In the States, especially in Miami, cigar industry seems to be in a constant turmoil. Some small factories and labels gain huge demand as others fade away quietly. It is lucky for us cigar enthusiasts, that there will always be new people trying it out with new concepts.
I had a great chance to talk with one of the interesting people trying to make it or break it in the highly competitive World of Cigars. Kyle Gellis, the founder and owner of Warped Cigars, is a 20-year-old college student, born in Brewster, New York. Despite his young age, he has already been a player in the business world for several years.
So, let's take a glimpse into the mind behind Warped Cigars:
World of Cigars: Tell me a little about your background.
Kyle Gellis: I Started my first company Warped Kustoms when I was 14, supplying headwear for the paintball industry. Then, I started Trend Clothing Co. when I was 17, and been dealing with internet retail since I was 14. I am a Full time college student, majoring in Marketing in Florida.
WoC: When did you get into cigars?
Kyle: My father smoked cigars when I was a kid, I was extremely interested in the whole concept, from the humidors to the smell of them. I couldn't wait till he got home, he would let me cut and light his cigar for him. I had my first cigar when I was 16 from a cruise to the bahamas, was a Monte No. 2 from the cigar shop in Atlantis. When I turned 18, the first cigar I bought was a Padilla Miami (the old ones by Pepin) and been history since then.
WoC: Tell me about the early days of Warped Cigars.
Kyle: I started Warped Cigars in August of 2008. I live 90 miles from Little Havana, so I went down one day to learn more about the art, ended up coming out with more knowledge and appreciation then I ever had before. Once you go through the blending process, rolling you really get a much better appreciation for the art. I found a small family run factory that was willing to give me a shot when a bunch of other factories turned me down.
WoC: What kind of different blends do you have?
Kyle: Currently we have 3 blends. Anubis, Osiris and Private Blend.
WoC: Is Warped carried in retail stores?
Kyle: Currently it is not. I started strictly with the support of the online community, remain solely selling my cigars online. While I hope to change this very soon, right now its just not in the cards. I am on alot of cigar forums, reading what people are looking for and personally interacting with the members to see what they want. When I first started Warped, I had the support of my good friends over at PBN, who saw Warped come up from idea to finished product and gave me their opinions all the way. I have to give a shout out to everyone over at PBN, you know I love you guys.
WoC: What do you look for in a cigar?
Kyle: Flavor and aroma just like everyone else. I am not one for if the burn is straight or not while I know its important to alot of people, I have a lighter I will fix it, if it needs correcting. I like my cigars with a lot of spice and earthy flavors, that fruity sweet you find in Cubans. I believe the Hoyo line is the best example of fruity sweet, while smoking a Hoyo EL 07 it was like a creamy blueberry flavor that I just cant get enough of. I really want to attempt to re create that creamy fruity flavors in my future lines.
WoC: What is your favorite size?
Kyle: Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46), hands down. Its a perfect fit for my hand, has the perfect ratio. Some people say I'm obsessed with the size, I am. Every line I do will have a Corona Gorda, because its a classic size that not a lot of people offer. I am not into large RG cigars, while that is the current trend, I don't follow it. The biggest RG you will see from me is a 52 for a Belicoso.
WoC: What cigars do you enjoy besides your own?
Kyle: When im not smoking my own, I usually only smoke Tatuaje and Pepin's brands and Cuban. I pretty much stick to what I know wont ever let me down. But I never turn down an opportunity to try something new. I will say I am smoking alot of the Epernay from Illusione, Dion created a beast with those.
WoC: What do you love about the cigar culture?
Kyle: The people! Never before have I met such people that are so welcoming, its like we are all old friends. Even the brand owners are the same. While I have not met a lot of brand owners, I have met Pete Johnson at an event in Orlando, I sat with Pete and we talked for 3 hours almost exclusively with my friend Ryan. We talked about his future ideas, my brand and everything else. That day was probably the most memorable cigar day I had yet. In my old industry, that would never happen you are brushed aside like you are nothing. I hope when I am done with college I can get out there and do events and meet alot more people.
WoC: So whats in the future for Warped?
Kyle: Alot, I hope. Currently I have 4 brand ideas I would like to release them in late 2009 and early 2010. I really want to work with Pepin and Jaime (Garcia Family) to create the 4 brands. I know they could help me take the ideas and create exactly what my crazy mind wants. They are coming out with amazing things. Working with them would be an honor to me. Hell just to be allowed to learn from them would be good for me! I am always wanting to learn more and more.
WoC: What comes after college?
Kyle: I want to continue with Warped, expand my clothing company Trend, produce my own Cognac (I am a huge cognac enthusiast). I dream big, want to make my dreams a reality. When I day dream, I dream about a blend I want to create or what I am looking for in a cognac, etc. My mind is constantly on work mode, has been since I was 14 when I started my first company.