Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashraf Spahi.
Ashraf, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Everyone in my family had their own type of business ranging from gift shops, flower shops, real estate and landscaping. Being around that environment intrigued me at a young age. My allowance wasn’t much, so I had to come up with ways to be able to buy things that I wanted. When I was in elementary school, I started selling snow cones and candy bars outside of my school as people were leaving. I hired a few of my friends and would pay them hourly. In highschool, I found a way to make money selling subscriptions to a computer game that myself and my friends would play. Business is in my DNA.
I went to Florida International University in hopes to get my business degree and move on to start my own business. Things didn’t pan out as well as and I changed my major to psychology which I thought was the next best thing. Having studied psychology, it helped me to understand consumer behaviors and I fell in love. I would spend my time researching case studies about certain behaviors and I would research companies and their marketing to see how each ad a company would put out would drive engagement to their brand.
After getting my degree, I was set on starting my own business. I had no clue what it would be but I knew I was young and had time to try and if I failed I still had an opportunity to go work at a corporation. My family was against me trying to be an entrepreneur with them pushing me to go get a “normal” job. I believed in myself and abilities and moved to Los Angeles to start my first company, Vapor Delight.
Vapor Delight was founded by myself and my cousin Dean. We had both quit smoking cigarettes and switched to the vaping alternative. What we found was that there was a lack of vape shops around and most people would order their products blindly online. We wanted to create a high-end environment that would be welcoming to clients and we could teach them all about the various products so that they could vape safe in a new age vaping craze.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It wasn’t always a smooth road during the start of building our company. I didn’t have any formal knowledge of business or running a retail shop but google was my best friend. I signed up for every excel course and I would spend most of my days reading books on marketing, running a retail shop and becoming a leader for our 12 employees. Basically self-teaching myself everything I needed to know in the 2 months prior to opening our first location in Santa Monica.
Having a business partner is already a struggle as you may have completely drastic views on how a certain matter should be handled and you need to either convince your partner to see why your idea may be more beneficial or you have to compromise. You may also get feelings of resentment where you think you are doing a majority of the work. Working with a partner that was also family made it tougher as you need to teach yourself to separate your friendship from your business life. That was quite hard as there would be business arguments and our friendship would get affected.
Vapor Delight – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our company, Vapor Delight, is an electronic vaping lounge. We first opened our doors on May 21st, 2013. We sell vaporizers, e-liquid (flavoring), and accessories. We specialize in and are known for our customer service, educating our customers on our products and carrying a wide selection of products that fit each person’s need.
What makes us the proud is when we see repeat clients come back and tell us how they’ve quit smoking cigarettes after switching to vaping. I remember a specific call from a wife who called and thanked us multiple times for helping her husband who was a smoker for over 20 years.
We are also proud of being in business for over 5 years. We’ve seen multiple shops over the years open around us and shut their doors within a short period. During that, we were successful enough to open a 2nd location on 3rd St in Beverly Grove.
What sets us apart from other shops is that we’ve created a bar/lounge like comfortable environment where our customers come in before or after work to de-stress and spend hours talking to our baristas.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career so far has been that we’ve built an amazing company with a great team. Without all the support and loyalty of our team, we would not be where we are today. I walk down the street and see people vaping and ask them where they purchased their device from and they say the name of my shop, that’s a crazy feeling knowing that we are making a difference.
There’s also the fact that I’ve been able to succeed when others thought I would fail, knowing that puts a smile on my face.
- Address: 1855 Lincoln Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 904048474 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
- Website: www.vapordelight.com
- Phone: 310-986-2076
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/vapordelight
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vapordelightusa
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/vapor-delight-santa-monica-4?osq=vapor+delight