Everyone who knows the cigar industry knows Matt Booth. He is the creative genius behind the Room101 brand, which includes Room101 Gin, Room101 Cigars, and his Room101 DTLA jewelry line. Matt’s aesthetic is Southern California badass with a sexy silliness sprinkled on top. Room101 Cigars are standouts in the humidor. The artwork is unique, compelling, and colorful. No other brands could put a cigar out there with Polaroid pictures of dudes in their undies (the Send Nudes limited line) or a cartoon of Matt Booth himself as a mermaid and have the success that Room101 Cigars has achieved. You will see Matt’s jewelry adorning a “harder” looking guy who might find passion in muscle cars, motorcycles, and tattoos. Room101 Gin is the newest line in the Room101 brand and has been organically expanding across the country to different bars/restaurants and liquor stores.
In 2022, Matt Booth sold Room101 Cigars to Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) so that he would be able to distribute his cigars in more tobacco shops. One man can only cover so much ground, so by entering this acquisition, he gave his brand the opportunity to expand exponentially. Matt did, however, keep creative control of the cigar brand, and it’s obvious when you look at his social media content.
I sat down with Matt to ask him how things have been going since the acquisition and get his take on the intertwining of his niche brand with STG and what he has in the works for the next couple of years. Join me on this sensorial journey into Matt Booth’s brain…
Jean: Hey Matt! Great to talk to you today!
Matt: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Jean: I absolutely love the look of the Room101 Cigars, from the Japanese influence of Namakubi to the characters that you have brought to life, like Johnny Tobacconaut and Uncle Lee. I’m curious about what goes on inside your head when you are concocting a new concept.
Matt: Well, First, I would say – be careful what you wish for or wish to see. Development, whether it be product, brand concept, manners in which to disrupt any said market, or otherwise, is what keeps me awake at night. This is the arena that I am both fluent in and rarely short on fuel. No matter what I am working on, the creative process is my favorite part.
Jean: So, how have things been going for you since the merger with STG?
Matt: Things have been as they should be – great. Our brand is in the best position it has ever been, and we are together all pushing toward our collective future(s) as a team. It’s rad.
Jean: There has been a lot of chatter about you joining STG. What do you have to say about it?
Matt: I couldn’t be more excited – it is the best thing that could’ve happened to our cigar brand, our brand family, and our consumers simultaneously.
Jean: I know you have been working on other projects with STG. Are you allowed to tell us some of the upcoming launches or things you have been working on?
Matt: I’ve been behind the scenes brokering deals for the most illustrious and sumptuous Egyptian thread count cashmeres for a new collection of avant-garde turtlenecks for Regis, the organization’s global president. It has been an honor.
Jean: I am so intrigued by your Shadow Army. Do you mind telling me a bit about how this army started and what is all involved in it?
Matt: We don’t discuss the Shadow Army in great detail – but what I will tell you is that it is an amazing community of like-minded 101 brand enthusiasts, and it’s never lost on me that we have developed something that other people would connect to so deeply. I’m honored.
Jean: I see that you have your first “Shadowfest” coming up the first weekend in June at Club Humidor in San Antonio. What can we expect to see come from this?
Matt: Further displays of public absurdity. It will be one for the record books, for sure.
Jean: Your swag is always highly sought after, from the Room101 condoms to Johnny Tobacconaut t-shirts and worship candles. How can we go about getting this dope swag?
Matt: Enlist at shadowarmy.com for all the updates. Our Shadow Drops run once and are never repeated.
Jean: I wanted to switch gears a bit and discuss your jewelry line. I saw on IG that you have some new items coming out. What inspires your designs for the jewelry, and where can we buy it?
Matt: Our products are proudly featured online and in select stores with our partners at Nordstrom as well as select specialty retailers and tobacconists. Our brand website is also a great place to shop directly with our studios. Everything I do and everywhere I go, whether it be location or experience, fuels the formation of design ideas for me.
Jean: And the gin? How is that going?
Matt: So far, so good! We’ve been at it for a little over five years now and are taking a guerilla approach to our expansion in that category (in line with how we operate across all industries we are active within) We keep furthering our footprint and our distribution network, and product continues to pull through – we are growing.
Jean: Any thoughts on expanding your spirits portfolio into any other kind of booze?
Jean: Okay Matt, one final question. What are you most looking forward to over the next couple of years, whether that be in the cigars, gin, or jewelry parts of your business?
Matt: I’m looking forward to spending as much time with my son and family in balance with remaining responsible to the growth and expansion of our brand across all categories and beyond. The next chapters in this brand’s lifespan are going to be bangers, so stay tuned.
Jean: Thank you so much for chatting with me today!
Matt: This interview has been better than a moderately decent experience, and I appreciate you taking the time with me.