by Tim Roche March 18, 2018


HotVapes are veterans of the e-cigarette and e-juice world, who have long-standing roots in the industry. Their story starts out of necessity and innovation, leading to success.

The genesis of HotVapes was like the genesis of so many other good ideas — it came from necessity.

Good things can happen when you’re set on making a change and trying something new. Hard work follows when you need that change to be successful. That, in a nutshell, is what led to start of HotVapes back in 2010.

The change came in 2009 when Helen Kozenko, the co-owner of HotVapes, bought an e-cigarette, determined to replace her actual cigarette habit with one of those new-fangled devices she’d read about on the Internet.

And it worked.

“I said ‘Wow, that’s amazing,’ ” says Tim Roche, who is HotVapes’ other co-owner. At the time, the two of them were looking for a different career path and that’s when the idea struck.

Hey, let’s sell these e-cigarettes,” Roche remembers saying. “If it works for you, it’s going to work for other people.”

Keep in mind this was 2009 — which seems like a lifetime ago in the fast-moving smoke shop world. It was a time before there were a thousand different e-cigarettes and vaporizers on the market, when people who were into e-cigarettes were still a somewhat exclusive club and “vaping” wasn’t in the dictionary yet.

The e-cig and vaping worlds have brought us so many companies since that time, some of them stuck it out and some of them tried and failed. HotVapes is in the first group. It’s remained true to its original mission, built a loyal following of distributors and customers and remains comfortable with its place in the industry — which, these days, is a leading maker of e-cig juices, more than 150 different flavors.

In a sense, Kozenko and Roche were betting on the future, betting that e-cig were going to take off and they’d be on the ground floor. History will prove them correct.

“This is really something that’s interesting and I think it’s something that’s really going to grow,” Roche said at the time.

And today?

“It was the opportunity,” he says. “And it was the right time.”

When HotVapes got off the ground, Roche and Kozenko quickly realized that e-juice could be one of the things that set them apart. Kozenko wanted to make and sell their own, so she dug into the vaping world and made it happen.

“Helen just kind of figured it out and had a knack for it,” Roche says.

As a whole, the vape world and the smoke-shop industry weren’t where they are today, with an overwhelming knowledge about these products available. Back then, you had to seek it out.

“At the time,” Roche says, “it was real popular to have vaping clubs. Because it was so new, we traded a lot of info.”

So HotVapes started making its own e-juices while also importing and distributing e-cig devices that complemented the juices. Today, their operation also includes a brick-and-mortar store in Chicago, where the company was born, and a licensee who has a HotVapes store in Dayton, Ohio.

The demand from the public was almost immediate once HotVapes launched. Within two years, Roche says the business was “legit” and by 2013 it was “skyrocketing.” What’s kept them going, more than the e-cig devices themselves, is the large variety of juices.

HotVapes has ridden every wave in the e-juice trend, including formulating candy and cereal flavors when that was the big thing, all the way to today, where it seems like more customers find the flavor they like and stick to it. Back in the day, when people were dreaming up e-juice flavors, HotVapes would listen to its customers and make what was in-demand.

“When we launched our website in 2010, we launched it with 10 flavors and today we have over 150,” Roche says. “Over the course of time, there are certainly some flavors that are best sellers. We do have quite a lot of choices.”

That’s something that’s kept HotVapes relevant and popular as the vaporizer and e-cig industry was flooded with competition the past few years. Whereas starting this type of company for Roche and Kozenko was a dive into the unknown, for many people today, it’s diving into a bustling marketplace and trying to get noticed.

“We’re fortunate because we’d been around pretty early on in the industry,” Roche says. “We had clients that we built up from a long time ago, that’s our bread and butter.”

That’s the advantage of being veterans in a marketplace that’s filled with newcomers.

“Being around and not having to worry about continually marketing all that time,” Roche says. “To be in a position where that’s not as pressing is a good position to be in.”

Instead, that means HotVapes can focus on its true mission these days: Keeping those loyal customers happy.

“We make sure these customers are taken care of,” Roche says. “We’re still very much focused on making sure we’re able to get customers something they want.”

reprinted from our Vendor Spotlight in ERB Magazine.

View the original article here -

Tim Roche
Tim Roche