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Met A Master Blender Today

(34 posts)
  • Started 5 years ago by justfoster
  • Latest reply from misterlowercase
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    justfoster

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    While at my local tobacco shop today, I saw one of regular smoking companions with a younger guy in the lounge. After some conversation I learned he was the master blender of Middle-Earth tobacco, a blender I had heard about not never had the chance to try. He gave me a smoke jar of his Fangorn Forest and it was honestly one of the best blends I've tried. A delicious English with a cool, delightful smoke. If you get a chance to try any of these blends from http://middleearthtobacco.com, you surely won't be disappointed.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  2. pipestud

    pipestud

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    Never heard of the "master blend." Will be curious to see how the other blends fare.

    Best,

    Pipestud

    Pipestud
    Posted 5 years ago #
  3. mso489

    mso489

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    How are we going to get to all the blends we'd like to try? I just noticed that SP has its own blends,
    Low Country; at least two of those sound tempting to me.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  4. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    He may be a Master Blender (whatever that is) but he doesn't seem to want to sell his stuff. An ordering page or shopping cart would be a good way for him to get business rolling.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    justfoster

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    I was thinking that also but it isn't a huge operation and he is doing everything by hand.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  6. woodsroad

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    Then a shopping cart would make things easier for him.
    I might try the sampler. He should indicate the sample size, though.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    justfoster

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    I'll make those suggestions to him. Constructive criticism helps improve businesses.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  8. woodsroad

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    I just sent him an email...thanks!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  9. bigvan

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    Apparently Nat Clark is a "master blender" because that's what he calls himself. Sorry, but I've never heard of this guy or his shop. I'm also skeptical of a tobacco that needs to trade on the Hobbit fad rather than stand on its own two legs.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  10. cmdrmcbragg

    cmdrmcbragg

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    Sounds suspect. Not that the blends can't be fine, but like others have said there are too many Middle Earth themed blends as is. Don't try to be an upstart by going this route.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  11. kcghost

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    Hopefully, he doesn't have legal issues for using the LotR's names.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  12. crazypipe

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    WARNING do not order anything from this guy he is a fake and a big time BULLSHITER I spoke with him on the phone about a order i place with him and he came up with all kinds of Bullshit stories as to why he had not sent it.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  13. woodsroad

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    I was going to order a sampler, but he wouldn't tell me the sample size, just that they were enough for "a few bowls".

    That was enough of a flag for me.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  14. yaddy306

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    Maybe the OP can put in a word for you with the "master blender"?
    Or maybe the OP is in on the scam?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  15. smeigs

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    may gandolf strike him with his mighty staff!

    “A pipe in the mouth makes it clear that there has been no mistake–you are undoubtedly a man.”
    Posted 5 years ago #
  16. masterpython

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    If someone really wants to nail him tell paypal he is selling tobacco.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  17. doctorthoss

    doctorthoss

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    I checked the web site out a couple of weeks ago. It's definitely not a high-budget operation, but I really couldn't tell much beyond that. It seems clear this is some guy trying to get his homespun tobacco business "off the ground", but I don't get the impression he knows a lot about marketing, presentation, etc. He might be cooking up the next Balkan Sobranie in his garage, but he's not going to get very far with this approach, I'm afraid.

    Also, it's not really cool for someone who's only posted a couple of times to hop onto the site and start describing his meeting with a "master blender" and talking up his products. If it was someone well all know we might take the recommendation seriously. But for all we can tell, it's the "master blender" himself just trolling the site and trying to whip up business through a concocted story. I'm not saying that's what happened, just saying it's a possibility that springs immediately to mind. He might have done better to offer free samples to some of the more respected members of this board and then letting them objectively review them.

    Also, the use of the term "master blender" kind of sets off alarm bells to me. There is no organization, licensing board, or cabal of tobacco warlocks who hand out the title of "master blender." It's a term, in fact, that most blenders don't even use to describe themselves! It's a phrase that we, the consumers, have adopted as a means of praising our favorite blenders (Pease, Oulete, Hanna, etc.) The simple fact that he describes himself as such on the Web site comes across as kind of …crass.

    And yeah -- trying to market the products by using the Lord of the Ring names comes across as exploitative and not very creative. It's been done way too many times already!

    Again, I'm not disparaging this guy's products. For all I know they are the best things ever put in a pipe. But in the interest of offering some constructive criticism, he might need to rethink his marketing strategy while bearing in mind that we are a pretty tight group that obsesses over quality, customer service, etc.

    "Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the wise cannot see all ends. -- J.R.R. Tolkien
    Posted 5 years ago #
  18. scrapyardape

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    So I only need a crappy website, give out ambiguous sample size information, and rip people off to become a "master blender"? Sweet.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  19. undecagon

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    Yeah, my first thought was that Justfoster is the same person as "master blender" trying to get some free advertising…

    "I said NO camels, that's FIVE camels...can't you count?!"
    AJHvibes.com
    Posted 5 years ago #
  20. pipeherman

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    It seems we may be a little harsh on both these people. From reading the comments I have got the impression that only one individual has been ripped off, and even then it seems there is still verbal communication between two parties. On this point I stand to be corrected.

    There is no evidence to suggest that Justfoster is the "Masterblender" or not. That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence also.

    I suggest that we do not purchase from this seller, we wait and see if he is a legitimate blender or just a fraud. In the meantime we should hold restrain from being too judgemental.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  21. rmbittner

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    pipeherman wrote:

    "There is no evidence to suggest that Justfoster is the "Masterblender" or not."

    Well, I would say he's not. Justfoster lists his name here as Foster Ryan, from Hendersonville, NC. Nat Clark's business is based in Charlotte, NC. Now, they're both in NC and might well know each other. . . but you could say the same thing about a million other people in the state.

    But after a visit to Clark's site, I know I personally have doubts about him. Not that he's not a perfectly honest businessman and a good blender of tobacco. But I'm a lit major and a full-time professional writer, and the site's bad punctuation, misspellings, and outlandish statements (his grandfather taught him *everything* there is to know about tobacco) tell me that he's not someone I would feel comfortable doing business with.

    Bob

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    middleearthtobacco

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    Well ladies and gents, I was asked by a client to come join the forums and squash whatever misconceptions y'all are getting about me and my business. I will not bash anyone on these forums and I ask that y'all do the same for me. If there are any questions business related or personal I simply ask that you send me a personal email and I will be more than glad chat. I hope everyone has an excellent day and a wonderful Holiday Season.
    Nat Clark middleearthtobacco@gmail.com

    Posted 5 years ago #
  23. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    Nat, you are going to have to be quite a bit more informative than that if you plan on succeeding as a 'baccy hawker. The folks on this site are your target audience, and not only do they want top-notch tobacco, but they want a nice, compelling and verifiable story to go along with it. Study up on best business practices for tobacconists. There are plenty of good examples out there worth emulating.

    As far as we can tell, you have not burned any bridges yet, so there is still time for you to try and get it right. As another list member has already pointed out, you could be blending the next best thing and on your way to fame and fortune, but if you continue down the marketing path that you are on, you will not get there.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    middleearthtobacco

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    Woodsroad,
    Thank you for the advice brother. I am working on the website and labels for the blends as we speak but I have had to do all of this alone and learn as I go so its been tough for me.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  25. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    middleearth:

    "I have had to do all of this alone and learn as I go"

    I apologize if this sounds harsh, but: No, you haven't.

    You could have enlisted the help of mentors and a team of advisors, as virtually all start-ups do. New pipemakers typically contact someone with experience to get feedback and advice; you could do the same with any number of blenders. (You still can.) You could have joined here when your business was in the early planning stages to solicit advice, opinions, and even build a support team across the country. You could leverage your Facebook page as a place to truly engage with potential customers and build community and not just serve as a billboard. (After all, I noticed you haven't even responded to questions posted there back in November.) And if you haven't already, you could attend a major pipe show to solicit feedback on your blends, build name recognition, and liaise with other blenders as well as larger manufacturers. Never mind the multitude of books and Web sites devoted to starting and marketing a business.

    At the very least, though, I think you could at least look at your own Web site long enough to see that "quiet" isn't the same as "quite" and that there's no reason for "Remember" to be capitalized when it's the second word in a sentence. (And because it's your very first sentence, it makes your site look amateurish from the start.)

    All of that to say, I don't believe you should expect customers to train you . . . or, frankly, to sympathize too much if you don't yet know how to run your own business.

    Personally -- and take this with a grain of salt, because I'm not a potential customer -- I'd recommend dropping all of the fiction and hyperbole from your site. Your grandfather may have been the tobacco savant you claim, but I don't believe it. When you say he could sniff a leaf and tell what country it came from, I don't believe you and you lose all credibility. And when your tobacco descriptions mention that a particular blend was the favorite blend of a fictional character, it's just nonsense. It tells me nothing useful. (As many here have already noted, the LOTR connection strikes the wrong note as well; it's faddish. And, essentially, meaningless. The fact that you're building your whole company identity on it seems. . . ill-advised.)

    Instead, I'd much prefer to read a clear description of a blend's constituent tobaccos. But I would also like to know what your role was in acquiring the leaf. Because, since you're a beginning blender with no major connections (that I can see), my guess is that either you're buying existing blends and simply combining them to create your own blends from them. . . or you're buying blending leaf from someone like C&D. (If it's the former, I can understand you not talking about it! But if it's the second, then you might score points with all of the C&D fans out there.)

    Just my .02.

    Bob

    Posted 5 years ago #
  26. fitzy

    fitzy

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    I have a problem with someone with little to no blending experience calling themselves a master blender. I would have no problem with GLP or Russ calling themselves master blenders.

    I also have a problem with you specifically trying to use the popularity of the LOTR's to make a buck. If you make a good product then it should stand on it's own and not be a LOTR gimmick.

    "These are ghosts that are more at home in a girdle-filled drawer than one of my pipes." Quote by Neil Archer Roan on lakeland ghosts
    Posted 5 years ago #
  27. fitzy

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    In my opinion I think this justfoster guy is really the same person as Nat Clark(or a close friend) and was just trying to trump up his own business.

    That's some pretty shady stuff.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  28. kashmir

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    Yes, a bit of humility goes a long way.
    We pipe smokers are a contemplative lot.
    But it pays to get to know us, by hanging out on forums, and such.
    Attending pipe shows, or offering sample packs and asking for feedback is the best way to go.
    Bragging, poor grammar, using LOTR as a gimick - not a good way to go.
    Here's an idea - become a site sponsor here on PM, and develop a reputation.
    In the pipe business, reputation is everything.
    Find a mentor or study other small blenders and learn from them at a distance.

    The pipe eases you into the present moment - savor your pipe & you'll savor this moment.
    Posted 5 years ago #
  29. fitzy

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    If your serious about blending and selling tobacco. What you should do is search pipeinhand on this forum and also search Jack lee

    This guy is a regular on this forum and started blending/selling his own blends. They are very highly reviewed here and he's done it the right way.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  30. wcannoy

    Walt Cannoy

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    And if you haven't already, you could attend a major pipe show to solicit feedback on your blends, build name recognition, and liaise with other blenders as well as larger manufacturers.

    Does anyone remember the tobacco sellers who were arrested and cleaned out by the ATF right on the floor of the Chicago show many years ago? I think the brand was Diogenes or something.

    Turns out, you can't just "decide" to be a tobacco dealer...

    Posted 5 years ago #
  31. northernneil

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    Walt, you bring up a good point. I know in Canada you need a tobacco retailer's license to sell tobacco. If you do not have the license, they look at it as black market sales and will prosecute to the full extent of the law (they really hate tobacco up here).

    Posted 5 years ago #
  32. cigrmaster

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    rmbittner has given you some solid advice. If I were to go to a web site filled with misspellings and capitalized word where there should be none, I would automatically leave the site and never return. Also if I read ridiculous hyperbole about someone's grandfather, that would also make it a site I would never revisit. First impressions are extremely important, take it from a guy who has owned his own successful businesses for 23 years. You can never make another first impression, you only get one shot at it and you had better get it right if you want to succeed.

    The first thing you need to do is to have a number of blends that are ready for sale. Then you need to have a functional website where people can order your product by either a credit card or paypal. It sounds like you have not done your homework and that is the killer of any new business.

    I hope you take the constructive criticisms as they are intended, to be helpful and supportive. We can always use more good tobacco to smoke so if you get your ducks in a row and get your act together, you could become successful as a blender and a business man. You definitely need to lose the Master blender name and the LOtR names as you have no rights to them plus most serious pipe smokers consider blends with those names to be gimmicks.

    Good luck in your new venture and I hope you listen to some of the guys here as many of us know what we are talking about and have had some very successful careers ourselves. This site is the most popular pipe site on the web and if you can impress us, it is a good start.

    Harris
    Posted 5 years ago #
  33. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    ps, another thing to consider is that flake tobacco's are some of the best sellers and most popular blends on the market. If you can come up with some killer flakes, you will definitely make a name for yourself.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  34. misterlowercase

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    Nat,
    You've been fortunate to receive some excellent advice here from some very knowledgeable people. If you are wise, you'll incorporate what they've said into your operations and if you are indeed truly passionate about blending, maybe something good will happen if you stick to it.

    I've read about more than a few famous pipemakers who while in the process of first learning their craft, refused to sell to the public, instead the finished pipes were sent out privately, relying on a select number of trusted and well-seasoned pipesmokers to honestly offer valuable critique - thus the pipemaker had all the kinks worked out before going public and in many cases when their pipes did become publicly available it was like a hotdamn goodgoddamighty reaction because the pipes were ready for prime-time.

    Add my disillusionment to the list regarding the LOTR theme, totally tired.

    If you wooda had sumthin like Bob Dobbs Buttery Jumble Brainzap Mixture, then I mighta been more innerested...

    Posted 5 years ago #

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