SPINFUEL: Who or what inspired you to get into the e-juice business, and when was that?:
Stella Blues: I smoked almost 3 packs of cigarettes a day for a number of years and tried various ways to quit smoking. Cold turkey (failed after days or weeks) has always been the first attempt by myself and many I have encountered who smoke. Tried the gum (failed generally first day or two) and it made me nauseous even after trying several brands.
Invested quit of bit of money into gas station types like (Blue) broke after 2 weeks (failed). I considered prescription base like Chantix but was not given good feedback from those that had attempted this route. In 2012 someone approached me about selling vapor devices etc. and let me try some of his eliquids that he formulated.
So the journey began in Cedar Hill with a small shop and 2 small cases. In time we have expanded to a satellite store in Saint Clair, MO Philips 66 and our newest location In Fenton MO. Subsequently we launched our website and have continual growth in the eliquid side of the business.
SPINFUEL: You operate your own vape shop in Cedar Hill, MO., which came first, your online presence or your vape shop? Which one do you find demanding?
Stella Blues: Our brick and mortar came first then our online store came to be approximately a year later in 2013.
SPINFUEL: Are your eliquids available in other vape shops? How can readers find a shop that carries your eliquids?
Stella Blues Yes we have some stores in North Carolina, Wyoming and South Carolina that carry our eliquids. In addition we have 2 stores roughly 2.5 hours from us that carry our eliquids as well. Locally we have 2 satellite locations in outreaching towns that carry our eliquids and equipment as well
SPINFUEL: You also have a wholesale division, how would other vape shops make arrangements to sell your brand in their shops? How many shops carry your line?
Stella Blues: We have a wholesale location on our site that prospective shops can contact in regards to setting up an account. Upon approval they will receive a wholesale login which will re populate the pricing on the entire site to refelect wholesale
SPINFUEL: Do you go to many vaping conventions as vendors? How important is it to attend conventions, and why?
Stella Blues: I feel conventions are extremely important and 2015 we plan to be apart of them. Due to advertising limitations via internet the eliquid business is very much driven by word of mouth and social media.
SPINFUEL: When you launched Stella Blue Vapors how did you decide on your first flavor or “set” of flavors? Can you tell us what the first set was, how many and which flavors?
Stella Blues: Originally we came out came out with around 12 flavors initially focusing on tobacco based flavors. As our customer base began to grow we recognized the need to offer a larger variety to cover customers different flavor pallets.
Flavors of Stella Blues
SPINFUEL: Are many e-liquids to you offer customers today?
Stella Blues: We offer over 120 different flavors which cover (fruity, deserts,tobaccos, drinks, candy and bakery)
SPINFUEL: How would you describe the signature/profile of your flavors and how they differ from other eliquid vendors?
Stella Blues: As I tell customers we are not bottle to bottle. All of our flavors are layered with many flavors and unique, kind of like wine. To date we have never offered basic flavors ex:( cherry, banana, etc.. )
Steeping Stella Blues?
SPINFUEL: Do you advise customers to home steep your juice before vaping, or are do they reach the customer’s mail box ready to be vaped?
Stella Blues: Our e-juices are made and stored in glass in 500mil increments and steeped for 3-4 weeks before released. They can steep if they so choose but we always try to insure our eliquids have been properly steeped and ready to vape.
SPINFUEL: How are your eLiquids packaged? What information is on your labels? What sizes are available?
Stella Blues No one leaves our stores empty handed so we offer free 5 mil samples. We sell 15,30 ,and 50 mil bottles with a glass bottle option on all three. Our bottles have child safety caps, age requirement of 18 or older, warning to keep out of reach of children and pets (most important) Nicotine and or caffeine levels 0-24 in increments of 2.
Born on Dates.
Our eliquids are stored in dark glass dispensers and bottled when ordered, at which time we add requested nicotine and or caffeine. This is to insure absolute freshness and integrity of our eliquids when customers receive them.
SPINFUEL: Could you describe your ‘mixing’ facility? Do you have a facility separate from any sources of contamination, is it climate controlled, etc. etc. How do you make sure your mixing tools and containers are kept clean and sterile?
Stella Blues: We have a closed door temperature controlled clean room with regulated filtered air down to a .5 micron. Our mixing tables are stainless steel, with bacteria resistant wall shield of restaurant grade. We have a separate clean sink only area which is for cleaning and sterilizing all equipment and vessels used to make our eliquids.
All our mixing vessels, stirrers etc., are lab quality glass. After every use the clean room is cleaned and sanitized according to strict cleanliness guidelines and sterilization protocol.
Good bad or indifferent we use a tremendous amount of medical grade 91% Isopropyl Alcohol to insure that everything is sanitized to its fullest before being put away. In addition everyone is required to clean hands wear lab coats, shoe covers, hair nets, face mask and sterilized gloves.
SPINFUEL: What kind of measures do you take to make sure that your e-juice is safe to consume? What methods do you use to prevent contamination or tampering, or other factors that can harm your product?
Stella Blues: Our clean room is locked and access is limited to only a select few eliquid makers. All our eliquids are bottled in 500mil glass, capped, marked with born on date and stored in a locked cabinet for steeping.
After steeping dispensing pumps with nozzle caps are installed at this time the eliquid maker and myself will test vape the eliquid to insure quality, freshness, and accuracy of the desired flavor profile before being released to the public (kind of like what a brew master does with each batch of beer made) Quality is extremely important and that’s why we only make 500mil batches at a time and not huge containers.
SPINFUEL: What types of hardware do you use when testing your liquids?
Stella Blues: eliquids taste different in different tanks and temperatures so we will test in a basic tank on a basic pen set then go to a variable mod with a drip tank and different temperatures. What we have discovered at higher temps is different flavor profiles pop out which is very interesting.
SPINFUEL: How is it that professional eLiquid artists are able to make sure that their flavors taste the same no matter what the PG/VG ratio? How do you know how to adjust the flavoring, is it through experimentation or has anyone worked out the math? Do you know what I mean? Say you develop a Stella Blue Vapors flavor at the house blend of 50:50 PG:VG and another at 20:80 PG:VG. Without some adjustments to the flavoring the ejuice is going to taste differently. How do you compensate for that flavor shift?
Stella Blues Our main line is 45pg/55vg. On our drip line we have 25pg/75vg. When developing a flavor profile we have a concise chart of flavor levels that we note, adjust and keep track of throughout the development process. Some of our flavor profiles can take up to 4 weeks to get exactly where we want them to be.
Before releasing a new flavor profile we will each extensively test them on different setups. We also allow customers to sample and give their input which makes having a brick and mortar store front so advantageous to developing eliquids. All this input allows us to determine what flavors need adjustment and tweaking.
Upon keeping a flavor the levels are hard copied into our recipe book ensuring the accuracy of the formulas. One thing I have found alarming is that many flavoring companies lack transparency and extensive labs like our supplier, to ensure that the flavoring and base ingredients eliquid makers use are in fact safe to vape.
SPINFUEL: The Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team recently decided to lower our nicotine strengths in eliquids we review, and use personally, to 6mg and 12mg. 6mg for use with subΩ coils in glassomizers like the Atlantis, Subtank and Joyetech’s new Delta 2, and 12mg for standard clearomizers/glassomizers. That got me thinking; have you noticed a downward trend in the nicotine strengths ordered by customers, say from the beginning of 2014 till now? What is the most popular nicotine strength for Stella Blue?
Stella Blues: Yes the average nicotine levels have trended from 18-24 to more now of 4-10 I believe this is attributed to tremendous improvements of vaping tanks and equipment as you mentioned. For me personally I have dropped from 24 to 4 in past 6 months. A vast amount of our online and in store customers fall between 6-8. It’s rare these days that I see customers requesting 24. We advise against anything over 6 in our drip line because people safely is a huge priority for us whether online or in store.
SPINFUEL: How long as your “Sub Brews” been available, and how would you describe this line?
Stella Blues: All our eliquids drip well and some prefer or main line over the “sub brew” line. The “sub brew” line is smaller in comparison however as more customers are dripping we are increasing development on our “sub brews”.
SPINFUEL: Many eliquid brands seem to be coming out with a line of eliquids designed for drippers. Do you believe that dripping is a fast growing part of the vape community, and if you so, why do you think that is and do you think its here to stay?
Stella Blues: I believe that as tanks like the Atlantis begin to trend more people will like the drip lines however by comparison it is currently a much smaller market and considering many of our drip customers prefer our 45pg/55vg we have seen a tremendous growth in demand to focus additional flavors in the drip lines
SPINFUEL: Looking at your website, http://stellabluesvapors.com/, it is apparent that you believe in rebuildable atomizers and high-end vape gear. Do you believe that the recent Atlantis tank, Subtank by Kanger, and the upcoming Delta 2 from Joyetech will lead many more vapers into the lower-ohms higher wattage vaping as the all day vape method, or will it always remain a special occasion vape?
Stella Blues: We allow our brick and mortar customers to personally experience the bigger vaping equipment. Example? Atlantis on a mechanical mod. Almost everyone has said wow: “ that’s the vaping experience I have been looking for” Case in point we have sold roughly 60 of the Atlantis tanks in store in the past 3-4 weeks.
Now due to money or personal limitations people may not have the resources or desire to drip all day but in regards to the Atlantis roughly 80% either want to or have upgraded. The positive to this as with myself they are forced to lower their nicotine levels. In addition the Atlantis makes this spectrum of vaping open up for people like myself who neither have the time nor desire to drip all day but love the fulfilment from that level of vaping.
SPINFUEL: We noticed while exploring your website that you mention that you do not sell “knockoffs”. I recently wrote a column that seemed to upset a significant part of the vape community when I declared that buying knockoffs, 1:1 clones, and counterfeit vape gear was wrong. Do you take a similar stance, or is simply a matter of quality of knockoffs?
Stella Blues: We have worked extensively to make sure that equipment is of good quality and of value to customers purchasing them. If the quality and manufacturing are not then we do not continue selling them. Unfortunately made in China, clones etc.. are a part of just about every aspect of everything we use on a daily basis. Our biggest mission is to help people find a healthier alternative to cigarettes and all the harmful chemicals in cigarettes.
Since vaping has had a dramatic change in my life and health and whatever we as a company can do to make this a reality for others makes it all worthwhile. For us it’s not just about making money but more about changing lives In the past year we have given away countless bottles of eliquid, equipment, starter kits etc…
Just to try and help one more person find a better way. As vapors we are all rocks in the pond with vaping, the ripple affect will go forever, this is a significant difference between our approach and other companies with customers.
Social Media for Stella Blues
Follow us on twitter, very seldom are we trying to sell people stuff it’s more about being supportive in the community and paying it forward. In regards to clones etc., the fact is most people do not have 2-$500.00 to spend on a setup even though we both know the residuals are a hundred fold getting off cigarettes.
People love our brick and mortar stores because we encourage and support with many have stating “I can’t believe how helpful you guys are and not trying to push equipment and sell me the most expensive stuff” Our company has tried to carry more USA made products however several have not delivered what they promised which is a real shame.
SPINFUEL: Getting back to your eliquids, do you have a “favorite” flavor in your lineup?
Stella Blues: I have been working on a blackberry cobbler for past 3 weeks. (johny black) and I have been vaping almost 30 mils every 2 days (lol). Before that everyone had a hell of a time getting me off the Dead Head Light, I loved the vape that taste like a cigarette. The Johnny Black appeals to all my taste buds its sweet but not too sweet, little tart, creamy and this is why we have so many layers in our eliquids.
SPINFUEL: How many eliquids in your line up do you feel would qualify as an all-day-vape? What do you think makes a good all-day-vape?
Stella Blues: All the Dead tobacco line for sure, Fruitacious, Malibu Dream, Dezerted, Capn Dan’s Custard the trends seem to be more weighted towards the sweet vapes (candies, deserts,custards) I like the coffee vapes but not all day. A lot of our customers have breakfast vapes then switch to their favorite all day vape.
2014 – The Stella Blues Growth Year
SPINFUEL: We see 2014 as being the year of marvelous changes in the vape community. Many of us had no idea that vape gear would experience significant advances this year, nor did we see the explosion of eliquid brands expanding their lineups into high performance eliquids made for advanced vaping. Did you see it coming, and where to do you think we will see this time next year?
Stella Blues: I did see it growing and exploding but ultimately like fine liquors eliquid makers have to have a passion and love for what they do. I have had my fair share of very bad eliquids as have probably you have. Fancy bottles, fancy labels, fancy marketing yet it vapes and taste like hand soap (lol).
Example Jack Daniels still makes a fine whiskey the way they did in the beginning and consumers recognize the quality and care they put into each bottle that’s why they have lasted this long. I don’t even drink but quality has to be the number one priority. This is really evident to me when people will drive 45mins or more just to purchase our eliquids.
SPINFUEL: For Stella Blue Vapor what was the biggest surprise for your company?
Stella Blues: I knew our eliquids were good but when 15 or more people are waiting in our store to sample our eliquids makes us very happy.
SPINFUEL: Have you given any thought to what might be the best new product introduction this year?
Stella Blues: Equipment wise I believe the Atlantis has been one of the finest tanks ever made to date and I suspect will be a growing trend for 2015. Equipment is like cars they change and make fancier packaging etc but overall still does the same thing. Example: The Aspire CF mod with the Atlantis tank is very simple but an amazing vape delivery device. Anyone can use this mod, no screens, so adjustments just a great set up for under $100…
I find mods exceeding 100 watts are kind of getting ridiculous and most are finding the tanks, coils etc are the key. I would love to see a dual chambered Atlantis tank that would allow you to switch flavors without switching tanks (lol)
Future Goals for Stella Blues Vapor
SPINFUEL: Have you mapped out your business plan or goals for 2015? What can we expect to see from Stella Blue Vapor next year?
Stella Blues: Our Goal this year is to expand our line into more shops both locally and Nationwide. We have begun shifting our focus and resources more towards the eliquid side of things and less to the equipment which is changing so rapidly it’s almost impossible to keep up with.
SPINFUEL: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers while you have their complete attention?
Stella Blues: First and foremost encourage and support anyone considering switching from cigarettes to vaping. For me getting off cigarettes was a long difficult process. Without a lot of support would have never came to be. My wife and 4 kids thank all of you that helped me overcome the treacherous addiction of smoking, giving me the opportunity to live healthier and be a more active part of their lives.
I am very grateful to have been introduced to such a wonderful community. Last I would say pay it forward in all you do as many have done for me in all that you do.
SPINFUEL: I can’t thank you enough for talking with us today. We look forward to arranging a “sequel” down the road.
Stella Blues: Thank You for such a great opportunity I love The Spinfuel publication and all that it does for the cause. Stay Calm And Vape On.