An Elevated Business Plan: Carolina Blue Cigars

    Christopher Moore, owner of Carolina Blue Cigars, shares his experiences as a boutique cigar owner and how consistently raising the bar for himself and his brand is the ultimate key to success.

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    “That was truly an eye-opener for me because that’s when I knew that we were making a really good cigar,” Moore explains. “This led us to changing factories in 2019 in order to keep up with the supply and demands of the online retail sales and more cut and light events which were solely marketed using social media.”

    Changing Course
    On the manufacturing side, it took a bad experience for him to find the right partners to help him bring his cigars to life. Carolina Blue Cigars were initially created by a different factory, and it took Moore breaking ties with that factory in order for the brand and the cigars to truly grow and flourish. After leaving his first factory partners, Moore didn’t rush to find a new one right away. Instead, he used the separation phase to make frequent trips to different factories in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic in search of the right factory to help him fulfill his vision for his company. It wasn’t until 2019 when he walked through the doors of Tabacalera Elpuente, located in the Dominican Republic’s Villa Gonzalez region, that he felt he’d found the right partners to work with.

    “The minute I walked into Tabaclera El Puente it felt like home because they understood the vision—down to the blends that I envisioned,” he says. “More than that, they had the capability to bring Carolina Blue Cigars to the next level, so I went from there and honestly never looked back. Those that follow the brand know that I refer to the current factory as the ‘Cigar Bakery.’ Since they are also an up-and-coming factory, it only made sense for us to partner with each other and grow together on this journey.”

    Carolina Blue Cigars | Tabacalera El Puente
    Tabacalera El Puente’s Cesar Alvarez, Edladio Santiago and Victor Infante.

    When it came time to create Carolina Blue Cigars’ blends, Moore worked closely with Francisco De La Cruz, a blender based in Tamboril, Dominican Republic. Moore knew he had found the right blender for his product when he learned that De La Cruz focused on the quality of a product rather than quantity. De La Cruz also had over 30 years of experience working with other brands that were known for quality blends, including Davidoff, Romeo y Julieta and La Flor Dominicana. Moore and De La Cruz discussed many different options, but they knew they wanted a blend that was great from start to finish. Moore prefers cigars that transition well but notes that they are harder to find in today’s market. Together, Moore and De La Cruz set out to create traditional Dominican cigars that were complex and full of flavor. Carolina Blue Cigars consists of the Classic line, a Signature Series and something new that’s currently in the works that Moore plans on naming after his three daughters.

    Getting Over the Speed Bumps
    For Moore, there’s no secret to success. He attributes his to being willing to learn and striving to grow his business into something better than it was the day before. This is the standard that he lives and works by—along with never settling for anything less than the best.

    “Success requires consistent elevation and possessing the drive to get you over the speed bumps along the way,” he explains. “There’s a reason we have two eyes, two ears and one mouth: You have to have the ability to see what’s happening around you so that you can stay above par. You also have to be able to listen to the feedback that the clients give and be able to communicate what needs to happen in order to be more creative in all aspects of your business. That sets you above what other brands are doing, which makes you more personable and approachable.”

    Moore is fully aware that the road ahead may be filled with more obstacles and speed bumps, including the looming threat of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’ (FDA) regulations. For now, he’s doing his part to comply with the laws and is working to stay up to date with all the changes that are happening. As a small-business owner in the cigar industry, Moore stresses the importance of staying informed and active in the industry. Currently, Moore is a member of the Cigar Rights of America and has plans to join the Boutique Cigar Association soon. Moore understands the important work both trade groups are doing on a daily basis and knows the future of his business—and the industry—may come down to the results of those efforts.

    Moore is inspired by his children and his desire to be successful regardless of obstacles like the FDA’s regulations. As a small-business owner working with cigars, Moore’s motivation and drive is not based on money—it’s the blending process and love for creating a cigar for many to enjoy that keeps him going. For those small businesses looking for an advantage in today’s competitive market, take a cue from Moore and Carolina Blue Cigars and aim high to achieve greater success.

    This story first appeared in the September/October 2020 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.

    Story by Antoine Reid, senior editor and digital director for Tobacco Business Magazine. You can follow him on Instagram @editor.reid.