Cigar Lifestyle: A Celebration of Black Cigar Smokers – By Mike Holmes

re·sur·gence
/rəˈsərjəns/
noun
an increase or revival after a period of little activity, popularity, or occurrence.

Within the past few years I’ve noticed that there has been a massive resurgence of black cigar smokers in the United States. Traditionally the cigar community has always been diverse, but through the lens of social media and annual events like Black Smoke Miami, attention has been brought to this movement as a whole.

Black smoke Miami 2018 Night 3
Black smoke Miami 2018 Night 3

I want to celebrate this movement because as I searched for existing content on this topic there isn’t much information to be found from major cigar media.

In light of calling the movement a Resurgence I first want to point out that when I use the word “Resurgence” I am merely speaking of the visibility of black cigar smokers  within the last few years. Historically speaking, black people have always been a part of the cigar industry; from planting tobacco seeds to harvesting tobacco and even working in factories as cigar rollers.

This isn’t some new concept.

In every cigar factory there are people of color who have masterfully learned the skilled trade of rolling cigars and if it weren’t for them we wouldn’t be able to smoke our beloved cigars. As Yvonne Rodriguez from Tres Lindas Cubanas cigars told me during an hour of pleasant conversation:

“It isn’t as much of a Resurgence as you might think, we’ve always been here. Cigar smoking has always been around in African culture and it is a religious experience. It isn’t religious in the sense of people smoking in a church but the experience unites people and relaxes people and is very historic.”

Yvonne Rodriguez


I spent an hour talking on this subject with Yvonne Rodriguez and she changed my whole perspective on the topic of this article. Fast forward to 2019 we now see this “Resurgence” or better yet a movement within the black community which centers around the cigar community as a whole.

Here is a little more about this movement.

The Shift

It was 10 years ago that we started seeing  the new movement and how it was birthed in major cities across America; from Miami to DC – New York City to Chicago – Texas to Las Vegas – Los Angeles and everywhere in between.

A sudden influx of black cigar smokers who didn’t wait for anyone to tell them that cigar smoking was the thing to do, all began to dive into the cigar culture and they were captivated with the camaraderie and generosity that resides in cigar shops.

According to Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company:

“Black consumers and consumers of color alike are making considerable contributions to the overall market—in some cases representing more than 50% of the overall spending in key product categories.”

https://www.nielsen.com/

Black consumers are in fact a major consumer demographic in any industry, not just the cigar industry, so it was natural for them to jump into the muddy waters and get their feet wet.

Andrew McCaskill, Senior Vice President, Global Communications and Multicultural Marketing, Nielsen explained in a 2018 article on the Black Impact on consumer spending:

“When it comes to African-American consumer spend, there are millions, sometimes billions of dollars in revenue at stake…With 43% of the 75 million Millennials in the U.S. identifying as African American, Hispanic or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy”

https://www.nielsen.com/

Many black owned cigar shops have opened up in the last decade and even some shops expanded because they were catering to high end clients, who were bringing a lot of money into the shops and the cycle continued. What makes this movement unique is that new elements were added such as high end cigar parties, which has added a different flavor to the cigar community. Suddenly the drinks being poured weren’t only Scotch and Bourbon but also Cognac and Champagne and the movement began to catch on.

The movement that started 10 years ago has since morphed into a very powerful force. The only problem that now stood in their way was recognition and celebration. Even though our family of the leaf hasn’t been properly celebrated and the recognition culture-wide hasn’t quite taken off, this movement has gained it’s own notoriety and has created it’s own lane. Out of this growing group of consumers came black entrepreneurs such as cigar shop owners, apparel companies, mobile cigar lounges, cigar brands, media companies and the list goes on.


Black Smoke Miami

Seeing the need for the black cigar smokers movement to be recognized and their achievements to be celebrated, TK Achille brainstormed and came up with a solution. Black Smoke Miami, which is a 5 day long cigar festival that has taken place in Miami for the past couple of years.It has become the premiere meet and greet for hundreds of cigar smokers all across America in a very short period of time. TK has carefully crafted every event that takes place each night to include admission and 2 drinks to help get the party started.

Kennedy Achille
Kennedy Achille

Cigar shop owners, cigar reps and consumers all get together and create memories that last a lifetime. Everyday is a new party with a different theme and plenty of cigars to go around. Attendees nominate consumers, cigar shop owners, brand owners, and other categories to win an award for ‘best of the year’. There are always many deserving people nominated  but the most voted win and are recognized for their achievements and are celebrated.

No other cigar event puts on an entire event specifically for the black community. Black Smoke Miami is truly a pioneer in this movement. There has been a very small amount of backlash on the event because of the title “Black Smoke” but it was very quickly explained that it is an event for all people and everyone and anyone is welcome. Black Smoke Miami is simply a celebration of black cigar smokers and put together in such a way that black cigar smokers can come together with the style and environment they enjoy and to celebrate life and friendship.

Not just Black Smoke Miami

TK not only puts on Black Smoke Miami but he is the owner of his own multimedia company called “Stogie TV” where he features special events, conducts interviews, and produces short films relating to the cigar culture as a whole. He produced a documentary that was filmed in Nicaragua about AJ Fernandez who is a renowned tobacco farmer and cigar blender. While in Nicaragua he took his viewers through the entire process of how a cigar is made.

TK also is the first person in the black community to interview the late Jose’ Orlando Padron of Padron Cigars which turned out to be Mr Padron’s final interview prior to him passing. TK also has his own cigar made by Don Kiki cigars called “TK” which is a collaborative work between him and Karen Berger. He is also the author of 3 books called Cigar 90, Cigar 180 and Cigar 360. TK is a man of many talents and is a great asset to the cigar industry as an educator and cigar lifestyle advocate.


Miami Mega Herf – Miami Florida

Lui Mahal and Michael Pugh are the people behind the Miami Mega Herf, a huge Yacht Party in Biscayne Bay, Miami. Last year’s inaugural event was well attended with over 300 consumers and cigar industry personalities. The herf takes place in October and features a spectacular brunch menu and an open bar.

Lui Mahal and Michael Pugh
Lui Mahal and Michael Pugh

Many vendors are set up on the yacht to sell cigars and other swag items. There is also a swag bag of cigars and other product form the event sponsors, included with ticket price. The event includes music and dancing along with plenty of libations and smoke being put in the air for over 3 hours in the open waters of Miami. After the event there is an after party. Last year it was held at Casa de Montecristo Prime Cigar and Whiskey bar in downtown Miami.

Overall I have heard great things about the Miami Mega Herf. Boston Jimmie was there and covered it in detail last year. For more information on the Miami Mega Herf or to purchase tickets for the 2019 cruise, please visit www.miamimegaherf.com.


Cigar Lounge Owners

Preston Gray – Tailored Smoke Cigar Lounge, Charlotte North Carolina

Boston Jimmie, Editor in Chief of Stogie Press, has covered this magnificent cigar lounge in the past. It all started with Preston selling cigars out of a small kiosk in the Charlotte EPICENTRE, the center of entertainment and nightlife in the city. It was a small but humble beginning but eventually he rented space behind his tables for a humidor and locker space. Eventually his current location became available and Preston inquired about renting the space. The EPICENTRE management wasn’t quite sure he would be able to attract enough business for the new location but they gave him a shot. After grossing $65,000 over his opening weekend, the same weekend as the CIAA basketball tournament, he was able to give the EPICENTRE their share and the rest is Tailored Smoke history!

Preston Gray
Preston Gray

Preston started out as a casual cigar smoker in 1997 but couldn’t afford to smoke regularly until around 2006. Oddly enough, Preston never set out to own a cigar shop he started the business with a friend and when his friend had some personal issues he bought out the business. Preston says:

“What sets us apart is our commitment to customer service and education. We have cigars behind the counter and the attendants help you choose the right cigar and we cut and light.”  

Preston Gray

That’s what I call first class service, and that is why Stogie Press awarded Preston the #1 Cigar Lounge in 2018.


Shirley Knox Mclellan – Fire and Smoke Cigar Parlor, Baltimore Maryland

Shirley Mclellan was recently featured in cigar journal, which is how I found out about this bold sister or the leaf. Her love of cigars started in Darlington, South Carolina where she would sneak out to her grandparents porch while her grandfather would smoke cigars. She loved how they smelled. Her grandfather and other family members worked in the tobacco fields and as a rite of passage into adulthood, after college graduation, she tried her first cigar which was a Romeo Y Julieta.

Shirley Mclellan
Shirley Mclellan

For many years she purchased cigars online and from liquor stores that carried cigars and would smoke on her porch. One day she pitched an idea to a friend about a place where you could smoke, drink, eat and congregate with friends. Her friend told her such places already exist! She had no idea that cigar lounges existed up until this point. She then visited Slow Burn Cigar Lounge and she was shocked!

By the time she was ready to open her own lounge she felt like there were already too many in her area but she received a tremendous amount of support. Mclellan took a year and traveled to different lounges around the world from London to Cuba, the east coast of the US, to the west coast and of course the south. She says she didn’t have many challenges as a black female cigar shop owner. She has an MBA and used all her own capital to open up her cigar parlor.

The only real challenge was the landlord’s cultural differences. He didn’t trust a female business owner, so her husband had to be added to the lease. Despite those cultural differences she proved that she was a great business owner and was able to manage the construction needed, complete with a ventilation system to rid the shop of excessive smoke. She then adds ‘if you do good business, color and gender among other things are non issues.’ Her clientele is from all walks of life; black,white, hispanic, male and female. She believes that by offering great service sets her apart, regardless of being a black female owned cigar lounge. She says that “It is overcoming” , which I fully agree.

Not only does she own a lounge but she has her own cigar that is exclusive to Fire and Smoke Cigar Parlor. Made by Cala Cigars, it is called “The Blake” which is named after her grandson. After speaking with this sister of the leaf I would definitely recommend visiting her lounge next time you’re in Baltimore.


Mina HerranMina’s Cigar Lounge, Baltimore, Maryland

I didn’t know very much about Miss Mina, I just knew her from social media and I was very glad to hear a little of her story. Mina started smoking cigars only around 5 years ago at an event hosted by Lance Lopez called cigar Sunday in Trenton NJ. She really loved the flavors and how cigars relaxed her. A couple years later she met a shop owner from Baltimore who was looking to expand so he closed the current lounge. Mina asked how much it would take to invest to reopen the lounge and she invested with a friend but things didn’t go so well.

Mina Herran
Mina Herran

She applied for a tobacco license and opened her own lounge, now known as Mina’s Cigar Lounge. Two weeks later she attended the IPCPR with her cousin Tani. Mina ordered enough cigars at the show to fill her humidor at the shop. Next, she went on a quest to smoke everything she was selling, so she could provide honest feedback to her customers.  She had to gain the trust of her customers being that she is from New Jersey.

Mina said that being a black female and a cigar shop owner has been a huge positive for her and is one of the key factors to her success. Mina also has a large social media following and her customers often ask her about cigars she posts. She says it is a huge selling point on a daily basis. Overall Mina is passionate about what she does and it is evident by the triumphal story that she proudly told me.


Tony Anderson – City smoke Mobile Cigar Lounge, Flat Rock, Michigan

City Smoke Cigar Lounge was birthed out of necessity. Tony Anderson needed a place to smoke with friends because he couldn’t smoke at home. For 6 months he and his friends took turns meeting at each other’s houses and smoking cigars in their cars. There was some lounges within the metro Detroit area but they didn’t always have the most welcoming people all the time. Tony wanted to change that. Thus City Smoke Mobile Cigar lounge was born. If you imagine a party bus but with cigar smoking allowed, you will have been on the City Smoke Mobile Cigar Lounge!

Dee and Tony
Dee and Tony

The customized Chevrolet starcraft is equipped with comfortable seating for at least 20 people and has plenty of ash trays. City Smoke Mobile Cigar Lounge also has cigars for sale from many of the popular brands such as Aging Room, La Gloria Cubana, Asylum Cigars and Leaf by Oscar. You are also more than welcome to bring your own cigars.  There is ventilation so that the bus doesn’t get too smokey. City Smoke is also equipped with TV’s and a hi end sound system so you can play music of your choice.

When it gets cold they also have an electric faux fireplace heater to add to the ambiance and keep patrons warm. You can rent the City Smoke Mobile Cigar Lounge for bachelor parties, birthday’s, guys night out, ladies night, corporate events etc. The party comes to you! You can also bring alcohol on board the bus but all passengers must be over the age of 21 or 18 for just the enjoyment of cigars.

City Smoke
City Smoke

In addition to the services I have described above, City Smoke also hosts spirits and cigar pairings where Tony chooses a cigar and a particular drink and teach people about pairing their cigars. There is an art to it and Tony strives to make the experience for his patrons as memorable as possible.

They also host a woman’s cigar group called The Smoking Divas and contrary to popular belief, many of the ladies go for a nice strong cigar, not everyone looks for a flavored cigar. Tony did note that among the women who smoke and even novice men, he sells a lot of Fat Bottom Betty and even more of the Tatiana Groovy Blue, both of which are both popular flavored cigars. For more information on city smoke Mobile cigar lounge visit www.mycitysmoke.com


Derek Harris and Antonio Martin – The Debonair cigar lounge , Los Angeles, California

The Debonair cigar lounge was opened in 2017 by Derek Harris and Antonio Martin. It is a 2 story cigar lounge meant to be modeled after top high end cigar shops like the Grand Havana room. It has plush seating and plenty of TV’s on the wall. There’s even a members only area!

The Debonair cigar lounge has a walk in humidor stocked with the top cigars in the industry from Drew estate to Robert Caldwell and everything in between. One could say, they have the right cigar for you.

If you follow ‘Marcus Jusso Wright’ on social media he is always representing the Debonair lifestyle to the T, followed by his catch phrase “Please excuse my Debonair lifestyle.”

Marcus Jusso Wright
Marcus Jusso Wright

If you are into a more high end cigar lounge and are ever in the LA area, the Debonair Cigar Lounge would be the perfect spot to unwind! For more information on the Debonair cigar lounge please visit www.thedebonaircigarlounge.com


Black Owned Cigar Brands

Now that you have an idea of the excellence of cigar shop owners that came out of this movement I am going to move on to highlight some cigar brand owners that are making their mark on the industry.

Cerrone Grant – Spades Cigars, Houston, Texas

Spades Cigars does not share your typical cigar brand story. The owner Cerrone Grant did not come from Cuba and his family wasn’t  in the cigar business. Cerrone believes that a good cigar should be the center piece to life’s most memorable moments. Cerrone was really into cigars, so naturally he was looking for an avenue to get into, especially when he considered the the amount of money he invested into his “hobby”.

His first thought was to open a cigar lounge, but then realized that he didn’t want to go in that direction. Cerrone decided to goo right to the soul of the business and start a cigar brand instead. The first cigar he came out with was the Spades Cigars Black Label which he describes as a full body Nicaraguan cigar that comes in a 5 ¼ x 54, double robusto vitola.  The flavors that you will experience are dark chocolate, hickory, black pepper and hints of leather. Not only does Spades Cigars make cigars but recently, during the weekend of April 19-20, Spades Cigars put on a 2-day smoke fest. In addition to the event, the city of Houston, Texas recognized his accomplishments, and gave a proclamation that April 19th is now “Spades Cigars” day. That is special.

The first night of the event was a rooftop party featuring a live performance by American Grammy-nominated R&B singer, Carl Thomas. The second day day of the event started with smoke and brunch event. “The whole weekend was a success” according to Cerrone. Spades cigars smoke fest had over 250 attendees and during the event Spade Cigars released their full Line of 6 premium Nicaraguan cigars; Black, Red, White, Red Lace, Black Press, and Anniversary Label Cigars. Spades cigars also introduced their  New “Queen of Spades” Flavored cigars.

The response to Spades Cigars by the black community and cigar community in general has been phenomenal. The only cigar currently available to the general public is their black label and the rest will be released to the public on memorial day weekend on their website www.spadescigars.com.


James Powell – Masculino Cigars, Houston, Texas

Translated from Spanish, the term “Masculino” characterizes a gentleman of stature who is true to his roots and who sees the “Sixth Finger” as an extension of his reputation.

Masculino Cigars is a small batch, luxury cigar brand, using tobaccos from both Nicaragua and Honduras. Masculino cigars comes in a Connecticut, Habano and a Maduro. It is described as veiny and is a distinct characteristic for the consumer to know that this is a Masculino cigar. The company was the brain child of James Powell, AKA JP, who started his career as a Wall Street investment banker. He started out smoking occasionally when him and his team closed deals. His passion eventually increased with each celebratory cigar.

Image Courtesy of Masculino Cigars
Image Courtesy of Masculino Cigars

Eventually JP decided to invest in his own passion. Taking risks that few people would take, JP made countless trips to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua etc. Until he found the perfect marriage of tobaccos which became Masculino – The Sixth Finger.

Masculino cigars has a boutique line and a premium cigar line. The boutique cigars are a Maduro and a Habano. The Maduro is a bundle called “The Black Horse” and the Habano is called “The Red Horse.” The Masculino Premium line features 5 blends:

  • The Book of Knowledge, a 4 cigar sampler set.
  • The Daily News which comes in a tin that looks like a newspaper and the cigars are wrapped in what looks like newspaper.
  • The Trouble Man LTD Edition
  • Reminisce
  • Half Man/Half Amazing

For full information on all of the Masculinos cigars blends visit www.masculinocigars.com    


Dean Parsons – Epic Cigars

My friend Angela Wooten pointed out that I needed to feature Epic Cigars so I looked him up and the rest is Epic history!

Dean Parsons
Dean Parsons

Dean Parsons is the owner of Epic Cigars based in the Dominican republic. Epic cigars has quite a few blends in their brand portfolio. LA Rubia, Epic Habano, Epic Corojo, Epic Maduro, Maduro Fuerte and Project E. You can read a number of Epic Cigar reviews by Boston Jimmie here. In fact, the La Rubia was named the Stogie Press #2 Connecticut Cigar in 2016.

Prior to diving into the cigar business, Dean Parsons was a thriving real estate broker. He was spending a day touring the Fuente, Davidoff and Aurora cigar factories in the Dominican republic where he met a couple of guys Eddy Fontana and Rolando Villlamill.

Dean didn’t know that Villlamill was a master cigar blender with 35 years of experience and blended all of the original Kristoff blends from 2005-2008 for Glen Case. Dean and Rolando Villamill eventually blended a cigar together exclusively for the people of Turks and Caicos called Turk’s Select. That cigar soon became the cigar sold at all of the hotels, resorts, and duty free shops across the islands.

When the 2008 recession hit, it affected Dean’s real estate business and also the cigars which brought Turk’s Select to an end. He found himself working for a real estate developer in Florida, which also allowed him to spend time in cigar factories honing his craft. In 2010, while sitting on the beach in the Dominican Republic, Dean bought the name Epic Cigars and trademarked it. For 3 years he worked with Rolando Villamill until officially Launching epic cigars in 2013 .

For more information on Epic cigars visit www.epiccigars.com.


Yvette and Yvonne Rodriguez – Tres lindas Cubanas, Miami, FL

I spent an hour on the phone talking with Yvonne Rodriguez about the topic of this article. It was very apparent and obvious how passionate she was about the cigar industry we didn’t really get much more information than stogie press has already published, but she provided much needed insight and changed my perspective on my own article! Talking to her for that hour really intrigued me to learn more about her and her sister Yvette Rodriguez.

Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars
Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars

Based in Miami, FL, Tres Lindas Cubanas is a brand owned by twin Afro-Cuban sisters – Yvette and Yvonne Rodriguez. They have been cigar enthusiasts for years, but one day when Yvette was on a Costa Rican vacation, she met a man who was associated with a Nicarguan cigar factory. When she got home she spoke with Yvonne and her boyfriend about coming out with a cigar brand. The sisters were excited about the new venture and jumped into the cigar business.

They received samples from the factory and settled on 3 blends. They chose
Tres Lindas Cubanas as the name for their brand. The Latin phrase is a nod to a song commonly played during a Quinceanera, written by Antonio Maria Romeu and titled “Tres Lindas Cubanas”. Like the song, each of their cigars are named after different types of Cuban women:

Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars
  • LA NEGRITA –is a strong Torpedo Maduro with a memorable start and finish. La Negrita is a flavorful slow burn, with a punch to keep you satisfied.
  • LA MULATA – The name best suited to describe this smoke is to be enjoyed by individuals who appreciate the scent, nuances and taste of a medium to full-bodied stick.
  • LA CLARITA – always brings a smile to faces. This Torpedo Connecticut embodies everything great about the Caribbean. Light, festive and enjoyed at any time, by all.

(Source Stogie Press interview with Tres lindas Cubanas)

Yvonne and Yvette have built their business by meeting and greeting fellow cigar enthusiasts at happy hour, which they host, at local cigar shops. There is no pressure on shops to purchase a certain box amount. They engage with consumers on their cigars and enjoy sharing their family legacy.

Yvonne told me:

“people tend to question them more about their cigar knowledge, because they are women, but they like changing people’s minds and engaging with consumers.”

They also like to make sure they sell their cigars to shops where they feel personally comfortable so that people who buy their cigars also have a great experience. These sisters set themselves apart by offering a great product and working hard bringing you great cigars.

You can purchase Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars at http://www.treslindascubanascigars.com


David Smith – High Rollaz Cigar Club LLC

David Smith birthed High Rollaz Cigars in August of 2015. He worked for 9 months with blenders in the Dominican Republic, until he was happy with the blends.

David Smith
David Smith

The final product became 3 different vitolas with a mixture of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos and something for every pallet.

  • Full Body– Maduro
  • Medium to full Body– Habano Corojo
  • Mild– Habano Claro
Image Courtesy of High Rollaz Cigars
Image Courtesy of High Rollaz Cigars

Not only does David have a line of cigars, he also has a full line of clothing! If you’re a fan of bright and flashy colors I’m sure you will like his High Rollaz Clothing, which consists of t shirts and matching hats.

The clothing and cigars are all just byproducts of the bigger picture. High Rollaz Cigar Club LLC is a club, started by David Smith aka “Smooth”. He got his name because he started losing his hair at a young age, so he kept it shaved bald and “Smooth”.

Image Courtesy of High Rollaz Cigars
Image Courtesy of High Rollaz Cigars

High Rollaz does a lot of community service projects and has a wide variety of membership from Law Enforcement to lawyers, city workers and every profession in between. There’s no doubt that High Rollaz is making an impact wherever they go. To learn more about David Smith and High Rollaz Cigars visit http://www.highrollazcigarclub.com


Social Clubs

There have also been social clubs that have formed out of this movement. I have spoken with some of them and they have graciously provided background information on their organizations.

305 Cigar Divaz/ 305 Cigar Boyz – Miami, Florida

The 305 Cigar Divaz are a cigar social club based in Miami Florida. They started because there was another group called The 305 Cigar Boyz who would get shout-outs at a Miami club. Once they heard the Cigar Boyz get shout-outs the ladies decided to get a shout-out as well. The two groups met and now are a single group of working class, black women and men, that enjoy a good cigar, uninterrupted, and everything that comes with the cigar lifestyle.

305 Cigar Boyz
305 Cigar Boyz
305 Cigar Divaz
305 Cigar Divaz

They hang out at Aficionados Cigar Lounge in Miami Gardens and are the heartbeat of that lounge, bringing a vibrant energy wherever they go. The 305 cigar Boyz and 305 cigar Divaz are a force to be reckoned with, whenever they are out in public, and enjoy supporting local cigar events.

They don’t just smoke cigars. They are also involved in charity work for kids, and helping the homeless and other positive projects in their community. Overall the 305 cigar Boyz and Divaz are a diverse group from singles to married couples and even grandparents! They exist to bring positivity to their community and command attention wherever they go. To learn more about The 305 cigar divaz and the 305 cigar boyz search for them on Facebook #305cigardivaz #305cigarboyz


Westside Smoker’s – Houston Texas

Westside Smoker’s, is a cigar club based out of Houston Texas. It started as an organic group of a few people meeting at Jay Steed’s house, which was mostly family and friends. Once the group went public in 2018 they went from around 15-20 members to over 50-60 members almost instantly. Westside Smoker’s operates like any other club. It has bylaws, a board of directors, and different committees within the group to work in different areas.

 Jay Steed
Jay Steed

The Westside Smoker’s meet every Wednesday at different establishments, like cigar lounges, and restaurants with patios for “Westside Wednesdays”, where they meet up for fellowship and discuss business. They are also heavily involved in charity work and they promote events within the community. Not only does Westside Smoker’s have their own club but they also work closely with other local cigar clubs, so they don’t step on each other’s toes when it comes to event scheduling and also to protect the exclusivity of the clubs to the Houston area. Any outside clubs or event planners have to check in with them to do any type of cigar event within Houston, Texas.

Westside Smokers has around 6 chapters, mostly in Texas and Louisiana but recently picked up one in the Bahamas. They took a trip to the Bahamas to visit the Graycliff factory and by the end of the trip they were highlighted in the local paper and gained a chapter in the Bahamas! They plan on returning for a group trip at least yearly to have a good time on the island. As you can see Westside Smoker’s is a multifaceted group and I just touched the surface.

For more information on westside smoker’s visit www.wesmokecigars.com


Miscellaneous Black Owned Businesses

Moving along on our journey to explore the resurgence of black cigar smokers I now want to introduce you to other miscellaneous black owned business owners who massively contribute to the movement and from here I will wind down and leave you with a new understanding of a movement that makes the cigar industry great.

Cigar Executives LLC – North Carolina

Cigar Executives is a mobile cigar concierge service that was started by Adam Brown and Christine Moss who are both New York Natives. At first glance I thought Cigar Executives was just a T shirt company but I soon found out it is more than that.

Adam Brown and Christine Moss
Adam Brown and Christine Moss

Adam and Christine had experience being brand ambassadors and mobile retailers so they decided to start a venture to provide first class service doing cut and light cigar events. Basically they go to events and provide cigars and educate consumers on how to cut and light to enjoy a premium cigar. To some it might seem simple, but if you’re at an upscale cigar event and want to have a nice ambiance then having a cigar concierge would be helpful. They provide all of the necessary essentials, including cigars, cutters, and lighters. All you have to do is just enjoy the night while they educate on how to smoke a cigar.


Michael Noelle LeatherWorx – North Carolina

Michael Noelle LeatherWorx is a North Carolina based artisian company that specializes in unique cigar pouches and rustic satchels. Bryon James from MichaelNoelleLeatherWorx.com met Boston Jimmie and explained his simple reason for starting his business:

“I noticed a lack of unique ways to carry cigars and the accessories that accompany them.”

Michael Noelle Leatherworx
Michael Noelle Leatherworx

Bryon James is also a fellow brother of the leaf and he not only makes cigar holders but also wallets, purses, cigar stands and the list goes on. Upon checking out his website he has a full line of products available, and when I say he has something for everybody that isn’t an understatement! You can spend as little as $10 or hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars on his products. All of his products are made of highest quality and you can tell a lot of thought went into each and every item he makes.

For more information on Michael Noel Weatherworx please visit www.Michaelnoelleatherworx.com


Village Food Tours – Cocoa Florida

Village Food Tours isn’t a cigar company, but the owner Halim Urban is an avid cigar smoker. The idea started because there wasn’t this type of business in the Cocoa Village area in Cocoa, Florida. Halim and his wife spent time traveling and are big foodies. In their travels they have spent time doing food tours and the couple fell in love with the concept. Each have close to 15 years working in local area restaurants, so when the time came to start Village Food Tours they didn’t have to look far. They knew most of the restaurant owners in the Cocoa Village area so they became partners to provide food tours within downtown Cocoa Village.

What is a food tour you might ask? You book the tour and pay a flat rate of around $40-60 depending on the tour and you get to eat some of the best dishes from each restaurant sort of like a pub crawl.

Village Food Tours provides tremendous value to tourists, because for a small fee you get to try sample portions from several different restaurants. Some of their partners include Osorio Restaurant and Bakery, The Dirty Oar, Dog n Bone British Pub, Cafe Margeaux European Cuisine and Fine Steaks, and Norman’s Raw Bar and Grille – just to name a few.

Halim Urban
Halim Urban

Village food tours is catching on with the locals but it is also great for tourists to be able to get out and eat local and not have to settle for a chain restaurant that doesn’t have the same charm. Halim is also thinking about doing a food tour including cigars at the end of the meal. Cigars and food go hand in hand.

Halim got into spirits before getting into cigars. He has an extensive collection of over 150 bourbons, rums and scotches. Someone noticed that Halim was interested in cigars, so they got him hooked up and that’s how he began to enjoy both spirits and cigars along with the pleasure of pairing them.

Halim notes:

“Smoking a cigar is my time away, to relax from a hectic life. Between working at a restaurant, having kids and running Village Food Tours it is a a way to relax and de-stress.”

To book a tour go to www.villagefoodtours.com


Sedrick Dunson – Phat Ash Collection

Sedrick Dunson is the founder of Phat Ash Collection, a T-Shirt brand designed to focus on people who like to hold on to their ash while smoking a cigar. If you have ever tried to keep a long ash while smoking a cigar then you know just how difficult it is. Phat Ash prides itself on community, culture, and commitment.

Sedrick Dunson
Sedrick Dunson

The cigar community is a diverse community that is very accepting to everyone from ALL walks of life. It is part of a growing culture to learn more about cigars in all aspects while relaxing and enjoying time together. Phat Ash is committed to bringing community and culture together and providing opportunities for it to happen. They make quality products with great value so as to be sure they never disappoint.

For more information and to purchase a Phat Ash shirt visit www.phatashcollection.com


In Conclusion

I would like to first point out, I am well aware, not every single person got a mention. There are literally hundreds of black owned businesses that are centered around cigars. I simply wanted to highlight some that I see active on social media and people who I have interacted with. It isn’t my intention to skip anyone by any means. I hope this article has truly celebrated the resurgence of black cigar smokers and I hope that you go and support these hard working entrepreneurs in their select businesses. If you you want to mention others please add them to the comments on this article so all can see.

Like I mentioned early on in the article, it isn’t as much of a resurgence as it is a celebration of this particular movement. I wanted to shed light on an overlooked part of our cigar family and provide a platform and documentation on the movement because major cigar media isn’t. I doubt that it’s intentional, because the cigar media is inclusive of every demographic, but this is a part of history that can’t be ignored. We are living in the prime time for self made black entrepreneurs. Like anyone, they deserve to get credit where credit is due.

The numbers are only increasing. It isn’t as much of a resurgence as it is a growing visibility. Black cigar smokers have always been here, they are a major part of the cigar industry, and are getting more involved year over year.

22 thoughts on “Cigar Lifestyle: A Celebration of Black Cigar Smokers – By Mike Holmes

  • I would like to make a clear point as it relates to “social clubs”….I am all about the fun, etc but not the turn up…I strongly believe that the goal of the clubs should be to stay educated on the cigar world and to educate…that was why I joined a group and it is what my group promotes….I hate seeing cigar parties full of people who don’t smoke and only came to find mr or Ms right now….I hate even more seeing these clubs host these parties, collect a great deal of money, and pocket it….at least give back to your community!

    • Good point. However, one of the benefits of social events are to meet new people. Be it Mr right or Ms wrong. No different from movies, church, sports, etc. We are philanthropic and also promote networking. We don’t encourage the hook up, but we don’t suppress it either. Let organic events happen.

    • Bro. Where did you get this 10 year thing from? You need to tighten your research or someone told you wrong.

      • Franklin, I will let Mike respond more to this – but I believe he got some of that from TK.. Mike did state that this is not new but there has been a surge in the last decade. What would you say it is?

  • I agree Christal and thats why I started a Cigar Group called Smokin Haute. I’ve only been in existence for approx 5 months and my membership is approx 200 members. My Group is to stay “Secret” on purpose. I’m not concerned about quantity, I’m more concerned about quality. Smokin Haute introduce the many facets of the “Cigar Lifestyle” that I dont see in other Social Media Cigar Groups. We give Financial tips, Job tips, fashion, health tips, business tips. You have to have money to substain the LifeStyle and I give them tips in Stock, Bonds, Crypto Currency, Bitcoins, Gold Bars, Real Estate, Entrepreneurship, also support all of the other Cigar Groups, Cigar Brands, Cigar Lounges and Cigar events all under one umbrella. I dont compete with my BOTL’s and SOTL’s, I have many Lounge owners who advertise, Cigar Brands to advertise. I support them and show them how to support others, even if they are in the same business. It’s enough room for “everbody” to come to the table and eat. “What God has for you, is for you and nobody can take it away from you. I encourage them to stay in their “own lane” and stop watching what others are doing, even if it’s the same thing you’re doing. This is what set my Cigar Group from “All” of the others. Most Cigar Grouls dont let you come up in their Group and advertise. I have no problem with it as long as it doesnt interfere with my Purpose for the Group and they must be repectful. So, I’ll continue to keep it “Underground”. I’ve seen Cigar Groups with 1,000 plus members and only 10 post regularly and they have the same post as most of the Group with someone holding a Cigar. My Goal is to take the Cigar World to the next level. We also include new smokers. They come qith new ideas. So, we are not just stuff shirts and tight skirts, we are not your Grandfather rockin in a chair with a pipe. We cone together to smoke and fellowship, however we dont throw parties. We are not a hook up sight, we dont promote tits and azz. We are Educated, Eclectic, Debonair, Hip Hop, New Age innovators and Ole skoolers who love the Cigar LifeStyle.

  • Miami?..Black Owned Cigar Lounge? Gotta be ASHES Cigar Lounge..Great Selection..Knowledgeable staff..Incredible atmosphere..Diverse clientele..Understanding that this solid article could not include everybody that does a fantastic job, really would like to see Miami’s too often ignored BLACK FOLK featured in articles and events centered on Black Smokers in Miami..Anything less is a travesty of Righteousness

  • It’s definitely a process to acknowledge all or to make a selection, as to who/whom will be featured, and better yet, when they’ll be featured. You covered the highlights as it relates to the “Black Cigar Culture” growing and you listed businesses that you’re aware of, and as you stated, there are hundreds that were not mentioned, not intentionally, but overall, you covered a fair share of the masses! And, by the way, I am Naimah “Ni” Pears owner of Red Lips and Cigar Sticks™ which I am a cigar blogger and an apparel line owner. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much for reading StogiePress- Mike did a great job on this – let’s keep the comments coming and we will add a bullet list at the end to refresh blog and groups and shops to as this moves along.

      Regards – Boston Jimmie

  • Mike, I agree it isn’t as much of a resurgence as it is a growing visibility.

    Your article was very detailed and it is a testimony to the celebration of this particular lifestyle.

    Masculino is grateful that you included our brand in the article. Continue to push the pen beyond the margins and share the facts… Live Ya Truth!!

    MasculinoCigars.com | #SixthFinger ♨️

  • Thank you all for reading. I really appreciate the feedback. Like I said there is alot that I wasnt able to include. Thank you for the mentions of places or people that weren’t included. Next time I’m in Miami will check out.

  • Great content. The dynamics are changing and it will only get better. Diversity is the key to keeping the industry healthy.

    • Omar I agree. It’s always been diverse.

      Also being the first person to begin to tackle this subject has been extremely difficult. I got the figure 10 years as in when the increase in black cigar smokers started to occur. There was already black cigar smokers before that time ,obviously. 10 years ago is when the increase of black cigar smokers started to become more visible Nationwide. Of course every big city had their own movement’s going on but it got big when people were able to connect state to state. I spoke with a couple people on this not Just TK and 10 years is the number that I kept hearing. Could I be wrong? Absolutely! But I wanted to put together an article celebrating black cigar smokers and do it in excellence. Its an article that will help document a part of history.

      Also about not featuring shops or missing someone it was not intentional and I wasn’t overlooking anyone I had the tough task of picking many people for their lounges, shops brands etc… I picked a few that has associations with stogie press and support stogie press. I also picked people who I found interesting and have interacted with from time to time. I really wish I could have added more. I will get to people mentioned here In the comments anytime I am working on something that can be beneficial. My eyes are opened even more to many more awesome people! We will cross paths eventually.

      I know this was a novel but I am truly appreciative that you took the time to comment whether it be constructive criticism or just a general response. I am thankful you took the time to reach out. God bless!

  • No worries. I think you did an excellent job of capturing the essence within the framework of a specific word count. Keep pushing. Stop in and say hello next time you in the Philly metro area. Peace

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