Vendor Spotlight – Hookahzz

02
Sep

HOOKED ON HOOKAHZZ

Hookahzz is bringing a healthier product to the vaping market. The company’s adventurous co-founders are hoping for big things.

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All businesses start somewhere. Some start in a garage. Some ideas are born in the shower or in the car. Some start over a drink with a friend. And others are hobbies that turn into professions.

This story is about a business — Hookahzz, a growing e-cig and e-liquid company based in Southern California — that started with a Craigslist ad. One woman was looking for a roommate, another woman was needing a place to live. They hit it off right away. The roommate arrangement was temporary, but the business it inspired wasn’t. Hookahzz is in it for the long haul, pushing the envelope with innovative products for the vaping market.

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It was Katarina Maloney who placed the Craigslist ad in 2010 that got a response from her now-business partner Janell Thompson. Maloney recounts, “The funny story about the Craigslist ad, I was bored and alone in the house. I decided, ‘let’s get a roommate, why not?’ She answered the ad, she came to see the room. As we’re walking toward the door, I’m asking her, ‘OK, let me know when you’re interested in moving in.’ She gave me this sort of funny face and said, ‘Tonight?’ I usually don’t agree to that sort of thing, but it just felt right. Sometimes you just go with your gut.”

Thompson was from Salt Lake City, but moved to Southern California and needed a temporary place to live for about a month before getting into her permanent residence. “I had never rented a room in my life,” Thompson says.

The two of them clicked. They didn’t know it at the time, but that moment was a sign of things to come. “Absolutely,” Maloney says. “This was meant to be.”

The business didn’t come right away. In fact, Thompson had moved into her own place before they started Hookahzz. But the two women would still meet up as friends and chat. Thompson was already working in the smoke shop industry as a wholesaler. Maloney was working in online marketing, but it had nothing to do with e-cigs or even smoking. When they started vaping together, that’s when the business idea started to blossom.

“We had seen a few of the invisible e-hookahs on the market and we tried them,” Thompson says. “That was our first introduction to the vaping word. We thought they were fun. But looking at these products, we thought we could make a much better product.”

There it was. Opportunity. Hookahzz was born in 2012. Some people wait around, think of ideas, weigh the pros and the cons, then think about things some more. Then maybe they act on it. Not these two ladies. Sometimes you just go with your gut, remember?

“We booked our ticket to China the next day,” Maloney says. “That’s pretty much how we started. I used to work in branding and I knew what we had to do to make a brand.”

And Thompson knew the smoke shop industry. They were a match made on Craigslist. So they set off to China, scouting manufacturers, looking for people they could trust to make quality products that fit what they were looking for. It was the first of many adventures for the pair, who now travel together and do things like castle lurking in Slovakia, snowboarding in Big Bear, diving with sharks in the Bahamas, touring around Hawaiian volcanoes and riding whale sharks in the Caribbean.

Adventurous as they might be, they took their time bringing their products to market, because they wanted to make sure what they were releasing was top notch. They also had one other big push: They wanted Hookahzz to be even healthier than other vape products on the market.

Vaping, of course, has caught on with many people who want a healthier alternative to smoking. People are changing their habits every day, and the ladies behind Hookahzz knew this. So they learned all about hemp oil and started using it in their products.

“If you’re smoking, smoke healthy,” Maloney said. “Why would you smoke tobacco cigarettes that contain 6,000 toxins when you can smoke a water vapor?”

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The biggest difference in Hookahzz’ products compared to many other plain ol’ e-cigs and juices is its innovative use of CBD. If you’re not familiar, CBD (also known as Cannabidiol) is one of the main compounds in cannabis, along with THC. Hookahzz’s line of Hemp CBD e-cigs and liquids don’t contain THC, which is responsible for the physical and mental impairments that come along with using cannabis.

Hookahzz explains the importance of using CBD as such: “Hookahzz slices through the red tape of this political debate with the creation and release of electronic hookahs infused with Cannabidiol. This beneficial alternative to medicinal marijuana is now available in an e-Hookah and more importantly, what is sure to become the market’s most beneficial and highest grossing product of 2014.”

They’re ahead of the curve on CBD and they’re hopeful that it will open a lot of doors for the company. Of course, smoke shops are interested in carrying Hookahzz products, but the potential is much bigger. Their Hemp Hookahzz are legal in all 50 states.

“We can sell this product anywhere,” Maloney says. “We can sell it in Walmart.”

No matter where Hookahzz are sold, customers seem to love their e-liquids. They have flavors such as razzleberry, pink diva and melon madness. “Our flavors are very unique,” Thompson says. “We get a lot of compliments on them.”

The next innovation that Hookahzz is bringing to the market is a VG-only e-liquid that still has great flavor. It debuts this month.

“There’s absolutely no separation,” Maloney says. “No one else on the market has been able to do that. We’re excited.”

Talking to the Hookahzz co-founders, it’s clear they’ve done their homework since jumping into the vaping world. They talk like scientists sometimes — a sign they take their business seriously and are looking to stay ahead of the curve.

“We’ve learned everything since we got involved in the business,” Thompson says.

“It’s kind of an adventure,” Maloney adds.

For two ladies whose friendship started with a Craigslist, then blossomed into a business, the last few years have been an adventure. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

 


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