As we mentioned on Friday, Pete Johnson was in Phoenix over the last week and we got to sit down with him for a few minutes. We were lucky enough to talk with Pete about a range of topics, but perhaps the biggest announcement is his announcement of a new company named L’Atelier Imports.
According to Pete L’Atelier, which is French for “The Workshop,” is a new stand alone start up company from the makers and creator of Tatuaje and will be based out of Miami, FL. Day to day operations will be run by K.C. Johnson (Pete’s brother) and close friends Dan Welsh and Sean “Casper” Johnson. Tentatively the division of labor will play to the strong suits of each principal member: K.C. has a strong background in sales, Dan has an excellent history of inter-office workings and customer service expertise, and Casper brings a wealth of talent in the logistics and tech fields along with branding and marketing. All three are seasoned smokers and truly understand the consumer’s palate.
Everything about L’Atelier will be promoted as “produced by the makers and creator of Tatuaje” to show the close connectivity and oversight that Pete will maintain in the company. The lines of L’Atelier will be produced by the Garcia family just as Pete’s other lines have been, as this is a close friendship that Pete enjoys and will continue for all his projects.
Initial offerings for the company will be two premium lines and two bundle lines. Pete is pumped about the bundle lines specifically and says that they will be fantastic cigars in “larger gauge sizes at an exceptional price.” He further went on to state that they would be based on “old Cuban brands with the original Cuban artwork of those brands and should be priced around $3.50-4.50 a stick.”
As far as the premium lines go there will be the L’Atelier brand which will retail around the $8.00-9.00 range and the Surrogates lines which will retail for around $6.50-7.50 a stick. Many may recognize the Surrogate line as a private line that was made and sold by New Havana Cigars. Dan Welsh who is one of the principals in L’Atelier Imports will be licensing his line to the company and continuing with the Surrogates program under L’Atelier Imports. Surrogates, for those who don’t know is a concept line that is dedicated to creating “a limited cigar for the everyday enjoyment.” Pete loves the idea of the everyday limited edition cigar and is excited to continue this program.
In fact, the next Surrogate’s line has been discussed as possibly being called “Tramp Stamp or “Super Tramp.” Pete spoke of this line with a twinkle in his eye and commented that it “would be a play on his black label” and further stated that it would be “a fun project to prove that you can get limited edition quality at every day prices and for every day of the week.”
So with all of this brewing the next logical question is when can we expect to see the debut of L’Atelier? Well, according to Pete as soon as the IPCPR. As of about a week ago he gave one of his booth spaces to L’Atelier Imports and said that you can find them next to Berta the “Guayabera Lady” right across from Tatuaje’s booth. Pete said as of right now the cigars are pretty much done, but the main challenge that remains is getting all of the promotional materials and packaging done in time for the show.
In summation Pete said, “L’Atelier represents a way to get new brands to the market without impacting Tatuaje.” He went on to further state “it’s also a way to bring prices down, especially on the bundle stuff…it will be more consumer conscience.” But at the end of the day the biggest reason, according to Pete is that he is doing it as a “way to bring family and friends into the business. In fact “if it were not for family and friends, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” stated Pete.
We here at Cigar Brief really appreciate the time that Pete took to speak with us, and are definitely looking forward to L’Atelier as it comes to fruition in the days ahead. Stay tuned once again later in the week as we bring you one last fun tidbit of Tatuaje related news.
***Update: For those interested in seeing the first glimpse of the new enterprise you can check out the L’Atelier splash page here.