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Smoke & Stories: A Sparkling Conversation with Crystal Grant, the Face of Houston’s Cigar Culture"

In the realm of cigars, where tradition and heritage frequently steal the spotlight, Crystal Grant is forging
an extraordinary trail through Spades Cigars and Houston Cigar Week.

Smoke & Stories: A Sparkling Conversation with Crystal Grant, the Face of Houston’s Cigar Culture"

Smoke & Stories: A Sparkling Conversation with Crystal Grant, the Face of Houston’s Cigar Culture"

In the realm of cigars, where tradition and heritage frequently steal the spotlight, Crystal Grant is forging an extraordinary trail through Spades Cigars and Houston Cigar Week. Accompanied by her supportive husband, their entrepreneurial voyage and unwavering dedication to promoting cigar culture have become a true testament to their fervor and resilience. Presently, Crystal unveils her personal odyssey, the obstacles encountered along the way, and her unwavering faith in the transformative power of the SOTL Global Movement.

Crystal had an atypical initiation into the world of cigars. While others were raised in families entrenched in tobacco farming, her affection for cigars blossomed under the influence of her husband and business partner, Cerrone Grant. Yet, it didn't take long for her to recognize the strain cigars were putting on their financial budget. Driven to discover a remedy, Crystal and Cerrone made a resolute decision to establish their very own cigar company, one that would provide exceptional quality and unwavering consistency at a reasonable cost. Thus, in 2017, Spades Cigars came into existence.

They embarked on their journey with minimal direction and acknowledgment, quietly dedicating themselves to refining their creation. Among trusted loved ones, they organized intimate tasting events to fine-tune their initial offering—a robust Maduro cigar. Yearning for a brand that encapsulated their cherished moments of familial camaraderie and revelry, they drew inspiration from the competitive allure of the game Spades. Thus, they christened their venture Spades Cigars, aspiring to forge indelible recollections for connoisseurs as they relished the exquisite essence of Nicaraguan tobacco.

In 2018, Spades Cigars was launched on the market, and they began building relationships nationally and internationally. However, they realized they were seeing a decline in customers not accustomed to smoking premium cigars. This led them to launch a flavored line called the Queen of Spades Cigars, despite the initial backlash and criticism from those who believed it would dilute their brand. Crystal's belief in creating a memorable experience for all cigar enthusiasts, regardless of their journey, pushed her to launch this addition. To celebrate this milestone and the cigar culture in Houston, they established Spades Fest, a grand event featuring live performances and a proclamation from the City of Houston declaring April 19th as Spades Cigars Day.

Throughout the years, Crystal and Cerrone expanded their brand and showed support for others in the cigar community. They even launched their own spirit company, Joker Liquor Company, to complement Spades Cigars. Their dedication to quality and consistency led them to become known as the "Team No Sleep," traveling across the country to introduce their products and connect with their supporters. However, they noticed that the cigar culture in Houston, despite being the fourth-largest city in the country, remained relatively unknown to the wider world. Determined to change this, Crystal and Spades Cigars partnered with the Houston Cigar Alliance and launched Houston Cigar Week, the largest cigar festival in Texas.

Now in its third year, Houston Cigar Week has become a significant event on the cigar calendar, taking place during Memorial Day Weekend. The event features 18 cigar-related events, highlighting over 35 vendors. The star-studded lineup includes a Comedy Show and an R&B Summer Nights Concert, with live performances by renowned artists. The feedback that was taken from their guests over the years, was implemented into the festival, striving to support local businesses and promote the city's cigar culture.

To further enhance her support for local businesses and the cigar community, Crystal and the Houston Cigar Week team are introducing a new social application called “Smoke in The City”, which was released to the Apple Store and Google Play Store on May 19, 2023. This application will connect smokers internationally and bring awareness to local businesses and cigar companies. It will provide users with the ability to locate local smoke shops, create personal or business profiles, obtain details about smoke events, purchase tickets, and interact with others in the community.

Growing up, Crystal experienced stereotypes and biases. Being the only girl in a household with three brothers, she noticed the different opportunities and restrictions placed on her. Determined to challenge societal norms, Crystal became an advocate for equal chances and respect for women. This mindset carried over into her entrepreneurial journey in the cigar industry.

Before launching Spades Cigars, Crystal worked as a female executive in the cybersecurity space, where she learned to navigate this environment while remaining true to her femininity. However, when she ventured into the cigar industry, she faced resistance from those who believed she should stay behind the scenes and let her husband take the spotlight. Rejecting these expectations, Crystal asserted her presence as a business partner and demanded respect. This decision turned out to be pivotal for their company since women make up a significant portion of the cigar-smoking population. Crystal's role as a woman entrepreneur in the industry has allowed her to introduce cigars to many women, including flavored cigars, despite the initial stigma associated with them.

Navigating the reality of being both business partners and spouses presents a unique blend of hurdles and triumphs. Crystal recognizes that it can sometimes obscure the boundaries between personal and professional realms, but she underscores the profound comprehension and backing that she and her husband offer one another. In order to thrive together, they accord priority to their familial and personal bond over their business, prioritize transparent communication, establish well-defined roles and obligations, and foster mutual esteem and gratitude for each other's capabilities and contributions. With unwavering trust in each other's judgment and dedication, they endeavor to strike a harmonious work-life equilibrium and gracefully adapt to obstacles as they emerge.

When asked about her biggest role models, Crystal mentions power couples like Beyonce and Jay-Z. She admires their ability to work as a team, protect their personal space, and strive for shared goals. Additionally, her mother serves as a role model, having achieved her goals despite the challenges of raising four children and working in the Oil and Gas industry. Crystal draws inspiration from her mother's determination and perseverance, which pushes her to strive for more.

Similar to every entrepreneur, Crystal encounters periods of weariness and depletion. Nonetheless, she has grasped the significance of pauses and rejuvenating her vitality. Whether it involves brief escapades, unwinding with friends, or discovering delightful pursuits in Houston, Crystal places great importance on self-care. In times of overwhelming responsibilities, she constructs a comprehensive task list, prioritizes her duties, and delegates whenever appropriate. Acknowledging the necessity of harmonizing diligent efforts with personal time, Crystal has acquired the skill of evading professional exhaustion.

Crystal's strength lies in her introverted nature and perfectionism. While it presents unique challenges, being introverted allows her to be observant, strategic, and thoughtful in her approach to life and business. She takes the time to develop strong, long-term relationships with friends, customers, and business partners, using digital tools and online communication to expand her brand's reach.

Crystal believes that the SOTL Global Movement can make its ideal contribution to the cigar industry through education and the development of a robust network of cigar enthusiasts. Education plays a crucial role in cultivating an appreciation for the intricate aspects of cigars, ranging from their structure to the art of harmonizing them with complementary flavors. By actively sharing knowledge, the SOTL Global Movement has the power to elevate the discerning tastes of cigar aficionados, ultimately fostering a more knowledgeable and engaged community. Furthermore, establishing a strong network among women will fortify the movement, nurturing enduring connections beyond professional and personal boundaries.
Crystal is a staunch advocate for collaborating with other women within the SOTL Global Movement and the cigar industry. She has already collaborated with several SOTLs and recognizes the power of women supporting each other. Crystal firmly believes that through collaboration and support, women in the industry can achieve more and create a positive impact.

In summary, Crystal Grant's path as an entrepreneur within the cigar sector exemplifies the influence of unwavering determination, teamwork, and challenging societal norms. Her endeavors with Spades Cigars and active involvement in Houston Cigar Week establish her presence in the industry and establish her presence in the industry but also pave the way for fellow women. Crystal's narrative inspires budding entrepreneurs, reinforcing the notion that passion and persistence can conquer any obstacle, ultimately leading to boundless possibilities.

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