Morales’ growing cigar business brings ‘Little Havana’ vibe to Blythewood

Yenesia and Emmanuel show off some of their cigar brands | Contributed

BLYTHEWOOD – For Yenesia Morales, trying to find meaningful work was a struggle. Even most work-from-home jobs had schedule requirements that she, a sufferer of fibromyalgia and chronic pain, was unable to meet.

Then, the Blythewood woman discovered her passion, cigars, – and started her own cigar company that she is building with her husband, Emmanuel.

“After I started smoking cigars, I found that the hour or so that it takes for me to smoke a cigar distracted me from the pain I suffered from. Maybe because I was focused on the different aspects of the cigar – the taste, the smell, the construction.

I started researching where the tobacco came from, where the leaves came from and stuff like that,” says Morales, whose cigar company, Morales Cigar Company, is now in its third year.

Morales’ interest in cigars prompted her to start thinking about creating her own brand. So, on a visit to her native Dominican Republic, she started looking into the idea – and found a cigar factory just three blocks from her father’s home.

It was there that she learned more about the cigar industry, including her favorite statistic: A cigar passes through approximately 200 hands during its journey from seed to sale.

This number accounts for everyone, from the people who plant the seeds and tend the crops and harvest the leaves to the curing, fermentation, and aging, to the factory where the recipe is created and the leaves are bunched and rolled to the people who make the boxes, wrappers, and rings.

Yenesia Morales

“Just that part alone was so intriguing to me and so fascinating,” she says. “I literally just fell in love with the industry, and the more I learned about it, the more I enjoyed it.”

For Morales and her husband, cigar-blending trips double as opportunities to visit their family and friends in the Dominican Republic. There, they meet in the factory with a master blender who helps them develop their unique blend for each line of cigar.

“We just take our ideas to the master blender, and he blends the cigars until we are satisfied with the taste,” she says. “We probably smoke about 7-10 not whole cigars but different portions of the cigar… and that’s how we go through the process of selecting the cigars that we sell.”

Morales Cigar Company currently offers five blends.

“Our first cigar blend is the Morales 1205 cigar, which honors the day my husband and I met,” Morales said.

That’s a blend she created, and all of the ingredients come from the Dominican Republic. Their second blend is the Morales 803, named for the area code they call home. That one, she says, is a blend her husband created.

Their three newest blends are sold together in a box that they call “the story of good and evil,” which features an Ecuador Connecticut blend, a Mexican Andres blend, and a ‘Barber Pole’ cigar that mixes the two together.

The Morales’ cigars are sold locally at Blythewood Cigar and Wine, across South Carolina and in several other states around the country.

“We’re now selling thousands of cigars a month, which is enough to cover costs and keep the business in the black,” she said.

Morales says the business is only three years in – and it usually takes five for a cigar company to become really profitable.

“So, we’re still building the business,” she said.

Morales said, for her, it’s not just about the growing their income; it’s about enjoying her business, about being passionate about what she does and about the people she meets through her work, locally and across the country. It’s also the ‘Little Havana’ vibe that comes with every cigar they sell.

“Having my own business has allowed me to work at my own pace,” Morales says. “Don’t get me wrong – I have deadlines and things that I need to do, but within a day or two I have the flexibility to pick the time of day where my body allows me to do what I need to do.”

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