The Black Label Cigar is a bold new brand that has entered the playing field as the first Black British-owned cigar line. Although he’s a newcomer to the cigar industry, UK-based Aireyys Ltd founder Mike Edwards launched his successful male grooming brand in 2015. When he’s not at the helm of his online business ventures, Edwards, 27, is a world-class professional athlete who represents Great Britain in the high jump.
“It was the golden age for these types of things to come around,” said Edwards. “Even when I launched my men’s grooming line, I was one of the first as well. I didn’t actually get the title – a gentleman in London was able to establish that within weeks of me launching mine. It took me another year or two to have my own title. I did not realize until I started pursuing it that it was going to be a historic movement. In one of the world’s oldest countries I did not realize they, there, had never been a Black-owned cigar line before.”
Edwards’ life and heritage as second generation British are as impressive as his smokes. His parents are Nigerian and Jamaican; he was born in Manchester, raised in Florida and went to university in the UK where he studied marketing and communication. His online business is enhanced by his social media skills where several videos showcase his exclusive online-only retail products.
The art and skill of hand-making premium cigars is normally passed from generation to generation. According to Edwards, he has acquired the skill and acumen to take on this unique challenge by simply paying attention.
“As an athlete, I’ve been able to adapt and study my opponent very well,” Edwards said. “When it comes to the cigar industry, I spent some time in New York City, and I watched the guys rolling Dominican cigars. I took some notes, went on line and did research and started getting videos. I was able to break it down step-by-step. I experimented, did some testing and was able to come up with my very own line and blend – The Black Label Cigar – and I never looked back.”
Now that Edwards’ cigar company has taken off, he plans to introduce another entry to his tobacco line. “With Black History Month around the corner, I am going to be tapping into my heritage by using all-African leaves imported from West Africa,” explained Edwards, who has been researching in Cameroon, an area long regarded by many as providing the best cigar wrapper leaf outside of Cuba.
“It will not only be a Black-owned brand, it will be Black in the root from its origin – and I feel proud to be able to produce something like that and put it on the market,” said Edwards .
Edwards, who was named an Essence Magazine’s 2017 “Bearded Bae,” cited the “Philly Beard” as an inspiration for his facial hair. He also noted that when it comes to cigars, it’s not only men imbibing.
“It is a common misperception that cigars are a man’s world,” Edwards added. “It’s really not. There are a lot for women who do enjoy a great smoke. It’s growing and coming more to light, and I would love to see the women’s community take control of their own smoke and be very fond of it.”
For more information to order from Aireyys Ltd, the United Kingdom’s first Black cigar-grooming manufacturer, visit www.aireyys.com or on Instagram @aireyys.