Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Who What When Where Why w/ Dr. Gaby Kafie of Kafie 1901 Cigars


Gentlepersons, let us first begin by me giving a great big "Thank ya" to Dr. Kafie for answering my queries in such a thoughtul manner. Secondly, well, shall we just get to it? I believe we shall...upon the addition of a flourish...

Who has mentored you and who have you mentored?

My direct mentors in tobacco and cigars have been Oneida Reyes-Diez, Enrique Diez, Carlos Diez, and Alex Diez (heirs to the Rolando Reyes Sr. Legacy). For more information on Reyes Sr. please visit. Christian Eiroa (20+ year friendship) and Dr. Alejandro Martinez (relative) have been great mentors to me as well. These men are Cigar Industry Icons, that I have admired for many years. Both on a professional and personal level.

The Dean of the medical school I attended Dr. Chester Even, has also been a great mentor to me, as well as Dr. Phillip D. DeCubellis my residency director. These men have enabled me to become the person that I am today.

Finally, my bible and my family have structured me to be humble, hard working, respectful, and most of all receptive and compassionate to the world around me.

I have mentored many people, even the ones listed above. In life relationships are all about continuously helping each other out. You must give and take in a balanced way so that you all rise up together.

What have you compromised and what won’t you compromise? 

We all compromise in order to achieve greater good. I have made many personal sacrifices in order to focus and make my dreams possible. As a small business owner, my family and I have had to make many sacrifices in order to build Kafie 1901 Cigars.

In reference to cigars, I have to be true to my art and craft. As a brand owner, and representative of a Kafie family legacy since 1901 in Honduras, I must be true to my family name, me as a person, and our interpretation of premium cigars.

Cigars are everything to me. This is the one thing in life that I can truly say has caused me to "jump off the cliff." I’m all in, I have jumped, and I have no parachute. When you are that passionate about something, there is no room for compromise. There is no room for failure. I am not 2nd or 3rd generation. I am the first generation to endeavor in this world. It is inscribed in me the responsibility of building a legacy that will be handed down to my children. My journey in life has had its detours, but I have never been more focused than I am now.

For me God and Family are at the forefront. I am a son, a brother, an uncle, a father, and a husband. All carry equal weight in love and responsibility. I do not compromise when it comes to these things. I also hold my dear friends with the same regard.

When is it a failure? 

When outcome does not meet expectations, which rarely happens. I do not focus much on failure. In the cigar business, creating a blend at the factory level takes time (sometimes years). I take advantage of the time, in putting in all the work necessary along with my team to ensure success. One thing I learned during my residency, especially in the operating room ... is that the word “oops” does not exist in a surgeon's vocabulary. There is no room for error. As such, in business, it is always important to take precautions to avoid failure. One can take a leap of faith, and yet minimize failure.

This is of course a daily challenge.

I am a firm believer that if you love what you do to the max., then others will also love it. We can’t please everyone, but the beauty of cigars is people and diversity. Every brand, and every cigar has it’s niche market.

Where are you on your journey and where are you going? 

I am on the third step of a ladder that has no end. When I started in this journey three years ago, I had set goals for myself and my business. Coming from a very disciplined educational background and profession ... I knew that this new path in life would take time. It took me 12 years to become a physician, and I know that building a cigar company is going to take many years as well. I have achieved the goals I set for myself and the business for years one, two, and three. Now I am aiming at years five to ten. I am currently working on a blend which will be introduced at the IPCPR in 2017. A blend that will define our five year anniversary in the industry.

Five years may be a short amount of time in reference to some of the other companies that have been around for decades, but my allegiance and partnership with the Reyes family has given me access to over 80 years of tobacco knowledge. 

I am a student of tobacco, of farming, of fermentation, of curing tobacco, and of rolling cigars. When creating a blend, I always choose what has historically proven to be a success. Although crops change from year to year, I always focus on choosing the best tobacco. It has given me the ability to create three successful blends. I am confident, but I am also very humble. What I do know is that my confidence comes from the direct feedback I receive from over 200 brick and mortar retailers across the U.S., as well as nearly ten international distributors. 

We are slowly making our mark in the industry. It’s a process, a ride that I am enjoying to the max. You see, life is about enjoying each moment. I have set goals for myself and I plan to reach them, but that doesn’t mean that each day isn’t a reward in itself. I will be in the cigar industry for the rest of my life. It has defined me as a person, and it will continue to do so. Throughout this journey I want everyone I come across, to feel that my presence has been a blessing. I feel that when we bless those around us, it will only naturally come back to us.

Why do you succeed? 

We all define success in different ways. Mine is based purely on relationships. I succeed because I invest in people. It is important to trust and believe in others, empower them to be great. In return, your business will prosper.

I began with a thank you to the good doctor, which I shall again re-iterate. I will end, Dear Reader, by thanking you for reading.

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