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A Love Story in Smoke and Ash: The Journey of Donald and Pascion, Owners of White Smoke & Ash Cigar Lounge

In the heart of Crest Hill, Illinois, there exists a place where the scent of fine cigars mingles with the warm camaraderie of a close-knit community.

A Love Story in Smoke and Ash: The Journey of Donald and Pascion, Owners of White Smoke & Ash Cigar Lounge

A Love Story in Smoke and Ash: The Journey of Donald and Pascion, Owners of White Smoke & Ash Cigar Lounge

In the heart of Crest Hill, Illinois, there exists a place where the scent of fine cigars mingles with the warm camaraderie of a close-knit community. This is the home of White Smoke & Ash, a charming cigar lounge that has become a haven for aficionados and novices alike. What makes this place truly special, however, isn't just the cigars or the ambiance – it's the dynamic duo behind it all: Donald and Pascion.

A Love Story in the Making

Donald and Pascion's love story began over two decades ago. They met, fell in love, and built a family with three beautiful children. Their journey together has seen its fair share of highs and lows, but their love has remained steadfast. As they celebrate 22 years of marriage, they reflect on the twist of fate that led them into the world of business partnership.

Before they ventured into the cigar industry, their lives followed different paths. Pascion had retired from the auto industry, while Donald was a plant manager in the roofing industry, also serving as a proud member of the corporate diversity and inclusion council. In 2021, they embarked on a new adventure by purchasing the building that would become the iconic White Smoke & Ash. Little did they know that this decision would not only transform their lives but also strengthen their bond in ways they never imagined.
"We work together every day," Donald reflects, "and realized very quickly that working together has grown our marriage and elevated our relationship in ways we never imagined."

Embracing the Cigar Industry

Their journey into the cigar industry began after they completed the renovation of White Smoke & Ash in 2022. While they were eager to open a cigar lounge, they admittedly had no prior experience in the industry. Nevertheless, armed with determination and a shared vision, they dove headfirst into the unknown.
The challenges were undeniable. For Pascion, it was a matter of understanding how a cigar lounge should be managed, a realm far removed from her previous career in the auto industry. For Donald, the hurdles lay in the vast world of cigar brands, each with its unique characteristics and makeup. Despite these challenges, their shared commitment and resilience helped them overcome every obstacle that came their way.

Shared Values, Unique Perspectives

When asked about their business values, both Donald and Pascion unanimously agree that customer satisfaction is paramount. However, they recognize that their perspectives may differ due to their distinct backgrounds and experiences.

"Yes, we have the same business values," says Pascion, "but they are perceived differently because one person is male and one is a female. We both know the number one value to our business is our customers, and their satisfaction comes first."

Admiring Each Other's Strengths

In the world of business and marriage, admiration for each other's strengths can be a source of inspiration and motivation. Pascion holds her husband Donald in high regard for his creativity and reliability.
"I value his creativity when resources are always limited," she says. "And his reliability – he is never not there when needed."

In turn, Donald deeply admires Pascion's natural soft spirit and her unwavering commitment to ensuring the happiness of those around her.

Growth Through the Journey

Reflecting on their journey, both Donald and Pascion acknowledge the changes that have taken place within themselves and in their partner. Pascion has grown into a confident and knowledgeable businesswoman, capable of running White Smoke & Ash with minimal support from her husband. It's a testament to her dedication and adaptability.
For Donald, the changes are equally profound. He has discovered newfound patience and empathy, recognizing that people need a safe space to vent. His listening skills have evolved, allowing him to better understand the needs and desires of their clientele. The crucible of entrepreneurship has forged them into stronger individuals and a more resilient couple.

Advice for Aspiring Couples in Business

For those couples considering venturing into the world of business together, Donald and Pascion offer some sage advice.

"The advice we would give other couples is to make sure your relationship is stable and built on respect," they say, in unison. "Your relationship will be tested regularly, and that is expected in business. Also, speak about how your relationship is doing since you entered the business, learn from each other what each person is seeing, and discuss if these things are positives or detriments to your relationship."

A Vision for the Future

Donald and Pascion's vision for White Smoke & Ash extends beyond the confines of their current location. They aspire to open multiple locations, share their knowledge, and empower minorities to enter the tobacco industry. Moreover, they envision their children carrying the torch and passing on the legacy of White Smoke & Ash to their own offspring, ensuring that the brand endures for generations to come.

Support from SOTL Global Movement

To realize their vision, Donald and Pascion believe that organizations like the SOTL Global Movement can play a crucial role. They hope for support in spreading the word about the unique experiences offered at White Smoke & Ash. Additionally, they look forward to hosting events that showcase diversity and inclusion at its finest, fostering a welcoming environment for all.
In the heart of Crest Hill, amidst the swirling tendrils of cigar smoke and the warm laughter of patrons, the story of Donald and Pascion, owners of White Smoke & Ash Cigar Lounge, unfolds. Their journey as a couple and as business partners is a testament to love, resilience, and the enduring power of shared dreams. As they continue to grow their business, their legacy of unity and inclusivity will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the world of cigars and beyond.

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