There was a time when young people would get bombarded with television commercials and billboards reminding them of the harm cigarettes cause.
Now, another form of smoking tobacco is on the rise, and that is hookah.
Hookah is seen as a pastime in the Middle East and the culture has spread to many parts of America and Europe.
But Tatted, a New Orleans musical artist, social media influencer and entrepreneur, created what he said is a healthier product called Blakk Smoke, a hookah pen that contains no nicotine and no tobacco but 100% fruit.
The business launched in 2020 and has since seen massive success earning $1 million in sales in just nine hours after its release of the new hookah pens this year.
Blakk Tatted spoke with the Defender about the multimillion-dollar idea that is quickly transforming the industry, and his plans to elevate the brand.
Defender: Out of all business ventures to invest in, why was Hookah the main choice?
Blakk Tatted: Hookah had me in a chokehold. Hookah is my passion. I’m not a smoker or drinker and I don’t like cigarettes. I told myself how can I do what I love without putting the unnecessary toxins in my body? We shouldn’t have to be exposed to harmful ingredients to enjoy and have a good time.
Defender: Your hookah brand contains natural ingredients. Talk about your process in developing this brand. Did you contact experts, scientists, researchers?
Tatted: It took a long time to process. People looked at me like I was crazy when I thought smoking fruit was a great idea. When you are trying to change your lifestyle, we convert to fruits and vegetables or anything considered healthy. I knew it was possible but it wasn’t going to be easy. My shisha contains all-natural fruit juice syrup. Now when you use my hookah pens, they are disposable because once you finish your fruit juice, you’ll start fresh with a new one. There is literally nothing on the market like this.
Defender: What are the benefits of using Blakk Smoke?
Tatted: You can actually smoke the hookah without getting lightheadedness, dizziness and stomachaches from nicotine and tobacco. You can actually sit there and enjoy it without the negative effects.
Defender: You launched this business during the height of COVID-19. How was the period of entrepreneurship for you?
Tatted: It was pretty easy for me because I was already a social media personality. People already watch and follow me. I spent time on Instagram Live showing people how to smoke hookah, how to put one together, and where to find different flavors. I was literally helping other brands make money off of what I was doing. People came to me as a hookah expert. So it made sense to actually invest in myself.
Defender: What were some challenges you’ve faced during this period of growth?
Tatted: Inventory had been my biggest challenge since day one. My customers have been such big supporters. You would think you would be ecstatic to sell out but now that I’m scaling up, I don’t want to slow my growth down by hindering people from getting their products in a timely manner. They literally have to wait one or two months for shipment and I thought it was going to last and then it gets sold out in less than 24 hours.
Defender: Talk about your team. What departments did you create in order to keep the business running smoothly? Are they your friends or did you outsource talent?
Tatted: To be honest, I just got a team two months ago. Everything before them, I’ve been doing on my own. My business is growing so I had to remind myself that I can’t do everything. I’m not the smartest, I definitely don’t know everything. I’m new to this. I always thought that I would be working for somebody who will pay me well. I’ve been my own team player for some time, so when anyone comes on board, I see that as a bonus.
Defender: Can our city expect to see some of these in lounges/clubs/Black business establishments in the future?
Tatted: I see this brand going worldwide. The sky is the limit for Blakk Smoke. Every day I’m open to new things and educating myself in this business. I truly don’t even know what is next. Things have happened so fast. But I definitely wouldn’t count it out.
Defender: What have you learned about entrepreneurship in the last two years?
Tatted: It is not as easy as we may think it is especially on the internet. We post about the wins and all the good things, but we aren’t giving the reality of the difficulties and discouraging moments. You going to work from a 9-5 to 12-hour days or around the clock. Welcome to entrepreneurship.