I think half the fun of vaping is trying new juices. There are so many wonderful flavors out there from so many different vendors I think it would a shame if brand loyalty were strictly adhered to. With that being said I think we offer something that might just be a future favorite and make it into a great many daily rotations.
SPINFUEL: Do you sell to other vendors? (Wholesale)
Highbrow: -We do.
SPINFUEL: Can you briefly tell us a little about your non-eJuice background?
Highbrow: -This all began with the birth of my beautiful daughter. Wanting to be alive and healthier for her when she was older was my motivation. Each day I am amazed at how I somehow turned a horrible vice into a business whose main goal was to help others such as myself kick the analog habit so they could be around for their daughters as well. Juice vendors have a great responsibility: To make a product to the best of their ability so that others may end the analog habit as well. The ultimate reward of this whole process is the thank you emails from our customers letting us know we helped in this capacity. Thus far this has been a humbling experience that I would not trade for anything.
SPINFUEL: Are you concerned with the upcoming FDA regulations?
Highbrow: -I think of FDA regulation as a see saw. On one end you can have none at all which can be dangerous and on the other too much can overburden and limit the potential for progress. Time will tell and we hope we can survive the storm as a smaller vendor focusing on the liquid aspect. A lot of folks out there in the business rely heavily on the internet to exist in this industry. In my opinion they provide a superior product but do not have the financial assets to back that up. Hopefully the powers that be vying for control the market both governmental and corporate can find it within them to look at the potential benefits of the product and smaller retailers less we all be stuck with prefilled carts on disposables.
SPINFUEL: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Highbrow: -Thank you for your time and I hope your vaping experience is a rewarding one.
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