Box Press Podcast

My First Cigar—Why it Shouldn’t Be a Connecticut feat. Blackbird’s Jonas Santana | Ep. 45

This rapper turned cigar maker’s got your back. Never again walk into a shop’s humidor like a cigar newbie caught in the headlights. Before shopping for your first cigar, listen up to Blackbird Cigar Company’s Jonas Santana and Boveda’s Rob Gagner from the 2021 Tobacco Plus Expo in Las Vegas.

Learn why to say no to a Connecticut, and yes, please to this cigar instead. Discover how to smoke a cigar to get the most flavor. Even if you’re a cigar aficionado, you’ll learn a new thing or two, including how your cigar choices should progress as you smoke throughout the day.

Rob Gagner (RG): There’s a story inside every smoke shop with every cigar and with every person. Come be a part of the cigar lifestyle at Boveda. This is Box Press.

Hey, everyone. Rob Gagner here. Welcome to another episode of Box Press. We are at TPE 21 and I am sitting across from Jonas Santana. Now, if you don’t know that name, he’s not a famous guitar player, but

Jonas Santana (JS): [laughs]

RG: …he is a famous cigar maker. Famous. Only in the last two years, has he launched his company and we’re already seeing it everywhere on Instagram, in stores, everywhere.

And it’s hard to miss because he uses color. He uses unique marketing tactics to catch your eye. And we’re gonna learn all about this and the brand behind it. Jonas, thank you so much for being here with Blackbird Cigar Company.

JS: My pleasure, man. How are you? Rob?

RG: I’m doing great.

JS: Right? You look like it.

RG: Couldn’t be happier. I’m actually smoking your

JS: The JackDaw?

RG: This is the JackDaw?

JS: That’s the European Crow. That’s why it’s my Connecticut cigar.

RG: The Jack Dow?

JS: JackDaw.

RG: Daw.

JS: It’s, it’s actually my longest name. And even though it’s the longest name. It’s only two syllables that’s like

RG: Jack.

JS: It has to be that way. Always in my core line, No name in the core line

RG: Two syllable-

JS: …can be more than two syllables.

RG: Unkind. Rook. Crow. I’m getting it now.

JS: [laughs]

RG: That’s really helpful. And I still can’t do it. JackDaw.

JS: JackDaw. It’s the longest and it’s- and it’s related to birds—crows, because it’s family of the crow.

RG: In all of your interviews.

JS: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

RG: …It was interesting to find out that your research into birds led you to what is the smartest bird? And that’s the crow.

JS: That actually is the crow.

RG: How is that even possible? You look like, I look at a crow and I go probably not the smartest bird, probably not just a big black bird, you know, you think of it kind of as a

JS: It’s ugly.

RG: …scavenger or some sort of a,

JS: Yeah.

RG: …but it’s actually the smartest bird.

JS: That is correct.

RG: And it’s because of the way they flock together?

JS: They flock together? About in which means right now?

RG: Like as a unit, like they, they kind of are interconnected, right? The crow is interconnected with each other, like as a flock?

JS: It’s not just because of that, you put, you put a a crow in a cage, and you start putting food, he in there and make them to- uh, moves that they need to make moves to take the food out. They make it happen by itself. They are really…

RG: They’re like a squirrel where like, if you put food somewhere, the squirrel is gonna figure out how to get it.

JS: He figured out a lot of things. He can even talk sometimes.

RG: [laughs]

JS: Yeah. It’s kind of a scary, funky thing. [laughs]

RG: Tal- talking crows. I don’t know.

JS: It’s- yeah. yeah. It’s they are very smart. So the thing is when you do branding, most of the time people go like from the inside to outside. I like from outside to keep it outside, because I believe that the majority of the people already know how a cigar is made.

There’s gonna be newbies. We’re gonna have new people, but when we go branding, we need to go already different than the rest that have years in the business. With that have a lot of respect, but they took the traditional route because back then was the good momentum to do that.

RG: Right.

JS: But they already have their corner. I needed to come something very new, fresh simplistic.

So when we- I was researching, with my brother and my graphic designer about how we really gonna penetrate the U.S. market, because I already know I was gonna have a good cigar, not because of all the wisdom that I have. It’s because of my master blender. That is my mentor. So I already know about that, but I say there’s a lot of good cigars out there.

Anyways, nobody’s telling me, Jonas, we need a brand because nobody actually was asking, like… . Let’s say Trump, didn’t call me to tell me, Jonas, you need to move to USA. I decided to come here. I decided to also launch a brand.

RG: Right.

What’s with these boutique cigars named after birds in brightly colored cigar boxes?

JS: So in order to really pop, I really nee- I really needed to connect a lot of things. So the symbol of USA is very easy. It’s actually the eagle, but it’s the smartest. The- it’s the strongest…

RG: Right.

JS: So-

RG: Yeah. You said that in those interviews, it was like you were emu- emulating the eagle to bring it down so it was relatable.

JS: Exactly. So you have the strongest. So who, which one is the smartest? That’s actually the crow.

RG: Yeah. you gotta be smart in how you get into the industry.

JS: Exactly. So things that I thought with my brother—how we gonna pop? How we gonna let the people know that we are there without…

RG: Yeah, you you got bright colors. You got orange, royal blue…

JS: Yeah.

RG: …the purple, the red.

JS: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

RG: That’s strategic. You want people to notice your cigars…

JS: Exactly.

RG: …and more importantly, inside the cigar box its strength is labeled there…

JS: Exactly.

RG: …already.

JS: Exactly.

Save Blackbird cigar bands to remind yourself what to shop for again at the smoke shop

RG: You even have on your bands, you have a little bit of the band being left off so that you can peel it off easy and save it.

JS: You have the bird.

RG: And you even have the wrapper on the band so that I know, Hey, I really like this cigar. With some of the bands, when you go in a smoke shop and you say, Hey, I really like this cigar. They go, I don’t know which, which cigar of that company you smoked because it doesn’t tell you

JS: Exactly.

RG: But yours does. It says JackDaw, Connecticut.

JS: There you go.

RG: Or whatever it is.

JS: Unkind, Cubra. That’s for sure.

RG: Yeah.

What draws you to try a new cigar from a boutique brand like Blackbird? 

JS: So it always says it. The thing is we live by that, but by this that I’m gonna say—people get caught by the eye. They return by the experience, that’s the blend. They stay by the bite. Let’s say I can have wonderful cigars, but if you don’t like me, you kind of don’t wanna support me.

And this industry is a very face-to-face business. And the word support is very important for everybody in the business.

RG: Right.

JS: So that really by those three t- three things to really make it happen.

RG: I love it because once you walk into the humidor, you can very, very well see it. But before we get into walking into humidors, you walk into recording studios very often ‘because you are a rapper as well.

JS: How you know that?

RG: Because I talk to you. [laughs]

JS: [laughs]

Rap music and cigars

RG: And it said in a couple of videos, in a couple interviews that you like to rap. So my question is what was the first rap album that you bought that you listened front to back and was just like, this is amazing.

JS: I love the Tupac album,

RG: Which one?

JS: The Amerikaz.

RG: Americas?

JS: It’s- 2 of, 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted? What that song was?

RG: Ah-

JS: That album, it’s a long time ago. That was why…

RG: …but that was the one you would pop in the CD player and listen. Just go the whole thing.

Biggie versus Tupac

JS: This is the thing. I love. I love lyrics, but for me, between Biggie and Pac, Pac is more club. Biggie is more lyricist. But at the end of the day, when you’re out partying, you’re not really paying putting too much attention to the lyrics. Because you’re drinking, you’re smoking, you’re having fun.

So I believe like to, to make more noise, you use lyrics. But you have to use more repeated, verses or chorus that people can remember. And also his voice. I think was amazing when he was you know, machucando el beat, that’s the way I say it in Spanish.

RG: [laughs]

JS: Machucando el beat, he sounded amazing. So I like that one. And the guys from back then, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Easy-E. Those moments I can’t forget.

RG: Yeah. I think I think I bought Dr. Dre’s 2001 album and it…

JS: Oh, that was there.

RG: …probably didn’t come out of my CD player for about a good month.

JS: The 2001, I think that was his best album.

RG: He’s am- he was a he- and it was just fun to listen because

JS: Yeah.

RG: …at that point, he was kind of just putting the feather in his cap. And it was very much of like, just give me one more platinum record and you can have it back.

JS: [laughs]

RG: Like, I love that line. Just have it back. Y- I’m done. This is it for me.

I love that.

JS: And and this album from 50 Cent, The Massacre.

RG: Yeah.

JS: That was a hot album. That was- that was number one for weeks.

RG: Right.

JS: Well, it’s yeah, that one was, I liked that one too. You can find me in the club

RG: [laughs]

JS: In the club, right? That was…

RG: You like that club music?

JS: Oh yeah. I like that. Well, everybody in the club gettin tipsy. That’s another song that I like.

RG: Yeah. Yeah.

JS: [laughs]

RG: Yeah. Do you like it because it gets people energized and happy?

JS: The vibe, man.

RG: Yeah.

When do you write rap lyrics?

JS: They make people smile, joke around. And the most of the time when I’m working, let’s say I’m in the computer, I’m always listening to music or a beat. Because I never know when I’m gonna have lyrics in my head. So I start recording Voice Notes, so I don’t forget. Or sometimes I type it in. But actually most of the songs that I have record, I, I start putting the beat while driving, visiting shops and I start free styling. And after I freestyle, I convert it to a song.

RG: So you’re, you’re working on your raps while you’re going to smoke shops to sell cigars?

JS: This is the thing. You’re always gonna have at least 30 minutes from shop to shop.

RG: Right.

JS: Sometimes an hour. When you take a plane, I love planes because nobody can call me.

RG: Oh, [laughing]. That is a good point. No one can call you, no one can text you, no one can email you.

JS: So you have peace.

RG: So you can just focus on what you have to do.

JS: Sometimes I say, I don’t wanna travel, but when I’m in the sky, nobody can call me. And at the end of the day, if there’s a problem, it’s out of my hands. I have full concentration.

RG: Yeah.

JS: I’m focused. I have done songs in 20 minutes. And then I just say, you know what, let’s set up a meeting in a month. We’re gonna record it because I have full concentration.

RG: [laughs]

JS: [laughs] Yeah, that happens.

RG: Kind of like uh, Jay-Z where he’s like, let’s just get in the recording studio. Let’s get it done. Because it’s expensive to sit in here.

JS: Exactly.

RG: [laughs]

JS: Sometime … Well, I did three songs uh, a month ago and one of them was already, I wrote it already. And the other two, I just had ideas in my head and with the- we recorded three songs in two and a half days. And the recorders were like how you do that?

RG: [laughs]

JS: I don’t I don’t know.

RG: And are you rapping in Spanish or English?

JS: Spanish, but I’m actually working on a cigar song.

RG: You’re working on a cigar song?

JS: The thing is I need, I need more, less Dominican accent English. So I can sound…

RG: [laughs]

JS: …imagine I, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna sound very, I don’t know. Sorry, excuse my language, stupid in a song. But I can say for example, seven in the morning, before I hit the strips, gotta light up a cigar before reaching my tips. It’s hard to decide between JackDaw and a Finch. I just smoke them both until I get an inch.

RG: Yeah. [laughing]

JS: [laughs]

RG: That is the- the pre-release. You heard it here on Box Press. First time ever that we had a first music pre-release right here.

JS: Yeah.

RG: Love it.

JS: I wanna do that. It, it’s gonna be fun.

RG: It’s awesome.

JS: Out of the normal.

RG: Was that always your, your passion first was music?

JS: Yes. But the thing is you need to take routes that maybe…

RG: Hard to feed that without doing something else, right? Financially?

JS: Exactly. That you need to invest a lot of money to really make it happen in the music.

RG: Sure.

JS: As well as uh, as well as cigars, but the game of cigars let’s say, is more easy to understand than the game of the music. The music is more monopolized.

RG: Oh, really? Somebody else controls it.

JS: Yeah, because sometimes you wanna get a firm or you wanna be signed for so, and so then if you don’t do it properly, they have you for the rest of the life. You know, a lot of people, they were famous. And after that, nobody heard of them?

RG: Sure.

JS: So you need to really understand the music because you do it for fun. And when that turns to business, it’s kind of crazy. In the, in the case of cigars, for example, me and my brother actually had the mentality of, as- we don’t do this for money.

Like I say to you earlier, eventually it will come when you do it the proper stuff. I wanna do the same thing with music. If God want me to be famous in music, that will come. And every time I’m gonna record a music video, I always, when I’m showering, God, please, if I need to stop recording music, please let me know.

So I don’t spend, I don’t waste my money every single time. And he keep letting me do it. So I said, that’s a sign I need to keep doing. I say block the fly, do whatever, give me diarrhea. [laughs]

RG: Right.

JS: Whatever. You know what I mean? If I I- if I need to stop, just let me know.

RG: So you’re out there listening to what God has in store…

JS: Yeah.

RG: …for you.

JS: I’m a true believer. I’m a true believer. I’m a guy that…

RG: How often do you ask yourself that question? Is it like, kinda every day? Like check in. Am I supposed to be doing this?

JS: Yeah. About cigars, I ask it all the time. Did I did the right thing? Did I speak to these gentlemen the right way? God help me, please.

RG: So you’re- you launched the brand in 2019?

JS: Yeah.

RG: So you were really new. You’re really new still.

JS: Yeah. Yeah.

RG: But even before you even launched or even now, are there times where you thought, I don’t know if I can keep this brand going.

JS: Well, the type of questions that I have is—do do—will I get all the tobacco that I need? Because I’m not a tobacco grower…

RG: Right.

JS: Right now. Eventually, it will happen if God allows me, but my demand is getting so high that sometimes I get a little afraid, but for some reason, me and my brother and the master blender are connected.

I was gone. I I’ve been calling them like once a day, every day for the last three weeks because the sales went skyrocket. And they all always reminding me, keep doing it. God will provide. And I got a call today. My brother said, “Sell everything you can. We just were over in the warehouse and we have a bunch of tobacco coming.” And I’m like…

RG: It’s on its way.

JS: Three weeks calling. I keep working out. Everything’s happening now. We’re gonna make more cigars.

RG: That’s good news. That’s good news because God knows we wanna keep trying them.

JS: Yeah.

Which Blackbird Cigar should you try first? 

RG: Absolutely. Well, of course you got the idea from the crow. You have the entire line with popping colors. If I were to just ask you, Hey, I’m gonna try one of your cigars. Which one would you point me to try right away?

JS: Without asking? What’s the strength that you like? I’ll go Unkind.

RG: Let’s just say I say, I like medium.

JS: I’ll go Unkind.

RG: You’d go with which one?

JS: Unkind.

RG: Unkind.

JS: Because I think it’s the more the most changeable blend that I have.

RG: The most change?

JS: Yeah. Every third tastes different.

RG: Nice.

JS: You can have the same [inaudible 00:15:55]. I call it not the boring cigar that I have. Not boring at all. It’s my, I can say the number two in sales. The number one is Crow. Now it’s battling with the Cuco. They have the same numbers.

RG: [laughs]

JS: But the Unkind also has the story behind make the people actually always ask question about that, but the thing is, it changes a lot. So the first third, you have very intense pepper that you might think is gonna be full body. But right after 10 minutes, it’s gonna mellow out, turns to creamy—a lot of flavors that it’s very hard to identify. Then the last third everything comes back from the first third. Very intense. No pepper at all. So that’s why I say…

RG: Totally changed.

JS: Not the boring one. That’s not the boring one.

RG: But the other ones aren’t boring.

JS: I know. But the thing is, you know, it’s the one that changes the most, but at the end of the…

RG: So you wanna kind of like wow them right away.

JS: That’s more, let’s say that’s, that’s more wow. They’re all good. I know Crow is the one that people remember the most. Probably because of the color red.

RG: Sure.

JS: The people, the brand, that they mention the least. And they see the least is the Cuco because it’s the gray one. That’s psy- that’s psychology. But when I saw my numbers, be- before coming to TPE, I sold the same quantity of Cuco batches as Crow. And even me, sometimes it works out that I don’t know how popular the Cuco is because people say Coco…

RG: [laughs]

JS: … or Cacao. Say, bro it’s Cuco. Cuco bird. And Cuco means ghost in the Dominican Spanish. So it’s hard to why is it Coco? I’m like, bro, that’s the way you wanna call it. Go for it.

RG: [laughs]

JS: [laughs] Go for it. So, psychology. The colors really work a lot. Even in me.

RG: Well that’s what- you have a marketing background.

JS: Exactly. I have a marketing background.

RG: You went to university in the Dominican Republic.

JS: Yes, yes.

RG: Got the marketing degree, you were working for a cigar manufacturer at the time.

JS: Yes.

RG: Learning the business,

JS: Yeah, yeah.

RG: But it was just what, what made you say, you know, you had this idea of what you wanted to do…

JS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RG: And you even pitched it to them. You pitched…

JS: I pitched it.

RG: …it to the company you were working for?

JS: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RG: And tell me why, why do you feel like they shot it down? Or why didn’t they give it the play that you felt like it needed?

JS: Maybe because they see the, the industry in a more traditional way. Maybe, I don’t know, ego?

RG: How did it make you feel when, when they kinda shot it down?

JS: At first?

I feel bad because I wanted to be loyal. If I wasn’t to be loyal, just be gone and pitch the, the, this thing to somebody else. I had a conversation with my brother and he told me the first conversation supposed, it’s supposed to be with me. It’s supposed to be with your boss. And I did. Because he—my brother is older than me and he teach me a lot of things.

So he told me you gotta talk with the guy first. And I did, I tried two times. Then the third and the las- the last one, I was like, you know what? I need to respect him anyways, it’s his thing, but I wanted to be loyal. So when I’m gone, and I tried to be loyal, then we don’t have the best relationship as before you kind of like, feel a little bad, but I always say, Go- if God is allowing me to be successful, I know I didn’t do anything wrong because I I measure by that.

I always say, God, why you are allowing me to be bigger? Why you are allowing me to be more famous? And the people, taking pictures with me. And they wanna know more about me. And I don’t have family tradition in this. Why you allowing me? So I think that’s the way to measure that I know I didn’t do the bad thing. So, what can I say? I’m happy. I’m happy because at the end of the day, it was meant to be that way.

RG: Right.

JS: You can have a lot of ideas, but it’s in God’s plans at the- at the end of day, the way he wants you to be and the way you wanna be. Maybe he want me out for better- for my, for a better me. I don’t know. Here we are. [laughs]

RG: [laughs]

JS: That’s what it is.

How he legally immigrated to the U.S.

RG: And it wasn’t easy to get here because in fact, you to get into the United States, you were there for a little bit illegally. Because you couldn’t get your green card.

JS: I was coming here already since 2009. In 1995, I got the visa, but I couldn’t stay here. Right? I got the B-1/B-2, that’s the, the visa that you can do business and you can visit, right? After that? Well, I I always wanted to come and live in Miami. I couldn’t make it. So I was five months here, go back.

RG: Right.

JS: Five months here, go back. So I was all like that for about a year, a year and a half then…

RG: You just couldn’t get the right visa. So I had it wrong.

JS: No. They denied me.

RG: You couldn’t get the right visa to live here.

JS: I, I, I I submit the- for the L1 visa that’s the one that allows you to live like a resident.

RG: Yeah.

JS: And the, the lawyer told me you can stay. Stay because they’re gonna say yes to you because I have all the proper information. So, and so I stayed over the limit of my days anyways.

RG: Ah.

JS: And I got the letter. Denied. And I was illegal already. [laughs]

RG: Oh, gotcha. So you were waiting for the results of your application.

JS: The positive result.

RG: And the lawyer was like, yeah, you’re gonna be, fine.

JS: Yeah, you’re gonna be fine.

RG: Yeah, you’re gonna be fine. [laughs]

JS: Am I gonna say no to the lawyer? He’s supposed to know better than me.

RG: [laughs] You got advised wrong.

JS: Exactly. So I stay. I, I was already hanging out with a lady that I know for a long time and we were dating. And I told her, you know what? I didn’t know I was gonna marry that, that soon. Uh, we need to get married.

RG: What’d she say?

JS: If it’s not for business? Whoa, it’s true love? I, I do it. [laughs]

RG: [laughs] But she had, she had to question. Is this for business reasons or is this for true love?

JS: Like, real talk. She was straight up like that. She say, “If it’s true love. I’ll make it happen.” I didn’t know. I was gonna get married too soon. I’m not gonna tell my mother. We got married.

RG: You didn’t tell your mom?

JS: We didn’t have any wedding. We got married.

RG: You didn’t tell your your parents.

JS: My mom, yes. Her mom, no. And her parents, no. Neither of them.

RG: How did that go over after they found out?

JS: It’s still, we don’t have a very good relationship. [laughs]

RG: [laughs] Are we rethinking that decision?

JS: So I told my- I, I called my mom. I- mom, I need to be legal in this country. She already said yes, she has a good faith already. So I think she’s the one, right? Because she’s gonna even ask me for money to do that. People do it all the time. But she said, “I want true love. I want a family and you’re the right one. And you’re a hard working guy. That’s good.” So she said, yes. I’m like, “Mommy, she’s not gonna tell her momma.” Okay. You can, you’re not the one that’s supposed to tell her mom. It’s her, so…

RG: You left it up to her, then?

JS: Exactly.

RG: That’s your decision. If you wanna tell your mom.

JS: Then she spent like six months still living with her, even though she was married with me. I was living with my brother. Then she say, “We need to move together because we’re married. She was the one telling me we need to move together.” Uh, did you tell your mom? No, I don’t feel good about that.

RG: [laughs]

JS: So you prefer a Dominican mom to know that you move without getting married? For Dominican moms, that’s very bad. Here, it’s different. But over there, you need to get married before you you leave the house. And she said, “Oh, whatever. I figured it out.” We moved A year after, I was tired.

My- the- her mom was sleeping at my house for about three days. And I told her, “What if I tell you I’m married to your daughter?” She said, “I wouldn’t be surprised because you guys are already living together.” So yes, we’re married. [laughs] Straight up like that because she said that like I pushed it right away. [laughs]

RG: [laughs] You went in when you thought it was clear.

JS: Yeah. Right away. I knew it. I knew it. What you gonna do? What you gonna do now? There’s nothing to do.

RG: But the, the relationship is still rocky?

JS: The relationship. was, was like that we had up and downs.

RG: Yeah.

JS: The family’s a little different than mine. I know they just wanna protect her, honestly. I understand that, but after the kid that we have. The relationship is getting way better.

RG: I know.

JS: I know. It’s it’s, I know it’s, it’s trying to protect.

How becoming a father changes a man

RG: Right. You have a baby boy.

JS: Yeah. I have a baby. boy.

RG: One years old?

JS: Yeah. He’s gonna turn one in on the 16th of this month. His name is Daniel. Easy in English. Easy in Spanish.

RG: Daniel.

JS: Daniel.

RG: Happy birthday, Daniel.

JS: Yep. [laughs]

RG: May 16th.

JS: [laughs]

RG: Congrats, buddy.

JS: Thank you, brother. Thank you.

RG: Kids change you, man. Kids change you.

JS: You don’t see life. The like when you are teenager, like in, in, in my, in my country, let’s say you probably kind of are allowed to drink at 16, 17.

RG: Sure.

JS: So when you are over there and you hang out a lot, you don’t really think like now, right now, every time, every, day- every time you, you make a move, you’re thinking about that guy. So when I thought I was the boss of my house? Very, very wrong.

RG: [laughs]

JS: He’s the freaking boss.

RG: [laughs]

JS: [laughs]

RG: He’s, he’s the boss, man.

JS: He’s the boss. He’s the boss.

RG: Those kids rule the roost.

JS: Yeah. And they don’t even know they have, po- but they, have the power.

RG: Right.

JS: And you kind of feel happy about that. You know, like uh …

RG: Yeah.

JS: Yeah. Because, because they make you happy, right?

RG: He knows who you are, but he also lets you know, who’s in charge.

JS: Yeah. Every time he cries he’s- he’s- he just wanna be with him, with his momma, you know, to feed her fe- feed him and things like that. When I cry, nobody feed me.

RG: Right.

JS: You know what I mean? [laughs]

RG: [laughs] Well, with a family now on the line and it’s not easy to do cigar business What are some of the sacrifices you’re making in order to make sure the brand continues on?

JS: I hope so. I hope the brand continues. I’m gonna teach him a lot of stuff, but I’m gonna be a little different. I don’t really wanna give him the best life because I’m gonna be successful and so and so. He needs to earn it. If it’s somebody else outside of my family, that’s gonna earn it. That’s gonna be the one.

RG: Hard work.

JS: Hard work. And not only hard work that when they feel identify, they really wanna see things. It’s not only hard work because you can be hard. You can be hard working because you wanna get paid. You wanna- you can do extra hours because you wanna get paid.

RG: Sure.

JS: But what you’re doing because you love it, you really wanna- you enjoy it.

That’s the thing I treat my guys as family. I don’t know when you went to the booth, the way they are, they talk to me. Like, I’m just one of his friends.

RG: Right.

JS: But they also know when to stop. That it’s business time. I like that feeling because I believe that’s the only way you’re really gonna shine when you are yourself.

RG: Right

JS: Not because you’re trying to be double faced so the boss can be happy. I want the true you, all the time. As you can see, I don’t have a dress code.

RG: Right.

JS: I don’t have any dress code. They all try to be themselves. They put the music that they want. We turn, “Who’s who’s gonna put music now? It’s your turn. What you think, man. You’re the country boy? You’re the rap boy? Make it happen.”

RG: Nice.

JS: Then they feel happy. They don’t feel like they’re working.

RG: Right. They can express themselves the way they want.

JS: Exactly. There’s, there’s always a line. We need to explain so and so to the customers like this. There’s always a line, but enjoy it. Be yourself. That’s all I say.

RG: Well, what kind of sacrifices have you had to make in order to make sure the brand continues on and continues going?

JS: Sacrifice? Well, what about I have done [inaudible 00:28:37] to the States by myself? Uh, I, even that I have a team. I I’m, I still call people. Like right now, I have over 200 emails just because I wanna call every single guy that bought the last month, just to say, thank you. Even though I have reps taking care of it. I want the- them to feel that I’m reachable. I’m here because of them.

RG: Right

JS: At the end of the day, even that I made the cigars, I don’t make cigars for me.

RG: So you’re sacrificing some time.

How to run your own business while being a good spouse and present parent

JS: I sacrifice a lot of time, a lot of family time.

RG: How does that go over with the family?

JS: I, the thing, the good thing is she understands. But when I, when I come back, I really balance it out. Probably Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I’m not gonna work. Probably.

RG: Nice.

JS: Just calls. Calls. And I’m home. Just to see whatever the kid is doing, all the mess.

RG: [laughs]

JS: What he’s doing. I tell my wife, “Yo, go do your hair. Go do your nails. She you deserve it. Here’s a little bit of cash. Go buy some Gucci. ‘I don’t like Gucci.’ ” [laughs]

RG: [laughs]

JS: So buy whatever you want, baby. You know.

RG: So you, you give back to your wife by…

JS: I don’t-

RG: …taking care of your son, Daniel for a while let her get out of, because she’s the primary caregiver for him right now.

JS: Exactly.

RG: You’re not sending him into daycare to take…

JS: No, she…

RG: Yeah.

JS: I, I want it to be this way. But let’s be honest if you’re traveling, and you go away two weeks out of the month, and when you come back, you look more broke. What’s she gonna think that you are with another one?

RG: Right?

JS: Right? So you need to actually show her that you are being better. So we are better.

RG: Yeah.

JS: So the only way is by giving back giving do this. How you wanna-

RG: And it’s not just monetary it’s, you’re giving your time, and-

JS: Time, whatever you wanna do.

RG: Committed.

JS: There’s some error that people, that mens do when they come back from a travel, they just buy something. It can be so much expensive, but, but you’re missing out something.

When you come back, you just need to do one question to your wife. “What do you want?” And maybe what she wants is only your time. She can maybe say, “I just want want you in- at the house for two days.” And that is more valuable than the Gucci that you…

RG: Oh, yeah.

JS: …brought to her. Just ask her what she wants. Because, you know, she’s not a robot that works for me. She says, “You’re my man.” Like she loves me, that’s why she’s with me. But she’s different.

RG: Yeah.

JS: Maybe you- you agree. Right?

RG: Good advice.

JS: [laughs]

RG: Good advice.

JS: It’s a good advice.

RG: Good advice. So with your brand, we’re seeing a total shift than what we normally see in this industry where it’s a lot of back story on maybe the person’s heritage and legacy in the tobacco industry, or it’s some heritage with the brand.

You went a totally different route where you went popping of color. You have a theme, but it doesn’t really, it’s not a romanticized story.

JS: No.

RG: Why did you decide to go that route and think that that’s gonna be beneficial to connect with consumers?

What do you do when you smoke cigars?

JS: Because I, I don’t, I don’t come here just to teach. Remember, I think I already told you I, I try to do things, not from the inside, it’s to the outside. So the most of the time people focus on come to the factory and see what we do. They market it that way. I market, “What do you do when you smoke cigars?”

RG: Okay. So what do I typically, when I’m smoking cigars, I’m either outside mowing the lawn, taking the dog for a walk. I find it harder to sit down and smoke a cigar now than I ever have before. But maybe that’s just because I have a kid and I got to…

JS: Time , time.

RG: … keep moving, but otherwise I’d be at the smoke shop every Friday.

JS: So let me tell you, let me give you some examples. As a- as we focus on what you do when you smoke cigars or why you’re smoking cigars. It’s not only because you like the cigars. Sometimes it’s because success, when you go on Instagram, let’s say, and somebody is, “Hey guys, thank you for everything, let’s ride.”

And they have a cigar and a Ferrari, vroom. How do you feel? You know what I mean? It’s a feeling. You, you, you can be, I don’t know, in a motorcycle because maybe you are a Harley lover. You go over there. You wanna play poker. I- I know people that they love to cook. That’s the stress relief for them. And they like to smoke at the same time.

I love every, I li- I love to smoke cigars with with wine Cabernet Sauvignon, and different cuts of meats at the same time, because it- if you really work it out with your palate. One bite. One puff. One sip. And I do it over and over again with different cuts of meats. So some other people, I love to smoke cigars when I’m doing podcast. I love to smoke cigars just to say, “Oh, it’s the end of the day.”

It’s my time. That’s something else. I the the cigar is very subjective. So when you’re smoking cigars, it’s actually your time. You don’t wanna be bothered.

RG: Right.

JS: Some people like to read books while they’re smoking cigars because they, they fi- , they find peace over there. They put the phone very far, maybe they got a Kindle or a hard book, whatever, all alone, by themself. They smoke their, their favorite cigar while, while they’re reading.

RG: Right.

JS: And they feel comfortable

RG: I had a guy in the smoke shop that always came in with his iPad and watched movies and smoked cigars. And I always thought it was weird. And he always had his earbuds in, he was always watching something.

JS: Yeah.

RG: But that’s his, that’s his time.

JS: That’s the thing. I love to watch movies-

RG: He’s not being anti-social, he just wants to smoke cigars and do one of his, you know, favorite hobbies of just unplugging.

JS: I love to watch movies while smoking cigars. I have…

RG: I like to eat and smoke cigars.

JS: I love it.

RG: I don’t know why, that’s like a huge treat. Maybe it’s because of all the smoking bans, but I love to eat and smoke at the same time.

JS: Oof. The palates. you, you play with the palates.

RG: Yeah.

JS: That’s one of the things. For example, I have a, a guy he’s a rapper, famous already in the Dominican Republic. He actually smoke my Crow, the gran turo. He spends around, he buys around six boxes a month, every month.

RG: Whoa.

JS: Straight up.

RG: He likes that stuff.

JS: And he always say to the, his friends, I, when I want to record, I like to smoke cigar. He always pick up the Crow. When he’s in concert, he smoke the Crow. In my case, he it was meant to be, he liked my brand. But what I wanted to say, he does this, smoking cigars. He does that, smoking cigars. So at the end of the day, everybody has a way of living and they just try to have a partner at the same time.

Let’s say a partner in crime. And his partner in crime is the cigar. So that’s why I always focus in what the people do when they smoke cigars. That’s why I market that way. That’s why, if you go to my Instagram, and you’re gonna see me in the jacuzzi, smoking a cigar.

RG: [laughs]

JS: Who doesn’t like that? I was like, Hey, good morning. Second day. TPE 2021. Booth 2022. See you guys there. Everybody was happy for that. One day, I was driving to the airport and I, and I had a friend with a motorcycle, but not the nice motorcycles, just the Dominican motorcycles, which is different. You’re probably, you’re aware of that.

RG: [laughs]

JS: And I said, “Bro, Drive the bike. I’m gonna be backwards, lighting up a cigar, take me to the airport, like that backwards.” And people were like, “Oh, this guy’s crazy, but I’m just trying to have fun.”

RG: Yeah.

JS: I wanna be on top of a car. I- Imagine smoking a cigar skydiving. [laughs]

RG: [laughs]

JS: Something like that.

RG: It might go, whew!

JS: Exactly, exactly. Party on a yacht. I don’t know.

What person would you like to smoke a cigar with?

RG: What about the company that, like, I always think about if there’s one person that you could smoke a cigar with, who would it be? I don’t like the dead or alive question. Everyone always picks a dead guy, alive. I wanna smoke a cigar with Carter Beauford, the drummer from Dave Matthews Band. I heard he smokes cigars, and I just thought it’d be interesting to pick his brain over a cigar. What about you?

JS: With whom I wanna smoke a cigar?

RG: Yeah. That’s alive still. Who would you wanna, like smoke a cigar with that’s still alive that you could like, if we set it up today.

JS: I think…

RG: You could do it.

JS: It has to be with the face of the cigar. Which one do you think is the face of the cigar? And does It have a brand right now?

RG: The face of a cigar?

JS: I believe it’s the face of the cigar.

RG:  It doesn’t have a bran- brand?

JS:  Schwarzenegger.

RG: Who?

JS: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

RG:  Arnold Schwarzenegger. Absolutely.

JS: He’s the face for me. He’s the face as a consumer of the cigar industry.

RG: Really?

JS: Double check.

RG:  Well, I mean…

JS: If you, when they, when they do the, when this mom mom. Uh, Mother’s Day. What’s the picture that they use? If your father doesn’t smoke cigars, then Happy Mother’s Day to your father.

RG: [laughs]

JS: There’s a video that they post every year. You’re, uh, he’s he’s like, “You know why I smoke cigars? Because I can. Why I smoke them in my house, because I can, because my, my wife’s father smokes cigars. So she would care not- say nothing to me. So he, he, I think he’s the face of the of the cigar industry.

RG: So you’d wanna have a cigar with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

JS:  It has to be with him.

RG: That would be a great epic cigar.

JS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And if the Rock every smoked cigars? I would like the Rock.

RG: The Rock.

JS: And Will Smith. If they smoked cigars. I don’t,

RG: And Will Smith?

JS: I, I, I’m a true, fan. And not only a fan. A fan with mind, let’s say, Will Smith and The Rock. As human beings, gentlemen, smart, hard working guys, and guys that you can learn with. If they don’t know how to smoke cigars, I teach them, honestly.

RG: [laughs]

JS: [laughs]

RG: Come with me. I’ll take you underneath my wing and teach you how to smoke cigars.

JS: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.

RG: Those are good ones.

JS: Yeah.

RG: I like those.

JS: Those gentlemen, yeah.

RG: I like it.

JS: Hard working man’s man.

Where to find hot new cigar brand like Blackbird Cigars?

RG: So one of the interesting things I always think about for a brand, especially the- a brand that’s coming up…

JS: mm-hmm [affirmative].

RG: …is how organic is the following. That that brand is getting.

JS: Well,

RG: You have a pretty organic following, my friend.

JS: I don’t- sometimes I don’t even believe it.

RG: Like 80. You said, I think in an interview somewhere, it was like 80%…

JS: Of the growth…

RG: Of the people that smoke it. They’re not, they’re not influenced, they’re just smoking it. Because they like it. They want it. Now, do you have paid influencers or brand ambassadors out there that are smoking your cigar?

JS: None of them. Now I think it’s gonna be the first time I’m gonna do a paid promotion, maybe for the PCA. Just because I think…

RG: Yeah, but that doesn’t reach consumers.

JS: No, that’s retailers.

RG: That’s retailers.

JS: I haven’t done any magazine promotion yet. I think I always thought one day it’s gonna happen because we will need it because there’s stages in the process. But I can tell you that 80% of the growth of the company has been because of Instagram. People sharing to others, telling you, you need to smoke this.

You need to smoke. That tagging me. So something else that I do that some people don’t do, maybe. Let’s call it time, is I’m the one that answer everything on Instagram. So they feel that I’m reachable.

RG: Wait, you’re the guy that people are talking to on Instagram?

JS: I’m the one that handles everything on Instagram.

RG: So you’re not paying somebody on your staff to do that.

JS: No, everything is me.

RG: Wow.

JS: Everything is me.

RG: How do you even get any time in the day?

JS: It’s getting crazy. So probably I’m gonna hire one.

RG: [laughs] Yeah.

JS: [laughs] Yeah. It’s getting crazy. But at the moment, I just wanted to, and I don’t know. It’s like my baby, like, I don’t think someone else unless they feel, really feel very identified with you. They gonna talk like you-

RG: Yeah, you have- you’d have to really mentor somebody.

JS: Yes.

RG: …to have the same mindset as you in order to turn that over. Because, like you said, it is very intimate to talk to the end user on Instagram about your brand.

JS: And I’ve done it for year, for two years already. I’m getting to a point that maybe I wanna give it to someone else already because the company’s growing. I have a lot of things to do.

RG: Do you remember the best compliment you got like right away in the beginning?

JS: I have people that have text me like I’m a super hero. I have people that text me, “You changed my life, bro.” It’s like crazy.

RG: How did you change their life? Did they explain? Or just said that.

JS: Because they feel like they feel that my cigars give them too much relaxation. That I, I probably that’s the way the want to express. They say, “Oh, you’re a killer.” “Oh, you’re the man.” “I like the way you do things.” “I like when you talk to people keep going.” “When is the next cigar?” They’re always asking, but I have some people that tell me, “Bro, I wanna be like you. I wanna br- I, I really wanna meet you.”

I have people that see me in the streets, smokers, and they have screamed because they see my face. “Ah! Jonas, I see you! Let’s take a picture!” I feel happy. I don’t. I actually don’t, don’t don’t say it in a bad way. It’s a good thing. But I didn’t know that would happen.

RG: Right.

JS: I was not expecting that, like that.

RG: You’re impacting people on a very intimate level.

JS: The thing is when I introduce the brand, and I talk everything and I always give the personal touch, actually when I introduce my brand, it doesn’t sound like a story. It sounds like a marketing class.

RG: Yeah.

JS: Marketing class.

RG: Yeah. There’s like an…

JS: With some, but it doesn’t sound like a story. The story is when I tell you, “Oh, I used to sleep in living rooms. I used to take uh, one day I took a train from, I told you, right? Miami to Buffalo, 32 hours to m- Madison Square Garden. Then seven hours or five hours.

RG: Why did you have to take a train?

JS: I had no paper and I was afraid. Maybe…

RG: Oh, so you couldn’t fly.

JS: That was not the best option, according to the lawyer.

RG: And you had to sleep on people’s couches.

JS: I did that a couple times. Yeah.

RG: Why was that? Because you couldn’t get a hotel? You didn’t have the money?

JS: No, because I was just starting in here, starting in here. So, the rent is high. So I was sleeping at my, my brother before that-

RG: Oh wait. Now we’re not talking about traveling for the brand. We’re talking about you’re sleeping on people’s couches and…

JS: I did that.

RG: …living here

JS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RG: …trying to save money so that you can start your brand.

JS: E- That happened. Yeah. I remember…

RG: Oh, that’s humbling, man.

JS: I remember I even slept at the warehouse a couple times, that happened.

RG: You’re- you’re…

JS: At the warehouse

RG: …essentially homeless.

JS: When I was, when I was, Mm, I’m not gonna say that.

RG: [laughs]

JS: But probably probably it was too late. I don’t wanna drive one hour. 10 PM. The warehouse that I used to, the place that I used to work with, they have a shower and I’m like, you know what? I don’t wanna drive for an hour to get home, to then come back an hour and a half because of the traffic at that time in the morning, I’m gonna stay here.

I, di- I did that a couple times just to, I don’t wanna do that again because I was the one receiving containers by myself over 50 feet, right? Unloading it, loading it back, inventory, shipping, sales, traveling, events, writing the checks, everything. I’m not gonna say I was the best at at doing all of that at the same time. I can never say that.

RG: Right.

JS: Because it’s too much at the same time.

RG: Yeah.

JS: But I was the one packing. Bro, I remember I, I had an event at Top Notch Cigars. In- that’s in Miami Gardens. And I, that day I received a big container and I had two pallets like this. They-

RG: They were leaning?

JS: Like this. You know,

RG: They weren’t, they weren’t standing up straight. Yeah.

JS: So I had to unload the pallets. Those two, box by box, to put it in another pallet, to wrap it again and then take everything out of the rest that was okay to then move things around for the proper shops, and ship. And then after I finished that, do an event at seven PM.

RG: Whew. That’s a busy day.

JS: That was abuse. [laughs]

RG: Yeah.

JS: Honestly, that was crazy. But I honestly believe that when you work with somebody, it’s like college that pays you. If you really pay attention.

RG: Say that again.

Why learning continues after you graduate college

JS: When you work with somebody, and you pay attention. It’s a college that pays you. So at the- at the moment, I was mad. Right now, I’m happy that that happened to me. I’m very happy because I know everything and I’m learning because th- I don’t know I don’t know it all.

RG: Right.

JS: But at least at that warehouse. And that was the easy part for me. Oh, I need a warehouse. Yeah, I know how it goes. We need this. I know who to hire. Let’s go. I know about that. I know about…

RG: The knowledge was more helpful to you than the pay.

JS: The traveling, how to knock doors in shops, how to do the sales, invoicing. Everything. Everything. You you can do everything. When you pay attention, it’s a college that pays you. It’s not about having your mind, like I really wanna fly out of here. No, but if that happens, because let me tell you, your experience is not only based on, in what you graduated.

RG: Right.

JS: Your experience is what in, in where you were working. And for how many years.

RG: Right.

JS: Because let’s be honest. And my brother tells me that all the time, after you have five years outside of the college, you are already not updated. Five years. And I can say, I can tell you in a year, you’re not updated. So you need to keep update yourself by books, by virtual classes, master’s, things like that.

So at the end of the day, your experience is gonna be based on what did you do for the last 10 years? That’s your experience, not your college degree.

RG: Right.

JS: Unless you, after that, you work right away on that. That’s a different story, which is not, not even what, 30% of what happens?

RG: But what do you think is more important? Books like the books? Or like college, I felt like it was- just taught me how to take a test and pass. it. It tau- taught me a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of basics, but the true grit and the true learning…

JS: Mm-hmm. [affirmative]

RG: …happened. Like you said,

JS: Yeah.

RG: …when the psychology pays you in the experience. That’s my opinion.

JS: I believe more in books than the college.

RG: And why is that?

JS: College is a business. College is a business. And this is the thing. If they are teaching you something, if they are teaching you something that was out to the market four years ago, you’re not updated anymore. Let’s be honest.

RG: Yeah. But, okay. So the, the curriculum is always gonna change, right? Or there’s gonna be a new person out on the scene that has new insights, but that also came from their experience out in the real world.

JS: I believe that the college is for the basics. Then if you go, if you read a book every two weeks, reli- like you read a little of what you like. The best route after that, is just going, working something that you think you’re gonna like. Go there. And after you work over there and you think you like it, then you do a master’s. Then you do a master’s. If you really wanna go deep in it and having your mindset that you’re gonna owe a lot of money. You’re gonna take a loan. And you’re gonna have… my wife. She’s gonna, she’s gonna be paying, like 30 years straight to pay the loan. So-

RG: Is that a good thing or bad?

JS: That’s a bad thing, I believe. She’s gonna be…

RG: Yeah.

JS: …30 years paying 30 bucks.

So they can take all the money from the loan. When she did the- She her career. She did the- she did the international business, right? So let’s be honest. We are in a capitalized country. So, what do you need to start a business? Capital?

RG: Right.

JS: So I believe you need to give, let’s say your child, like go and sweat, but if they have the right mindset and they are mature, I’m gonna be his partner.

If I have the liquid money, let’s do this. You know, what do you like to do? Let me train you how to work with people.

RG: So is it the, the books that are better to learn from? Or is it the experience that’s better to learn from?

JS: Both at the same time you can n- you cannot stop reading books because it’s gonna give you like the techniques.

Other people’s experiences. So there’s a book out. There’s a new book out every month or every two weeks. So that’s more updated than the class.

RG: So you like both. You like to have the knowledge. To get your brain to start thinking differently, but then you also like to have the experience to apply it to see if it works.

JS: Let me see if I can just say it in short words. Honestly, to be successful in this world is just to be the first at doing something.

RG: You need to be the first at doing it.

JS: At doing something or take som-

RG: That’s interesting.

JS: Take a product and how you make it better, for example. Because every product is created.

Every cigar, there’s no room in humidors, honestly.

RG: Right.

JS: So I that’s why I just take the product. I see what are the good things and bad things about that. I put it in my way, what they use back then that didn’t work back then. That probably the timing is now. The color thing, I’m not the first.

RG: No.

JS: Toraño’s the first, not even Camacho. But maybe the timing? Like there’s there’s something that somebody told me. Uh, good artists borrow, great artists steal.


RG: One more time with that? You’re stealing information?

JS: No, that’s not what it means. It’s like it didn’t work for you that d- back then probably it’s gonna work out for me now. Probably. Because everything’s created in the cigars, unless you do an illuminated cigar.

RG: Right.

JS: But at the end of the day, out of the rest, mine looks very different because 80% is like the rest—wooden colored boxes. Same old, same old ribbons, coins on the bands.

What cigar smokers look for when picking a cigar

RG: What do you think the consumer is looking for when they try to make a decision on picking a cigar to spend their hard earned money on?

JS: What do people see? Depends. If it’s not a newbie, they just wanna go first by strength. Or what was their mood for? There was like how I feel. And then what’s the strength? So basic when there’s some just different ways to tell the guy what to smoke. First is what is your mood for? The second? What do you typically smoke? If they say I like so and so brand, that particular wrapper. So this- try this out. This is gonna be better or at least you’re gonna enjoy it because I know what you smoke.

RG: Right.

JS: If you’re a newbie, brother, this is not cigarette. Don’t inhale it.

RG: Yeah.

Why your first cigar should be a Sumatra and not a Connecticut

JS: Please, puff it like, like that, don’t be hard on it. Treat it like a baby. And I’m not gonna give you Connecticut specifically because Connecticut actually have bitterness. I prefer-

RG:  Yes!

JS:  …to give you a very light Sumatra wrapper, bro.

RG: Thank you.

JS: [laughs]

RG: So I get so sick of, well, if you’re new to cigars, I’m gonna give you a Connecticut shade or a Connecticut wrapper.

JS: Yeah.

RG: There’s bitterness in it that sometimes people can be—and esp- especially if you smoke it fast, the bitterness comes out quick.

JS: Right? yeah.

RG:  And half the time they’re smoking the thing too fast or getting too hot.

JS: That’s right.

RG: So I like your idea. Give them the Sumatra wrapper that has medium body, not enou- not a ton of nicotine, but a good amount of flavor and a good enough backbone for them to get. Oh yeah, that was different. That was good.

JS: Yeah. But…

RG: I like that.

JS: If I give somebody like a first cigar, a Connecticut probably he’s not gonna come back. [laughs]

RG: Really.

JS: It’s bitter.

RG: Are you telling the retailers that?

JS: I tell it all the time, but let me tell you, when you go there, as a young guy and they already have 30 years in the business. You really know how to give the information.

RG: You don’t have to tell me that twice.

JS: [laughs]

RG: I’ve learned that one, the hard, the hard way.

What to smoke if you’re a 3-cigar-a-day smoker

JS: But I do it the nice way. I always say that I created the Finch as the first cigar in the morning, if you’re not a Connecticut smoker.

RG: The Finch?

JS: Yeah.

RG: What’s the wrapper on that?

JS: That’s another Sumatra.

RG: Another Sumatra.

JS: We had- it’s a little creamy, hints of white pepper. So you can know it’s there.

RG: I, I wanna smoke them all now.

JS: First cigar in the morning. Cup of coffee, no bitter- no bitterness allowed. I don’t want it.

RG: Love it.

JS: And then I actually don’t take it to the JackDaw, If they are new. I take it to the Rook.

RG: You take it to the Rook?

JS: Yeah.

RG: What’s the, what’s the wrapper on the Rook?

JS: It’s another Sumatra but you go but you feel more oily on your lips and you have hints of sweetness.

RG: I love sweetness in a cigar.

JS: That’s the finish. So it has a a sweet finish? But it’s not a sweet tip.

RG: Right, but tobacco’s natural sweet.

JS: And let me tell you, for some reason, I jump from the Rook to Cuco, because it’s full body, no pepper.

RG: I like that too. I’m not a big pepper bomb person.

How to  develop your cigar palate

JS: So I’m developing his palate. I’m developing his palate. Then after that, let’s do the JackDaw now. Then let’s do the Unkind. Then let’s do the Crow.

RG: So when I asked you which cigar should I smoke out of your line, that should’ve been your answer right there. You just walked me through the whole line up of where to go, when to get it and how to step through it, so that it builds on itself.

JS: The- they, well, well, the thing is that six pack, we make it because we believe that regular people smoke three cigars a day. If they wanna go heavy. They can probably go-

RG: You think regular people smoke three cigars a day?

JS: The, the real smokers.

RG:  Man, you’ve been in Florida for far too long, my friend.

JS: [laughs]

RG: [laughs]

JS: I’m talking Monday, Tuesday, Friday, people that it’s not only at the shop.

RG: Yeah, but three cigars a day? I don’t even, I don’t hardly ever get three cigars in a day.

JS: Maybe you. But there’s people that smoke three cigars a day breakfast…

RG: But the average person?

JS: Lunch…

RG: At a retail smoke shop?

JS: The real smokers. The real smokers go breakfast, go lunch, and then hang out with their friends. I call it the dinnertime cigar.

RG: Where, where are they working? I want that job. Where are they working? That they can do breakfast, lunch, and dinner on smoking. cigars.

JS:  They smoke the cigar before they go to job.

RG: Man.

JS: That happens.

RG:  It must be the weather, must be the weather. Because man, get up in Minnesota on a cold winter day, I’m not lighting up a cigar right away.

JS: The thing is, if you pay attention, I give you three options in a day. And the next day I give you another three options, and you don’t get bored about my line. First day…

RG: Well there are three different options every day.

JS: Yeah. Because, a- and I give you from mild to medium the whole day. So first day you go Finch, then Rook, then Cuco, the, the, the last cigar of the day. Next day you go JackDaw, bitter a little bitter because it’s Connecticut.

You need to go straight up to the Unkind. Because it has- it has- it has a lot of power, intense flavors that you’re gonna forget about that bitterness right away. And then you, you finish it up with the Crow.

That’s a thing. [laughs]

RG: Yeah, all right. So Blackbird Cigar Company has three cigars for you. Every single day. You can mix and match, piece of cake. If you can smoke three cigars a day, great. If you smoke one a day, great. If you smoke…

JS: Great.

RG: …one a week. They still got it for you.

JS: [laughs]

RG: They’ll match whatever level you wanna be at.

JS: Exactly.

RG: I love it.

JS: It’s just to make it easy to the guys.

RG: Three cigars a day, though. You-

JS: Three cigars.

RG: …You’re funny, man. You’re funny.

JS: [laughs]

RG: I, uh, I’m totally on the other side of the fence of that. I think people smoke maybe one or two cigars a week.

JS: When I travel, man, people really smoke at least three cigars a day.

RG: Wow.

JS: It depends on where you are, but.

RG: That I I would agree with that. I think it’s easier for people in warmer states to to get those cigars in.

JS: Some people they- some people they do one th- through the day and two, uh, a night.

Some people do that. The thing is some- I, I see people that they smoke a cigar that is supposed to be one hour and a half. They do it in 45 minutes. [laughs]

RG: See, I don’t think that’s right.

JS: That’s not right.

RG: In my opinion. I just think it ruins the flavor. And then it’s just like a waste of time.

JS: But there’s something. It’s not right but…

RG: If it works for them and they, they feel like it’s on their palate then, great. But then I have to ask myself—are you just smoking just to smoke?

JS: The thing is, cigars is very subjective.

RG: It is.

JS: So I, I…

Ever had a good experience smoking a cigar in 45 minutes?

RG: I just have never had a good experience smoking a cigar in 45 minutes.

JS: I can tell you the proper way, but at the end of the day, it’s your cigar.

RG: That’s a good point.

JS: Like I told you, I let everybody be themself.

RG: I’m not saying, I’m just saying you’re doing it wrong. [laughs]

JS: Yeah. That can happen. So it is what it is.

RG: That’s true. Like you said, it’s subjective. You’re not gonna no- You’re not gonna tell them to not do it. But man, I would have a hard pressed time to say, are you really enjoy that? Or are you just burning it to burn it?

JS: Yeah. I hope they enjoy it. [laughs]

RG: W- Yeah. And with how much time it takes to actually make one of these…

JS: How much time to make that cigar?

RG: Yeah. With how much time it takes. I mean, it takes a long time to make a cigar.

JS: If you do the proper math, let’s say you grow the tobacco by yourself—at least two and a half years.

RG: Yeah, that scares me. And you burned it in 45 minutes.

JS: [laughs]

RG:  You’re killing me, man. You’re killing me.

JS:  Actually, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right. They’re not giving the proper respect.

RG: No. You know, like you said, well, people say like there’s, you can come in here, but everyone, you know, everyone has tobacco. Everyone has a story. Everyone has the whole nine.

JS: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

RG: And there’s certain things in this industry that are kind of just like unwritten rules, right?

JS: Yeah, yeah.

RG: And one of them. I think that, that I see that everyone says is like, kind of the respect for how much time and energy it takes to make this.

JS: No, you’re right.

RG: And when you see somebody burning it too fast, then I go, I don’t know if you got it.

Why it’s smart to invest in the people who help you run your business

JS: No, you’re right. And the guy that make the cigar because there’s something funny and interesting to know about the rollers. The rollers, they do average from 300 cigars to 500 cigars per, uh, a day. Right? You don’t know if that day, that guy had a big argument with his wife and he was still trying to make a good cigar for you.

RG: Yeah.

JS: You don’t know if that guy, had a si-

RG: Yeah. Because their day isn’t always roses.

JS: No

RG: They’re just people like you and I that have to go to work and produce something, no matter what’s going on in their life.

JS: Exactly. And people don’t understand that psychology, when they don’t feel good, they can make a bad cigar.

RG: Now that’s interesting.

JS: Bro, that happened and people don’t think about that.

RG: Yeah. If you’re not, if you’re not with it…

JS: You just do it because you need the money you need to pay your bills.

RG: Do you, can you pick out people in your that’s that are rolling for you and go, that guy’s just having a bad day.

JS: I have, I have one over there that his sister has cancer.

RG: Oh man.

JS: When he feel bad? I don’t think he’s no longer working over there because ups and down. But when he was there, bro, go home. You don’t feel well because he was screaming at everybody.

RG: Oh yeah.

JS: Like paying the bad things to everybody, you know, if he needed something, “Hey, this was a-.” I have a very good roller over there that his happiness just to have a new in Dominican it’s Pasola. It’s a little bike. That is don’t really cost- it don’t really cost that much, but for him, yes.

RG: A cheap way of getting around.

JS: Did you say I need, it? Help me out in this port- portion of the cost because I just need your help. He was sad. Hey, let’s, let’s work it out, make it happen. But anyways, he’s the first at the- at the factory and he’s the last at the factory, every day. So…

RG: So he’s…

JS: I’m not here for the money honestly, but the thing is money is a tool.

RG: Sure.

JS: Why do you think I’m gonna be very happy if I have 500 Ferraris? Why? I have 500 Ferraris that I need to change the oil, [laughs] and I-

RG: It becomes a job.

JS: I would- I would need to hire people to just wash the cars. [laughs] So if I can help the guy. He’s working over there, he’s gonna make be- better, cigars, just because he’s not thinking about that bike anymore.

RG: Right.

JS: Go for it. Let’s make it happen.

RG: Yeah.

JS: You gotta know how to work around. Cause sometimes you’re trying to be a little, we call it tiger. [laughs] Tigre, in e- in Spanish.

RG: Tigre?

JS: In Spanish.

RG: What does it mean?

JS: Like when you try to get more than you were supposed to get. Ho- kind of like hustle in a negative way.

RG: That’s.

JS: When you try to hustle somebody.

RG: When you’re trying to hustle or like the way you kinda just phrased it is like, if I try to just get everything I and squeeze, everything I can out of these guys, whether they feel good or not.

JS: Exactly.

RG: …you’re not gonna probably get the right lemonade that you want.

JS: I’m not gonna have 100% of the guys working there, very good, but I don’t need anybody, like I don’t need to like everybody.

RG: Sure.

JS: I don’t need it. All I need from them is to do the proper job. You were hired here to do this properly. And this is the contract just do it well.

RG: But you’re conscious of how they’re feeling so that you can kind of…

JS: Yeah.

RG: …relate to that and make changes where you need to

make changes.

JS: And they realize that I have feelings. Because when I go there December, they, I, I, the people that works like in the office, they always say, don’t come don’t come here, Jonas because there’s a lot of people working for you here. They just want money from you [laughing].

RG: [laughs]

JS: So I can’t go. Sometimes I can’t. [laughs] Depends on the time. It’s crazy. [laughing].

RG: Oh, gosh.

JS: But that happens. It’s this is the true thing. Things that people don’t say, but it happens backstage.

RG: What, what’s happening backstage is people just want money from you?

JS: Sometimes. Ooh, that happens a lot of times.

RG: A lot of times.

JS: So the good ones get something you help here and there. I just want the best for, like one of the goals for me and my brother is to build houses for all of our workers.

RG: Well, no wonder why they want something from you. If you’re promising them houses. Yeah. You got a job opening for me?

JS: [laughs]

RG: [laughs]

JS: But we really want that, honestly. The, the- those people they don’t get paid very well. Let’s be honest.

RG: They don’t? I’ve always heard in the industry that rollers get paid really well.

JS: If I pay them, very- if they get paid very well, that cigar’s gonna cost you at least 50 bucks

RG: 50?

JS: Oh yeah. That can cost you that if they get paid well. Well, if you compare it to Nicaragua, they get better pay. Yeah, that’s true. If you compare it to Cuba, even more.

RG: I thought it was uh, Dominican rollers or even Nicaraguan rollers. Those are some of the best paying jobs in that country.

JS: What about 500 a month?

RG: 500 a month?

JS: That’s, that’s fair.

RG: I don’t know. I don’t know what the cost of living is down there.

JS: That’s not good for it.

RG: That’s not good?

JS: No, they need to always work around to really keep it move on. Got loans here and there.

RG: You’re the first person I’ve ever talked to in the industry that says, yeah, being a cigar roller doesn’t pay very well.

JS: Maybe because they wanna market it that way, but I don’t, they don’t really get paid very well. Not really.

RG: Why do you think that is?

JS: Because in order to have this range of pricing, they would need to get that type of payment. It’s for example, do you think that the people that works at Apple, Chinese people, that we pay $1,000 for our phone. They get paid very well?

RG: No, I, I, no. I think there’s a reason they’re in another country trying to get cheaper labor.

JS: Exactly. That’s the thing. If we have, if we make cigars here in the U.S., they need to get at least what, 500 bucks a week? That cigar’s gonna cost you like $100. That’s the thing. So there’s a balance because of product, where you wanna be in price, and that people’s gonna be able to pay for it. If the Chinese work for Apple, get paid very well, that’s gonna be like $5,000, I think.

RG: There’s truth to that.

JS: That’s the thing. So there’s a, b- it’s just to balance it out. But, that doesn’t mean that they need to get five times the payment they get because their happiness is not too far, honestly. The thing is they are very bad financially. They all drink, things like that. So…

RG: So you think they’re spending their money elsewhere.

JS: So the big problem, actually, it starts because of the education of the country. My country’s not, ver- it’s not well educated. So because they’re not well well educated, they, the people that don’t get the best payments, they don’t know how to manage the- their le- that, that much of money that they have. They don’t have enough money, so they don’t know how to handle it anyways. So they spend it all. Like they get paid on a Friday, by Sunday, that’s gone. They live day by day.

RG: Wow.

JS: But that comes from the education that is not gonna finish for years to come. So they’re not educated. They know they need to, they know they get paid so, and so, they don’t, they’re not good financially. They’re not good. So they are always you know, in a deep hole.

RG: Sure.

JS: What about the people from Cuba? How much do you think they get paid cigars?

RG: I have no idea.

JS: Those rollers, like five bucks a month, I think. Or 20, I think.

RG: Wow.

JS: A month.

RG: Those aren’t cheap cigars.

JS: What- the guys enjoying a very good cigar in uh, in uh, Phantom, I don’t know. In a gold Rolls-Royce. That guy over there got paid for 20 bucks a month. Let’s be honest.

RG: Shedding a little light on the back s- back stage, uh, behind the curtain.

JS: I- in one way. Yes. I wanna charge more for the cigars, so I can pay them more. Yes. I would love to do that. So they get paid more.

RG: Do you think companies actually do that though? Or do you think they pocket it for themselves?

JS: That’s a hard question, but the answer is yes.

RG: Yes?

JS: They just wanna…

RG: They pocket it?

What Blackbird Cigars is doing to give back to cigar rollers and their community

JS: Yeah. Come on. Let’s be honest. What do you think my brother and I wanna do some stuff with the- with the people? Things that I would wanna do, honestly, and it’s not because I want big applause from people. People I don’t really care. If you want, if you wanna see what I do or no, I don’t do to be watched.

I do to be happy inside. So I wanna have those rollers that have family, that I know they’re not gonna do well, at least to teach them English, pay some college or whatever I help for as, as far as I can. I don’t want nothing in exchange. Loyalty, maybe? Maybe. I hire you one day. I want you to be thankful, but I don’t want you to pay me back because this guy right here, is gonna multiply in a lot of sense and it’s not money.

Maybe it can come in money, but the best feeling that you can get is when you are very calm inside of you.

RG: Inner peace.

JS: Inner peace. That’s the best way. You feel confident.

RG: So you feel more confident and better about yourself if you take that money and you make it affect people that need it.

JS: But let me tell you something before we actually kind of don’t understand the whole thing before you give happiness. Honestly, you need to be happy first.

RG: Okay?

JS: Because the only way you’re gonna provide is by you providing yourself first.

RG: What if it makes me really happy to have all that money in my pocket?

JS: Money doesn’t make you really happy, that happens, but that means you are very, like, you’re very empty inside.

Remember money’s a tool. So it’s- if money’s a tool, use it wisely. Use it wisely. If you don’t know what to do, if you think buying the best Champagne is gonna make you happy, you’re crazy.

RG: [laughs]

JS: That’s the thing, you’re so wise. What you gonna do with that money?

RG: So you, you would Call BS on their inner happiness. If your inner happiness is filling yourself with stuff? You’re probably not very happy.

JS: I don’t, I don’t wanna focus my happiness in material stuff. It ca- I can have so and so. here and there. I like the secure-ness, like, maybe I don’t need to go out to work anymore, like that…

RG: Financial security.

JS: Financial security, I like that. But at the end of the day, successful people, the money never stop coming to them. It’s always like that. They give that returns, again.

RG: Well you can also be financially successful and not be a good person.

JS: That can- that well, you gonna have a very bad reputation and you don’t really know how much he fights with himself in his room.

RG: Good point.

JS: And they gonna be lonely.

RG: See if he fights with hi- his inner, inner conscience.

JS: You know how sad it is when you make a big party because you are rich and you have 95% people that they just really like gold diggers of you. Like you can’t even trust anyone over there. Like you’re making a big party to shine and make you happy. Let’s be honest. Let’s be honest. At the end of the day, people wanna do business with successful people.

RG: Yeah.

JS: People wanna be close to the successful people that always happen. That always happens. And they wanna learn from you. Some wanna learn just to take. Some wanna learn to help you and them. That’s what’s gonna happen. People come and go…

RG: Good point.

JS: The good ones is gonna stay. The bad ones is gonna gone. Is gonna be gone. I learned the hard way, because at the beginning I was feeling, uh, but nowadays, I’m cool.

RG: What do you mean you learned the hard way? Tell me more about that.

JS: People like er- that I used to rely on before they was not that good anymore. People calling me just because they want something from me. Why you don’t call me, and ask me, brother, you want a drink? At least be smooth. [laughs]

RG: [laughs]

JS: You know? No, but you Blackbird. I need to sit down with you. Distribution. Well, I don’t know whatever they want. You know, like we gotta be more, not only trained to take, because there’s something that you cannot put in paper money. It’s your time.

RG: Yeah. Time is pretty valuable.

JS: So there’s something that my brother and I we talk a lot. You cannot give away so easy,

RG: Yeah.

JS: …something that took time.

RG: Right.

If success comes too very fast, you don’t respect it

JS: When you use money, actually, it’s actually way easier than when you invest your time and effort to make this happen, that doesn’t have a price. So in order to give it to someone, a little bit those access that you have, you need to give it little by little.

And even if you’re- it’s your son, he will need to earn it little by little. So he can open the gates little by little, because at the end of the day, even though I don’t like it, everything that comes very fast, you don’t respect it. So I learned the hard way. Like I don’t even like to be that way, but I have to be that way because people don’t appreciate it the way it’s supposed to be.

RG: There’s a lot of truth to that. I remember Garth Brooks, having his daughters build a bridge on a property that he bought. This is Garth Brooks, man. The guy’s got loads of money. And he said that his, him and his daughters built that bridge. Well, they did. He mainly had the daughters build it. He said it was the biggest accomplishment that they ever had in their young adolescent life. And they would celebrate that. And I thought that was like a good lesson of like, you know, if you want something, you gotta work hard for it. And sometimes you gotta do it yourself and learn how to do it, to appreciate it

JS: Exactly.

RG: Because, yeah, he could’ve had somebody just come in and say, well, we’re gonna build this bridge, so we can enjoy this other part of the property that we wanna get to. But having his daughters build it, made them appreciate the fact, we worked hard on this land to make it what we wanted it to be.

JS: Yeah.

RG: We made that.

JS: Something that like to to say is a lot of people tell you whenever you need something, call me. But it’s kind of like a polite way to tell you, we’re good. But not necessarily when you call them, they are there for you because they are on their business doing something.

But the thing is, in my case, when I say that to you, I mean it. So use it wisely, [laughs] I mean it. You need something? Let me know.

RG: Yeah, but use it wisely, you said.

JS: But use it wisely.

RG: When you’re in real need.

JS: When you really need it, we can be friends. I prefer to make friends in the process of working together or business partnership or whatever than bring you as a fir- as a friend first.

RG: Why is that?

JS: Because not, not all of them. No, it’s, It’s not, it’s nothing against anybody. The thing is sometimes it’s a little hard to divide friendship from work. It happened to me when I used to work with the other company, because you need to divide at the end of the day, there’s a line right there, work and friendship.

If we’re gonna work together, that’s fine. we can be- still be friends. Maybe we’re not gonna be friends anymore, but you can be good at your work. That work out for me. Well, I prefer to be in the process because there’s a- a respect different, there’s a different respect. When you, when you make, when you be friends in the process than when you come like a guy that already has 15, 20 years knowing you, they’re gonna treat you like friends and maybe they, they treat you in the ways that’s supposed to be in front of others. Maybe? That can happen. It’s about the division. I’m very- me and my brother are very like, if- maybe you, I’m gonna, let’s say, I’m gonna fire you but I’m gonna invite you for, for, for a drink today. Maybe we cannot work together, but we can be friends. Why not? But not, a- I’m not, I cannot force anybody to be that way because the thing is to be mature, you cannot teach anyone to be mature. You get mature within time. And the things that happens to you.

RG: And being aware.

JS: So to be mature is a self stuff.

RG: Yeah. You have to be aware.

JS: Exactly.

RG: …to take in the maturity to take in…

JS: Exactly.

RG: …the lessons. That’s what I’ve noticed.

JS: Exactly. That’s what it is.

RG: You getting more mature every day?

JS: I don’t know. Tell me. [laughs]

RG: I can’t. Because you have to be aware. Are you aware?

JS: I’m learning. Why I think I’m getting mature? Because I’m getting to the point that I ask. Hey, so, and so what do you think about this? I used to do it this way. What do you think now that you are the sales director, for example? Brother so and so, now that you’re the accountant that I used to do this, did I did it right? Did I do it well? I don’t wanna feel like I’m the boss. I don’t like that. And I’m the- I’m not the one that knows it all.

So when you have a team, they have information that probably you don’t have. They have experience that probably you don’t have. So I think the best way, the wise way to make it happen is ask. Be humble—that doesn’t bring you down. That’s actually bring you up.

RG: Yeah.

JS: Because when those guys are working and they feel that you’re not paying attention to what they say, and you just ask them, did I do it right? What do you recommend me? How are they gonna feel? That’s priceless.

RG: Empowered.

JS: They’re gonna feel good. And I love that they feel good. And I- and I- and at the same time, I have the information that I needed in a positive way. Done deal. I like to ask.

RG: Everybody can grow from that.

JS: Exactly. And I, I like to ask, my brother is older than me. And wh- and when he’s stepping in a zone that is not his own, he call me and ask me. And he’s older than me. So if he’s humble that much, why I cannot be?

RG: Right.

JS: That’s what it is.

RG: Humble.

JS: You gotta be humble. But you cannot as I said, you cannot be mistaken by humble. And there’s another word. Like you- people think that if you’re humble, you’re supposed to be, to say yes to everything.

RG: No.

JS: People, [laughs]-

RG: Why, why would hu- Why would you, why do you have to say yes to everything? If you’re humble?

JS: People think that way.

RG: I think for me, humble is like the arrogance, the ego you’re suppressing the ego for the greater good of what you know needs to happen. But saying yes to stuff. That’s inefficient.

JS: People misunderstand humble. If you are poor, you’re humble. If you are rich, you’re not humble. That happens to us- a lot. So you forgot when I was mopping the floor. And now that you see me in a Ferrari I’m not humble anymore? Why, why? So people make those mistakes.

RG: Do you think that outward expression of luxury lavish items can even still be humble? You think that can happen? Like you think you could be owning a Ferrari and owning a lot of luxury things and still be humble?

JS: Yeah. But I think there’s like kind of alignment, but let me tell you something. If the most, you pay for a shoe is $100, and for that gentleman that is gonna buy a Ferragamo shoe, it’s gonna cost 695 and he feel it like a hundred bucks. What’s the big deal?

RG: True. Okay.

JS: What’s the big deal? He feel it like that.

RG: But to me like a Ferrari is like a status symbol. Like it’s not practical.

JS: No.

RG: It’s not-

JS: No. [laughs]

RG: …it’s. I don’t know. I think there’s a fine line there of like too many luxury things.

JS: I think that comes-

RG: … hard to be humble.

JS: I think that comes when, with the dreams when you were a child. Like you wanted that.

RG: Sure.

JS: I think that comes from that

RG: That could be, yeah, I could see that, but if it’s like, Hey, I just have so much money, I can own a Ferrari.

JS: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

RG: That’s like my Toyota Corolla. I don’t agree with that.

JS: No.

RG: I think humility has been lost on that person then.

JS: Yeah. But the thing is the guy that has a Ferrari must have another car.

RG: Sure.

JS: Must have it.

RG: I hope ga- I hope so. Because man, if your only car’s a Ferrari,

JS: [laughs]

RG: …you spent a lot on it.

JS: [laughs] But I think you can be humble anyways.

RG: You think so?

JS: Yeah, because of the the thing is the cash flow keeps going, things like that and you use some something here…

RG: See and I just think they could’ve used the money in a better way.

JS: They can use the money in a better way. But what if they already have everything they want?

RG: Yeah, Yeah. I guess, you know, what if they already did, what if they already gave their charity 10% or whatever they wanna give.

JS: But the charity is not a must. It’s if you wanna do it.

RG: That’s interesting that you said that. You don’t think charity’s a must?

JS: If you- it it is, if you wanna … If you feel a must, you’re not doing it with your heart. If you’re doing it because you want the people to see you as a humble guy.

RG: Okay. So there’s the difference though. So…

JS: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

RG: …as a Christian, I think charity is a must because that’s what God calls me to.

JS: Well, if you- we’re gonna go what, the 10% that people give.

RG: I don’t really put a number on it, but I do, I do think giving back is a must. If I wanna get closer to my, my faith in, in God.

JS: The, the, the thing is, God gave you . Libre albedrio. Forgot how to say that in English that you can do whatever you want. And I forgot the, the name of it.

RG: Yeah.

JS: But the thing is, I don’t say it’s a must because it’s subjective, but you are the one missing out if you don’t do it. You get me now?

RG: I hear that. I just think it’s a mu- I think it’s something that you have to do in order to, in order to truly listen to what he, how he wants you to live. I think it’s like a must of, like, I don’t need these lavish things. I should help somebody else out.

JS: The thing is, if you don’t, if you don’t digest and you understand what you’re gonna get back when you give, you’re not gonna probably do it, or you’re not gonna believe it. So you need to digest and understand how positive it is when you give.

RG: Right. But you’re, you’re also giving to not get anything back.

JS: Yeah.

RG: Other than, I mean, I suppose it makes you feel good.

JS: It makes me feel good. It makes me feel good.

RG: Yeah.

JS: Honestly, but I that’s, that’s my mentality. I, I b- I don’t think it’s a must because you can do whatever you want, but when you don’t do it, you’re missing out.

RG: That’s a good way to put it.

JS: You’re missing out. Remember that’s a- there’s a- it says , honrar a tu padre y a tu madre. It’s like when you respect your father and mother, how- what’s the proper way by the Bible?

RG: Yeah. Respect your father and mother.

JS: For tha- that’s one of the 10…

RG: Yeah.

JS: …right? And it’s the only, the only one that has a promise from God, right?

RG: Say that again.

JS: That’s the only one that, that has a promise, like if you do that, you’re gonna be living for a long time. Remember?

RG: Yeah. I guess, I don’t know if it has a promise.

JS: That’s that’s that’s uh, in the Bible.

RG: Okay.

JS: But the thing is, it’s up to you.

RG: Sure.

JS: But you’re missing out if you don’t do it. If you don’t take care of your father and mother that spent a lot of time to raise you, you’re missing out if you don’t, if you don’t do it, if you don’t help them, when they need you. If you don’t help them.

RG: I think that goes for all people.

JS: That goes for all people.

RG: It’s really hard for us to, to really honor and love our enemy.

JS: Yeah. Yeah.

RG: That’s that, to me, that’s the bigger promise. It’s pretty easy. I say that with quotations, pretty easy to love your family.

JS: It’s pretty easy but some people…

RG: Some people don’t, but it’s even harder then, I would assume, to love your enemy.

JS: [laughs] That’s, I mean, of course. Oh yeah.

RG: So that’s where I wanna try to show that love.

JS: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. You gotta show. You gotta give love, but you need to love yourself first in order to give.

RG: Oh, absolutely.


JS: it gotta shine from you. That’s the thing. You gotta look at you first. How you feel, then then everything shine.

RG: Good point.

JS: Yeah. If you’re not happy inside, how you gonna give happiness?

RG: Exactly. Very tough. Very tough to give something that you don’t feel.

JS: There’s no way. There’s no way.

RG: I’m glad that you’re a happy guy.

JS: I tr- yeah, I’m a happy guy because…

RG: [laughs]

JS: … I enjoy what I do. I have fun doing it.

RG: That’s good.

JS: I don’t see this like a work.

RG: That’s awesome.

JS: Especially because I be myself. So I just joke around. Let’s do this. What do you need? Let’s have a shot. What do you wanna smoke? You don’t want nothing. You want water on the rocks?

RG: [laughs]

JS: Don’t worry? I got water on the rocks. So it’s, you know, I like to hang out with them.

RG: I love it. Jonas, you got it going on, man.

JS: Yeah.

RG: You’re a happy guy. You’re doing good things. We appreciate you.

JS: Thank you.

RG: Very, very much. I love to see the brand out there and I love to smoke it. And I just love hearing your story, where you came from and how humble you are.

JS: Thank you for the invite. Thank you. This actually was, was very different, very different.

RG: Yeah. We talked a lot about a lot of different things that you are not gonna hear on any other platform.

JS: Yes, I can see that. [laughs]

RG: [laughs]

JS: I wanna do- I wanna do another one. [laughs]

RG: Absolutely, man. Absolutely.

JS: Yeah, Yeah. I like it.

RG: This was a lot of fun. Thanks for giving me the time.

JS: No. Thank you, man. You get to know me better now.

RG: Absolutely.

JS: And the way I think.

How to store cigars

RG: I hope you guys all learned a little something about Jonas and obviously his brand.

And if you need anything from Blackbird Cigar Company, you can go to Obviously any retailer that carries this, please support him. And as always get out there and get your for your humidors. So you can keep these cigars fresh. They deserve it. They spent a lot of time to make them for you.

So you, the least you can do is make sure you smoke it in the right, right relative humidity level. And as always, if you like this, give it a like. Subscribe. If you wanna hear more stories, we’re continuing to bring these stories to you. And as you saw Jonas and I talked a lot about the business and a lot about not the business.

So we got to learn who he was as an individual and as always, thank you for watching.

No, Jonas is not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Carlos Santana. A trained marketer, Jonas is among the new wave of cigar makers who wasn’t born with a cigar pedigree. Nonetheless, his hot new cigar brand is everywhere. Eighty percent of its growth is organic, which means word of mouth. Smokers are telling other smokers to get their hands on this new boutique cigar.

The cigars are easy to spot at your local smoke shop—technicolor boxes of cigars named after birds, like The Crow, The Finch and The Cuco. (And, before you Google it, the Jackdaw is a feathered friend, too. It’s smallest member of the crow family. ) And yes, all the little birds on Blackbird Street are protected by Boveda to preserve the sugars and oils of his boutique cigars. With Boveda in your humidor, you can protect your cigars just like cigar makers do, too. Learn more.

Highlights Include:

  • What’s with these boutique cigars named after birds in brightly colored cigar boxes? (4:19)
  • Are you loyal to a cigar brand for the bite? (6:00)
  • Old school rap: Biggie or Tupac? Discuss. (6:47)
  • How becoming a father affects a man. (25:02)
  • What famous cigar smoker would you like to share a cigar with? (37:00)
  • Why you should update your knowledge base to stay current in your field. (Check out Blackbird’s Can’t Clip My Wings cigar merch.) (45:43)
  • First cigar? What to smoke and how not to smoke it. (52:38)
  • How to smoke the Blackbird Cigar Sampler pack (54:36)

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