THE SARCASTIC FRINGEHEAD VAPERY INTERVIEW
READ OUR EXTENSIVE REVIEW HERE
- SPINFUEL: Okay, first question; What’s with the name? Where and how did you decide to call your company Sarcastic Fringehead Vapery? I mean I love it, but it is unusual, no?
SFVAPERY: When we were developing our brand, we pondered several names. We originally wanted something “piratey” (which is totally a word.) but research showed that this was a pretty run-of-the-mill theme. We wanted something that would be a bit more outrageous, more unique, like our flavors themselves. And the Sarcastic Fringehead seemed like a great fit for that. Plus, he’s my favorite fish. How can you not love him? The cuttlefish is also very cool, he’s my second favorite. But “The Cuttlefish Vapery” just didn’t have much of a ring to it. Some of our fans have adopted the name “Fringehead” which we think is pretty neat, too.
- When and why did you decide to get into the e-juice business?
SFVAPERY: Back in 2007, the owner of SFV switched from traditional cigarettes to vaping as part of a transition to an overall healthier lifestyle. Organic became something that he was passionate about, and he sampled many organic brands of eliquid. But a lot of it just didn’t satisfy in the same way that the premium ejuice lines did, with complex flavors that were interesting and really added to the vaping experience, you know? And it was also difficult to find truly organic eliquids, since most flavorings are steeped in PG. He began experimenting with creating his own flavors, and after several years decided that this was a passion he wanted to pursue. The vaping community really is all about passion and innovation, after all! Although the Sarcastic Fringehead Vapery didn’t open its doors until 2015, it was a labor of love a long time in the making.
- SPINFUEL: Your line of eliquids are truly special. I vaped the entire bottle of Mermaid’s Milk in less than a day! So, I have to ask, where did you get the talent to create such great flavors?
SFVAPERY: You flatter us! In all honesty, it’s really just the result of some good ideas, some good people, and a lot of hard work. Flavor development takes time and patience, and a lot of love.
- SPINFUEL: Before you started your business, was there a particular flavor, or recipe, or group of flavors, where you said to yourself “We need to offer these to the public”?
SFVAPERY: Well, way back before vaping was even a thing, Chris (the owner) had always been a little obsessive about the combination of watermelon and peanut butter. Every time he went out for ice cream, he would get watermelon sorbet with peanut butter topping. Many a waitress would stand there, bewildered, pencil wavering as if waiting for the punchline to a bad joke. And yet he faithfully continued to order it, even suggesting on occasion that the combination be named after him. He was a peanut-butter-watermelon-sorbet evangelist. This forbidden love carried over into his vaping lifestyle, where he was determined to bring this combination into the public eye for all to enjoy. That’s how Black Flag was born. If you don’t ever try this eliquid, as least stop by your local ice cream shop and have them make this for you! You can thank us later.
- SPINFUEL: Do you have a ‘favorite’ flavor?
SFVAPERY: My personal favorite flavor is Siren Song. For me it’s an all-day vape that consistently brings a smile to my face. I imagine sometimes, when I’m vaping, people probably walk by and wonder about me, thinking to themselves “Why is she sitting there, grinning like an idiot?”
- SPINFUEL: What is your idea of an ‘all-day’ vape?
SFVAPERY: For me I would have to say an all-day vape has to be somewhat complex. I couldn’t vape on something all day that was just one simple flavor, like cherry for example. I need something multi-faceted, that builds on itself over time, which gives you a new experience and taste on each inhale and exhale. It’s something you can ponder without getting bored, not too sweet, not too zesty. As Goldilocks would say, it needs to be juuuuust right.
- SPINFUEL: Do you have a favorite vape hardware?
SFVAPERY: Typically we are big fans of mech mods in general, but sometimes life gets too busy for dripping. Especially when you’re driving! So I personally gravitate towards subtanks, which give great flavor and vapor production while providing exceptional convenience. I am really loving the new Subox mini from Kanger right now.
- SPINFUEL: Are your eLiquids created with any particular eliquid delivery system in mind? I mean, tanks, subohm tanks, drippers?
SFVAPERY: Since we created all of our eliquids with 100% VG, they are really ideal for subtanks and drippers. It’s a lot easier to appreciate the full flavor in higher-end gear. Something just seems to get lost in translation with the smaller tanks and battery setups.
- SPINFUEL: It’s always interesting to know what eliquid artists did before vaping came along. Can you briefly tell us a little about your non-eJuice background?
SFVAPERY: Before working at SFV, I was a novelist. Actually, I still am, but it’s more of a hobby now. I smoked a lot of cigarettes while I wrote, too, which made for a stinky office. Now my office always smells like fruit and candy all the time. It’s much more conducive to the creative process!
- SPINFUEL: Do you “Steep” your eLiquids before they are shipped to customers? If so, how long, on average, does it take to steep?
SFVAPERY: We steep our eliquids for a minimum of one week before sending them into the loving arms of the vaping community. We like to be able to test each batch for quality and consistent flavor, and that really requires us to give them a good steep before shipping them off. Also, we know that a lot of vapers tend to wait until they are practically out of juice before ordering more- no one actually enjoys receiving their vape mail and then having to wait LONGER before they can enjoy it!
- SPINFUEL: So you recommend ‘home steeping’ for a day or so?
SFVAPERY: We pre-steep our eliquids so that they can be enjoyed quickly. We do recommend, however, giving them a few hours to breathe before use. Since we use flavorings extracted in ethyl alcohol, the alcohol scent may upset some vapers. We don’t pre-breathe the eliquids because the alcohol carries the flavor and it needs time to disperse fully into the eliquid. But once they receive it, breathing it helps dissipate the smell and really bring out the best in our flavors. Most people don’t bother, but some are more sensitive than others.
- SPINFUEL: On average, what is the shelf life for eLiquids in general?
SFVAPERY: I think this depends on a lot of factors, so it’s really hard to say for certain. For instance, a dripper is going to be opening their eliquid a lot more often than someone who uses a tank. It’s going to get a lot more exposure to air. Some are packaged in plastic that may leach into the liquid (especially more caustic flavors like citrus) Some flavors dissipate faster than others and some change over time, for better or worse. We use amber glass bottles to protect our eliquids from leaching and light, to maximize their shelf life.
- SPINFUEL: Your packaging is beautiful, I love the sealed in wax top? How did you come to decide on the type of packaging you would offer?
SFVAPERY: Thank you very much! When Chris was ten years old, his father gave him an empty bottle of Maker’s Mark. It was a permanent decoration in his room for years to come. He’s always loved the classic, timeless look of wax seals, whether on wine bottles or envelopes. It fit well with our nautical theme and was a non-negotiable part of our line. The only downside to this was that our caps were not child resistant, which is something we personally, as well as the industry as a whole, feel strongly about. We’ve completed testing on a child-resistant cap that can be wax sealed, however, and plan to roll them out on all bottles in the very near future. In the meantime, we offer the option of a child-resistant dropper cap to anyone who wants it.
- SPINFUEL: Is American Made e-Juice important to you?
SFVAPERY: Absolutely. I don’t doubt that there are very reputable, high-tech manufacturing plants in China. However, there are an equal number of shady businesses, with slews of stories in the news all the time about pets dying from Chinese pet foods and plastic fillers being used in rice, and melamine in baby formula. If you need to worry about pet food sourced in China, why would you want to vape liquids produced there, given the option? For us it’s not even about American-made ejuices- if they’re being produced with the same questionable ingredients sourced from China, then there’s not much difference. It’s important to also know where a company’s ingredients are sourced from, not just where they manufacture the final product.
- SPINFUEL: How would you describe your company’s flavors?
SFVAPERY: I think that the words that first come to mind when thinking about our flavors are clean, and refreshing. Although we aren’t saying that there’s anything wrong with PG, ethyl maltol, and other flavorings, it has become very easy for us to vape a popular brand and pick out those elements. When we are vaping our own flavors, it’s just a fresh kind of taste that almost makes you want to drink it. But please resist the urge. We would never recommend drinking ejuice for any reason, no matter how fresh it vapes!
- SPINFUEL: Do you have a ‘specialty’ when it comes to creating eJuice? Is one type of flavor easier for you to experiment with, or are they all equally difficult (or easy)?
SFVAPERY: I would say that we don’t really have a particular specialty. There are accent flavors that we are partial to, such as rum and caramel. We have tried to create a wide variety of flavors because everyone has different tastes, and we wanted to try our best to make sure that we had something for all of them!
- SPINFUEL: When working on a new flavor: How long does it take to go from an idea to the final product, on average?
SFVAPERY: All of our flavors start with a very firm idea of what the final product needs to be. Our mixologists begin with somewhere between 30-50 iterations of a flavor, which are then steeped, tested, and judged by the team. The best of these variations are selected for a second round of iterations with those as the base. Some of our flavors took six and seven rounds to perfect. The testing and decision making is a time-consuming process, and generally entails months of work before a flavor is approved for production. We wanted to open our business with a nice variety of flavors already available, rather than release one every few months, so the last six months have been filled with lots of testing and tweaking.
- SPINFUEL: Is it important is it to use pharmaceutical grade ingredients?
SFVAPERY: To be honest, we have very little faith in the pharmaceutical industry today. That’s why we went a step beyond that to use ingredients that are not only pharmaceutical grade, but organic as well.
- SPINFUEL: I can tell. Are you concerned with the upcoming FDA regulations? Not necessarily for your company but for vaping in general?
SFVAPERY: I think that the FDA regulations that we all face in the future have triggered something of a love-hate response from the vaping community. Common sense regulation which safeguard vapers is welcome, but Big Tobacco would probably love to lobby for regulations so restricting that it would force most small companies out of business, in order to monopolize the vaping industry with their brands.
- SPINFUEL: How far do you think the FDA should go when it comes to regulation?
SFVAPERY: We welcome regulations that protect the rapidly growing vaping community. Things like child-resistant and tamper proof packaging, clean and appropriate manufacturing facilities, not marketing to children and so on. What would really hurt the industry is labeling eliquid as a tobacco product, with corresponding taxes and restrictions, and continuing to deny that it has helped so many people to quit smoking.
- SPINFUEL: Where do you stand with the opinion that the government should have the right to restrict people’s freedom to vape?
SFVAPERY: I believe that vapers should be respectful of those around them. Blowing giant clouds in the soda isle at the grocery store isn’t thoughtful, and hurts the vaping community as a whole by giving us a negative image. The mainstream media has made people so paranoid about vaping that many would welcome heavy restrictions. In order to affect government regulations, public opinion has to be changed. We do support age restrictions, but beyond that we believe that business owners should be allowed to decide for themselves whether or not to allow vaping in their establishments.
- SPINFUEL: Do you think, when it comes to teenagers, that ‘vaping leads to smoking’?
SFVAPERY: Absolutely not. Who goes from vaping a delicious dessert flavor to wanting to put one of those stinkies in their mouth? No one that I know! I think that this is completely bogus fear-mongering.
- 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?
SFVAPERY: We currently produce our eliquids in a sterile, commercial kitchen environment using all organic ingredients. Our team wears appropriate lab wear and uses sterile and/or one time use utensils for all processes, during which our eliquids are rarely exposed to the air. Our goal is to build a particle free clean room in the near future. Our eliquids are routinely tested for accurate nicotine content, as well.
We use only a 100% VG mix. Our nicotine is suspended in VG, and our flavors are also free of PG- they are extracted using ethyl alcohol. This is totally personal preference, just like with picking a flavor. We prefer this method for several reasons, including that we personally don’t prefer the taste of PG, there is no such thing as organic PG, and some people experience sensitivities to PG. We like that VG offers better vapor production and is naturally sweet, as well. There aren’t too many PG free eliquids on the market, and it is something we felt strongly that we wanted to offer. One of our customers recently sent us a picture of his arm after vaping an eliquid containing PG, and it was all broken out in hives. He said he routinely had to take Benadryl before vaping, which isn’t a safe or sustainable practice! He was excited to find not only a PG free line, but one with plenty of variety to choose from.
- 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?
SFVAPERY: All of our ingredients are measured precisely by the mixologist and recorded by another team member. Batches are routinely tested for consistency in flavor and nicotine levels.
- SPINFUEL: Speaking of which, do you mix bottle by bottle or in batches?
SFVAPERY: We mix all of our eliquids in small batches which are steeped prior to bottling and waxing.
- SPINFUEL: How many flavors do you offer today? Are there new ones in the works now?
SFVAPERY: We currently offer a line of ten flavors. We are working on a new flavor, as well, but it’s still a secret. I will say that the owner vowed to never create this genre of flavor profile- which is why we are naming it “Mutiny”!
- SPINFUEL: Oh I can’t wait to try it! Why should our readers give your e-Juice a try, other than my hardy recommendation of course?
SFVAPERY: We don’t expect people to take our word on the quality of our ejuice, because of course we believe it’s the best! Feedback from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are continuing to grow a loyal and awesome fan base. Anyone interested in learning more about us and giving us a try can follow us on social media (@sfvapery) or check out our website at sfvapery.com to see what people are saying about us and check out some other reviews.
- SPINFUEL: Do you have more than one person creating new eLiquids?
SFVAPERY: We have two mixologists, including the owner, who develop our flavors. The rest of the team is heavily involved in testing and critiquing.
- SPINFUEL: What advice do you have for people that are new to vaping?
SFVAPERY: Skip the gas station blister pack cig-a-likes and invest in good equipment. Support your local vape shop! Then experience the awesome community that makes up the vape family.
- SPINFUEL: Good advice! Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
SFVAPERY: We just want to thank anyone who has taken the time to check us out, and offer a 20% discount to your readers when they use the code “Spinfuel” at checkout on our site. Thanks so much, everyone! Vape on.