Taping changed Ana's life - both personally and professionally.

A good laugh and no longer smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. It prolongs life.
Ana Georgieva Zlatkova was a relative newcomer to Sweden in the mid-10s - working a gruelling job in a meat factory, chain-smoking and generally feeling miserable. Today, cigarettes have been replaced by e-cigs and she runs the company 'Min vape' with two shops in two different cities.

Ana came to Sweden from Bulgaria with her son 12 years ago. She doesn't want to go into too much detail about how and why this happened, but to make a long story short: in the mid-2010s, Ana was in Borås, with a rather gruelling job at a meat factory.

Chain smoking - two packets a day

Ana, who had studied international economics at university back in Bulgaria and briefly ran a small home furnishing business, faced headwinds on several levels. A friend had recommended Sweden as a good place to raise children. She received tips on both jobs and accommodation. So far so good. But working at the meat factory was soul-destroying, Ana says. She soon longed for something else.

- It was so extremely stressful that I ended up smoking two packs a day. It was so disgusting. I felt extremely tired and almost sick. I couldn't walk up the stairs without being completely exhausted," says Ana over the counter in the small shop in Borås. The conversation takes place at intervals with customers coming and going on different errands.  

Mixing many flavours

The starting point for a new life, in so many different ways, came with a friend who was visiting," she says.

- He introduced vejpning, e-cigarettes, to me. But he was at the level that he was already mixing juices himself and building his own coils. It was quite advanced and I skipped all the simpler variants and went straight to the more complicated ones," says Ana.

And she was hooked, to say the least. Within a year of its introduction, she was spinning her own coils, the actual heating element in the e-cigarette, like an old veteran. And she was mixing e-juices and flavours like crazy. 

- I bought so many essences! I probably had 300 different flavours that I didn't even like," Ana says with a big laugh.

Easy to quit smoking

She has not smoked a single cigarette since the day her friend introduced e-cigarettes. 

- I remember sitting in the armchair at home with a cup of coffee, and I had coffee flavour even in my vejp. I had not smoked the day before and not this day either. But I sit there and puff and I think it is so, so good! I do not think at all about lighting a cigarette with the coffee but just sit there and puff and puff and puff, haha. So it was actually super easy to quit smoking for me. 

Coffee flavour was key

Her own taste changed over time, she says. But she owes a lot to the steamy flavour of coffee.

- I had it for several months after I quit smoking. It was the one that helped me, but now I don't like it so much anymore. Now I just want fruit and menthol. It has to be as fresh as possible and preferably with a little bit of ice in the throat. 

Wanted to help others

She admits that she is a person who easily goes 'all in' on things. But in this case, it was a great education that she could actually use later on.

- When I realised that I could blend juices at a really good level, I thought I should try to do something more with it. To kind of pass on what I had learnt myself and help others quit smoking. Something that actually works for people. 

Two cabinets and a bank loan

Ana knew that she could mix good juices, which were appreciated by those who tasted them. But it's a big step from there to making a business out of it. 

- "I started with a sole proprietorship, a 60,000 loan from the bank, two cabinets and my first line of flavours," she says.

Ana Georgieva Zlatkova laughs often and well. This is in memory of an elderly lady who was an early customer of hers. She said that Ana offered fantastic service, but a rather lousy selection. It's hard to fit a gigantic range into two display cabinets.

Vejp and tattoo parlour

But the two cabinets turned into more, the first own line was expanded and then things have kind of rolled on. The first small shop was replaced by a larger one offering the somewhat odd combination of vejp and tattooing in the same space. That duo stayed together until just a few years ago, and Ana is now in a medium-sized shop in the same area in Borås instead. But without the tattoo then. 

Expanded to Gothenburg

She has also expanded to Gothenburg, with a second shop. There, vejp and a barbershop are offered under the same roof - and it is usually Ana's boyfriend Sanchez who is behind the counter. 

- My partner in life. We have changed the concept a bit and now have shaving instead of tattoos," says Ana with another laugh. "He is the force behind the shop in Gothenburg and also my own driving force. When I feel exhausted, he is always there to "kick me up" again so I don't give up. For the first time in my life, I am lucky enough to work with someone who is so driven," she continues. 

Customer contact is most important

Despite her early nerdiness for essences, coils and everything else in the 1TP8 world, it is the customer meetings that Ana puts first. Throwing in a few words, making recommendations and giving help is what she enjoys most, she says. This is emphasised by another lady who comes into the shop on this Wednesday afternoon. She can't get the new coils Ana recently sold her to work. But this time the solution is as simple as missing the fact that they come with a protective plastic film on the underside, which Ana quickly locates. 

- It's often the little things that people like. For example, I always offer to mix the nicotine into the juice here on site when someone is shopping. It's quick, I have a bottle opener, "bam, bam", Ana gestures.

- But these are things that customers appreciate and don't seem to get elsewhere. And it is for them that I am here. 

Facts: Ana Georgieva Zlatkova / My Vape

  • Age: 38 years
  • Family: Two sons and husband Sanchez.
  • Does: Owner of "Min vape" which is available as a physical store in Borås and Gothenburg, as well as online with its own range. The company was previously called RA Elixir.

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