Hookah Blog

Q&A With Fumari

Q&A With Fumari

1st Jun 2020

Originally posted on Source Authorized by Stefan Ambramian   Well guys, I did something big. I have the honor of doing a Q&A with Fumari tobacco, a brand that most of us are familiar with. A short back story, Sam is marketing manager at Fumari.  
CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF? Absolutely, my name is Sam Hanhan and I’m the head of marketing at Fumari. I’ve been in this role for 4 years, however, my history of working for the brand goes back much further.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH HOOKAH? My first experience with hookah was during a trip to Jordan. That was 25 years ago, and I remember hookah being a prominent part of their hospitality customs. Hookahs were at gatherings, restaurants, cafes, and homes everywhere I went. I recall locals being excited that I was visiting from America and they were eagerly proud to share this part of their culture. That experience always stayed with me afterward. And while I dabbled with hookah after returning from my trip, of course I bought one while being out there, it wasn’t something I was able to sustain. Finding hookah tobacco in the suburbs of Connecticut in the 1990s didn’t work out too well for me. It wasn’t until I moved to San Diego, CA in the late ’90s and discovered the Fumari hookah lounge. That’s when I legitimately became involved with hookah.
ARE THERE ANY MAJOR CHANGES WITHIN THE COMPANY IN THE LAST 5 YEARS? The biggest change was our growth. Over the course of this period we’ve doubled our size and moved into a much larger facility where our R&D, Sales, and Production teams are under one roof for the first time. Also, in the last five years, our business had to evolve significantly in order to navigate new FDA laws and to respond to the constant threat of flavored tobacco bans on Local, State, and Federal levels. As a result, we’ve essentially had to re-learn how to do business in our industry, create new jobs, and make new alliances.
HOW DID FUMARI COME TO BE AS THE COMPANY NAME? As a smoking lounge, the word “fumar” (meaning “to smoke” in Spanish) was very fitting. There is a large Spanish influence in our San Diego community. For the “i” that’s appended to the end of “fumar”, well, it sounded good and just stuck. There you have it: Fumari.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT WITH THE BRAND? My greatest achievement with the brand was helping to grow its image to where it stands today. Starting out as a small hookah lounge in downtown San Diego, and working together with great business owners to make it one of the world’s most recognized names in hookah tobacco. It’s a story I love to share.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIPE TO SMOKE OUT OF? My Regal Queen. It’s a pipe that’s timeless in my opinion.
WHAT MAKES FUMARI UNIQUE COMPARED TO OTHER BRANDS? I see it as a mix of brand attributes that, when working together, make us unique. It begins with how Fumari was first a lounge. That was significant because we had the benefit of knowing what local customers wanted. We developed flavors using their feedback and this led us to become the first line of hookah tobacco formulated for American taste preferences. Even without having the lounge today, we continue to heavily rely on customer feedback throughout our product development process. Another factor contributing to our uniqueness is how we kept our line of tobacco straight and simple. For example, we strive for each flavor to be true-to-taste. The name on the pouch is easy to identify with what’s inside. And what’s inside, smells and tastes like what you would expect. What you see is what you get. Our tobacco is also smooth-to-smoke and easy-to-use which makes it appeal to a larger audience. Smokers love the big, smooth clouds they can reliably get from a bowl of Fumari tobacco. And finally, we are an American brand with a tobacco product that is made-from-scratch in the U.S.A. It’s an indication of our quality.
OUT OF THE NEW FLAVORS RELEASED, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MOST POPULAR ONE PEOPLE ARE ENJOYING AS OF NOW? Although our recent release of Lemon Loaf received great feedback, the winner for most-widely enjoyed is Aloha Mango. It has a flavor profile that takes people by surprise on the first puff and you instantly know it’s something you like.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR TO SMOKE? If smoking a straight flavor, my current go-to is Lemon Mint. If choosing a favorite to use in mixes, it’s between our Mint or Guava. Those two mix well with so many flavors, including with each other.
ANY NEW FLAVORS IN THE FUTURE? We hope to have at least two or three more flavors added to our line this year pending FDA authorization.
WE ALSO SAW YOU GUYS RELEASED A TEASER OF A FUMARI DARK LINE AT THE EXPO, ANY RELEASE TIME ON THAT? It will be available in select international markets by late 2020. As for the availability in the USA, we are in the process of working with the FDA to make that happen and will hopefully have more information soon.
WHAT IS FUMARI'S PLAN WITH THE CALIFORNIA FLAVOR BAN? The plan for the CA ban is to keep fighting. I think we made a huge impression on May 13th with all the calls in opposition. I hear Senator Hill has now been in recent talks with the Hookah Chamber.
LAST QUESTION, BESIDES DEVOTING YOUR TIME TO FUMARI WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO ON YOUR FREE TIME?  I love the mountain lifestyle and most of the activities that come with it. One day, I hope to own a cabin in Tahoe. But at the moment, I’ve got two, beautiful young kids and much of my time away from work is devoted to them. We generally stay very active throughout my free time. Whether it’s teaching one to ride a bike, a tennis match with the other, or taking the family to the San Diego Zoo for the day, we’re always doing something. But at the very end of the day when the kids are asleep, my wife and I like to relax with a hookah.


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