We had the chance to steal some time from the very busy and very successful Aida Ritnery. She is a business owner, cigar lover, and influencer in Instagram. (cigar_bosslady)
A direct link to her Instagram can be found at https://www.instagram.com/cigar_bosslady/
Q. Where are you from and where do you live currently?
A. I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I live in Massachusetts.
Q. When did you first find your love for the cigar culture?
I’ve always liked cigars. I was intrigued. Always found it so classy to see men smoke cigars. I really can’t tell you where my love for cigar culture was born. Since my 20’s, I wanted to smoke and learn about cigars. I didn’t smoke often. I smoked 1 every 20 years (meaning, having a really big gap between cigars, years and months passed before trying another). In 2017 I was oriented, introduced to the culture, not to a trend. A friend, a cigar aficionado, gave me and taught me how to smoke, what today I call. ‘my first cigar”. After that, I became a cigar smoker. But the love, the love for cigars was always there.
Q. What do cigars mean to you?
Culture, meditation, relaxation, celebration, family, knowledge, union, hard work, art, love.
Q. Some people may find cigars in general to be disgusting. You are able to add beauty and elegance to the culture. Why do you think some people have such a poor outlook on cigars and the people who smoke them?
A. When we don’t understand something, when we don’t have the information, knowledge, or understanding of a culture, the love, art behind it, we tend to reject the unknown. What for us is an aroma, for some could be a badoring smell, viewing cigar smoking as negative. We are all equal but different, and there is beauty in differences. I respect when someone finds it unpleasant. I’m only sharing my passion, I’m not trying to convert nonsmokers into smokers. I respect everyone's preferences. As I’m sure my love, passion for cigars is respected. I believe the reason some people may have a poor outlook is just due to a matter of preference.
Q. What is your favorite cigar to smoke right now?
Hard to answer, I have a lot of favorite cigars that I smoke right now. But I always go back to Villiger Cigars. As I mentioned, La Flor De Ynclan in 2017, to me was “my first cigar”, loved it so much that I have a canvas with me smoking La Flor De Ynclan.. I think it is fair to say, this is one of my many favorite cigars to smoke right now.
Q. What is your favorite beverage to pair with a cigar?
A. Coffee in the morning/afternoon. Evening Glenlivet, - whisky. I’m into Glenlivet lately. All depends on the mood I’m in and the cigar I’m going to smoke. But my regular pairing are usually those two.
Q. When preparing a cigar which do you prefer to use? cutter? punch? v cutter? scissors? Spike?
A. I love, love v cuts.
Q. The cigar community is not like any other community. When you were new to the scene did you feel like you were accepted into that world quickly?
You said it right, “is not like any other community.” The moment I posted my first picture, I was immediately accepted, loved. I have connected with so many amazing people. Some I call “Hermanito” (little brother) @smokehustler, “Primos” (cousin) @fulanodetal_miami, “Neighbor” @noblecigars, “hermanas” (sisters) @aykat0316, @remarkable_liz, @whiskeygirl_josie, @thecigarmadame, @herficionado, and the list goes on and on. The moment my first picture was posted, the above mentioned SOTLs & BOTLs, provided me with love, support, and friendship – family love. I’m extremely grateful for everyone. Everyone that follows me, comments, share, like – they are part of my family. Much love for everyone. Grateful!
Q. Where did you get your college degree?
I graduated from NECC, May of 2019 in Massachusetts, Business Management. I went from being a student unsure of my ambitions to a college graduate and entrepreneur. Grateful to say NECC made me the face of their accelerated Business Management program, right after they wrote an article of my story. But the path wasn’t easy. I was faced with a range of financial and personal hardships while raising my daughter and balancing my full-time job and school. I often struggled to realize my goals in my early years as a student. It wasn’t until my mother, who was battling breast cancer, asked me to graduate. These were some of her words while taking her last breaths. I enrolled to grant her wish. Her words were my motivation, my strength, what helped me get through the struggles, and make it to the finish line. My only goal was to make it happen.... And I did it!!! But I not only gave her one graduation, I gave her two. I also graduated from an Entrepreneurship Program, in April of 2019. A Successful business certificate, completed in spanish (Negocios Exitosos Certificate) from EParaTodos (Eforall).
Q. How long did you have your personal styling business?
A. My Personal Styling business idea was active for 5-6 month before changing it to a brand, RITNERY ™.
Q. Once your personal styling business did not work out the way you wanted, how long did it take to come up with Ritnery?
A. As mentioned prior, while finishing with finals to graduate, I enrolled in an entrepreneurship program, EparaTodos (EForAll). I didn’t want to have a gap, I was on a roll to grant my mother’s wish and follow her legacy (as she was a leader & business owner in our community). – so going back to your questions, it was hard, but the length of switching one idea to the other didn’t take long due to the resources this program provided me. RITNERY ™ was born the moment the styling business died.
Q. As an entrepreneur what is your end goal for your business?
To become a pioneer of simplicity, love, motivation and leadership.
RITNERY™ mission is to empower people’s voices through fashion, style & art. I view the brand worldwide with the goal of donating to cancer patients. I want to help patients and families on this hard journey. Providing emotional support and donations. When someone is diagnosed with cancer it affects everyone; friends, family, everything. RITNERY™ wants to be part of their support.
Q. What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs who want to also become Instagram influencers like yourself?
A. Not to be afraid. Take risks. Take the step… do it now. Open your page, blog, site – that idea that can’t let you sleep at night – just do it, try it. You cannot reach a goal, without a first step. A lot of resources are out there. Reach out to your community, and don’t limit yourself because you don’t have the funds. Many blogs, pages, are free and a lot of businesses you can start without having to invest much in the beginning. Show the world your ideas, who you are, don’t be afraid. Just start! Ask for help, get a mentor, but most importantly, believe in yourself. You won’t fail, you will learn as it goes and make changes. If I’m doing it, anyone can do it. GO, do it! I know you can!
That’s my advice!
Q. You were able to blend fashion and cigars into your business. Was that always part of your original plan or something that just happened?
I think it just happened. I mean, I will always be myself, I love my brand, and I wear it for everything. To be home, to sleep (super soft t-shirts), for a business meeting, for the park. We usually believe casual clothing/t-shirts are only to wear with sneakers. No, I wear it with heels, skirts, etc. I’m not usually a sneaker person, but I like to feel comfortable. So I mix dressing up with being comfortable. I also love style, modeling, being in front of a camera, maybe this is why it blended in, because I’m being me, wearing what I wear, and it shows.
Q. You are an avid reader how much inspiration do you get from your books that you apply into your everyday life?
A. A lot of my inspiration comes from my faith in God, from my life experiences… from my mother, she was such a strong woman; business & community leader…always happy, always overcoming obstacles. A lot of people in our community are business owners and are in the career of their dreams because my mother took the time to help; by searching, taking them to where they needed to be, connecting… by taking the time to see them walking into the path of their success. She did all of this having a language barrier. Which is why my everyday inspiration comes from her as well as from my own life experiences. And yes I also get inspired by books, motivational quotes and people in my life; Brothers, sisters, friends…. Like my friends which I call family (Gary Then, Jorge Veloz, Darmin Then, Daniela Cepeda, Yuleisy Villar, Karina Calderon & of course my real blood brother, Juan Salvador),,,,these list also goes on…, most are business owners. Each of them have also helped me, in different ways, be who I am today. Jim Rohn said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”. All of the mentioned above is where I get my inspiration from.
I’m blessed, honored & grateful to have the people I have in my life. Thank you all!
Q. What cigar related book is your favorite?
A. I’m currently reading, and love it so far, The Ultimate Cigar Book.