Sheerlie Ryngler is the Creative Director and Compliance Coordinator at Vape Organics, the first USDA-certified organic e-liquid line. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Sheerlie was awarded the POSSE leadership scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received her B.A. in International Studies: Global Security. Thereafter, she moved abroad and pursued her M.A. in Conflict Resolution, graduating summa cum laude. Sheerlie was a passionate activist for a number of causes in the Middle East before moving back to California where, for the past three and a half years, she has focused her attention on the vape industry, raising awareness to promote standards of excellence and highlight the value of organic e-liquid, as well as cultivating community. As an herbalist, Sheerlie is devoted to health and wellness, and sees herself as a life-long student of natural healing and Earth stewardship. While she is part of the back-to-nature movement, moving away from the city to a rural part of California, she believes in ethically merging the wisdom of the past with the technological advances of the present and future. Thus, she feels right at home at Vape Organics. Please feel free to contact Sheerlie at [email protected] or visit her website at www.pureorganicvapors.com.
Can you share a brief history of how your company got started?
Vape Organics was established after a company from China approached TCI Labs, a contract manufacturing company, to produce e-liquid for them, according to their specifications, in 2013. The owner and vice president of TCI Labs were excited by the alternative nicotine delivery technology offered by the vape industry and inspired by this revolutionary market, but were shocked by the prospective client’s proposed ingredients—a formula they refused to manufacture. With more than 20 years of manufacturing experience behind them and an intimate familiarity with organic products and processing, they realized they were well-poised to create a truly, first-of-its-kind, high-quality e-liquid for vapers. Thus, the vision was born to craft the first USDA-certified organic e-liquid, featuring organic nicotine that would be extracted in-house, becoming the first organic liquid nicotine in the world.
How did you personally come to get involved in this industry?
I had just started working at TCI Labs and was in the process of trying to quit smoking (organic) cigarettes, so I was just as excited about this new venture as its founders. Because I am also very committed to exclusively organic food and natural products in my personal life, I was asked to come on board very early on to enhance the company’s efforts and vision, and was actually Vape Organics’ first employee.
What is your favorite thing about what you do?
Since the beginning, I have been very passionate about awareness-raising; when we first launched, there was little interest in our e-liquids, especially because there were already other e-liquid lines on the market making organic claims, but which were not actually certified organic. Raising awareness about the potential benefits of certified organic e-liquid over the mainstream synthetic options—as well as the benefits of organic certification in and of itself—and watching appreciation of our products climb, has been very fulfilling. I also have a background in activism and non-profit work, so it’s been surprising and gratifying that I have had the chance to bring that experience to our work in the vape industry, and to advocate on its behalf.
What is the most challenging aspect of your career?
The uncertainty tainting our forward progress. Additionally, I advanced to Director of Operations over my first couple of years and then minimized the scope of my work as I transitioned to the more specific role of Creative Director. With the FDA regulations, I have also become Compliance Coordinator, and trying to become compliant within a flawed and broken regulatory framework has been very challenging, as every manufacturer can attest to.
How do you set personal goals for yourself? What is the process like?
I have found it’s beneficial to actually focus more on setting intentions. With a goal, I would need to come up with a plan—beneficial under certain circumstances, but which can make us more susceptible to feeling like our goal is “impossible” since it’s grounded in the limits of our current reality. So, for me, it’s really important to also ground myself and stay rooted in my personal practices to invite ideas and guidance about the how. So many times I have had flash insights, including about how to make something happen, while I am meditating. Once I have greater clarity about potential pathways, I prioritize the actions I can take to help manifest my vision. It’s definitely important to stay flexible during this process!
Why have you stayed in this industry for so many years?
I believe in this industry and in Vape Organics. I have heard countless firsthand testimonials about the many different, personal ways that vaping has positively impacted the lives of so many. Personally, I would have never been able to quit smoking cigarettes without Vape Organics specifically; I avoid synthetic chemicals in my life and having an e-liquid option that is guaranteed free of such chemicals was crucial to my transition. I know there are others like me, who would rather smoke organic cigarettes to get their nicotine fix than vape synthetic, chemical-laden and PG-containing e-liquids; it’s important to me to do everything I can to ensure that the overall alternative offered by the vape industry continues forward, and that there is a certified organic e-liquid option for people interested in a more comprehensive lifestyle shift… or lifestyle alignment.
What do you feel has been the most important factor in your success?
I learn quickly and can wear many hats. This versatility has served me and Vape Organics well; I am grateful for my ability to continuously adapt to changing circumstances, and help our company as a whole do the same.
This industry has changed dramatically in the past few years. How has that impacted your company and your career as a whole?
Indeed! Some of these changes have put a great strain on our small company. We have had to divert resources from a lot of the more enjoyable aspects of doing business, like promotion, and focus instead on regulatory compliance. Unfortunately, this diversion also has serious implications for our continued growth; we are making every effort to keep our doors open and hope we will not have to engage purchase offers from interested parties.
In terms of my career specifically, I have had to start dealing with regulatory bodies far more than I would have ever chosen for myself, but I have to see—and remain committed to—the bigger picture. Since we are arguably the first e-liquid company in the world to have been regulated ‘by’ a very stringent federal agent, the USDA, I want to stress that regulation in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is these particular regulations—the lack of the regulators’ foresight, the lack of understanding about our industry and its specific needs, and the lack of a well-functioning system that compliance depends upon.
What are you most proud of so far in your career?
I hope my colleagues, both past and present, would agree, but I’m most proud of my ability to work well in a team of diverse people.
Looking forward to the future, what are you most excited about? What are you most concerned about?
I’m excited to see how far our industry and community will be carried by the determination, unity, faith and strength that characterize us! I am concerned that as a disruptive industry, we will continue to be demonized and misrepresented. I am also concerned about companies within the vape industry that help fuel this phenomenon, and run the risk of “ruining it” for the responsible companies that continuously step up their game…
Do you have any advice for others in this industry, people in your position or business owners, who may be struggling?
Work together. Offer help and guidance to the wider community when you have information or skills to share, and ask for the same when you are feeling lost. SVBS
“We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” -unknown