Women Leading The Way

I am often asked the following by men and women alike: How did you learn to smoke? How many cigars do you smoke a day? What’s your favorite cigar? I always answer the same: My husband taught me to smoke 10 years ago with a DE Tabak Café con Leche and now I smoke more than him; I smoke four to five cigars per day (starting with a full-bodied Maduro in the morning); and my favorite cigar is EVERY cigar that is constructed perfectly!

With over 200 cigar retail businesses in the state of Georgia, and nearly a third of these in the city of Atlanta and its surrounding metro – the population of women in the GA cigar industry has seen a progressive, yet classy surge in recent years. When I started learning about cigars in 2012, it was just a medium for my husband – Ret. Atlanta Fire Captain Andre “Chief” Owens – and I to relax and round out our stressful days of career, traffic, and family. In the decade since I smoked my first cigar, we opened our offering to the culture, Smokehouse Cigars, which was a more traditional cigar lounge for the novice and connoisseur smokers. Becoming the first Black woman to own and operate a cigar lounge in the city of Atlanta came with a great deal of responsibility and preparation.

For seven years prior to opening our brick and mortar, I put in the work necessary to learn and understand the business of this industry, which includes licensing, taxes, manufacturers, and education. I have since become the president of our state association, the GA Premium Cigar Association (GAPCA), a GA Ambassador for Cigar Rights of America (CRA), a Certified Retail Tobacconist (CRT), and most recently, completing my Doctorate. 

And while I learned some of my most valuable lessons about cigars from men in this culture initially, the connections with my fellow Sisters of the Leaf in this state and around the world has been an unparalleled and unique experience and opportunity. I have developed my own passion for cigars not just because of the thousands of wonderfully tasty blends available, but also because of the comradery and fellowship that it has brought to both my personal and professional life. With all that in mind, I will now introduce you to some of these amazing women and their brands.

Cuteautiful Smokes

Cuteautiful Smokes is owned by Dr. Dedra Evans, whose passion for the cigar lifestyle was born in 2014, after watching others enjoy it and wanting to experience it for herself. Her first time visiting a humidor was in Key West, Florida.  The shop tobacconist was very informative and patient with her, suggesting various cigars to start her journey. And although she started with DE Acids and Miami Cigar’s Tatiana line, her palate gradually developed and her preference now is a medium to full-bodied cigar.

While Dedra considers herself a true girly girl, enjoying all things feminine while smoking (including the finest cigar cases, cutter/lighter sets, personal humidors, and cigars), she understood the importance of being inclusive to our Brothers of the Leaf when creating her custom apparel and accessories lines. Enhancing a person’s smoking experience is important to her, so the CS online store includes something for everyone – including the finest quality in t-shirts, golf polos, cigar sticks, coasters and coffee mugs. 

Vino &, LLC

An Atlanta native, Dr. Santresa Glass (San) is a food, wine, and cigar educator, founder of Vino &, LLC (formerly Vino & Leaf), Cutting Board Stories and The ASHtionary as well as writer and food photographer. Her palate for cigars is as extensive as it is for wine, hence, she has become a go-to for education on small batch blends.

She is a barrier breaker of all things normal, hence her fervor for pairing wine with cigars for thr past nine years. She brings 18+ years of multifarious experience in education, hospitality, small business, entrepreneurship, and executive administration to increase accessibility. At the intersection of education, wine, food, writing, learning, cigars, and photography is where her layered expertise and passion meet, merge, and serve as a connection catalyst for her Instagram LIVE “Porch Sippin’ Series” and crushed grapes geekdom.

An avid reader, writer, home cook and baker, San specializes in curated wine and cigar pairing experiences, pairing food with lesser known/accessible grape varieties, and resourcing the history and science of wine, cigars, and various cuisines from her Vino & Read library. Pour a glass and toast a cigar, then join her over on @vinoandllc on Instagram.

Lips, Sticks & Fingertips

Mrs. Christine Russell Morgan, originally from Detroit, MI, is one of Atlanta’s true gems! She is the uber talented SotL and industry influencer who owns the ultra sexy mobile cigar lounge – Lips Sticks and Fingertips. She started smoking cigars in 2008 after attending many social events in which she noticed the camaradarie amongst the men and was curious about what made the “cool people” so cool.

She quickly learned that socializing while smoking cigars was the BEST way to build relationships amongst peers, clients and teams. Because of her passion for people, cigars and travel, she created a brand that allowed her to take her passion to the people in a beautifully designed RV. The Lips, Sticks and Fingertips Mobile Cigar Lounge launched in 2016 is available to rent for your special event! Learn more at lipssticksandfingertips.com.

ATL Cigar Co.

Janelle Lamar is Co-Founder and the Director of Marketing for ATL Cigar Co. A Filipina by way of Australia, Janelle brings a keen sense of flavor and balance to the team and works to connect the quality of ATL Cigar products to its fast-growing community of aficionados. As a woman leader in the industry, she also works to help brands evolve into newer customer demographics.

Her event planning, hospitality, and customer relations backgrounds are key factors in the growth of the ATL Cigar Co footprint. Janelle is motivated by quality and by her family. She finds joy when people feel like they’re comfortably part of a community and experience a true connection with people whether that’s smoking their favorite cigar on her front porch or enjoying something new at a local lounge.