What to Expect from Crowned Heads in 2013

What to expect in 2013 from Crowned Heads

I had the pleasure to speak with Jon Huber of Crowned Heads today.  What you see below is a brief look into what Crowned Heads will be doing in 2013.  Hope you enjoy!

-Frank: How did 2012 turn out for Crowned Heads?

Jon: 2012 turned out well, thanks for asking.  From a PR standpoint, we wound up making 22 “Top Cigars of 2012” lists, including garnering six #1 (“Cigar of the Year”) mentions.  From a production and sales standpoint,  we were pretty close to being on target with all of our pre-2012 projections; the only thing that hampered us was a few product outages during the year.  We were hamstrung in the first quarter of 2012 due to a lack of product–we couldn’t sell any cigars nor could we open any new accounts.  That said, in retrospect we just chalked it up to a learning curve in working with EPC and La Alianza.  Suffice it to say, we are much better prepared for 2013.

-Frank: Is there anything that you would do over or differently in 2012?

Jon: I’m not a big believer in having any regrets; however, if you pressed me I would have to say that we would not have approached a Limited Edition (Four Kicks Mule Kick 2012) in the same way we did this past year.  We approached Mule Kick from a simple standpoint of utilizing tobacco we’d already purchased that we weren’t able to use on the existing OG Four Kicks line.  We weren’t anticipating the project taking off the way it did.  To this day, we still get phone calls from retailers asking for Mule Kick.  If hindsight is 20/20, we would have probably done Mule Kick as a one-store exclusive or a regional release.  Let’s just say that 5,000 cigars just didn’t go very far to make everyone happy.

-Frank: What can we expect out of Crowned Heads in 2013?

Jon: You can expect a bigger presence from Crowned Heads in 2013.  Four Kicks will be rolling with six facings, we’ll be launching Headley Grange with five vitolas in March/April, and will be introducing a third line at the IPCPR show in Las Vegas this July.  It’s safe to say you’ll be seeing a bigger ‘footprint’ from us on the retail shelves this year.

-Frank: New releases? If you can talk about them.

Jon: New releases?–YES.  We began working on a new blend for 2013 in early October 2012 when we were down at the factory.  We’re still in the infancy stage; however, I’ve seeded out some samples to maybe a half-dozen people and the consensus has been very positive.  All I can really say at this point is that this third release will–again–be very different in terms of blend, taste, appearance, and packaging than it’s two predecessors, i.e., Four Kicks and Headley Grange.  Right now the working ‘title’ is Project 337–only because the idea for the blend came to me in the middle of the night and I looked at the time and it was 3:37 am.  But we’re a ways away from a final blend.  We’ll be going to the factory early next month to continue working on the blend with Ernesto.

-Frank: Any new marketing that you are working on?

Jon: We never really work on ‘marketing,’ per se.  We really just do whatever feels right–to this point that’s been a lot of social media to get the message out.  We don’t work with any marketing/PR companies, nor do we have any plans of print ads, radio, etc.  We’ll just see what the year brings in terms of marketing.  When you focus on things like marketing, demographics, page views, whatever–you aren’t focusing on the actual product.  And that is where our focus is and has always been–on the product.

-Frank: Are there any plans to expand Crowned Heads in regards to staffing/reps/etc?

Jon: In terms of staffing, we’ve had some recent changes.  Nancy Heathman and Michael Trebing are no longer with Crowned Heads.  We’ve hired Adam Shepard–he was with us in the old days, and more recently was integral in launching Cuestion Tequila.  We are very happy to have Adam back in the fold.  We’ve also brought on an amazing graphic artist, as well.  In the short time we’ve been working with him, we are very impressed with his skill set, his talents, and his genuine ‘feel’ for what we are about.  That said, we know that we’re now at a juncture where we need some outside support–we’ll be announcing something to that point in the coming weeks.  Let’s just say that we feel really good about our team and our outlook in 2013.

-Frank: New shops/cities to be carrying your product?

Jon: We haven’t really aggressively been going after new shops or cities.  We launched this company in November 2011 with 66 stores.  We went to the IPCPR show last August with 188 stores.  We are now in over 300 stores.  All of that came without any outsides sales support, reps, or brokers.  It’s all been via social media, word of mouth, and the reputation of the product.  That’s not to say that we won’t be expanding this year–we’re just more interested in bringing on the /right/ stores, as opposed to seeing how many stores will carry our cigars.

-Frank: Where if any (cities/states) would you like to see your product that do not already have it?

Jon: We’re looking to expand in cities/states west of the Rockies–that is where our distribution is the lightest at the moment.

-Frank: What are you most excited about in 2013?

Jon: We’re excited to have a legitimate footprint at the retail level this year.  It’s difficult to build a business on 5 or 6 different boxes of cigars–this year will change that as we’ll have Four Kicks, Headley Grange, and the third brand.  Personally, I’m really excited to get my teeth into this new brand–I spent part of the holidays opening my mind to inspiration for the brand and feel as though we really have something that will strike a chord.  The blend is shaping up nicely and the inspiration behind the brand will be different than anything we’ve done to this point.

-Frank: Are you still doing all of your cigars exclusively with Ernesto? If so, do you ever see any of your products being made with other blenders?

Jon: Yes, we are still exclusive with Ernesto and have no plans of going anywhere else.  We are very fortunate to have him overseeing our production.  He hasn’t done a contract brand for anyone else in his 40+ years–we are blessed to be in partnership with Ernesto.  Why would we go anywhere else?

-Frank: Any new swag to be on the lookout for?

Jon:  The ‘swag’ (as some say) is one of the fun things we do.  Of course, there are plans for more gear this year–in fact, we’re working on a long-sleeved thermal tee right now that I think will be a hit.  The thing with the apparel is that it is an extension of your brand–it has to have the same attention to detail and excellence that you put into your cigars.  We will never produce any apparel that we would not wear ourselves.

Interested in finding out more about Crowned Heads?  Check them out on their website at:

http://www.crownedheads.com  or on Twitter at:  https://twitter.com/thecrownedheads

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