Interview: Heather Phillips, Heavenly Cigars
by David "Doc" Diaz
Thursday, April 19, 2007
For company president, Heather Phillips, the journey began at the “Cigar Bar,” a location where she worked as a waitress and began her education in the fine art of cigars. In time, Heather ascended to assistant manager, where her knowledge and passion for cigars grew and solidified her credentials in the cigar industry.
Though the demise of the Cigar Bar put Heather out of work, she used this temporary setback to find the proverbial “silver lining.” After a few months, she acquired the name “Heaven” in the cigar class and decided to produce her own line of cigars. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Having followed a non-traditional path into the cigar industry, Heather has also forged a different path to success. The Heaven Cigar Company has become a leader in the flavored cigar industry by producing the finest flavored cigars on the market today. Using premium all-natural long-filler tobacco blended with a taste of nature’s most desired ingredients, Heaven cigars have developed a reputation for producing sophisticated smokes.
Released in 1996, the Heavenly Flavor Collection has captured the imagination and desires of the many cigar smokers who prefer the delicate flavor of the original “Vanilla,” as well as 11 other alluring flavors.
Below: Heather and Angela (an Angel) wearing... body paint
A successful company starts with a great product, but a savvy marketing strategy doesn’t hurt. Heather has cleverly positioned her company with a sensuous and seductive series of ads, and with the “Angels,” who tour cigar shops and special events as “heavenly messengers” for the company’s product lines. Heaven Cigars has even developed its own 2007 Collector’s Edition Angel Calendar, which is sure to sell out soon. If you haven’t heard of Heaven Cigars or seen their “Angels,” well my friend, you need some educating.
I contacted Heather recently and she graciously took some time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts on her business and her success.
DOC: I’m sure that our Stogie Fresh readers would love to know: What attracted you to cigars and to the cigar industry?
HEATHER: I actually was in the retail end of the business in the mid to late 90's, and upon the demise of the Cigar Bar I had a vision of expanding and re-creating the HEAVEN cigar brand.
I was driven to exceed what had already been done, in part due to a need to simply survive in the marketplace. I started from nothing and knew what I needed to make it work. My passion was to grace an age-old tradition with sophistication and forward thinking, which resulted in a unique flavored cigar and companyDOC: For countless years, men have clearly dominated the cigar industry; what were your feelings going into a male-dominant industry and, how have you been able to develop the trust and confidence of the cigar industry?
HEATHER: I don't know if I thought much about my feelings, but I knew what needed to happen, period. I took great pride in my products. Being a woman (and at the time a young woman) made me somewhat of an industry anomaly. Besides that, I was creating a unique product and had a different type of marketing strategy, which made me stand out. I believe that by embracing my strengths and through dedication, I have earned quite a bit of respect from my fellow industry friends and competitors alike. Longevity and consistency just have a way of paying off.
DOC: I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I have never tried one of your flavored cigars. For those of us out here who have shied away from flavored smokes, what can you tell us about your cigars that would give us incentive to try them?
HEATHER: We have managed to create a cigar that is "Like no Taste on Earth." Many aromatic cigars tease the palate with hints of this and that. Our products are the most straightforward flavored cigars available anywhere. When you smoke a Cherry Cream for instance, there is no mistaking the up-front flavors of ripened cherry, vanilla and earthy tobacco. We have an exclusive 5-point flavor process that is unique to the HEAVEN brand and the cigar remains consistent with that flavor till the end of your smoke. We have 12 HEAVEN flavors total.
Below: Heather at a tobacco farm in the Dominican Republic
DOC: Whom do you see as the target demographic for your cigars? Do you have plans to expand that target and, if so, how?
HEATHER: Well, in the beginning it was probably more women then men, but over time, it seems as though an equal amount of women and men from the ages of 22-45 enjoy our products. Plans to expand the target have been discussed, however it will more than likely be an expansion of the brand into other areas of the tobacco industry.
DOC: What gave you the idea for the “Angel of the Month”? And, where can I get a copy of the 2007 “Painted Angels” calendar?
HEATHER: The "Angel of the Month" was easy; I already had the "Angels" (my friends) at shows and events so it seemed natural to have an Angel of the month on the website corresponding with the Calendar we first created 5 or 6 years ago. The 2007 calendar is something TOTALLY different than all the other calendars as we are all, of course, nude; yet tastefully body painted to exude some type of clothing or lingerie. You can find these or ask for them at your local retailers, or contact our office directly, however we don't have very many left.
DOC: What is your vision for the future of your company and what can the consumer expect to see in 2007 and beyond?
HEATHER: Most of all I want to see HEAVEN be all it was born to be. I've been kicking that idea around and am open for possibilities that are beneficial to the brand, company and our customers. I may be interested in seeing what other companies could do for the expansion of the brand. As far as 2007, you can expect to see the same service, a new flavor, better deals and, of course, all your favorite Angels in Houston. Keep smokin!
Contact information for Angel Calendar:
Web site: http://www.heavencigar.com
About the Author
David "Doc" Diaz is the publisher and the editor of the Stogie Fresh Cigar Publications. He has served as an educator, researcher and writer and has taught in the Health Education and Health Science field for over 30 years. He possesses an earned doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Doc is a Certified Master Tobacconist (CMT), having received this certification from the Tobacconist University and is a member and Ambassador of Cigar Rights of America (CRA).blog comments powered by Disqus