The year 2011 was a momentous one for vaping. Having been “around” for a few years, it hadn’t quite taken off in a big way yet, but the time was coming. At this point, Jvapes co-founders Jourdan and John were in separate, but similar places. They were working together at a fast-food place, but Jourdan had vaped since 2009, and John had never. John and his roommate, and inspiration for Cinilla Coffee, were both smokers. John wanted to quit for his relationship, and his roommate wanted to for his upcoming child. The tools would rapidly come into view.
John tried a few gas station vapes, but found the experience to be lacking, or downright disappointing. Enter Jourdan, and an EGO vape pen. After a brief trial, John ordered his own, and his satisfaction took off.
Back then, with vaping in its early stages, the local market for e-liquid and mods was nonexistent. They both recognized an integral part of any business venture: a community need. Jourdan, with his business acumen and experience, quickly identified that offering competition for mods that come from China would be futile. The business would be e-liquid. Domestic e-liquid, made with care for vapers. John, with his mathematical brain, set out to learn more about the process.
Then came the time for a capital investment. An order for a bulk of supplies and bottles to make and test e-liquid was made, and the process of applying their newly acquired knowledge began. They started in a garage, like many great companies did, and were surprised by their findings. John’s ability to develop recipes came naturally, and they discovered that their homemade e-liquid, even in a rough state, tasted better than the stuff they were already buying. Others thought so, too.
At the end of 2011, Jvapes LLC was born. With a business license secured, sales began locally and in a modest online store, made from scratch as John learned the website creation process on the fly. A problem-solving mind at work with Jourdan’s business mind.
2012 was a year of just that. Online and local, word-of-mouth, sales as Jvapes. They spread the word with business cards and local connections in the community through their existing business connections. The Jvapes business was steady, but it was still very much a passion operation. That changed in 2013, beginning with a 600 square-foot storefront, Black Drive, in January. The front 300 would be the storefront, and the back half would be the lab, in what would be a tightly-packed building bearing the Jvapes name. With that modest initial opening, the brick-and-mortar Jvapes was official, and business picked up a bit. In fact, it picked up enough that by June they would be able to move to a larger store, in a better location, while keeping the old store location as a dedicated lab in full. The Jvapes on Iron Springs is there to this day.
Before that move, though, things would change a bit more. Vapefest Chicago in May 2013 was an important event for vapers, but also for Jvapes and its future. At the festival, John and Jourdan were amazed with the gathering of passionate vapers and vendors. It was a world that they had just entered, and it was as if they’d started to gain a new understanding of it. The festival was modest by today’s standards, roughly 20 vendors, but it was a pivotal time regardless. To reinforce their surprise: they were greeted by vapers who knew Jvapes. The modest, small-town Arizona company with a modest website had made its way across the country in more ways than one.
During the event, Jourdan met a man named Lou. Through the meeting, they ended up talking for about four hours about vaping, the industry, and the production of e-liquid. Lou, it turns out, was none-other-than Lou Ritter, president and founder of AEMSA, the organization that would set the standards that would eventually be widely adopted for American-made e-liquid. This conversation accomplished a number of things: First, Jourdan realized they were making their e-liquid in an imperfect way. This is what lead directly to the store moving and the lab being a dedicated e-liquid manufacturing space. Secondly, it would lead Jvapes on the path from passion project to full-on business venture in a way that reignited their inventiveness. Third, he realized that in order to be legitimate, self-policing and self-regulation of the process was a necessity. Vaping, in general, was slapdash and immature in its early days, but Jvapes didn’t want to be that way.
When they returned, they invested heavily in meeting AEMSA’s standards, which can be found here. Lou, who happened to be located relatively locally, scheduled an inspection of the Black Drive lab. It passed, and Jvapes became one of the handful of certified labs in AEMSA’s inventory years before it would become the industry standard.
2013 wrapped up with more expansion, including a new, larger lab location, and Jvapes’ second store location. Jvapes was ready to expand their premium quality e-liquid to more passionate vapers, and their reformatted approach made that possible. More on that later.
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