CSWC INTERVIEW

CSWC  - the WOMEN 'S WORLD 

Vice President of Club Mareva, Ivana Vrdoljak brings her cigar story wich  changed her life

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Ivana Vrdoljak, Vice President of Cigar Club Mareva

Remember that movie with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in the lead roles? Pretty Woman? At the theatre scene he says: „People`s reactions to the opera first time they see it is very dramatic: they love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they hate it, they will learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” I remember my first opera. It was Puccini`s „Turandot“. I first saw it in our National Theatre in Split while I was still in high school and for me it was love at first sight! I loved it. I loved everything about it! And not only for Pavarotti`s interpretation of „Nessun dorma” that I have heard so many times before. No, I loved every single part of it! If fulfilled my soul like nothing before; it went deep into my veins and, I swear to God, I felt every emotion that was played on that stage! If I wore mascara back then, it would have been all over my face! I just loved it. 

I had my first cigar many years later. It was shortly after we started our competition in 2010. I joined Marko`s project mainly because I was good at organizing things. That`s what I do: I organize. So, for the first couple of months I didn`t even consider smoking cigars because I didn`t think it would fit my “behind the curtain” role. I was there to organize, not to smoke, right?

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And then New Year 2011. came. I wasn`t very happy one for me. I just got my heart broken by a very unimportant guy and all my girlfriends where there cheering me up, trying to make me feel better. Back then they all smoked cigarettes. I was the only one who didn`t. So, as we were sitting on my apartment balcony, while they were all smoking, I remembered I have one cigar inside. One I took as a souvenir from our previous event. It was Vegas Robaina Marshall, Habanos regional cigar produced for Adriatic region. I kept it because I knew it was limited edition and I might not get chance to get another one. Back then, I didn’t know much about cigars, but I knew what “limited edition” means.

So, on that New Year`s eve 2011., as my girlfriends were smoking their cigarettes, I prepared and lighted my first cigar (that much I did know). I wanted to join the club, just not the cigarette club. So. I “sacrificed” my limited edition Marshall to join the girls. And that is basically how my cigar journey started. I wish I could tell you it was love at first sight like it was with opera, that I loved it from the very first puff and that I loved everything about it. I didn`t. I didn`t like it at all. I didn`t like the taste of it, but in some strange way, I liked the way it made me feel. It made me feel powerful. Like I can overcome anything and that feeling I did like.

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Ivana Vrdoljak during Grand Final with honorable Vice President Ivan Mazuranic and club members Zeljana Bilic and Ana Roncevic

In the following years, as I was getting more involved into cigar business and became part of the cigar family, I got to smoke many different cigars in many different occasions. I got to meet a lot of new, interesting people, who were both men and women cigar aficionados. I have learned to understand the mindset of people who smoked cigars and why they smoked them. And I have learned to enjoy both cigars and the company. For me, cigar wasn’t love at first sight, as you can imagine, but from the very first moment there was respect. And where there is respect, love usually follows. It just takes time.


So, when Marko recently asked me to write an article about women in CSWC, I couldn`t just write it, starting from the end. Overly organized people must always start from the beginning (don`t judge me) and for me beginning was that moment I lighted my first cigar on my apartment balcony on New Year`s eve 2011. I told him I wanted to write about that and he was fine with it. So, now that we got that out of the way and you know the beginning, maybe next time I can tell you a little bit more about women in our competition, women in our cigar club or women in cigar history in general. It`s an interesting world. You would be surprised.