Vape Radio 47: Craft Vapery Brings Craft Quality to Your Door

By January 20, 2015Podcasts

Links We Discuss:

[columns] [column size=”1/4″]Ventury Capital[/column] [column size=”1/4″]Craft Vapery[/column] [column size=”1/4″]Poet eJuice[/column] [column size=”1/4″][/column] [/columns]

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

Randy Freer with POETS and Josh Krane from Craft Vapery continue their stories of how the project started
Three guys disclose that they do not speak French!
Randy created four flavors and NJOY picked the final one
Liquids are getting increasingly complex with many layers.
Josh from Craft has tested over 1500 brands and says a lack of artificial flavors is what separates the good from the bad
Retail price is $23 for a 30 ml and can be purchases individually plus get a discount by mentioning vapementors!.

Norm Bour:

Hey everybody! Welcome back. This is Vape News Radio, the voice of vaping, for show number 47. We’re knocking on the door of show number 50. We’re going to be hitting that soon, soon, soon. This is the January addition, and we’re doing something a little bit different today. We actually have two in-studio guests.

We have Randy Freer, with POETS. He is a manufacturer of e-liquid. He’s also a very … a well-known person in the connoisseur e-liquid market, which is really what we’re talking about today, guys. We’re talking about the really high-quality stuff that is still very affordable, so I would encourage you all to … the pursuit of excellence is really what it’s all about. Here at Vape News Radio, we’re always looking for the pursuit of excellence.

For those of you that are looking to get into the Vape Space, don’t forget, we have our brand-new, six week online course starting in February. It’s called, VAPE U – that’s the letter “U” – which is, Six Pillars to Vape Space Success. If you are looking to get into the vaping industry, and don’t know how, and you’re curious, this is a great way to do it. If you’re in the vape industry, and you’re not quite crushing it, this is a great way to find out what’s working and what’s not working. For other people in the industry …

Paul:

It’s like a challenge, “Vape you”. “Vape you”, it’s a challenge to people right?

Norm Bour:

We have two studio guests here. We have Randy Freer with POETS. We spoke with him in the last section, which is show number 46, and we have Joshua Krane.

Norm Bour:

All right, let’s get talk about this artist collection with NJOY. For those of you, who are watching on YouTube, I’m going to turn on the video camera. That guy you’re looking on screen is a very humble man, by the name of Randy Freer, with POETS. That’s P-O-E-T-S, and he has been a manufacturer of e-liquids for several years. He created this line of liquids called Paul. What’s interesting, is that … These are six, very high quality juices that have been created for people all over the world. Walk us through how this relationship started. Did you suddenly get a call from someone at NJOY and says, “We want you to do this?”

Randy Freer:

Yeah, pretty much. Daniel, from Pure Tobacco, was out … kind of spear headed the project, I think, with NJOY, and was at VapeRev. I got a call from C.J. and was asked to come on down to go over an opportunity, and the next thing I knew, I was flying out from Michigan. (laughs)

Norm Bour:

That’s awesome. To what degree of control did you have over this flavor? Did they say they wanted a flavor that tastes like such-and-such, or did they say, “You have full, full control, Randy.”

Randy Freer:

No. They had some basic profile ideas they wanted to put through, but they let the creators go full reign on whatever they wanted to do. The only options that we had to … the only constraints we were limited to were, basically, VDK-free, tested, flavor profiles.

Norm Bour:

What are the nic. levels on these flavors?

Randy Freer:

I believe they’re offering them 0, 6, 12, and 18.

Norm Bour:

They have some interesting names here. Randy’s is called, Paul. By the way, that’s a very cool name. There’s one here called, Paramour, and that would not work for you, dude. Not that you’re not sexy and French-like, but… (laughs)

Paul:

That would work for you though, Norm. I think you’re a Paramore-type.

Norm Bour:

We have one called, Sacre Coeur which is French for something, do you know what that means, Josh?

Josh Krane:

I don’t, but Anne-Claire the creator of that one, is French.

Randy Freer:

How do you say it? Say it.

Norm Bour:

Sacre Coeur

Paul:

You didn’t say it very well. How did you say it?

Norm Bour:

How do … How is it pronounced?

Josh Krane:

I’m the wrong person to put on the spot here. I believe it’s Sacre Coeur

Norm Bour:

We have three guys, who can barely speak English, so we’re not even going to go into the French dictionary. We’ve got Paramour, we have Randy’s, which is Paul, and we have Hedon’s Bite, which I think is a pretty awesome name too. Who made Hedon’s Bite?

Josh Krane:

I believe, that one, Hedon’s Bite is George, from Mr. Good Vape.

Norm Bour:

George, from Mr. Good Vape, another company, that we have a good relationship with. We actually, interviewed Randy with Mr. Good Vape, as far our Masters of Vape book. Then we have Samba Sun. When you came up with this flavor, is it something that you had to … This was a lot of pressure for a guy, who’s humble. Who, basically, is very, very soft-spoken, and suddenly, you’re asked to create something for the world-wide market. Dude, that’s a lot of pressure!

Randy Freer:

Yeah, it was interesting. It was one where I, kind of, had to take the hat off and just go and do something different. The best way to put it; It was a new box of crayons to color with.

Norm Bour:

How many different alliterations did you have to come up with before you came up with the one that you think was the best?

Randy Freer:            Well, I gave them four formulas, so I, basically, did one-a-day. Paul, actually, was the last day, last hour creation. That was kind of an odd one.

Norm Bour:

So you’ve tasted the other four juices, and you’re thoughts?

Randy Freer:

They’re all good, and I don’t mean that lightly. If a good juice isn’t good, it’s not in my wheel house. It doesn’t mean that someone else might not like it. Even things like, Hedon’s Bite, I am not a melon fan in the least, but I actually vape Hedon’s Bite. The complexity of it, and the layers of it, present more than just the melon. They’re all profiles that come across as they were intended.

Josh Krane:

So how would you describe yours then?

Randy Freer:

Mine’s crazy!

Josh Krane:

Mine’s just crazy, that’s all.

Randy Freer:

No, I’m trying to remember it because it was literally, the last hour before I flew out, that it was created.

Norm Bour:

Did you have to put the formula in a vault like Coca Cola, to the point of, if you tell me the formula, you’re going to have to kill me?

Randy Freer:

I don’t even know the formula anymore because it was written down within that last hour and then I had to hand it off.

Josh Krane:

What’s the flavor though? Anything?

Randy Freer:

In essence, what it was supposed to be, is a double chocolate, chai-tea latte.

Norm Bour:

That sounds interesting. I’m a chocolate fiend, man. So, let me ask you, for the average person, how do they know really awesome stuff from crap?

Randy Freer:

A lot of that is going to come with time and experience.

Josh Krane:

Definitely. The experience.

Norm Bour:

Here we have, Joshua Krane. Let me turn the vid cam on him. Share with us … If you had to speculate how many e-liquids you have tested, and vetted to come up with the Craft Vapory ideal solution. How many liquids do you think you’ve vaped over the years?

Josh Krane:

Brands or flavors?

Norm Bour:

I would say flavors.

Josh Krane:

We’re well over 1500.

Norm Bour:

How many different brands do you think?

Josh Krane:

Easily, 3-, 400 at this point.

Norm Bour:

That’s a lot. What makes something really good from something that really sucks?

Josh Krane:

A lack of an artificial flavor has become one of the most important things for me. When you first start vaping, they all taste good because it’s new, and novel, and you haven’t developed the palette to be able to discern the individual constituent parts. I think the more you do it, the more your palette refines itself. You begin to notice what has too much sucralose in it, what’s using an overly-artificial melon flavor, and when you get those experiences, they stick out to you. It’s kind of like you’re building a personal data base of what’s good, and what resonates with you, in terms of a good flavor.

Then you can make some pretty-quick correlations to quality from there as well because the better flavor constituent parts, they are of a higher quality, they cost more to work with … You begin to recognized those patterns. I can, immediately tell sucralose in a flavor now. When we first got started … When I first got started in vaping, I just thought, “Oh, that’s sweet.” What you tend to find is that there’s a natural sweetness to some of these flavors, and then some add some sweetener to it, to amp up that sweetness. That, to me, now rings as very artificial in the overall palette, and the overall taste of that flavor.

Norm Bour:

For quite some time, I’ve equated, and I’m not the only one, e-liquid with wine. When you’re a young kid, you drink anything because you want to get drunk, and then you start developing a little bit of a better taste for wine. Then you start developing a better taste and a better budget for wine. To the point of, by the time you’re a connoisseur, you know the good stuff from the bad stuff and you’re going to buy the good stuff as long as you have the budget for it. What’s interesting is that you don’t … What are the prices of these? Do these come only as a set of five, or can you get them individually?

Josh Krane:

No. They’re all sold individually. The average retail price for them is around $23.

Norm Bour:

Okay, it’s $23 for how big of a size?

Josh Krane:

For a 30 mL bottle.

Norm Bour:

That’s not that bad.

Josh Krane:

It’s in-line with everything else that’s out there, specifically, in that quality range. There are 30 mL bottles that are considered premium, or ultra-premium. It’s a very fair price, considering the other juices that are out there on the market at the same volume.

Norm Bour:

Okay. Is there a discount if you get the set of five?

Josh Krane:

It depends on where you’re purchasing them from. For example…

Norm Bour:

We’re buying it from you, dude.

Josh Krane:

Right. With us, if you’re a member of the subscription service, there’s an automatic discount. If you’re a member, I think that bottle drops down to $20.40? $20.50?

Norm Bour:

Let’s talk about your model here. Tell us about Craft Vapery and your subscription service, how does it work?

Josh Krane:

The idea is that … Very similar to walking into a high-end vape shop. Where you walk in and, essentially, you’re entrusting the barista, or the flavor jockey, whatever you want to call them behind the counter, with your personal profile. When you sign up for Craft, the first thing you do, is you select the number of bottles that you want. We have 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 bottle packages. The more bottles that you subscribe to each month, the cheaper per bottle your price goes.

Then you tell us your nicotine strength; we offer O, 3, 6, 12, and 18. You can also specify if you only want high VG flavors versus things that are more 50/50, or PG heavy. Finally, you fill out a flavor questionnaire. A profile for yourself. We have 16 flavor categories, things like, tree fruits, citrus, minced menthols, cigarettes and tobacco flavors, baked goods, candies, and you “yum” or “yuck” any combination of those 16 categories. In that, you give us a tremendous amount of data about what you like. What you don’t like.

I have a team of expert curators that hand curate each box. They pair that with a hand-written note, little bag of M&Ms, which we call a palette cleanser, and then they ship you their best matches for your flavor profile based on the 102 brands that we carry. What we do is we know what we sent you the month before, and the month before that. We also know what you’ve ranked and rated those flavors on our website. We know when you post them on social media. We send each box out with a little ranking card, so you can rank your top three from each box. We use all of that data to make sure that month two is just as good as month one, and then month three is even better than month two, and so on.

Norm Bour:

Obviously, if they like one of the flavors, they can come back to you and buy more of that flavor.

Josh Krane:

Or they can request it in their next box. We do take requests on nearly all of our brands. There are a few that have asked us not to do that because their retail pricing is more expensive and it’s a way for them to circumvent the normal retail channels. We, obviously, love our partners and our vendors, so we respect when those requests come in.

Randy Freer:

Is this sort of like a “Wine of the Month” club? Do you have tasting notes?

Josh Krane:

It is, except that most “Wine of the Month” clubs will break it down and do four or five simple categories, where what we’ve done is, if you count the 16 for both the “yum” and the “yuck”, there’s 32 individual responses you can give us. We don’t say that “A”, “B”, and “C” fits into box 1.

Randy Freer:

Right. No, Cabernet versus Zinfandel or something.

Josh Krane:

Each box is truly individualized to that specific user and their profile. Similar to a “Wine of the Month” club, or a Birchbox, or a trunk club, even my dog gets a monthly box now, Barkbox.

Randy Freer:

Craft beers they do it with. They do it with cigars.

Josh Krane:

Absolutely. We took a lot of our early influences from the craft beer industry. Some of my partners are very heavy in the craft beer game, and there are a lot of parallels to be found there between … anywhere that you find an industry that’s making small production quantity, high-quality products. Craft beer would be a really good example there, wine would be another.

Norm Bour:

If someone wants to buy this collection, is it required that they become one of your members?

Josh Krane:

Absolutely not. Anyone can come and make a purchase, we do have coupon codes. There’s one right there at the top of our site so everyone gets a little bit of a discount. You get a better discount if you are a member, there are other benefits that come with membership. We encourage people to become members, but no. Anyone that wants to buy from us, can just visit our website and make a purchase.

Norm Bour:

For those of you who are listening to Vape News Radio, which is all of you because, hell, that’s how you’re listening to us right now, we’re going to have a link on our site that you will automatically be taken over to Craft Vapery, and you’re going to be able to get great, great service over there.

Where do you think NJOY wants to go with this? They’ve been rule breakers and I like always like rule breakers. Have they gotten feedback as far as what they … What’s been the response to this product so far? Is it enough?

Josh Krane:

It is. It’s actually, I think, been a tremendous response to NJOY. So much so, that they’re doing everything in their power to keep up with the demand for the brand. Which is very different than most new brands, the build is somewhat slow, until you hit that critical tipping point, then you start to, “Okay, wow! Do I need to hire people and move to a lab?” There’s a real tipping point for most brands. I think NJOY hit it right out of the gate. They’re in a couple hundred stores now, and actively growing.

It really comes back down to quality, both from the packaging and the juice itself, the flavor that’s in there. I have never seen a brand come out at this quality level. It set the bar for several different things in terms of packaging, in terms of how to describe flavors. It’s been a tremendous response for them and a huge seller for us.

Norm Bour:

Again, I work with a lot of people in the industry. I am very blessed to have some great relationships and I’ve got a good relationship with NJOY. I’ve actually interviewed them twice for Vape Radio. Both times, there were some things that were said that the attorney didn’t quite agree with, so we’re going to go back and we’re going to get NJOY on the air again because I recognize and I appreciate people who are rule breakers, who are thinking outside the box. That’s the way we are here. When we launched Vape New Radio, we were the first and we’re the only company out there that really talks about the business of vaping. It’s designed for the aficionados on the high-end, people who really want to learn and really want to grow within the Vape Space industry. Joshua, welcome, and thank you so much for being a part of Vape News Radio today.

Josh Krane:

It was an honor, thank you.

Norm Bour:

Our pleasure.

Again, I’m going to switch the camera over. For those of you watching on YouTube, that’s Randy Freer with POETS.

Paul:

He talks like a poet, he’s so quiet. We kept cranking him up and he just got quieter, so, he is like a poet.

Norm Bour:

Listen, dude, in all honesty, I am thrilled to have you here and here’s why. Myself and my partner, Maria Verven, we are writing a book called Masters of Vape. We’ve interviewed several of what I call, the really top dogs in the industry and you certainly are. Maybe you don’t quite have the visibility and the profile of a lot of other people, but it seems like your quality speaks volumes over the number. On behalf of myself, and Vape News Radio, we wish you awesome success with this whole program.

This is Norm Bour, we’re out for this particular show, but we will be back. This is Vape News Radio, the voice of vaping. By the way, if you’re still listening, we’re going to give away a free Artist Collection. Here’s what you have got to do, you’ve got to go and give us a rating guys, and be honest with us. You don’t have to give us a five-star rating, but we’d love even more if you could.

Paul:

Well, we need feedback. Particularly on iTunes too. Attract an audience.

Norm Bour:

Yes, so if you’re listening to us this on iTunes, if you’re listening to this on Stitcher, go and review the show. Tell us what you think. What we’re going to do is, monitor all you folks and we’re going to give away a free pack of Artist Collection here.

Paul:

Good or bad, we need feedback.

Norm Bour:

So this is worth like a hundred or so bucks, right? At $23 a piece. This is probably worth about $115 or so, plus, I’m going to autograph it, so, it just dropped in value. (laughs)

Josh Krane:

No. It goes up in value. The vape man? Come on!

Norm Bour:

All right. Well, we’re having fun here at Vape Radio, and again, welcome to 2015. Just remember to go out there and help as many people as you can. Whether you’re in the Vape Space, or you wanted to get in the Vape Space, just share the word, be respectful, and be polite to people. The vaping industry is here to stay. For those of you who think this is just a flash in the pan, it ain’t going anywhere.

Paul:

Vape you! That’s what I say to you, vape you. Well, that’s going to wrap it up for January, 2015. Can you believe it? Tune in next month for more upset from the only show covering the emerging vaping industry, in all its many forms, Vape Radio.

Author: Norm Bour

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors and the host of the award-winning podcast Vape Radio. He’s a vape industry coach, speaker, author and can be seen rubbing shoulders with the top influencers in the vape industry.