The small e-juice company from Tibro competed against multi-million dollar competitors to see who makes the best e-juice. The result was second prize at the Vaparound Global Awards.
"Very powerful" says Linus "Koyuki" Gustafsson to Vejpkollen.
For the first time ever, a Nordic juice has managed to stand out among the thousands of entries in the Vapouround Global awards. Vejpkollen exchanged a few words with Linus "Koyuki" Gustafsson, a juice maker from Tibro, who won second prize in the "Best dessert" category.
First of all, congratulations! How did this happen?
- They were the ones who contacted us actually. We have not expanded outside Sweden directly and have not been present in the British market at all. But there had apparently been tips about us, if I understood correctly. The representative I spoke to had done some digging and liked the design. There was nothing like it in the UK market. It seemed like fun, and we had nothing to lose. So we sent in a couple of juices in different categories. Then we didn't think much more about it. It was quiet for a while before we were asked if we could participate in the ceremony. Then it felt a bit far-fetched - you know who wins every year. It's the big multi-million dollar companies.
But then we got another call saying that we had been shortlisted for the top five. Then there was a bit of panic. There are still over 5,000 submitted juices. So then it felt a little more possible. We simply had to book tickets, hotels and stuff.
"White blueberry cheesecake" was the flavour that went all the way to silver. How long did it take to get that recipe right, and what was the process?
- Ironically, I am not a pastry fan myself. So my ambition was to create pastry juices that worked for people like me. Something that is not so heavy and that is aimed more at people who otherwise like fruit juices. We usually have a development time of three or four months and then the design work and graphics take another month. With the Chronicles series, it was the first time I let Sanna Martinsson-Matsson handle the design completely. Now I will never again interfere, haha. She has completely free rein from now on and I'm sticking to the juice.
You put a lot of emphasis on design, right?
- Yes, design is very important to us! If you boil the company down, it's me and Sanna at the centre, although we have very important other employees as well. I'm in charge of flavours and recipes and she's in charge of design. Those are our two most important parts.
You are the first Swedish company to win a prize in the Vapouround global awards. How else does Swedish juice fare internationally?
- According to the people who recruited us for the competition, we were even the first Nordic company to receive a prize. It was the second prize, but it was still very impressive. There is almost no Swedish juice on the international market, except for those that can be ordered online. I know that "Mumma juice" was on the market for a while, but 90 per cent is made up of British and Chinese manufacturers. It can be relatively monotonous, so some people probably think that Swedish juice built on Swedish taste buds will be a breath of fresh air. Time will tell if it will last, but I definitely think there is a market for it right now.
And now you are starting a new large juice lab in Tibro?
- Yes, I am standing in the new premises right now. There is still some construction work to be done, but the new warehouse will be 250 square metres and 120 square metres of clean lab space. We're probably not alone in Sweden, but for us it's big! Just a few years ago, I was mixing bottle by bottle in my room, so it's really fun.
In parallel with e-juice, you also make nicotine pouches. Tell us how they are doing!
- Only time will tell. But we have developed five bags of different flavours that are selling well in the 1TP8 World. These are the same flavours as the e-juices. Anything we can do to help smokers quit is good.