Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Ramirez.
Heather, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We met in 2005 when I visited Cuba for the first time. I filed fiancé visa and he was here by 2007. I have been in Property Management and real estate since 1997 and have been a licensed real estate agent since 2005. Rafa came to America and worked his way up from Grounds Porter or Grounds Maintenance, to Painting to Maintenance Director. Although he was good at this, his childhood friend Edel Gomez, of Gomez Sanchez Cigars, pushed him to bring Cuban Seed Cigars to Atlanta.
He got his U.S. citizenship in 2014 and from there we decided to try and open a cigar and coffee shop. He had always been great at making coffee, as he volunteered, after a local shop changed the caramel and he tired of me spending ten bucks a day. When he perfected it, I said: you need to sell this!”
Being that Rafa is from Havana and I am from Detroit, we both have an uncanny tenacity and a love to work both smart and hard. I entered into a small business contest with Motor City Match, pitching the idea of Cigars and Coffee, a classic combination. We won! However, while we were winning in Detroit Michigan, I found a locale that I became obsessed about right on Auburn Avenue, in our neighborhood. I wrote a letter of intent, being that we never had a brick and mortar business and I wanted to be sure that we got it. Mrs. Robinson (her late husband, Rev. Edsel Robinson Sr., a good friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) loved my letter and chose us over several other would be business owners, seasoned and all! She was looking for something classy and I assured her that we both revered and respected the great history of Auburn Avenue and would be honored to be a part of its continued renaissance.
We refinanced our home 2 years prior and took out about 30K for purchase of an investment property that fell through. We just sat on most of the money until this opportunity presented itself. As a result of our penny pinching and saving, we were able to finish out the unit within 30 days. We also did not get any financial loans, so the low overhead really helped us to get the ball rolling.
Even though there are more Cigar shops per square mile here in the Atlanta area than any other major city, we are the first and only Cuban Family Owned shop. We have a niche market, we specialize in Cuban Seed Cigars, small batches, grown, aged and prepared the Classic Cuban way. We work with families that we actually know. Being that we are a small mom and pop shop, we do not carry big brands and that is what makes us special. We are also supporting small businesses by working with them directly. Aficionados come from all over the world to see what we are carrying and to try something that no one else will have. What makes us stand out is our love for the people. We truly care and this as a family owned business. We are ladies and gentlemen and we sell a classic tradition, ambiance a Cuban experience. It is like visiting Havana in Atlanta!
Has it been a smooth road?
At first, we invested in another Cigar Bar, not knowing that we had the ability to make it happen. Not knowing that my husband was the expert. After a year plus went by with no traction, we began to see that they were not on a timeline and that was the catalyst for me to “show them how it can be done”. And within 30 days we completed our goal. I remember being in Cuba for Thanksgiving 2015, writing out what was left to do, we went to the Hotel Nacional and the bartender gave us the missing link to our puzzle! There was a man by the name of Marcus Daniel in the United States and his Cigars were exquisite and stood amongst the best Cuban Cigars. It was like a wild goose chase trying to find the person in Cuba that had his contact information! They sent us to a restaurant in Old Havana and then to ask for a particular man, then he sent us to a bar, where we found another character to give us a coaster that had his info on it! Once we got back to the mainland, we were so nervous about calling him. But he actually answered! And he was so happy to help us that he traveled to Atlanta for our grand opening and christened it. He was only the second of the unique high quality selective brands that we offer exclusively at Havana Cigars.
While we were there in Havana, our good friend was helped us paint and complete the floors back at the shop so that we could be ready for the Holiday. But, due to unknown reservations (fear), we waited till the first of Jan 2015. It actually was much easier than I thought. I was actually scared to open, afraid that there was something that I missed! Our fellow small business neighbors told us, “Just Open!” and so we did. Sometimes, the universe works with you to make your dreams happen, if you believe you can. It doesn’t always have to be hard. Sometimes it could just be meant to be.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Havana Cigars – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Cuban Seed Cigars, Classic Cuban Coffee, Cafe con leche, Cafecito, the Cuban experience, family owned and operated The feeling of home, the feeling of traveling to Cuba, island life, mom and pops, For example: Last April we were featured in Cigar Snob magazine, they found us, and called us a hole in the wall with the most authentic Cuban coffee. This past week, internationally known, high end, luxury Meluha Cigars out of Dubai (Cuban Seed, Costa Rican made) selected our shop to launch their brand in the United States!
We also are the only Shop in Georgia to carry Tres Lindas Cubanas, the only African Cuban Woman owned and manufactured Cuban Seed brand. We are very proud to carry their line and we sell out weekly!
What’s your favorite memory from childhood?
Playing outside. Being outside and being with nature.
- Address: Havana Cigars
376 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta GA 30312
- Website: www.HavanaCigarsATL.com
- Phone: 678-399-3475
- Email: HavanaCigarsATL@gmail.com