the beauty behind the billow

By Keisha Mitchell

Octavia Toliver is the Founder Of Herficionado, a platform dedi-

cated to celebrating cigar culture through a lady’s lens. The 35 year

old Panama City, Fl native began her journey as a English Graduate

pursuing a career in massage therapy when she transplanted to At-

lanta a decade ago, and today she’s breaking down boundaries in

the Boys’ Club that is often at the core of the cigar community.

Toliver, who was first introduced to cigars ten years ago on a date,

says she was instantly intrigued; “I was very young, but [smoking]

cigars felt mature & glamorous. I fell in love with the atmosphere right

away. [My] love of the cigar itself grew more as i explored the differ-

ent types.”

Toliver says her brand, Herficionado is a reflection of her passion for

cigars as well as an expression of the passion with which she lives life

“As far as HERficionado, it actually describes who i am. Lovers or

experts of cigars are referred to as AFICIONADOS. Also, a gathering of

cigar smokers is referred to as a HERF, so there’s that (laughing). While I love

cigars and know quite a bit about them, i don’t consider myself an expert. I also

don’t feel like cigars define who i am as a person. I am a cigar lover who

also loves fashion, travel, makeup, etc. So in essence I consider myself a

HERficionado because everything i do is from a woman’s perspective. “

When asked how her perspective has affected her estab-

lishing herself within a realm heavily dominated by by the male gaze,

Toliver is refreshingly optimistic:

“Honestly I think that it has definitely helped me more than anything.

More men follow me then women, and I think it’s because it is still a

bit of an anomaly to have a very feminine, 30-something smoking ci-

gars on a regular basis. Men are very much drawn to this and women

mostly love to see another woman doing her thing. Of course there

will always be some pushback, but I don’t let it affect me. I have

exponentially more supporters than haters (laughing). I am grateful

for that.”

Toliver uses that love to build the bridges that will allow her to turn

her brand into an institution. In the next 5 to 10 years, Toliver expects

to expand Herficionado’s reach to the four corners of the cigar

world and beyond to connect with people everywhere “I would like HERficionado to grow into a lifestyle brand with multiple branches like Martha Stewart! I tell people all the time that it has never been ALL about the cigars for me. I am dynamic in my interests, and i know that the people who relate to me and my brand are just as dynamic. I want to serve them in as many ways as possible. I would also like to grow the brand exponentially across multiple demographics. “

So when she’s not growing her empire or being a renaissance woman where might one find Toliver? Probably winding down smoking one of her favorite sticks, which she admits she can’t narrow to just one “I enjoy so many!! I love a good lancero though! I think a lancero (long, thin cigar) is one of the sexiest vitolas made! It reminds me of a long cigarette holder the glamorous ladies used in the ‘20’s! Except it’s a cigar, not a cigarette so it’s even better!“ Toliver says she’s learned to recognize the value of balance and good rest and though doesn’t have all the answers to love, would pass those ingredients on to young professionals looking to successfully negotiate time between their careers and relationships

“Honestly I think that it is like with anything important; you have to carve out time and reserve energy for each relationship in your life. Our love lives, kids, friendships, self-care, and career all need our attention. Sometimes when you are building something, it is difficult to balance all those elements, but it’s important not to lose one trying to build up another. ”

*To connect with Toliver or the Herficionado brand, follow @Herficionado on IG, Twitter, and Facebook today.

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