Two thousand years ago, Rome stood at the very edge of a dark and brutal world and shone a light from which civilization sprung forth. Today, I have shone my own light to bring forth beautiful flavors interlaced with a touch of history.
When I was a young child, my mother took me to this juice bar that had just opened in our neighborhood. It really was a glorious place: stainless steel and glass colliding with baskets of fruits & berries, pots of strange tall grass, spectacular machines and amazing smells.
My mother and I conspired in the far corner of the store, we gazed up at this giant chalkboard with names and descriptions of fruit juices and smoothies. Fruits I had never heard of and combinations of flavors that seemed unusually alien to my young palate. After so much hushed debate between us, my mom ordered a large smoothie to share, and the excited teenager behind the bar responded by splitting it into two cups.
At the time I had an obsession: I would read the founding statement of most every product. This smoothie was no exception. Printed on the cup was a three paragraph statement about an intrepid entrepreneur, how he got everything right, proved everyone wrong and made a great business. Amazing smoothies. Trust him.
In the years since, I've read thousands of founding statements and can't help but see the similarities repeated: a founder who challenged the odds, a family that just knew they were making the right decisions. We sure showed them. Time after time a tradition by the founder is set and kept alive. Every container of oatmeal repeats it. Each cup from a mediocre fast-food chain tells you. All of the boxes of bland pasta from a nineteenth century Italian family assure you: we got this right. Trust us.
I refuse to write that story. I can only write the beginning:
The truth is, I don't know that we are making the right decisions or that we will challenge the odds. Before founding Roman Haze, I had a fancy title in a fancy company where I absolutely hated my job. Each day I saw devastating moves and political rhetoric that made me wish I worked for a company that was better. That made me wish to build a company that was better. I had a choice to make, I could start one of five companies and dedicate a year of my life to it.
The world I lived in for so long was software development. You type into a computer and a product is created. You have low overhead, no physical assets besides a computer. Your monthly overhead is extremely low. eJuice, on the other hand, was one of the worst ideas on paper. It's a physical product that requires careful manufacture to ensure consistency, expensive machines to measure and mix, and has a higher upfront cost of materials.
Yet, I couldn't escape one thing: vaping saved my life. I quit a nearly two-pack a day habit, my skin improved, and I could smell and taste things again after nearly two decades. So I set out to build Roman Haze to run a business how I thought one should be run.
I want to bring others the wonder that I felt the first time I walked into that juice bar so long ago.