SPINFUEL: Welcome to the pages of Spinfuel. We’re excited to talk to you today. Would you like to introduce yourselves to our readers?
Hello! I’m Geoff Braithwaite, founder and co-owner of Tasty Vapor.
SPINFUEL: Who or what inspired you to get into the e-juice business? And when was that?
Having been a smoker for 27 years, I began to feel the effects limiting my lifestyle and was looking to quit. I saw an ad somewhere about the Blu, and after researching these types of products, I realized very quickly that this was the answer I was looking for. I’m proud to say I haven’t had a cigarette since July 13th, 2009.
I purchased my first kit from my buddy Sean who was running an online e-cigarette business. I bombarded this cat with numerous questions about the industry, the products, the liquids… I was like a sponge and completely intrigued. After time, he stated he didn’t want to deal with the hassle of selling liquids and if I was up to starting that end of things, he’d be more than happy to steer his liquid traffic my way. After a little prayer and consideration, I thought what the hell!
I started off selling pre-bottled for Sean, but as my enthusiasm and interest in the industry grew, I began to notice the pre-bottled liquids on the market lacked the creativity and inspiration I craved. So I started reading ingredient labels and referencing flavoring/additive data-bases and experimenting on my own. A couple months later, I began selling my own proprietary liquids. I had no investors. I was free, clear and operating on my own capital.
SPINFUEL: Where are you located? How’s the local and state level situation there with electronic cigarettes? What’s the “attitude” of the people there about eCigarettes?
Oakland, CA. The vapor industry in CA has expanded rapidly and widely in the last year or so. For a long time it felt like we were one of the only options for e-juice in our area, now there are shops opening up everywhere and you’ll even see ego starter kits at your local corner store. I’d say the response is still controversial; lots of people are all about vaping because it seems to feel and smell better than smoking, yet, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently voted to treat electronic cigarettes as regular cigarettes, banning them at bars, restaurants and businesses. Sellers are required to secure a special permit, and e-cigarettes can’t be sold where tobacco sales are banned. To be safe, we secured a Tobacco License, though it’s not (yet) required in Oakland.
SPINFUEL: When you launched Tasty Vapor how did you decide on your first “set” of flavors? How many flavors did you launch with?
I started with a handful of single flavors, and about 10 premium recipes. I’ve cooked in a number of restaurant kitchens, so, creating recipes came pretty organically to me. Now we have over 80 premium recipes and countess options for custom blends.
SPINFUEL: It seems as though all eLiquid brands have their own “signature” recipes. Each brand is different, and I find that remarkable. With just a handful of ingredients each company is able to create their own specific traits. How would you describe your signature?
For me, creating liquids is more than just a business, it is an artisanal craft. I love being able to provide bold, complex, and unique flavors that people are familiar with and taste so accurate, they may never want to return to their former habit.
SPINFUEL: Do you steep your eLiquids before they are shipped? If you do not, do you suggest that customers ‘home steep’ them before vaping?
This really depends on the flavor. As a general rule, most of our flavors should be fully steeped by the time they reach our customers (they steep in transit). There are a few flavors that require a longer steeping time, and for these I recommend letting them sit for a few days in a cool dry place with the cap on.
SPINFUEL: How do you make sure your mixing tools and containers are kept clean and sterile?
We clean our labs regularly, top to bottom, and keep our bottles clean and sterile. Our mixers commit to regular cleaning and we have daily, weekly and monthy checklists.
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.?
The operation started with just myself. I would wake up at 8 a.m. and get started and not head to bed until around 1 a.m. Since it has grown and grown, I’ve found it VERY important to separate my personal life from my professional life. What was once a 110 hour, seven day week for me, has now dwindled down to about a 60 hour, 5-day week.
My wife Ramilya and I co-own our business, so we are involved in the daily operations, and spend a lot of time working together. We prioritize our schedules to allow for downtime and hobbies, and we encourage our employees to do the same. We promote a flexible work environment, re-arranging schedules etc. as best we can.
SPINFUEL: Safety is also a huge factor today. Briefly, 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?
I keep tight control over what goes into our liquids. We mix in OSHA regulated Clean-Room laboratories, use only food-grade, USA produced flavorings, and certified Pharmaceutical Grade nicotine. Everything is kept covered to avoid contamination, bottles are sealed when not in use, gloves are required, and the AC is constantly on to prevent bacteria. We are very strict about these stipulations, so I can say I know exactly what my products contain, and we can stand behind a product that is clean, safe, and reliable.
SPINFUEL: Does your crew wear any type of special clothing when they are mixing?
Gloves must be worn at all times in the Labs. When mixing high nicotine, Hazmat suits and goggles are required.
SPINFUEL: Do you mix everyday? Bottle by bottle, to order, or in batches?
We mix 7 days a week! Retail orders are mixed bottle by bottle, and wholesale in batches. We also offer a limited menu of “pre-bottled” liquids, those are mixed in batches.
We mix bottle by bottle for two reasons: customizability and freshness. Allowing the customer to choose nicotine, sweetness, PG/VG, and flavor ratios gives our customers the liberty to completely tailor their experience, freeing them from the otherwise limited options they may find with pre-bottled liquid. As many of our customers are ex-smokers, it is important for them to find will work best for them on their journey, and having that flexibility and control over the liquid, especially nicotine content, can be a huge help with that. Also, mixing the e-liquid fresh, ensures it will taste the best it possibly can until the bottle runs out.
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?
A little of both. Customers are always sending requests for certain types of flavors and we do our best to accommodate, but at the end of the day, quality and integrity are the most important factors for me. A flavor needs to be complex, delicious, and unique for me to put it on my menu.
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?
This has evolved over the years. I used to use strictly cartomizers, but in the last year or so have started building my own coils. Since a large percentage of our community uses cartomizers or tanks, we usually test liquids on this type of equipment. For our new drip-line, however, we always taste-test with mods because the flavors were formulated specifically for the mechanicals and the taste can change drastically.
SPINFUEL: What is your suggested PG/VG ratio for your eJuice? Is there a reason for that ratio?
The suggested ratio for our standard line is 80%PG/20%VG. I find this offers a good balance between vapor production and throat hit.
SPINFUEL: 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?
8-10 months if stored in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. Easy as that!
SPINFUEL: Do you have a favorite mod or APV that you use or do you use more than one?
I’m always experimenting to stay current, but I use the Smoktech Galileo, or a Nemesis most days.
SPINFUEL: Where do you think the ecigarette industry is headed? Are eCigs the future of smoking, or is the industry in trouble?
My hope for the industry, is that it is regulated. And regulated in a way that those tried and true companies that have crafted liquids, scrutinized ingredients and challenged themselves to operate in optimal conditions, can continue to thrive and build their brands, but not to such a degree that it would hinder the possibility of new companies to spring to life. Wasn’t America (partially) built on its ability to be innovative? This IS innovation, the next generation. We want to see it thrive. We want to see the American Lung Association wonder where they’re going to get their next check from, because they’re no longer necessary. We want to see the tobacco industry find themselves in a genuine position to have to be of assistance with all of the damage they’ve helped facilitate. We want to see Tasty Vapor be a known and thriving brand amongst others. While it would be great to be number one, to be quite honest, we’ve been happy to be the part of others’ lives that we have been and hope to continue to be a part of. The blessings and thanks we’ve gotten along the way, have made operating this company the pivotal inspirational part of what I do, and why I love do it.
SPINFUEL: Are you concerned about the FDA proposals?
Of course! Anyone in their right mind would be. Tasty Vapor is a proud member of SFATA, and we do our best to stay on top of all the local, state and federal politics. We consistently attend local hearings and show our support for the industry. I am also currently in the process of organizing a Northern CA chapter of SFATA in hopes that we can join together and hire lobbyists to help shape the inherent legislation. We encourage our community to engage as well, as it directly affects them. You’ll see a post card with this info in every single package we ship out:
ACT NOW AGAINST UNFAIR FDA REGULATIONS
You may or may not have heard about the Proposed FDA Regulations, but as a user of electronic cigarettes, now is a critical time to stay informed. If the regulations are passed, Tasty Vapor (and the industry as we know it) WILL CEASE TO EXIST. Likely the only companies to survive the proposed regulations will be those funded by Big Tobacco.
At this time, we NEED TO UNITE in order to make an impact.
- We (vendors, manufacturers and individuals) have a 75 day window of time in which to respond and comment on the regulations.
- By law the FDA is required to read every single response, and we encourage EVERYONE to respond.
- As a group, we are implementing a strategy – at this time, the only thing we are requesting is that the 75 day window to comment be extended to 180 days.
- Here’s how YOU CAN HELP RIGHT NOW:
- Go to www.regulations.gov
- Click the link for the proposal “Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic act … for Tobacco Products”
- Click the link to “Comment Now”. We know that a LOT of you are hopping mad over these regulations, but we ask you to refrain from posting anything BUT:
“A 75 day period time to review the proposed regulations is insufficient. We are requesting that the review period be extended to 180 days.”
- Please remain professional; NO profanity, NO angry rants. It is important we present a united front.
To stay updated and learn more about how we can save this industry e-mail: [email protected]
SPINFUEL: Why should our readers buy their e-juice from you?
Tasty Vapor juice is 100% USA made. We have been around for over 4 years and fine-tuned the art of mixing your liquids to perfection. High quality and fair pricing have always been our goals. We take pride in consistency, originality, and quality. It is Tasty Vapor’s mission to provide you with “Care-Full” products that are well-prepared, taste-tested and approved not only by the mix team, but also by Geoff, the owner.
Our e-liquid products are highly customizable. YOU choose flavors, milligram levels, sweetener, and PG/VG ratios. Then we hand-mix your orders in our OSHA regulated clean-lab and ship it out as fast as we can. Our flavorings, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are certified USP grade, and we exclusively use pharmaceutical grade nicotine.
SPINFUEL: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers while you have their complete attention?
I’d like to thank you all for your continuous support, enthusiasm and creativity. Tasty Vapor could not be where we are now without all of you. So THANK YOU!