A 2002 disaster changed the lives of the entire family. Raquel Quesada’s uncle Álvaro, her cousin Alvarito, and Julio Fajardo, business director of Quesada Cigars, were killed in an airplane accident. Suddenly Raquel Quesada had to take on huge responsibilities with the family’s cigar factory. By that time, her apprenticeship was well underway, but she was a few years away from officially joining the family business.
After the family tragedy, Raquel took over tobacco purchasing and blending duties with clear goals: to overcome the devastating loss and to look to the future while learning and working side-by- side with her father, Manuel Quesada. In addition, she worked to strengthen herself against the sexist prejudices that persist to this day. “Afterward,” she laughs, “they called my father and said: Don Manuel, don’t send us the blonde again.
She opens all of the packages to sample the tobacco!” Raquel expects a lot, both from herself and from the quality of her cigar tobacco. She knows what she’s looking for. “It’s not easy to work with my father, so I learned a lot. One time I changed the blend for the Cubano Limitado. I set it on the table for him and left. He called me, furious: What have you done? But then he actually liked it, and the current signature reads: by Manuel and Raquel Quesada.
” Raquel is young, female, blonde, hardworking (“the only reason I don’t sleep in the factory is because there are no beds…”), and 100-percent devoted to Quesada Cigars. She is a leading figure. Perhaps it’s women like her who are the keys to further opening the door to the female cigar market.
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Autumn Edition 2016. Read more