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2018 CA Report: Cigar Recommendations from Cigar Smoking Moms

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Mother Knows Best: Cigar Recommendations from Cigar Smoking Moms

By Fred Lunt

We’ve all heard that Father knows best, but who’s always looking out for you? Mom, that’s who. It stands as a proud fact that the cigar industry is steeped in family heritage.  Families like the Ricos, Fuentes, and Carrillos have multiple generations of tobacco growing and experience behind them. While the men of the family are the typical faces of the family, today we’re going to note the ever-important role and all the great things the mothers and daughters of these families do for the brands and the cigar culture. So, in the spirit of Mother’s Day I reached out to the very cigar moms who run the cigar industry, the ‘Leading Ladies of Tobacco’, if you will.

Without further ado, I give you the Cigar Smoking Moms!

Janine Perdomo, Chief Operating Officer of Perdomo Cigars

smoking moms janine Perdomo Family

In what ways do you support Perdomo Cigars? 

“Nick and I started the company together in 1992 out of our garage. I oversee the operations of our distribution in Miami as well as manage inventories, client accounts, FDA and compliance issues, etc.”

What would you say is the best thing about being a ‘cigar mom’?

“Raising two children in the industry and dividing my professional and personal time was a challenge. Nick and I decided that our family would always come first. We literally brought our kids everywhere with us. You can ask anyone in the industry; they have seen our kids grow up from babies to grown adults who are both working in the company today. For us, our children are what we are most proud of and being their parents has been the biggest blessing.”

The cigar industry is heavily steeped in family heritage – how do you relate being a mom in the industry to the way to perform your functions?

PerdomoFamily2 cigar smoking moms jp

“The best thing about being a cigar mom is that I was always the coolest mom! The kids would get a kick that I smoked cigars. When they were little I would make pencil boxes for my kids classes in our box factory; so, I was pretty cool to them!”

What’s your favorite Perdomo cigar?

“That’s like asking who’s your favorite child!! I love all of our cigars, but I find myself smoking the Perdomo Habano Connecticut and the Perdomo Small Batch.”

buy Perdomo Small Batch Connecticut cigars janine perdomo cigar smoking moms

What festivities do you have planned for this Mother’s Day?

“On Mother’s Day I plan on being with my children and husband. To me, being with my family is the greatest gift I could ever have. I feel extra blessed to work side by side with them, building our business is beyond my dreams.”

“I’ll also be giving thanks to all of our customers for allowing our family to live our dreams and enjoying our cigars. It’s a dream come true!”


Natasha Rico, Director of Marketing for Gran Habano Cigars

What is your role at Gran Habano? 

“I first became involved with Gran Habano around the same time George opened the cigar factory in Little Havana. Our youngest had just been born and I decided to leave my job of 12 years working with at-risk youth to support the family business and spend more time at home with the kids. Today I currently assist with the marketing needs of the company. I work with George on the design concepts for our catalogs, ads, and promotions. My role also involves managing the social media accounts, press releases and the company’s digital advertising.”

How does being a mom relate to your role in an industry with such a heavy emphasis on family?

“The Ricos have been involved with tobacco farming and cigar making for generations. When cigars are such an integral part of a family’s heritage and tradition, as with Guillermo and George, it’s almost second-nature to be cognizant of the myriad of moving parts required to make a cigar. This has given me a deep respect for their knowledge of the process and a strong desire to preserve and honor their tradition. As a mother there is a natural instinct to be proud and to be protective to ensure that whatever I am doing in my professional capacity for Gran Habano is meaningful and fruitful for the business.  My overall intent is to keep the brand faithful to its humble beginnings as it evolves throughout various stages and trends in the industry, to ensure it remains an accessible, timeless brand to the consumer.”

 George Rico Natasha Rico Gran habano cigars cigar smoking moms

What would you say is the best thing about being a ‘cigar mom’?

“In the past I always saw myself as being independent from George’s business, but just like when you marry into a family, you begin to see them as your own and the same thing happens with a family business. I never thought I would find my place here but there was a gravitational pull to want to be more involved and supportive. There is a seat for everyone at the table in a family-run business, as long as everyone shares a common goal. The feeling that a business can be passed down to future generations is an amazingly fulfilling one. I’m not sure if our children will continue in the cigar tradition as an occupation, but our six-year old says she is going to be the boss of Daddy’s office one day because she idolizes her dad. She is tenacious, bossy, and has the perfect initials. We will see.”

What’s your favorite Gran Habano cigar?

“I like to recommend the La Conquista to customers, it’s a beautiful cigar and very naturally sweet. It’s been given 90 ratings by reviewers and customers, and stands out as a great cigar in our lineup. However, my favorite cigar is the S.T.K. Zulu Zulu. I love the Zulu for so many reasons; it’s been a fun way to collaborate creatively with my husband and it’s a project that has connected us to some special people, the artists behind the packaging.  I also consider it to be Gran Habano’s socially-conscious product, as the Zulu is a way we can contribute to a worthy cause and bring awareness to an issue.”

gran habano La Conquista cigars cigar smoking moms

How are you planning to spend this Mother’s Day?

“My ideal Mother’s Day will consist of spending time with family, eating good food, drinking some adult beverages and calling it an early day.  I always prefer something low key and simple.”


Lissette Perez-Carrillo, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of E.P. Carrillo

cigar smoking moms lisette perez carrillo epc cigars
Left to right: Alicia Perez-Carrillo, Skye McPhillips, Elena Perez-Carrillo, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Lissette Perez-Carrillo with Andrea Perez-Carrillo, Frankie McPhillips III, Frank McPhillips, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo III and Ariana Perez-Carrillo.

How do you help the E.P. Carrillo Brand Grow? 

“I am involved at all levels and oversee all aspects of the company, from the factory to USA and international distribution, legal, operations, sales, financial and marketing.  I am a co-founder and co-owner of the company.”

What would you say is the best thing about being a ‘cigar mom’?

“Interestingly, my team brings up many times that I have that mom instinct. They feel I can tell what’s the pro and con of decisions we make, that I can look out for their best interest and that I just have that “gut” feeling that moms possess.

I’ve learned through motherhood many skills I didn’t have before or that I hadn’t fully developed before I was a mom, such as:

  • Trying to put myself in the position of others to gain a unique perspective on an idea I would normally be adamant against.
  • More patience that I thought I ever had.
  • Trying to find peace at the end of the day to be able to be not only the best leader I can be but also the best mom I can be.

It’s challenging to separate myself during intense times (mostly at work). I got lucky with two excellent kids. Having the ability to separate the stresses from work and when I am with them has made me a better leader in my company.”

Cigars are a family affair – how do you relate being a mom to working in such a unique industry?

“I get to teach my children the value of a family run company that has been in our family for generations, over a hundred years. I feel that perseverance, dedication and passion make our work as fun as other activities we associate with fun.  Also, women should not be treated any differently than males in any industry.”

What’s your favorite E.P Carrillo cigar?

“New Wave Reserva.”

EPC New Wave Reserva cigars cigar smoking moms


What’s festivities do you have planned for this Mother’s Day?

“We are planning to have a nice brunch with my mom and my brother, his wife and my nieces.”


Yadi Gonzalez-Vargas, President of Flor de Gonzalez

What is your role at Flor de Gonzalez?

“Since joining in 2002, I’ve become more and more involved to the point where I’m currently the President. I oversee the entire operation of the company from blending to sales and attend events all over the country and abroad.”

With the cigar industry being so family oriented, how does being a mom influence your work?

“I’ve found that balance and compromise are the key factors to performing my functions as a mother first and foremost, as well as being able to fulfill the commitments and responsibilities that go along with this industry I am so passionate about.  I’ve found my balance by organizing an agenda several months in advance. I make sure to make up time at work by spending quality time doing things with my girls that they enjoy. My girls know they are loved beyond comprehension and are my number one priority in life, but they also understand that mom has to be at the forefront of the company grandpa started and that it’s very important for mom to continue our legacy.”

What would you say is the best thing about being a ‘cigar mom’?

“Now that the girls are older it’s “cool” as they would describe it. My oldest daughter in college gets to come out with me to the IPCPR and other cigar events. I get to be their “cigar plug” for their parties, much like my dad was to me when I was in college.  It’s pretty neat to see how time evolves and some things never change. But above and beyond all that, showing my girls that anything can be accomplished is the best thing about being a “cigar mom”. They know and understand that although this is a male dominated industry, I make daily strides and work hard for what I love. They in turn learn respect and admiration for the work I do, and they know in their hearts that they can do anything they set their minds to.”

What’s your favorite Flor De Gonzalez cigar?

“I have to say that my go-to in our extensive line is the FDG 20 Aniversario Maduro. We made this cigar to commemorate our 20 years in business. I jokingly say it’s my zero calories chocolate bar, but it truly is deliciously full of complex flavors.”

We here at Famous also recommend the 90 Millas Unidos, a stunning barber-pole cigar with silky Connecticut Shade and Ecuadorian Habano wrappers – a perfect treat for Mother’s Day, or any day of the week.

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How will you be celebrating Mother’s Day?

“I plan to spend Mother’s Day with my girls but also with my mom; she is extra special to me. Her and my dad have always taken care of the kids while I travel for work. They are a monumental part of my life, together we will have a get-together at my house for lunch; there will be lots of food, drinks and yes, of course, some FDG cigars!”


Sharon Holt, Co-Founder of Southern Draw Cigars

In what ways do you support Southern Draw?

“I have the pleasure of running many of the daily operations for Southern Draw Cigars (SDC), which includes customer service, warehousing/distribution, event coordination, orders, and anything else that might be necessary. I also travel from time to time to host events with our valued retail partners.”

sharon holt cigar smoking moms southern draw cigars
Two big fans of the Southern Draw Rose of Sharon, pictured with Sharon Holt (3rd from left) and son Jacob (right).

The cigar industry is heavily steeped in family heritage- how do you relate being a mom in the industry to the way to perform your functions?

SDC is our ‘baby’, and Robert and I are giving it all we’ve got. As the saying goes, it takes a ‘village’ to raise a child, and as a mother, I have found this correlation to be true for our business as well. We are forever grateful, and certainly appreciated the care, advice, and support we have been given by the wonderful people in this industry. With lots of hard work, love, dedication and God’s guidance we hope to grow stronger and more successful in the future. I always say, “I get to sell cigars for a living”, and consider it a blessing to have the opportunity to learn, experience, and be embraced by such a phenomenal community. I thank God every day for the incredible people at the AJ Fernandez factory that produce our product, for the sales reps that tirelessly sell them, and for the generous customers that buy them. It is certainly a family affair, and I love being an integral part of the process.

What would you say is the best thing about being a ‘cigar mom’?

Meeting my customers over the phone and in person but being a part of a loving cigar ‘family’ is my biggest reward. I am always amazed at how generous and loving people really are. I consider it a privilege to know them, and that they allow us to be in their lives. Cigar smokers are passionate, and it is a beautiful thing.

What’s your favorite cigar?

In truth, I am torn. Most parents would agree (I think!) that it would be difficult to pick your favorite child, and so it goes for choosing my favorite SDC cigar. I love that my sweet husband blended the Rose of Sharon Connecticut for me. He truly captured my palate and my personality in this cigar, however, the Firethorn gained my affection from the beginning. I can truly say I do not favor one over the other, and love them both equally.

best new cigars 2017 Southern Draw Rose of Sharon cigars

What’s festivities do you have planned for this Mother’s Day?

It is a tradition most years that we travel just an hour away from our home to the Texas Hill Country, and visit the beautiful town of Fredericksburg. There I can indulge in some amazing German food and beer, smoke a cigar, spend quality time with my family, and take in the quaint surrounds of this special town. As a native Texan, I’ve been visiting Fredericksburg my whole life. Many great memories there!


Cheers to the cigar smoking moms who make the world an amazing place! Have a happy smoke and share your Mother’s Day cigars in the comments below.

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Sharon Lynn Cruz Cundiff
5 years ago

This is so special in so many ways. I am proud to be a “smoking Mom.” Thank you for highlighting these beautiful women in the industry. What a joy!

Fred Lunt

Fred Lunt


Fred Lunt was discovered to be the youngest cigar smoker in his family shortly after setting his crib ablaze; today, he's added an avid whiskey and craft beer appetite to his lineup. Fred has worked in marketing, blogging and communications at boutique PR agencies across New York and has personally had the pleasure of witnessing over four breakdancing shows in a single commute on the NYC subway. Prior to his work in marketing Fred was a student of communications at Temple University and still holds illusions that Temple has a better football program than Penn State.

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