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This Vaporizer Brand Wants To Defeat Big Tobacco Through Music, Fashion & Art

This Vaporizer Brand Wants To Defeat Big Tobacco Through Music, Fashion & Art

by Justin OConnellSeptember 11, 2015

As vaporization disrupts big tobacco, PAX Labs has positioned itself as one of the cutting edge producers of vaporization technology in the world. The company recently launched an e-cigarette, JUUL, which joins its existing PAX loose-leaf vaporizer product line to bring vaporization to the more luxury-minded. 

The Pax Brand has focused on three distinct areas for building its brand – music, fashion and art. “Music has always been a natural fit for PAX. Many within the music community have adopted PAX as part of their lifestyle, and music continues to be a significant means of expression for our fan-base. Through music, we’re able to connect to a universal passion and experience across customer segments,” PAX Labs CMO Richard Mumby states.

PAX can be seen at music festivals like Coachella, SXSW and Pitchfork, at all of which they’ve hosted parties. For Outside Lands in 2015, PAX Vapor threw one of the biggest after parties at the entire festival. The brand hosted a “secret show” featuring Toro y Moi, an American recording artist and producer, that was free with RSVP.

“The Outside Lands after-party we threw was amazing,” James Monsees, CEO and co-founder, told Hacked. “There were 11,000 RSVPs for a venue that could hold 600.” This was a marketing coup of sorts for the San Francisco-based PAX.

“It was a pretty big moment for us to have the best after-party available for Outside Lands weekend,” Sarah Richardson, director of corporate communications, told me.

The company has the perfect technology for festivals and the like which have traditionally been dominated by smoking. What’s more, vaping offers festival-goers a potentially healthier option than traditional smoking, according to a recent UK study.

That study endorsed vaporization over traditional smoking. Health officials claimed vaporizing is 95 percent safer than other tobacco products and suggested doctors could potentially prescribe vaporization as a means of quitting smoking.

In California and India government has sought to regulate e-cigarettes. The World Health Organization has also called for stricter controls on the devices. That’s what makes the recent UK study stand out: the Public Health England (PHE), an agency in Britain’s Department of Health, recently found e-cigarettes to be a healthy alternative to regular cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are not completely risk free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm, stated PHE’s Professor Kevin Fenton.

PAX 2 - Photo: PAX

PAX 2 – Photo: PAX

In the past two years, sales of the PAX product line have grown nearly 200% over the past two years. The company has sold well over 500,000 PAX 1 vaporizers since the PAX 1 launched Fall 2012. What’s the brand’s secret?

“We approach vaporization very broadly,” Monsees said. “What I see in JUUL is technology that has been hoped for and demanded by consumers for a long time.” His plans do not, however, stop with PAX and JUUL.

“There will be more in the future,” he tells me. “It’s only the beginning for vapor technology.” Monsees believes that, over time, there will be new avenues for exploration in the vaporization realm.

“As the future unfolds there are new categories – new verticals – that we want to penetrate,” the CEO says. “We are trying to take the burgeoning technology in the vaporizer space forward with JUUL, which I think represents the biggest technological advancement in the history of vaporization.” While Monsees is mindful of the vaporization market, he seemingly views many of his main competitors as tobacco companies.

Towards that end, in June, PAX Labs announced a $46.7 million funding round. On July 28, the PAX product line announced a partnership with Notre Shop in Chicago, an upscale menswear and lifestyle boutique, just one of many lifestyle stores with which the PAX brand has partnerships.

“The very longstanding ritual of tobacco use led through to the Industrial Revolution,” he explains. “After the productization of the tobacco ritual, there was stagnation in technological advancements of that product.” It is history which has sowed the seeds of vaporization adoption, Monsees believes.

“Vaporization has received a lot of attention in the last several years,” Monsees notes. “This interest in vaporizer technology comes in part now because of two phenomenon, the confluence of which we see today.” These phenomenon are familiar to the modern consumer.

“They are the dawn of the Information Age, in which people are aware of the new technologies available which lie latent,” he said from his San Francisco office. “The other thing is technology; that is, the miniaturization of technology, lithium polymer batteries, and new manufacturing techniques.” All of this has come together to make these new products possible.

“That is why you see vaporizer technology becoming so ubiquitous,” Monsees says. 

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A photo posted by @juulvapor on

PAX and JUUL stand out from other vaporizer pen brands thanks to quality. Theirs is a luxury product, and that is a categorization with which Monsees is comfortable.

“Everything we do in our company in our mind is a luxury product,” he told Hacked. “Neither PAX nor JUUL are products that someone must have.” It is not food we’re selling, nor is it shelter, he says.

“It is not at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,” he goes on.  “These are things you elect to have that may improve the quality or happiness of your life for people who enjoy these kinds of things.” All of this makes his vaporization products a luxury.

“Our culture often talks about luxury goods as ostentatious and out of reach,” he said.  “What we want to do is give people a sense of luxury, not just something that gets you by. We want to provide something that is magical and surprises you in how it satisfies what you were looking for.”

To Monsees, that is luxury. It is this luxury he wishes to spread across the world. For now, PAX Labs has plans for European markets.

“There are going to be a couple markets open certainly before the end of this year, outside of the US and Canada, that we are super excited about.” He expects demand for his product to be consistent worldwide.

“There is so much demand from consumers outside of the US, we are excited to get product into their hands and are excited for new cultures and people to join the PAX family,” Monsees said.

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