Tobacco Business

Photography by Kristen Gonzalez D Desiree Sylver is a busy woman. As she’s answering the many questions for this interview, she’s also completing many of the day’s tasks that are necessary to keep her business, Drunk Chicken Cigars, moving forward. The sound of packing tape being pulled from the spool and applied to boxes containing recent orders serves as some sort of industrial musical background noise. She’s also busy making plans for an upcoming event she plans on attending. Multitasking is all part of the game for Sylver, who became one of the latest entrepreneurs to enter into the premium cigar industry with a brand that’s getting a considerable amount of attention and conversation because of its unique name. Sylver was born in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. She recalls her childhood as being fun. “I feel like we had the best generation ever,” she says. “We were a little bit freer. We didn’t have COVID or things of that nature.” Long before she launched her cigar brand, Sylver worked in the federal government as a civil servant. With a Ph.D. in organizational leadership, she served as a professor at Strayer University and was an instructor within several different companies. Teaching and being a professor was all part of Sylver’s retirement plan. That is, until cigars came into her life. Sylver’s ex-husband smoked cigars, and she’d regularly find herself in a cigar lounge for what became their date nights. He’d go into the humidor and would come back with a cigar for both himself and for her. While she didn’t know much about what she was smoking, she enjoyed cigars, so much so that when they divorced, lounges continued to be where she spent some of her leisure time and also learning more about the products she was smoking. “I was totally shocked when I saw inside a humidor for the first time. I had no idea there were so many different cigars in there,” she explains. “The humidor manager was like, ‘What do you like to smoke?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know, whatever my ex-husband handed me!’ The guy in the humidor explained the wrapper, binder and fillers to me, and explained the different notes and stuff. So I became very interested in trying to learn as much as I could about the cigars and trying to figure out what I liked to smoke. “When I came home, I had probably about 10 or so cigars. I started to research them and look up the wrapper, binder, filler, and that’s when I realized [they] all were so different. I wanted to find out what I liked, so I did a spreadsheet and started to put the wrapper, binder and filler in it and took notes on what I liked.” Desiree Sylver is bringing her own flavor and business sense to the cigar industry with the launch of Drunk Chicken Cigars, a fowl- inspired brand that’s boutique in size but every bit premium. [ T O B A C C O B U S I N E S S . C O M ] TOBACCO BUSINESS [ 33 ]