I started this journey when I was 14. I smoked an Onyx Black robusto. Loved it. I grew up in the shadow of a few very successful men, my grand father being one of them. He was an academic, a military man and grew to become a savvy business man. He made mistakes, he was always ready to tell you how he screwed up. But the adage, one step back and four forward couldn't be truer for my grand father. I learned a lot from him. At an arms distance, we shared the love of the leaf. He was a pipe smoker, and I cigars. We never got the opportunity to share it together but the sentiment was there.
In late 2014, a good friend of mine produced his own cigar. I couldn't believe how easy he made it look. I was awe inspired by him, and tell ya truth I looked up to him, and still do today. He's my bro. So he produced this line of boxed pressed powder kegs and opened his shop in Harrison, NY. For me it lit a fuse that would eventually explode a year or so later.
In 2015, after being in Nicaragua for a few months, I started rolling- not very good, but I tried. The more you roll, the better you get. I started to blending. To understand the complexity of each leaf, I spent a great deal of time learning about the various tobaccos and countries that grow them. By end of 2015, I had produced a couple dozen prototype cigars, some of which I repackaged and released in 2016.
In 2016 I decided to nationally release Double Claro Habano, as a single - sort of like the music business - they release a single, then the whole record. I felt, it if worked for that industry it could work here. It's name though, Muestra de TABAC Double Claro Habano Double Figurado is a bit long, so I shortened it to MDT-DCH for my FDA registration. What this was, was the most cutting edge, most obscure creation in my portfolio. I felt like I needed to stand out in an industry of common sizes.
Late 2016 I'm on fire. It's pouring out of me. I'm like "what if we...." so to say the least if the FDA allows me to continue to invent I've got some really creative concepts for down the road.
In early 2017 I was introduced to Guillermo Pena owner of La Perla Tabacalera in Esteli, Nicaragua. A Cuban American, who was born in a town of the best cigar rollers Las Villas in Santa Clara region of Cuba.. It was a generational hand me down. Gui worked for Don Pepin for a short few years, to eventually opened his own factory. It's there where I developed a relationship and began producing. A good friend, and seasoned cigar maker told me that the one thing I should never do, "is leave anything to chance. Once a box has been printed it can't be reprinted. You need to be sure that every step of the manufacturing process is exactly the way you want it."
2017 was a odd year. I was finally producing on a national level, without 20+ accounts. I was selling. I had to think about the other side of the business. So I set out on what is now called the Southwest Cigar Road Show. Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. I was able to open key accounts in those markets. I then did the New York tri-state area opening about 10+ accounts. 2017 turned out to be a good year for opening accounts, nearly 40 by year end. I was back and forth to Nicaragua all year working on 2018 releases, and in 2019 releases for 2020
2020- what a shit show. It was surprisingly my best year for sales. Virtual cigar events? Suck! I was, am fortunate to have not gotten Covid-19. I was out and about, all year long. Between opening my first cigar shop, to the release of my most popular cigar yet Milk & Honey. 2020 has proven to be a mixed bag of nuts.
2021- Has been a game changer. My brand release of Milk & Honey has proven to be the one. I decided that it was time to venture into the trade show side of marketing and with that I secured a booth at TPE (Tobacco Plus Expo) in Las Vegas. What I can tell you is, ask a lot of questions. So many additional fees and costs than just the booth fee. It was maddening trying to figure our a cost effective booth design. Getting it there. Getting it set up. Boston Jimmy of Stogie Press photo documented the process and wrote about the trials and tribulation I went thru to pull this off. Check it out. STOGIE PRESS