John Dawson Jr. knows exactly when his “Aha!” moment happened.
In a tattoo shop in San Diego, a friend asked him to try an early version of a vape pen loaded with hash, a cannabis concentrate.
He’d smoked pot before growing up but never experienced the type of high as he did with that device. He instantly knew that plenty of people are going to love their cannabis this way, and he wanted to be part of it.
“We went on a mission right then to all the stores around town and bought any kind of e-cigarette and vape pen we could find, so we could take them all apart, see how they were made, and see if we could figure out how to make them better,” said Dawson.
Today, a decade later, Dawson is the owner of Kung Fu Vapes, which provides components for vaporizers, including batteries and cartridges, plus all sorts of pens and pocket rigs designed for heating cannabis concentrates or oil.
“We love to help design, brand, and package products for different companies,” he said.
Located on Market Street in the Hillyard area, he and co-owner/brand manager Alexis Dawson now work with producers and processors and retailers in 25 states.
While Kung Fu Vapes must follow state rules governing the sale and use of vape products, the restrictions for 502 licensees don’t apply, allowing it sell and distribute outside of Washington.
“This evolution is a trip – we have a small niche of the industry, but we’re doing huge numbers around the country and even internationally,” John Dawson said.
Vape pens/e-cigs can deliver a more potent experience than smoking flower. They’re also more discreet than a traditional pipe or bong, can easily fit in a pocket or purse, and the vapor doesn’t fill the lungs or have a strong odor like pot smoke does.
A client may have ideas of what they want or don’t want in their next vape product. Or Dawson’s manufacturing partners in China may suggest new products and materials. Mostly, the ideas for come from his own hands-on research.
“We’re always trying to push the industry forward,” he said. “We never want to follow trends – we want to create them.”
He also likes to visit different growers and social media/industry influencers, and is always attending cannabis events around the country, either as a vendor or an attendee to learn what new products are in the works. It’s also a chance to educate consumers and possible partners about everything Kung Fu Vapes can bring to the table.
He and Alexis essentially do everything – it would easy to hire sales people around the country, but he likes being hands-on and involved in all discussions and decisions.
Kung Fu Vapes recently released the Quasar pod system, a one-time use fillable pen that’s already receiving praise for its portability, stability, and ability to use different types of oil. It’s child-proof, and there’s no wicking or alloys involved.
Later this year, it plans to release Kung Fu Vitals, a pre-filled device containing CBD oil sourced from high-quality hemp grown in New York.
Dawson said this is a great time for the industry. Though there are a lot of vape products, producers/processors want to make sure their customers have safe, reliable and enjoyable products, and that’s where he thinks Kung Fu Vapes has established a great reputation.
“What we’re seeing right now is this perfect blending of electronic materials and cannabis, and it’s all going to get bigger,” he said. “There are a lot of products out there, but your hardware is going to define you.”
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