Written by Puff Staff

Thursday, 04 March 2004

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Top 25 Cigar spoke with Sharon Garzaroli, the designer of a unique and beautiful line of cigar purses based upon Graycliff cigar boxes.

Sharon Garzaroli shares her creations with visitors at the 2003 RTDA show.

I don't think we're going out on a limb by saying most cigar smokers are's also not a reach to speculate that those men's significant others have put up with plenty of cigar related talk and paraphernalia.  All that being said, maybe it's time you surprise her with a little special something, and at the same time not stray to far from your cigar habit!

Top 25 Cigar spoke with Sharon Garzaroli, the designer of a unique and beautiful line of cigar purses based upon Graycliff cigar boxes.  Now the folks at Top 25 Cigar are not exactly known for our fashion sense, but when we saw the beauty of these purses even our Neanderthal sense of fashion was left impressed!

TOP 25 CIGAR: Are you a native of the Bahamas?

Sharon Garzaroli: Yes. 

TOP 25 CIGAR: How is growing up in the Bahamas different than growing up on the US mainland? 

Sharon Garzaroli: Growing up in the Bahamas was a good thing in some ways.  I think one learns to be more creative when things are more limited.  I went to work for my dad’s wrought iron company for several years and also moved to Man O War Cay, Abaco, for a year to work for a dive company.  Those were good learning experiences.  But then, that’s how I look at everything in life. 

TOP 25 CIGAR: Do you or have you worked for any of the family’s businesses?  What did you do?

Sharon Garzaroli: I work for the cigar company—doing all the trade shows, which can be a handful.  I also work on the shipping side of the company, making sure that the product is going to arrive in the same condition in which it left our warehouse.  Before that, my husband and I owned a gourmet specialty shop/café which I ran for seven years and sold it almost 3 years ago.  My favorite part was doing displays in the store and also finding new and interesting things to put in the store.  I really enjoyed having exotic things that I knew the client would not find anywhere else on the island.      

TOP 25 CIGAR: In your gourmet specialty shop/cafe, did you cater to the local clientele or to tourists?

Sharon Garzaroli: It was mostly to local clientele, though much was to the non-Bahamian residents.  The store was filled with goodies from all around the world and I did a good business with custom food gift baskets too.

TOP 25 CIGAR: So you and Paolo had careers separate from the Graycliff Hotel and the Graycliff Cigar Co. What made the two of you decide to return to the family business?

Sharon Garzaroli: It was just me, Paolo was always at the family business and for me, it was just the right time to move on and help Paolo with the cigar business.  This has provided much travel and exposure for me and wonderful experiences.

TOP 25 CIGAR: Since you have worked outside the cigar industry, you probably have a different perspective of the industry than "industry insiders". Based on your experience and observations, how is the Graycliff Cigar Co. different from other cigar companies? 

Sharon Garzaroli: We are very different from the standpoint that we are first a 5 star restaurant and then everything else, so anything else we go into must fit that criteria or it wont be a 'go'.  We are presently looking to expand our portfolio into food products--it will be mostly the things that people enjoy at Graycliff restaurant and request over and over.  The advantage here is that they can enjoy their favorites even when they are at home.

TOP 25 CIGAR: When and where did you get the idea for making purses out of cigar boxes?

Sharon Garzaroli: Actually got the idea as several cigar clients of ours kept suggesting that I think of doing something with all the extra boxes.  Thinking it seemed such a waste to leave them alone, I decided to try a ladies handbag. However, I had seen other cigar boxes that people had tried to make handbags out of and found them to be a little… well, lets just say that I wanted to make a purse that I would actually buy and use myself.  I love beautiful and unique handbags and have quite a collection myself.   I am also a fan of Mary Francis and Judith Liebler purses. I think that a ladies handbag, though functional, doesn’t need to look purely functional.  It should be the final piece of jewelry that you walk out the door with.  Something that compliments each outfit you wear and makes a statement about the individual that is wearing it.

TOP 25 CIGAR: Who designs and manufactures your purses?

 Sharon Garzaroli: I do all the designs and all of the manufacturing. 

TOP 25 CIGAR: How many different styles of purses do you have?

Sharon Garzaroli: As many as I can find unique and interesting fabrics.    

TOP 25 CIGAR: Who is your target market?  Describe the buyer you’re trying to attract.

Sharon Garzaroli: My market has to be the lady who is a bit trendy, loves fashion, and has the means to do it with!

TOP 25 CIGAR: How has the public received your purse line so far? 

Sharon Garzaroli: So far, so good.  My handbags are only in a few locations thus far, as each one is made by myself and takes around 7-8 hours to complete.  It was such an honor for me when Paris Hilton purchased one of my purses as I know she is a purse freak, like me.  Also, Shania Twain received one as a Christmas present this year, Michael Jordan bought one for a gift, and there are a few local dignitaries with them.

TOP 25 CIGAR: Wow! You have some very high profile customers! Can we expect to see Graycliff handbags advertised in high end life style magazines such as the Robb Report? 

Sharon Garzaroli: That would be wonderful!! I have also been written up in European Cigar Cult Journal in Germany and Smoker Magazine in Italy.  

TOP 25 CIGAR: Do you have to do anything special to prepare a cigar box for life as a purse?

Sharon Garzaroli: Yes, in preparing the boxes, I have to remove all the existing hardware from the box, as it is in the wrong location, and replace it with better quality brass hardware in the correct locations.  After that, it’s on with the fun part for me which is the design—working with combinations of fabrics, trims and beads.  Sometimes, I add other interesting ornaments too.

TOP 25 CIGAR: Do you use any other cigar boxes besides Graycliff?

Sharon Garzaroli: No, don’t see any reason that I should.  These boxes are really beautiful and come in a variety of colors.

TOP 25 CIGAR: Are your purses sold as collectables or for actual use?

Sharon Garzaroli: My purses are definitely for actual use, taking into consideration that they are a piece of art and probably more fragile than say, a leather handbag.

TOP 25 CIGAR: What types of goals do you have for your purse line?

Sharon Garzaroli: Right now, I am just having fun with it.  We will see…

Click here for a brochure on
Graycliff Purses by Sharon Garzaroli
(need Adobe Acrobat to read)

TOP 25 CIGAR: Do you plan to add other cigar or non-cigar accessories to your product line?  

Sharon Garzaroli: I am always thinking…..

TOP 25 CIGAR: Where can someone find your purses for sale? 

Sharon Garzaroli: They are sold in stores like the Ocean Club golf shop-Paradise Island, Graycliff Restaurant and Cigar Co.-Nassau, the Humidor in the Atlantis-Paradise Island , John Bull-Nassau, Davidoff in Quebec, and the Westin Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fl.  Also, there is a cigar store in Australia and one in Italy with my product.  You can also find them at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

TOP 25 CIGAR: What is the suggested retail?

Sharon Garzaroli: Generally $300 and over.

TOP 25 CIGAR: Does your husband, Paolo, help you with your business?

Sharon Garzaroli: He helps me all the time.

TOP 25 CIGAR: How does Paolo help you?

Sharon Garzaroli: He has helped me promote and market the purses both on Nassau and at trade shows.  He has also helped me with everyday things like finding supplies and a lot of mental support.  Whenever I begin to doubt myself, he is always there to give me support.

TOP 25 CIGAR: Out of all your handbags, which size and style is your favorite?

Sharon Garzaroli: That’s kind of like asking which child a mom loves the best!  It depends on what I am wearing and on the size as to where I am going. I try to include extras inside for convenience like a makeup mirror and usually an elegant sachet for keeping small items handy.

TOP 25 CIGAR: What advice do you have for guys trying to buy a handbag for their girlfriends or wives?

Sharon Garzaroli: Good question!!! I think you need to look at the purses your lady presently uses--note the prevalent color(s) and the most common size. Also, notice if she uses a shoulder strap or just a handle.   Some women don't like to change their habits so pick something that resembles what they already use.

TOP 25 CIGAR: Thanks Sharon.  We wish you well on your new venture and will look forward to seeing your purses in the marketplace.

For more information, contact Sharon Garzaroli at:

The Graycliff Hotel Restaurant
West Hill St
PO Box N 10246
Nassau, In the Bahamas

Ph - (242) 322-2796 – hotel
Fax -(242) 326-6110 – hotel 

The Graycliff Cigar Co.
West Hill St
PO Box N 10246
Nassau, In the Bahamas

Ph - (242) 328-7050 - Cigar Co

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