Vaping has a thoroughly modern history. Improvements in battery technology and mass production machining and manufacture meant exports of vaping products from the Far East met with another modern phenomenon in the West- Hacking or Modding- that is taking a mass produced item and altering refining it to do something else or something better. Almost everyone was a modder in the early days of vaping, making changes that resulted in small but important improvements in performance in the very basic kits that were available in the early days.
This was driven by an open source approach embraced on open forums. The hunt for those tiny improvements lead to innovations then mirrored by the big manufacturers. This was no more apparent than in the DIY liquid market. Bypassing the eLiquid manufacturers, DIY mixers began experimenting with the flavour components they could find online, often sharing recipes and techniques.
This became a huge resource of information about flavours readily available to anyone willing to look for it. Some flavours, such as RY4, had attained legendary status and attempts were made to copy or reproduce it which in turn led to new discoveries. The whole of vaping was suddenly a crucible of distributed innovation.
Many DIY mixers found that in their experiments they had created unique and popular flavours and demand for these began to rise. It was in this context that small companies like Manabush and The Druid's Brew were born. Their flavour-enthusiast owners had found mixtures that were helping to satisfy the urge for a better vaping experience that had gripped the market.
Rather than recycling old ideas though, these companies were looking to make something new and unique. Getting the raw materials was relatively easy- many flavour houses were now responding by making their vape-oriented flavour components available. These were professional flavours made with one eye on inhalation safety and another or innovation.
The flavourists of these companies are, in many ways, the unsung heroes of the vaping phenomenon. Each had libraries of tens if not hundreds of flavours, ready to be blended into something new.
Over time, many of the mixers who started these companies came to understand more about the materials they were working with- their successes and failures educated them and they refined their work.
Mixing flavours together and making something that is passable is very easy. Anyone can do it. Making something that can intrigue or fascinate the vaper day-in-day out for months is very, very difficult.
There are so many variables at work: to begin with there is the almost limitless supply of flavours out there. It is a blank page with no rules written on it; there is the vaper themselves- what they like, what equipment they are using and so on, ad infinitum.
Just when is a juice good enough to be released? When has it hit that sweet spot between interesting and acceptable? Should it be a strong flavour or would it be better to be subtle?
In the end the only way to answer these questions is to experiment- producing many, many versions of each flavour and comparing them- improving here, starting from scratch there. Each version must be fully steeped to its end point so that the final production version doesn't suffer negative changes after release. They must be tried in a range of nicotine strengths and VG:PG ratios. All in all, a decent mixture will require at least 50, fully-steeped versions to be made and tested in multiple ratios and strength across the full range of devices available.
During development the mixer will be thinking about establishing an identity. If this liquid is to be part of a range then this identity must fit properly with the others. A lot of thought has to go into this otherwise the result simply looks random and confusing. It doesn't invite the vaper to try others in the range as they are put off by some aspect or other of the branding or appearance. The mixer's job here then is to make sure they find their audience- to signal to those people that the juices might be to their liking and to encourage as much sampling as possible.
At some point, towards the end of this process, the mixer needs to establish all of the graphics required for release and to work out what will work in the real world, on a box, on a website and in the hand.
Done properly and creatively, doing this for one juice assists in creating the identities for the rest of the range. In the end each has its own strong identity and flavour that, nevertheless, fits together in a coherent way with all the others in the range.
It is a fascinating, enjoyable if frustrating and lengthy process. If addressed with creative energy and a tireless commitment to creating the most delicious and beautiful products possible then what results will be worthy of the serious consideration of any vaper.
To this end, working in partnership offers some unique answers to the massive amount of work involved in getting somewhere worth getting to- each mixer brings their own experitise with them- outsourcing to the other problems they would find intractable or punishing; this keeps the flow of creativity going: rising frustration is replaced with rising excitement; plenty of energy is left over for the release- alerting people to what you have created, pointing them to where they can find the juices and listening to feedback.
It makes it fun!
Perhaps the most important thing though is whilst you do all of this you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that everything has been through the most rigorous process of creating, testing and evaluation to make something you really, really like- from the way it looks to the way it tastes. To know that another mixer whose work you enjoy feels the same way about what you have created gives you that feeling of certainty necessary to present the product to the market via all of the processes and barriers that lie before it.
So, it is not hype or advertising or simple copying and repackaging. It is the product of endless work and application of skill.
Indigene, then, is DIY mixing taken to its most logical, systematic and creative conclusion. We hope you love what it produces as much as we do.