Women Who Smoke

“Without women, this company would cease to exist.” – Eric Newman.

J.C. Newman Cigar Company is unique in many ways, but one that sets us apart in a major way is our staff. Our shipping, marketing, and administrative departments are headed up by, and largely comprised of, women.

Because of that, we are in a unique position in the cigar industry. Not only can we offer insights and perspectives that other companies cannot, but we also have experiences that many other women cigar smokers have faced. We have taken those experiences, and boiled them down into resources you can use. 

We have a blog featuring the perspectives from many women within the industry, profiles on each of the women who work for J.C. Newman, video resources, tips and tricks, and an FAQ comprised of the questions we get regularly from men and women across the industry.

Have questions? Want to write a blog? Fill out the form at the bottom of the page and we’ll get back in touch with you! 


This blog is by women in and around the cigar industry, as they share their personal takes on what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.


The women featured here are members of the J.C. Newman staff. Click through each one to learn more about their role with the company, their favorite cigars, and their experiences in the cigar industry!

Monica Foster

Marketing Director

Monica Foster

  • Years with the Company: 6 Years
  • Favorite JCN Cigar: Diamond Crown Classic
  • Hobbies and Interests: Hiking with my dogs, yoga, nutrition, tennis, smoking a great cigar with a glass of wine!
  • Favorite Quote: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” – Simon Sinek
  • Must-Have Food Item While on the Road: Beef jerky and Cheez-Its
  • Fun Facts: I was once an extra in a T-Pain music video, I have accidentally run over an alligator (he survived), I’ve never broken a bone….knock on wood!
Kara Guagliardo

Marketing Director

Kara Guagliardo

  • Years with the Company: 9
  • Favorite JCN Cigar: Julius Caeser
  • Hobbies/Interests: Running, Planning Events, Sleeping (#newmomlife)
  • Favorite Place to Travel: Chicago – give me all the Garrett’s Popcorn!
  • Favorite Newman Memory: It is a recurring thing but whenever someone asks the Newmans about the music they like or a favorite song, they instantly light up and ask if you know ‘The Tams.’ Without fail, they then sing their favorite song with dance moves, high notes and lots of enthusiasm. Never gets old.
  • Favorite Quote: “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” – John C. Maxwell
  • Proudest Accomplishment:  Running my first half marathon (Signed up for number 4 in 2019!)
Terri Ryan

Inside Sales Manager

Terri Ryan

Aimee Cooks

H.R. and Q.A. Manager

Aimee Cooks

  • Years with the Company: 22
  • Favorite JCN Cigar: Diamond Crown Classic #4
  • Favorite Thing About the Cigar Industry: The fact that cigars are a celebration; you can always meet a new friend smoking a cigar.
  • Favorite Newman Memory: Walking through the factory with SJN.
  • Favorite Quote: “The time is always right to do what is right.” – MLK
  • Proudest Accomplishment: Becoming the 1st female factory manager. Cigars aren’t just for men anymore.
  • Fun Fact: This is only my 2nd job, and I’ve been here for 22 years!
Cristal Blackwell-Lastra

V.P. of Sales and Marketing

Cristal Blackwell-Lastra

  • Years with the Company: 4 Years
  • Favorite JCN Cigar: Cuesta-Rey Robusto No.7 Centenario
  • Favorite Quote: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
  • Must-Have Food Item While on the Road: Starbucks
  • What I Listen to on the Road: Sting, Classical, or Michael Buble
  • 5 Things You’d Take on a Deserted Island: A gigantic cocktail, a hammock, solar charged I-phone, my dog, and deodorant.
  • Favorite Newman Memory: Every time that Eric speaks about the Cigar Family and the children whose lives have been changed. He gets choked up and that says a lot about who we work for and why.
  • Strangest Accomplishment: I once sang on a float with James Brown!
Shira Martin

Chief Financial Officer

Shira Martin

  • Years with the Company: 19 Years
  • Favorite JCN Cigar: Diamond Crown #4
  • Favorite Quote: “Faith is not knowing what the future holds, but knowing Who holds the future.”
  • Must-Have Food Item While on the Road: Tate’s Gluten-free cookies!
  • Favorite Newman Memory: Having the pleasure of Stanford Newman sitting in my office every day sharing his stories, his humor, his history lessons, and his wisdom about cigars and life.  I now catch rare moments with Eric and Bobby who will also sit and share such special moments as well.  Having great mentors with strong moral character as well as compassionate hearts is very meaningful to me.
  • Proudest Accomplishment: Fighting for a little guy who didn’t have a voice or a fair shake at life and now having the privilege to call him my son.
  • Other Fun Facts: I have 2 donkeys (Gus and Gilly), 3 cows, a SEGD dog (who comes to the office daily) and lots of chickens. My husband and I honeymooned in Brazil on a floating lodge in the middle of the Amazon River (and saw the pink dolphin).
Annie Vander Veen

Military Sales Manager

Annie Vander Veen

  • First Cigar Story
  • Favorite Cigar
  • Favorite Cigar Memory
  • What Draws you to Cigar Industry
  • Stories about being underestimated as a woman in a smokeshop/cigar event
  • Things you shouldn’t say to a woman with a cigar
  • Preferred cigar + drink pairing
  • Girl’s cigar night get-together stories
  • How to Cut
  • How to Light
  • Basic Cigar Terms – mild/medium/full – ring gauge/sizing – tobacco
  • Things to ask for when in a cigar shop


The videos below are a collection of appearances by the J.C. Newman staff, cigar reviews for and by women, as well as J.C. Newman originals!


Are you a novice smoker? A seasoned veteran? Either way, here are some fool-proof tips and tricks for cigar smoking.


Here are the questions that men and women have submitted to us most frequently!

What's the best starter cigar?

Many women in our company started on the Diamond Crown No. 4. Another good one would be the Brick House Double Connecticut. You can watch the Cigar Vixen smoke and recommend that cigar by watching the video above. 

What is a V-Cut?

A V-Cut is one variety of cut that can be used on the head of a cigar. Using a special cutting tool, the V-Cut gives the head of a cigar a wedge in the center, resembling the shape of the letter ‘V.’ This is also known as a wedge cut, or a cat-eye. To see all the varieties of cigar cuts, consult our cigar glossary…

How much ash should I leave on the end of a cigar?

Everyone is different in how they prefer their ash, but as a general rule, about 1 inch of ash is adequate before you tap the ash off the end of your cigar. A little extra ash can cool down the smoke as well, so if you feel your cigar is a little spicey, some extra ash will help with that!

Everyone tells me not to inhale, but how do I not?

The best way to smoke a cigar is to hold it between your teeth, and then open and close your lips around the cigar, taking in small puffs. You’ll use the same muscles you do when you’re drinking out of a straw. Hold the smoke in your mouth between puffs, much like you would if you went underwater in a pool and opened your mouth to let water in, then blow out!



Women smoking cigars may be a less common sight than men smoking cigars, but make no mistake, the indulgence is equally enjoyed. 


Sisters of the Leaf: The Woman’s Take on Cigars

As an often-ignored segment, women are taking on a male-dominated industry and letting their opinions on the world of premium cigars be heard.



20 Female Celebrities who Smoke Cigars

20 female celebrities who smoke cigars



Ladies and Cigars

These the ladies, as well as gentlemen, are very fond of smoking.



Reach Out to the Women of J.C. Newman

13 + 12 =








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