“It’s a good day when you get to kick back and smoke a cigar.”

Just like a man with a 3-week-old puppy, a girl with a black and mild is irresistible – as Mel Kel quickly learned when she picked up her 1st cigar in college.

As a freshman who didn’t smoke cigarettes, Mel was swiftly thwarted into a friendship with a fearless brunette from New England who had an affinity for black and milds. Whilst every other college girl would step outside to light up a cigarette, Mel and her girlfriends would light up cigars, immediately darting the attention to them.

“The black and milds had little mouth pieces so it felt a bit vintage – like the Hollywood starlets who smoked those long cigarettes with mouthpieces,” Mel said. “At first people didn’t know what to make of it – then they gained respect for us. We dared to be different than everyone else at 19.”

Living in Manhattan after graduation, cigars remained a component of her life when her friend began dating an older man in his 40s. The two groups of 20-something-year-old gals and 40-something-year-old guys would go their favorite outdoor bar, and when the men lit up their cigars, Mel would join.

“I just felt part of a special club, smoking cigars with them, and they were always impressed,” Melissa said.

Cigars have consistently represented power and impression in her life. It all started with her fondest memories of her Uncle Fred, her favorite Uncle. He would take a walk around the block in between dinner and dessert at holiday dinners to indulge in a cigar.

“All the kids would follow him around the block on the walk…. He was more interested in his cigar than hanging out with us,” she laughed.

Mel fondly recalled the moments of summertime serenity she experienced smoking a black and mild to herself on her New York City stoop. It had become more than just a social habit: It was a hobby that had matured with her into womanhood.

“It’s almost an elite, unspoken understanding between a group of people who have an affinity for cigars,” she said. “We are not typically in the same demographic, but cigars were the strings that tied us all together.”

Associating cigars with celebratory events, Mel solely has positive memories having to do with cigars – whether it was smoking at bars when she was 19, smoking with upperclass men at 27, or following her Uncle Fred around at age 8, cigars have always been a light in her life.

“It’s incorporated as a social aspect of my life, associated with good times, celebration, relaxation, vacation – all good stuff,” she said.

When asked what she thought the difference was between cigar and cigarette smoking women, she didn’t see much discrepancy.

“They both have a kind of ‘don’t care’ attitude about them. Indulging in a cigarette or a cigar usually means you’re doing what you want to do. You’re doing something to make yourself feel good.”

However, she did admit cigars are more a symbol of relaxation and luxury than the ritual of smoking cigarettes by referring to cigarettes as a habit, while considering cigars a hobby.

Mel also claimed that her relationship with cigars has given her a confidence that allows her to be able to experience life in a more profound way than somebody who may be too closed off or scared to explore different aspects of themselves.

Mel was smitten with the idea of personalizing and customizing cigars, as Custom Tobacco does.

“I think it’s a classy way to do things. You can go through life and buy the Target brand for everything, or you can be unique and do your thing. Be specific in your life.”

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