Blog > Pulling Back the Curtain: How it Started

Pulling Back the Curtain: How it Started

Pulling Back the Curtain: How it Started

In my introductory Pulling Back the Curtain Post I mentioned about going in chronological order. At first I thought I would start from the top - getting into the necessary tax and sales licenses. However, I don’t think I am qualified to handle that outside of my state - PA. I’m really not even qualified to speak much on PA’s requirements. That being said, PA is one of the country's most lenient states with regards to cigars. They only require a sales tax license (assuming you only sell large, premium cigars) and taxes are the mere 6% statewide sales tax. Many states require an OTP (Other Tobacco Products) license for cigars. 

Since that is all the more I have to say regarding that, I figured I would talk about how I started - there is some tie in to the licensing that influenced me to start The Cigar Farm. 

So I started Guitars & Cigars Farm in 2021 as an Instagram page. That name came from my two main hobbies: guitars and cigars. The “Farm” part came from the fact that we live on a small farm. I had never had instagram, but during Covid, I felt like I was missing out because I was hearing about various things in the cigar world going down on IG. I missed out on most of that since I didn’t make the page until the summer of 2021, however, I still wanted to create the account and share some cigar and guitar content. 

I then found the Whiskey & Whitetails podcast, heard an episode talking about cigars, I kicked up a conversation with those guys, and then was asked to start writing cigar articles and reviews for them, as well as build a whiskey barrel guitar. I actually worked with Small Batch Cigar to get a few Whiskey & Whitetail Samplers put together to accommodate some articles. After some months of doing that stuff with W&W, they mentioned I should create an LLC. It didn’t take much convincing, and at the beginning of 2022 I did create an LLC under the same name.

My intent, from the beginning, was to make content about cigars and building guitars. I figured I would continue the relationship with Small Batch and keep with the theme of having them make samplers to accommodate my articles. I always assumed it was too much to get into tobacco sales. Until one day I decided to verify my assumption, and much to my surprise, I realized in PA it is not at all cumbersome. In fact, since I got the PA sales tax license in the event I sold any guitars I built, I was ready to start selling cigars as well.

The original business plan was born: continue creating cigar content AND create and sell my own samplers to accommodate that content. Simultaneously, I would build guitars and create content surrounding that.

In theory, I dug it. I would be able to monetize my hobbies. Perfect plan, right? 

Turns out it was a lot harder, and much more defeating, than I thought. 

I came out with my first sampler that consisted of my Top 5 cigars I reviewed in the first quarter of 2022. I wrote the article about them, got the product, got my site setup, and started selling. For some reason I thought it would be an easy sell. W&W had a good following, and it seemed my content for their site was getting some attention. 

I ordered enough to make 60 samplers and I launched them at the end of April/beginning of May. By the end of May I sold 7.. All to people that pretty much bought them out of obligation. 

In June I sold 1.

By mid July I had to break apart the sampler and start selling singles. I still only got 2 orders.

In August I had at least sold enough of the original sampler, plus the Whiskey Barrel Guitar, to try another sampler. This started my “Company Spotlight Samplers”. This was a cool way, I thought, to bring in new stuff but maintain my plan of being content-centric, as I would do a writeup for the new company and add in a Q&A with the owner. 

Basically the remainder of the year was spent adding some things here and there, grasping at straws, and trying to remain true to my original plan. It was slow and frustrating. The first year was a loss. I lost money, I lost confidence, and I lost patience. All that being said, I looked at 2023 as a fresh start. I ran my last “Company Spotlight” and decided that the content based business plan wasn’t working. I was losing interest and motivation in doing reviews and my article based samplers didn’t seem to be providing more value than just offering another source for the products - in fact, it seemed to be providing less value. 

That realization drove a restructuring of how I handled things. That is when The Cigar Farm, as you see it now, began to emerge. Instead of bringing in a company and only offering a sampler, I started to offer singles as well. I started putting more time into presentation and posting more to try to get attention. I started understanding what products could set me apart from all the other online retailers. But the biggest thing was that I started interacting. I began engaging with more individuals and groups. In doing this, I managed to make some really great friends who are also great customers.

By fall of 2023 I felt I was starting to hit my stride. This was also the time that I actually decided to start learning about business and marketing. This was also when I realized it was time for a change and I decided to say goodbye to Guitars & Cigars Farm and hello to The Cigar Farm and Featherfoot Guitars. More can be read about that here. The gist of it is: that name had become a bit inconsistent with what I was doing and I believe was restrictive. The rebranding gave new life to the business.

Now, as we near the end of May 2024, I can say that I am still very far from where I would like to take things, but I am already doing better than I did all of 2023, and nearly 5x where I was by the end of 2022. My order numbers per year have been: 75 ,390, 311 (and there are still 7 months left)!

 I have to thank all of you that have supported what I am doing. This is a passion project for me and I have tons of fun with it. I get a nice dopamine hit every time I see an order come through, no matter the size. I enjoy the opportunities I have had to interact with those who have reached out with questions or just to chat. I look forward to continuing to grow as best I can, not just for myself, but for all of you that have stuck with me.

This was a fun little writeup to do. Though it may not have provided any real value to you, I hope it was at least entertaining and provided some insight to The Cigar Farm. I think maybe my next entry for the Pulling Back the Curtain Series will be about how I decide what cigars to offer. 

Till next time,


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