Virgin Vapors Interview
To accompany our review of Virgin Vapor eLiquids we invited Annette Rogers to tell us about her company, her dedication and passion, and where the future leads…
SPINFUEL: Tell our readers why you decided to get into the e-juice business.
Virgin Vapor: Electronic cigarettes changed my life so I loved sharing this wonderful discovery with my friends. Then I had a moment early on when I was vaping a Bubble Gum flavored e-liquid and I suddenly wondered, what makes it pink? Of course the answer is artificial colors not to mention the artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners and goodness knows what else! I didn’t want to be inhaling anything that wasn’t necessary or as pure as possible so I set out originally to make e-liquids for myself. Soon friends and then friends of friends were calling me at all hours to beg for e-liquids and I decided to make it official!
SPINFUEL: Who inspired you to get into the e-Juice business?
Virgin Vapor: A friend of mine with some computer skills just set up my first website for me and left me no choice!
SPINFUEL: How many resellers stock your e-juice?
Virgin Vapor: We only started our wholesale division a couple of months ago but we are already carried in about a dozen electronic cigarette stores with more added each month. I’ve actually had to turn down more resellers recently as our current resellers can’t seem to keep our flavors stocked as they fly out the door so we’re having a hard time keeping up with them! I want to make sure we don’t grow too quickly and lose the quality of our customer service and product. We have a “store locator” tab on the website and Virgin Vapor is also now available in the U.K. and will soon be available in Australia, New Zealand and Italy.
SPINFUEL: Why is American Made e-Juice so important today?
Virgin Vapor: When I first started making e-liquids for myself, I ordered a small batch of unflavored VG nicotine from a reputable producer in China who I had researched as thoroughly as possible. When it arrived, there was nothing to specify that it contained only VG, it had no ingredients on the label, it was very dark in color and it smelled funny. I decided right then and there that I wanted to have a lot more control over my ingredients and that’s just easier to do from here. Gourmet American made e-liquids are more expensive but you get a lot more for your money. I know the markup on Chinese e-liquid and it is huge. With American made e-liquid, that money is going into higher quality ingredients, more safety checks and better taste. American made e-liquid also creates jobs for Americans and that’s particularly important these days. My employees all love their jobs and I love my employees too!
SPINFUEL: How do you come up with your flavors?
Virgin Vapor: I love vaping so much that new flavors just pop into my head all the time. I also get so many wonderful and creative suggestions from my customers that I never want for ideas! My new flavor, Lemon Rosewater, was born out of a suggestion from a customer and it’s just delicious. I have a specially tagged area on my website for “customer creations” where I give credit to my amazingly creative customers!
SPINFUEL: How long does it take to go from an idea to the final product?
Virgin Vapor: It really depends. Sometimes I get the mix right the first time, sometimes I make dozens of different versions before I find the perfect recipe.
SPINFUEL: Safety is a huge factor today. Tell our readers what kind of measures you take to make sure that your e-juice is safe to consume?
Virgin Vapor: Most importantly, I have complete control over my ingredients. My nicotine is USA extracted, lab tested and crystal clear, my VG is organic and pharmaceutical grade and my flavors are third party certified organic. I am obsessive about using the highest quality ingredients available and customers frequently comment on how clean tasting my e-liquids are compared to others so I know that all my hard work comes through. I also never buy, use, or have in my e-liquid facility any nicotine over 48 mg/mL and I only mix from 36 mg/mL. Many vendors mix from 100 mg/mL but I have always felt it is safer to pay a bit more and mix from a lower strength.
Virgin Vapor is just reaching a point where I am able to start doing my own lab testing and I look forward to being able to post independent reports on our e-liquid over the coming months. I mix all of my e-liquids in a dedicated facility that I remodeled specifically for mixing. I put in a 3-compartment commercial stainless steel sink to separate utensils used for VG, PG and nicotine to prevent any cross contamination as some people have allergies or want a zero nicotine product. I keep everything in sealed, glass containers and use individually packaged sterile syringes and professional grade laboratory glassware. Most importantly, everything is kept spotless!
Another thing that is very important to me is that I deliver my e-liquids in glass bottles rather than plastic. Plastic can leach chemicals into e-liquids and when you have bottles of e-liquid sitting over time or in a hot car or holding acidic flavors, this can be a huge source of toxic exposure. For the same reason, I don’t store any ingredients in plastic, I don’t mix in plastic and I use only glass equipment.
SPINFUEL: How important is it to use pharmaceutical grade PG, VG? Do you use distilled water? Are there any “filler liquids” in your juice?
Virgin Vapor: I think pharmaceutical grade is extremely important. I always and only use USP VG and PG. I just spent several months looking for an organic VG manufacturer who was willing to go through the process of getting USP certification. There was organic VG available but it was not pharmaceutical grade and was made for use in organic body care products. I just didn’t feel that was up to my standards so I went out and worked on it until I was able to get someone to make what I wanted. We are just making the switch to our USP organic VG and, as far as I know, Virgin Vapor is the only company that offers this. I always add distilled water to thin the VG so Virgin Vapor’s 100% VG is much thinner than most people are used to with VG. Full strength VG is much too thick so a tad of distilled water makes a huge difference to keep the e-liquids atomizer friendly! I never use any ingredients other than: USA extracted nicotine, USP organic VG, USP PG if requested, third party certified organic flavors and distilled water.
SPINFUEL: Is your flavoring really “organic”? Are they also totally “American Made”?
Virgin Vapor: Yes, all of my flavors are third party certified organic and either made in the United States or in the U.K. They’re also all vegan!
SPINFUEL: How can you make sure that your flavors are always consistent, that each batch delivers the same flavor and nicotine levels?
Virgin Vapor: I use professional grade borosilicate laboratory glassware for mixing to ensure a high level of accuracy. I also include a visual check between each step to make sure levels of nicotine, flavor and VG or PG are where they should be to rule out any errors. I am just transitioning from hand mixing each bottle individually to batch mixing so I will be adding protocols to test for nicotine levels by the batch. I have probably hand mixed close to 100,000 bottles of e-liquids with almost no errors due to my strict protocols, so batch mixing is relatively easy! And needless to say, when in doubt, throw it out!
SPINFUEL: How many flavors do you offer today? Which are your favorites?
Virgin Vapor: I think we have around 125 flavors available currently. My current favorites are Hawaiian White Guava, Dark Roast Turkish Coffee (for first thing in the morning!), Pineapple Party Animal, White Cherry Crush and Kona Velvet Milkshake. But I switch around all the time and I seem to fall in love with whatever I am vaping at the moment!
SPINFUEL: Why should our readers buy their e-Juice from you?
Virgin Vapor: I simply do not compromise when it comes to getting the very best possible ingredients. I love what I do, I love to vape, and I love making people happy and I put all of that into the e- liquids that I make for you. Virgin Vapor also has a wonderful reputation for personalized, friendly and helpful customer service and we won 3rd place for Vendor of the Year voted for by members of the Electronic Cigarette Forum. I’m just adding my first customer service employee to make sure we will be able to continue to keep our reputation for customer service as we grow.
SPINFUEL: Lastly, What are your plans for the rest of 2012 and beyond?
Virgin Vapor: I can’t wait to bring out our new line of organic tobacco flavors! My organic tobacco is specially extracted for Virgin Vapor in the U.K. and any time I have let one of my smoking friends try it, they either respond with expletives of pleasure or they say, “I could quit smoking if I had that!” I’m working with my manufacturer to make sure the flavor is duplicated exactly and hope to have the new line out soon. I sent out some advance samples and now I have customers asking me daily when it will arrive. All I can say is that I won’t release it until it’s perfect and it will be worth the wait!