Remember that Austin Powers in Goldmember scene where Goldmember and Queen B offer Austin a pipe and a crepe? (Or a shmoke and a pancake, or a bong and a blintz…) He refuses, and Goldmember exclaims, “Then there is no pleasing you!” Well, a couple of entrepreneurial Brooklyn natives are hoping that the blinged-out bad guy was actually on to something. They’re in the process of opening their cross-branded Creative Vape and Creative Crepe and Coffee shops at Wyckoff Avenue and Hancock Street in Bushwick, where they’ll be putting an inspired (and arguably healthier) twist on the pipe/crepe combination by pairing colorful, made-from-scratch crepes with custom-made, hip hop-based e-juice and vapes.
After salivating over some of their practice crepe pics on Instagram, we decided to stop by and caught up with Creative Vape owner (and Creative Crepe and Coffee co-owner) Wilfredo Ortiz, who turns out to be quite the international man of mystery himself. The 26-year-old is an Air Force veteran who served for seven years, living in Virginia and Germany. He told us that his time in the military allowed him to save some money and make a real estate investment in Clinton, Maryland along with his Creative business partner, Malwina Gutierrez, who he first met at Andries Hudde Junior High School. When he got out about eight weeks ago, he came straight back to an ever-changing Brooklyn “to start opening businesses” and “create wealth in [his] community.”
While the creperie is still waiting on its health inspection, the vapery opened to the public three weeks ago. The space features an art gallery that will rotate works of different artists every month, a bar with stools for free sampling of the various e-liquids that are for sale, a showcase of Creative Vape merchandise, and a lounge area with black leather couches, instruments, games, and art materials.
“This would be considered a gentrified business. This is something you would see in Williamsburg,” said Ortiz. “What I want to do is play into that, where Brooklyn is moving to, but still keep our culture intact. The way I’m doing that with the vape shop is to make money.” Because gentrification, he says, is all about who holds– or doesn’t hold– wealth.
“I know sometimes it gets tricky talking about it because a lot of people think it’s about race, but we know that it’s not about race– it’s about wealth, and it just so happens that the African American and Hispanic communities don’t hold the wealth,” he said. “So the plan is simply just to try and reinvest in my community and allow us to hold wealth and grow together in a positive way.”
But why a vape shop in Bushwick? Ortiz says that while there’s a lot of people in the community who don’t smoke, “they’re doing hookah all the time.” So he has outfitted Creative Vape with a couple of e-hookahs (in addition to pens, etc.). He’s also catering to the Hispanic and African American communities, “which nobody’s really doing right now in the vape industry,” by having created his own line of hip hop-based e-juice called Top 3. He had a lab in New Jersey produce three flavors for the line: an apple cinnamon blend for his idol J. Cole (because Cole is classic like apple pie), a Kendrick Lamar banana candy blend (because Lamar’s rhymes are crazy), and “Strawberry Short Drake” (the sweetest of the flavors).
“Overall, what we want to do actually is create a high school program so that we can teach kids how to be entrepreneurs, how to be business owners, and I’m hoping to take the money earned from the juice line…and start this high school program to teach kids how to do those things,” he said, adding that “if things go well” he and Gutierrez will also fund one student’s business plan per year.
Creative Crepe and Coffee, which has its own wall mural, comfy couches and “clean coffee” bags covering the ceiling, will also have its causes. While the food coloring Gutierrez is currently experimenting with is meant to be eye-catching, it will also eventually be correlated with charitable organizations and donations (for example, pink crepes in October, with a portion of the profits donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation). Some will be sweet (Ortiz said the Nutella-stuffed crepe is already proving to be a favorite among friends and family), and other savory. Crock pot (!) crepes will cater to local ethnic groups, with fillings like Puerto Rican pernil and jerk chicken. There will also be fresh juice (the kind you drink, not smoke), a cappuccino machine, organic tea and coffee (including their own brand), cold brew, and beer and wine (license pending). Ortiz said discounts will be offered to educators, and of course, military personnel.
Creative Vape, located at 894 Wyckoff Avenue, opens from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm Friday and Saturday, and 11:00 am to 8:00 pm Sunday. Check Instagram for updates on hours as they are subject to change. Creative Crepe and Coffee, located at 892 Wyckoff Avenue, is expected to open in the next two weeks. Check Instagram for updates and hours.