The cigar industry is a lucrative business, but only if you know how to scale it by continuously impressing your clients. In this episode, Solomon Ali interviews Aroma Cigar ETC’s owner, Nasiyr Bey, about his personal life, starting up, and being motivated to pursue the cigar business. Believing in grabbing opportunities and amplifying it, Nasir transitioned from the music industry to the cigar world. He talks also touches on finding the right mentor and he reveals some tricks of the trade in scaling a cigar business.
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Starting And Scaling A Cigar Business With Nasiyr Bey
One of my favorite people that we will be speaking with is the owner of the cigar shop that I frequent quite often. We’re going to ask him a few questions about himself like how he got started in the business and what was his driving motivation? How to help other people who may be looking to start a business that wants to be in business and then about the cigar business itself? Is it a good business? Nasir, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
How are you doing, Solomon?
I’m doing good.
It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to speak to the masses about this opportunity with the cigar industry and the direction it’s going. First, let me start off with where I come from and the avenues that got me to dealing with cigars.
Where did you come from, your backstory and how did you become the proud owner of this cigar shop that I’ve come in almost every day and smoke a cigar?
A little bit about my backstory, I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My mother’s an immigrant from Jamaica. My father is a Native American. At that time, growing up, my father and mother had a number of stores. I’ve always seen the business aspect of things. I was told to go to high school, then college but I saw a different avenue for me. I went to high school, but I didn’t finish college. I was very into music. I loved music growing up. My father used to play a lot of jazz, hip hop, RNB and slow music. I got in tune with James Brown and Bob Marley. My passion was music. I wanted to go into the music field.
Let me understand something. You have this beautiful cigar shop, your parents own convenience stores. Did the passion start there to be an entrepreneur to own your own?
As I look back, I say yes. It was implemented in me as a three to five-year-old sitting with my mother and my father inside of those stores and watching them do business with the community.
It was to help the community. Tell me a little bit about your past successes and your past failures. What I want to know and I want the audience to see are some of the things and the heights that you’ve been to. Even though you have a bad experience or things don’t work out right or correctly, how did you get back up and then do it again? That’s what I want the audience to be able to relate because you have the hottest spot in Charlotte for smoking cigars.
Growing up, as I went to high school and got to college, I was focused on music. I got into the music business. I was in New York and I had some friends in my neighborhood that were rappers. They had a deal with Roc-A-Fella Records. I’m sure most people are familiar with Roc-A-Fella Records, Jay-Z, Dame Dash and Biggs. The name of the group was the Rangers. They were my friends. I grew up with them from young and they were taking off. They had some big records. I want to be a part of it so bad and leave the neighborhood. They gave me an opportunity. They have some family down South. We went down South and pushed that music.
Pushing the music in that Southern region where they were not known and Jay-Z was known. He came to the Charlotte area and saw that music was being pushed here without his knowledge. He decided to find out who was doing it. He came to me with my friends, brought me to the table and that’s how I got started with Def Jam and doing marketing and street team pushing other artists. At that point, I was so hungry and I was going through so many different ups and downs. I didn’t want to lose, so I decided to find my own artists. I kept trying to grow and every avenue I wanted to grow.
You are hungry and a go-getter. As we all say from the street, you are a hustler not in a negative sense, but in a positive sense. You went out there and did what you have to do to promote your artists and get everybody out there.
I’m going to amplify every opportunity that I have to be successful.
That to me is amazing. I have watched you with the cigar bar, Aroma, and what you have done and all the hard work and the long hours you put in. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
It’s hard to skip these pieces because they are key pieces, especially for the audience to understand. I did not know I was going to get into the cigar business. I was focused on being the next Jay-Z, the next Dame Dash or rubbing elbows with these guys in the music arena. I was pretty successful. I found the artists, got our record deal signed to Def Jam, Disturbing the Peace. We made plenty of money, but things in business sometimes go sour. I experienced it in a major way and I had to rethink everything and couldn’t find that avenue. I went through many different deals that failed. I had constant failures, but I never lost the passion and the drive to be successful. I think that’s what carried me, my willpower. One day I decided, “Let me start smoking cigars, hanging out and meeting some new people.” In the process of meeting new people and developing relationships, I fell in love with the cigar lounge. What I’m trying to say is you may have a passion to go one way, but the higher power may pull you another way and you will be successful if you follow that path.
You have artists that were successful. Albums are playing everywhere and you made lots of money, then all of a sudden, a mishappen business. I’m asking this for my audience, was that because of no mentorship, no guidance that you had learned it? Sometimes we go-getters and hustlers, we had to learn it as we go. That sometimes is the hardest way to learn because we don’t know where all those landmines may be. We’re doing that trial and error. As people would say, “Education is expensive, but having no education sometimes is more expensive.” Tell me what would have made the difference if you had a mentor?
I had a mentor as the young kids are saying the bag. Once I got the money, I had a mentor for a little bit, but I was doing business with my mentors. In doing business, they’re not your mentors at the time of you doing business together. They were sitting on the opposite side of the table. It was tough for me to learn, but I took in as much knowledge as I could from the business and from those key players who are now family. I loved them because they gave me the opportunity that led me to this great opportunity. I sat with them in the greatest of meetings with you name it in the music industry. That experience taught me and I learned that from them.
What are some of those experiences? Can you give me an example?
Some of the experiences was watching deals follow through those individuals and how they handled it, or mishaps with a deal. How they had to recover and regained ground to come out on a certain date or to collect funds for the artists from the record label or even just doing a show. There were so many different things in the music industry that you have to deal with on day-to-day that people don’t know about. I was there by one of my friends’ and family members’ side every day. I got to learn and experience not just the business side, but the emotional side and how to handle it. I watched how he handled it very professionally, with no emotions in it, just strictly business. At the end of the day, pretty much like a movie role, when that movie was over, it’s cut and you go on about your day, your real life.
There’s something that I have to ask for my audience. When I think of people in the music business, what I’m thinking of is the video girls, all the glam and all the fine women. Was it like that?
No, it was not like that. After you make the bed, you know that last cover you put on top of the bed, that’s what that was. There’s a lot of work that goes into making it on all sides. Even from the other side of the camera, there’s a lot of work that goes into making that beautiful motion picture that you see every day on your TV screen, the videos and on the internet. A lot of relationships happen. A lot of relationships are destroyed, but it gives that creativity for the public to enjoy.
One of the things that you would say is that there’s going to be a lot of hard work. If you have your mentors there and they have a vested interest in you being successful, they will help you to guide through those minefields. What we see is not always what it is. When I think of all the beautiful pretty women, it’s not necessarily all that. It’s that grind that you’re doing behind the scenes. It’s all that hard work. What is the name of the hottest cigar spot in Charlotte?
The name of my location, the hottest spot is Aroma Cigars Etc.
How did you come about that name?
I picked up the name from being at the lounge. Originally, it was called a different name. The ventilation system sucked. There was a location that was a rundown, but everybody loved that location. Every time I left this location to go somewhere else, I smelled like cigar smoke. Everywhere I would go and sit with someone, they’ll say, “Where are you coming from? You smelled like straight cigars, the aroma of a cigar.” I took it from there and I said, “That’s going to be a great name. One day I’m going to open my own lounge and I’m going to call it Aroma.”
That’s very impressive. That’s how you came up with the name. Tell us a little bit about your cigar spot and I want you to tell us what goes into running this particular business.
Aroma Cigars, from coming into the lounge, I noticed that everyone in the lounge loved the location. It needed a lot of updates. A friend of mine owns the location. He decided to get out of the business and move on to other things on the real estate side. I decided to buy in and purchase the location. That’s when Aroma started. As it started, I have heard plenty of complaints about different things that needed updating and fixing. I started off with ventilation and from there, I couldn’t stop. I wanted to bring my energy to the location, my wave and as the young kids say, “My swag.” I just wanted flavor. I provided an ambiance for everyone to experience not just the location and the cigar, but also the people. It all went together. It’s a packaged deal.
When you said you listen to the customers, you did a survey to figure out what the problems were within the business and why they existed and then you corrected those particular problems.
Yes, I did my due diligence.
Can you tell us more?
You may have a passion to go one way, but the higher power may pull you another way and you will be successful if you follow that path.
Growing up, I wanted it to do 100% and always go further than the next man. I wanted to upgrade everything in the lounge. As that happened, everybody appreciates it. They started coming back to the lounge. It took a lot of work from doing the floors to the walls, to the bar, to the alcohol, the cigars, meeting with the different individuals to get the deals done to bring in the cigars, dealing with the city and the people in place to bring in the alcohol. Every day was hard, the job is hard, the work is hard, but as you see, Aroma Cigars Etc. is open. It’s a wonderful location. We all are here experiencing a great atmosphere. It’s the hard work that got me here.
Let me share this experience with my audience. A few years ago, before it was his cigar bar, Aroma, I came here one time. I stay for about a half-hour, I didn’t finish my cigar and I left. I left for some of the reasons that you said and I never came back. I knew you and I knew that you were opening it up. I came and sat down. I liked the atmosphere and the ambiance. I felt that it was amazing. I enjoy people and friendship. There are people from all walks of life that come in here, CEOs, athletes, people like myself, very high net worth and you get your privacy. We sit down and we have conversations. One of the things that I noticed is I don’t have to go to the golf course and hang out in the clubhouse anymore. I can come to a place like here and enjoy a good cigar, enjoy the atmosphere with very successful people doing and running their businesses and things of that nature. It’s all due to what you have provided us. It’s a place that’s safe and secure to where we’re not bothered by other people, whether it’s autographs or whatever it might be. It’s people that get to come in from all walks of life and have good fellowship.
I was telling one of the members of the location that I wanted to make the location for everyone. Those who want to do a deal, you have a low area that you can sit in and meet with people. If you have a 9 to 5 and you want to get away from your 9 to 5, your lunch break, after work or you just want to relax, unwind and get ready for your next day. You can come in and do that as well. One of the things I said to them was a lot of deals happen on the golf course but these days in Aroma Cigars Etc., a lot of deals happen as well. They’re moving from the golf course to the cigar lounge.
That’s a place you want to go. One that knows his customers. He’s done research and due diligence. He’s willing to do the hard work. He stated that he had some failures in the past, but he’s done the hard work. Can anyone open up a cigar bar?
Anyone can open up a cigar bar.
Won’t they need a mentor?
They definitely want to have a mentor. They do not want to do it blindly.
If I want to open up a cigar bar, would you help?
Of course, I will help you. I will help anyone that wants to open up a cigar bar. If anyone wants to open up a cigar bar, first of all, come and see me. Talk to me and get as much knowledge as possible from me because I’ve gone through the ups and downs of having a cigar lounge and making it successful. There’s no better experience than learning from someone that has already taken that walk. I want you to see me and I would love to do business with whoever wants to do a cigar lounge.
I understand that you have a business plan to open up in several locations, hundreds of locations. You will teach, mentor and help provide the financing to open up a cigar bar. I want you to tell my audience how you can help them to do this business.
This business is for everybody. I wanted to make this business as simple as possible for anyone that wants to leave their 9 to 5, anyone looking to get out of any line of work that they’re in, anyone who’s retired that wants to bring in an extra income. This is the business for you. It’s very simple if you follow my lead and follow my directions. I can help you grow your business to be very successful with no questions asked if you do the work. There are things that need to be in a place that I can help you with. You will be able to use my name and that will also springboard you in this business as well to be very successful. In my day-to-day, I’ll mentor you and help you.
For someone looking and as an entrepreneur thinking about going into the business, you said that you will mentor them. You will help them to learn and teaching them the business. You will help them to get everything set up in the business. You will help them with the financing of the business and they get to use your name, which is going to be like a license agreement. They’re going to license your name and go out there and get to create the same success, provided they’re willing to do the work. They’ve got to do the work. Can they do it without doing the work?
There is no way to get around it. You cannot cheat the system. You cannot cheat on this business. This opportunity is a once in a lifetime. There are not many people that do this, that will put the time and slow their grind down for you to be successful. This is a great opportunity for you to be successful in this business, the tobacco business, the cigar business and the cigar lounge business. I can help you. I will help you if you want to do the work. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what side of the world you are on, where you grew up, how you grew up. If you’re willing to do the work and you can show me you’re willing to do the work, I will take my time out of my day. Wherever you are in the United States or outside the United States, I will fly to you. I will help you be successful, open up your lounge and create a flowing income for you and your family.
MBA, Minority Business Access, that’s the name of our platform. My audience is tuned in to take a look at it. Is it just for people of color, let’s say blacks or is it for women?
This is for any human being that wants to be successful.
I like that. Any human being that wants to be successful, you’re willing to teach them. It doesn’t matter if they’re green, gray or yellow. If they have the desire to learn it to be successful, you’re willing to teach it. How much do they need to start? I know you said you helped them with the financing, but how much do they need?
I’d help them with the financing. Everyone is different. Where you need to start is your heart to be successful. You have to have the willpower. From there, finances can be worked out. Some people will get more out of it than others if they have their finances together. If there are people that have the heart and the will that don’t have their finances together and are serious, I’ll take the time out and help them get their finances together to move forward to the next step.
Let me ask you this because I’m a go-getter like you and I’m sure many of our audience are go-getters. What if I was willing to do the work? Is it possible I can own four or five of them?
Hopefully, if you’re going to follow my lead and I’m doing my job as a mentor, you can own 10 to 15 of them.
You’re the kind of person I need to be talking to. What advice can you give people that are thinking about starting a business? What’s the difference between this business and perhaps some other business? Please give us your contact information on how you want them to contact you.
There’s no better experience than learning from someone that has already taken that walk.
This business would be a cakewalk compared to other businesses because you have me in place that already walked the path. I can easily show you everything that needs to be done. I’m going to find you your location and help you get to your location. I’m going to provide you with all the services and products that are necessary for your customer base. There are not many businesses that are going to do all of that for you.
You’re saying that you’re going to help me find the location, help me get into the location, help me to get the inventory and the equipment that’s needed and teach me the business that I may be successful in the business as well.
That’s right. You’ll be very successful in the business. All you have to do is follow my footsteps, you want to do the work, willing to do the work and do the work.
I get to hang out with some cool people like you and all your customers that come in. I know his customers and their customers are cool. They come from all walks of life, CEOs and athletes. They’re very cool people. How would someone in my audience that was interested in your business and learning from you get in touch with you?
You could contact me on my direct line. It’s (917) 515-8543. When you call, just ask for me and someone will be with you shortly and we’d go from there.
Did you have a mentor when you came into this business?
When I came into this business, I didn’t have a mentor. I learned the hard way, but I did have a structure and a mentor from other businesses that I was doing.
Tell me about that. Did that help you?
Yes, that helped me very much. It helped me grow a lot in business. Coming out of music, it didn’t work out too well after I hit as high as I could hit at that moment. I started looking at other deals with energy and gas. Those failures got me closer to someone that gave me a lot of gain and structure. It made me dig a lot deeper to find the avenue and make the avenue out of whatever came. If I was baking cookies, I would have been the best cookie baker in the city. It doesn’t matter what it is I’m going to do, I’m going to be the best at it. It just so happens to be that I love cigars and I love the clientele. We have athletes, doctors, lawyers, dentists, blue-collar and white-collar. It doesn’t matter. Everybody comes together and have one common interest and can speak together in one common goal and that’s a cigar.
This individual, you can say his name if you recall it. Tell us exactly in your own words, what was it that he did for you and how was he able to help you? Tell me a little bit about him.
He’s a very distinguished gentleman. He is an amazing miracle worker when it comes to business, finance and closing deals. Actually, that individual is you.
I didn’t expect that, but I’ll receive it now.
As I was saying, I was in the music business. I was rubbing shoulders with everyone in these big board meetings like Russell Simmons, Kevin Liles, Leo Cohen, you name it. When I left that arena, it was a blessing that I connected with you. Even though I never said anything to you about it and this is the first time we speak on it. When I brought deals to you, you didn’t just go through the deal with a fine comb and take the deal and run. You had me in the board meetings with these individuals as well. As I was at the table, I was still studying and learning from you. That’s what got me sharper. I’m still sharpening. It helped me grow tremendously and I learned fast. That’s how I got to manifest Aroma Cigars Etc. because the opportunity came. You told me while we were doing some other business, look into the cigar business and do it. It wasn’t anything I wanted to do. Honestly, it was something I wanted to enjoy and music is always my passion. You told me to do the cigar business. I did it blindly so I was walking in faith, but I knew to do the work while I walk in faith is going to manifest. That’s what I did.
I want to thank you for allowing and hosting us here at your cigar bar, Aroma. I want to thank you on behalf of the MBA, Minority Business Access. If you are in business or thinking about starting a business, whether it’s manufacturing, some type of sales business or whatever, you need to look at this opportunity and take key because there’s no sense of going into debt. There’s no sense of borrowing against your 401(k), borrowing from your family and friends, going out and getting a loan and going into debt when this young man has stated that he will mentor you. He will help finance you, he will provide everything that you need and make you successful in the business if you’re willing to do the work. The only thing I could say is your procrastination or the reason not to call is that you’re not serious about your dream or living that dream.
I agree and I’m giving you my direct number. That’s how serious this opportunity is. I want you to understand, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. There are not many people that will take time out to mentor you to be successful for one or give you the game on how to be successful the way I did it. I learned it the hard way. There’s a lot of work. I’m going to give you the game on how to run a successful cigar lounge. It only makes sense to be a part of it because we’re opening hundreds of lounges. Why not be a part of the success, the wave that we’re doing? You need to be a part of it. It’s that simple. It makes sense. Whatever you’re doing in your life, if you’re looking for a long-term gain, this is going to be the business that you want to be in, Aroma Cigars Etc.
Thank you so much. Thank you for the beautiful cigar.
Thank you as well. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to reach out to the masses. This time is urgent, so we want to get as many people, young, old, middle class, it doesn’t matter what level you are on, to pay attention to this and see the opportunity that is presented because it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. Take it from me. I’ve been through many different stages and many business deals. This is a great deal.
I want to ask you a few more questions in reference to your mentioning your licensing program. Can you tell my audience how that works?
The licensing program that we’re doing is a very unique program. It’s the most unique program that I’ve noticed and done research on. We’re helping the individual get financed within a 90-day grace period. Depending on your location, your city, we can get you up and running and ready to go within about 90 days approximately. One thing I do ask is for everyone to come out to the seminar. We do a seating at $200 first and as first come first serve. We have limited seats for the opportunity. It is a very unique opportunity. I must reiterate that and I want everyone to take a look at it and put themselves in a position mentally to see you in this seat owning Aroma Cigars Etc. where you can also have a business and make money.
Should you give the contact information?
Yes, I’d normally give my business number and email, but this is something I want to touch the people with. I want to give you my direct line. My cell phone number is (917) 515-8543.
What will they learn in the seminar?
You’ll learn a lot of great things. Tactics of business in the cigar industry. You will learn as well how to open a business, grow your business and implement the different techniques that will be given to you through the seminar. I don’t want to go too deep into it because you need to be at that seminar for me to go step by step in growing this business and be a part of it.
If some of my audience are serious about being in the business, they need to come to the seminar so they can learn more about why they should be in the business and figure out if the business is for them. They’re going to go over all that.
Please contact me and let me know with that phone call or leave a message stating that you read the blog and you’re very interested in owning your own business the same as I do with Aroma Cigars Etc.
I want to thank you so much for hosting our show. We look forward to working with you and helping you as much as I possibly can as you’re helping our audience out there. I appreciate it.
Thank you as well. I just want to say it’s a great opportunity. I want you to look into it and see yourself owning a cigar lounge. My cigar lounge could be your cigar lounge. It’s a great opportunity and you’ll have great money if you want to do the work.
If you’re looking for a business where you can make great money or awesome money, only your own time being in business for yourself, give Nasir a call.