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Smoke Speak: Blake LaBella

Smoke Speak: Blake LaBella

Blake rolled up to the January 2023 edition of Pitti Uomo proudly representing Fort Worth, Texas. It was the first time in many years that people from all corners of the earth descended into Florence, and the camaraderie and fast-friendships were struck everywhere you looked. Things were made all the better when Blake mentioned he and his crew were very much into cigars, so we decided to share an H. Upmann Connoisseur A and chat about his career to date, as well as what brought this talented talent manager over to Europe...

What's the first cigar you really remember enjoying?

The Tabak Box Press Lounge Edition. This is the first cigar I remember repeatedly going in and asking for.

Your current favourite cigar and why…

Leather Rose from Deadwood. Always consistent, and widely available at most lounges. It has a hint of sweetness so you can have it in the morning, in the afternoon with a good coffee, or at night right after dessert. It also has its roots in motorcycle culture, and I come from a family of motorcycle enthusiasts.

On that note. What’s your most prized possession?

My 2001 Triumph Bonneville. It's a beautiful maroon and silver colored bike, and very reminiscent of another time.

What have you done recently, for the first time?

Jump the pond over into Europe! It's certainly the first time, but it definitely won't be the last.

Perfect setting to enjoy a cigar…

A summer evening on the back porch, nestled up with a view of the lake…

What's something always worth paying for?

A great leather jacket.

Favourite place to live?

The Midwest, United States.

What's the biggest advantage of being a talent manager?

I'll put a few answers on this one, because I think it needs it! Getting to go to a lot of different places, being the first. In just the last year I've gotten to travel to Europe, both coasts of the US, and most States in between. And then being able to put your eggs in multiple baskets. Everyone that I've gotten the chance to work with has a different skill and talent, and they all have different trajectories. You get to see a lot of growth, and you get to be part of it all. Finally, and probably the most important advantage of being a talent manager, is being able to build deep relationships with clients. You see them at the top, as well as at rock bottom. You get to experience their highs and lows, and be part of their dreams. You are with them, every step of the way.

And the worst...?

You work crazy hours. I mean, one night you are up until 4am making sure your client gets to bed safe, and two days later you are on a flight at the same time going across the country. You just never know what's going to happen, and you have to take it in your stride.

Fort Worth is a big part of you and your crew's identity. What is it about the place that makes it so special?

I can't speak for everyone, but I know this is true for many of us. Fort Worth not only gave us a place to live, but it gave us a chance to define ourselves. We were able to create strong personal brands that resonated with who we were and turn them into careers and lifestyles. We aren't gunslinging cowboys in the traditional sense—riding our horses across the ranch—but we are in other ways. Fort Worth is the Wild West when it comes to ideas and culture. You can create your own identity and there isn't shit anyone can do about it.

You can come from nothing and make something of yourself here, and the city will cherish you and show you off to the world. There's not many cities that do that. Our city is proud of its people, and it really shows. So we're proud to represent it in return.

A rule to live by…

Everyday we all start at zero. Anything that comes to you that day is a plus.

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