After opening the second vape bar in Kyiv that is a part of Kharkiv network Enjoy Smoke, vaping in the capital is getting to the new level. We met with one of the founders of this vape brand – Zakhar Izmaylov – and learned how to make vape business successful.
Interviewer: Ukrainian Vape Week (UVW)
Expert: Zakhar Izmaylov (Z.I.)
UVW: How did you come to vaping and decide to make business in this field?
Z.I.: This is a long story that began 7 years ago in Kharkiv. Everything was quite accidentally. I received my first e-cig as a gift (eGo vape pen). It is completely different compared to modern devices, it is tiny… Completely another story! However, I liked it and used to dabble in vaping for some time. I was vaping, and then switching to regular cigs. In a year or so after I got the first device, it turned out that there is no place where I can ask for advice, learn something or simply buy new eJuices. I’m sure that the same story goes for Kyiv at that time. That is why my friends and I decided to create an online vape shop and a place where you could take an order. The latter was realized, but we don’t have online shop so far. Almost five years have passed, and our areas of focus and aims have changed gradually… Today, we have almost fully turned to offline shops.
UVW: How did you succeed in this business?
Z.I.: We were not the first in this field in Ukraine. But we were the pioneers of developing the business in the format of a club party. We have around 70 employees now, and all of them vape. Each member of our team is our former client, our friends. In other words, everybody who is interested in it. We’ve never considered vaping as a business or way of money making. It is our hobby, a way of popularization, a much better alternative to smoking.
We think that we do a great job. We promote these ideas up to now. Maybe, it is this position, that helped us to succeed. Or maybe because we were in the right place at the right time . We are not the only successful representatives of the Ukrainian market.
UVW: Do you affiliate yourself with those former smokers, who chose vaping? Tell us please about this shift?
Z.I.: I vape liquids with nicotine. Everyone understands that nicotine is a bad thing, but not everyone realizes that in regular cigs nicotine is not the most harmful component. This substance only causes habit formation and addiction. However, I believe that its adjusted dosage doesn’t cause serious damage to the body. I have never made a point of abandoning nicotine, and I have never tried to stop smoking, I didn’t want it. I’ve switched to vaping only because I got interested in it and decided to try. Today, I vape e-juices with 1.5 mg nicotine, maximum 3 mg. I have no aim of dropping it. Nicotine free eJuices are quite tasteless. Currently, the most important thing in liquid for me is to enjoy its taste and vaping process.
UVW: What e-liquids do you prefer and what kind of device do you have?
Z.I.: I like all liquids, and not very fond of tobacco ones.
Our shops have a wide range of juices. Anyway, we are trying all of them. We receive new vape liquids almost every day; distributors wishing to sell their products in our shops come regularly too. All manufacturers are tested by us, and of course to try all their products is our task. I even can’t remember when I bought eJuice for the last time. There is always something we haven’t tried yet.
As for devices, now I have an exclusive mechanical mod Sub Ohm Innovation, it is not available on the market. And I have never had more than two devices at the same time. Sometimes it is RDA, sometimes – tanks or mechanical mods. I’m trying not to collect them.
UVW: What is your attitude to DIY juices?
Z.I.: I have no biased attitude to custom e-juices. Once, every premium product was a custom one. Later it was improved, got more expensive bottle or a stamp, but that will be that. If the flavor is tasty, it is great. If manufactured product has its special feature, it is great. If premium segment includes something exclusive and special, something that the market doesn’t have, and manufacturers believe that such a thing shall cost more than a regular one, that is their due.
UVW: What do you thing the process of vape products certification in Ukraine should look like?
Z.I.: It is quite a tricky question. Honey is sweet, but the bee stings. On the one hand, even practically on the both hands – certification must exist. But the process shall be well-thought. It should not be a mean of getting manufacturers’ money, but rather a way of controlling product quality and protecting customers’ rights. In order one could market nice and high-quality product as the one that was tested and got certification. It would be a quality control mark for buyer and a solid argument for retailer. Otherwise certification will be useless.
The rational approach to new legislation development around the world is to involve representatives of the industry as experts, who work together with business, popularizing vaping. Government shouldn’t deal with everything and be an expert in all the fields. There should be authorized representatives and companies. But now I do not believe that our country will develop adequate and well-thought system of vape products certification. Well, we'll see.
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