In 2020, Blakk Tatted launched a ground-breaking, multi-million dollar idea called Blakk Smoke— the world’s first (and only) vape and Hookah brand with products made entirely of fruit. You read that right: No nicotine, no tobacco, no chemicals…just fruit.
Creating a new category all on his own, Blakk Tatted singlehandedly provided a flavorful vaping alternative for those who want to smoke without exposure to, and side effects of, nicotine and tobacco. With a growing fan and customer base of millions, the comedic and bona fide Blakk Tatted proves that with resilience, grit, and authenticity you can accomplish more than a lot. Luckily for us, Kaitlyn Rose had the chance to chat with the entrepreneur himself to discuss his inspiring journey, how he made $2 million in one day, buying his employee a house, and more. Keep reading for the exclusive Sheen interview!
Before we get into Blakk Smoke, can you tell us a little bit about what life looked like before your entrepreneurship journey?
I was just a regular ‘ol influencer on social media, winging it and building an audience unintentionally. I was just being myself, and my social media engagement and audience kept constantly growing. When people started noticing how authentic I was and how much of a cold following I had developed, businesses started coming to me for promo. From the biggest businesses to the smallest businesses…it was so crazy, and I started having promo slots booked up for like a year at a time.
In my past life I was a comedian, so I would take funny things and use authentic metaphors. Whatever the product is, I’m going to talk about it in a way and convince you that it’s the best, [with] a spin that you probably never thought of. So, they deemed me ‘The Promo King of the Internet,’ because people were saying once I promoted their business and used my way to be funny naturally, it made their business more money within that day or week, than they’ve ever had. People used to literally get promo from me, then show their engagement, how many followers they got, and how much money they made. They called it the ‘Blakk Effect.’ I was okay with giving everybody else business, but it never hit me that I was truly sleeping on myself. I could launch my own business, and do the same for myself, if not more. It was kind of like other people showed me my worth before I understood it.
When you finally decided to tap into your entrepreneurial side, what motivated you to create Blakk Smoke and your own product line?
In 2010, me and my friends started smoking hookah and it was just a hobby. We loved it. Looking back, I thought I was loving the hookah, but I was loving the nicotine. It took one day of me arguing with my cousin, and I was telling him he’s too young to be smoking cigarettes and how he should not be putting that in his body. And he said to me, ‘All that nicotine and tobacco you smoke…You smoke one hookah, you’re basically smoking two packs of cigarettes.’ So, I started doing research, reading up on hookah, and I realized he was right. A hookah session with nicotine and tobacco is like smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes in one session. So, I was like how can I still do hookah but not put tobacco and nicotine in my body. Smoking can’t be 100% healthy, but I wanted it to be at least healthier.
[When] I wanted to start Blakk Smoke I kept getting shot down since I was trying to create something that didn’t exist. I was trying to make hookah flavors and hookah pens literally out of fruit. And like seventeen suppliers were telling me [it’s] not possible. I knew there had to be a way to smoke fruit, instead of using all of the nicotine with it. It took years of making it, and I finally got it right. So, I’m an advocate for anyone that has a vision…not everybody is going to see it. I truly almost gave up. What if I would have?
That’s amazing and great advice to those with out-of-the-box ideas. Are there health benefits in your products because the ingredients are fruit-based?
Yes, there actually are health benefits because one of the main ingredients in my hookah pens and hookah shisha is Miracle Berry. Miracle Berry is a very special berry that’s very, very popular in West Africa. They consume Miracle Berry to help with their bodily functions, to fight against colds, and to levelize their blood count. You’re pretty much inhaling something that people use to heal themselves in West Africa.
Blakk Smoke made over $2.7 million in sales on Black Friday…Congrats! Were you expecting that, and what was your immediate reaction?
My goal was $1 million, and I was a nervous wreck. It was our first sale of the year, and I was giving a whopping 40% off. My team told me to just go on Instagram and do me, and let them deal with the numbers, respond to emails, send out the campaigns, and all that stuff. The person that runs my sales account literally changed the password so I couldn’t log in from my phone. That’s how serious it was. It seemed like people were responding really well on Instagram, but I didn’t know what $1 million looked like. My mind was going crazy. When it was finally time to get an update on the numbers, I asked my business manager if I hit my goal, and she said ‘No, you didn’t hit your goal…But you sure did surpass it. You hit $2.7 million!’ Then I woke up because I know I fainted! Everything was like a blur. I was crying like a baby. It was amazing. I was like ‘no way this is my dream coming true and people supporting me to this magnitude.’
Now having reached that amazing milestone, do you feel like you’ve made it or is there still more to accomplish?
I feel like I got a lot more to do. And no one should ever get comfortable. I don’t even think there’s a definition of what ‘made it’ looks like. Some of the biggest and richest people in the world are still working. We can think about Oprah, and she’s still working. Think about Beyonce, she’s still touring. Think about Jay-Z, he’s still working. Think about Puff Daddy, he just put out a song. And I’m not even anywhere near the magnitude of any of these people. So, I feel like it’s good to keep that hunger and humbleness. Never feel like you’ve made it because then you get complacent and that’s the worst thing to do.
What’s something you attest your Black Friday and business success to?
Consistency. You can’t be dry turkey all year with your audience, don’t connect with them, and then say ‘Hey, come buy from me.’ I think a lot of people go wrong with that. As a business, you’re supposed to be productive, but don’t make everything so salesy. Don’t make me feel like you’re trying to get my money all day. Make me feel like you care about me and I’m important to you. I don’t care if you have 10,000 customers. Make me feel like I’m the most valuable one. When you make people feel good, the sky’s the limit. And you can’t treat people like you have a lower fan base or a higher fan base. I love my celebrity customers, and I love my other customers the same way and I don’t separate them. I want people to understand, before a business or a product gets into the hands of like Jayda, Cardi B, Lil Wayne, and all of them who got my product, it was these everyday people, like me, that made my business become successful.
So, I want to show my gratitude to the people who support me and stand by me because I understand that it’s a privilege and an honor to get support from people. I can never say thank you enough. I’m very much appreciative, and I hope that people will continue to watch me, grow with me, and continue supporting me because I’m nothing without those people.
Have you always been business-minded?
I never had the business mind, but I always knew I was going to be successful. I never said I would be a business owner. In my opinion, I don’t feel like being successful only means being a business owner. Workers and employees are just as important and such a big asset. I just knew I wanted to do something to make a lot of money, even if that consisted of me being this big time employee or working for a billion dollar firm. I was okay with being the employee, as long as I was able to have a decent lifestyle.
Marketing seems to come so naturally for you. Have you thought about doing a class?
People are always asking me for a course or class, and I really just want to see everybody else win. Me helping someone else does not take away from me at all. Like I’ll even see other people I don’t even follow post something or market a product, and I be sliding in their DM’s like ‘Hey, I don’t mean to bother you but…you should make a video like this’ and they be like ‘I can’t believe you DM’d me!’ I feel like the game is to be told and not sold, so I really can’t see myself putting a price on giving somebody information that can help them proceed in life. It doesn’t hurt me to share the information if I can. Not everybody is going to take the information and apply it the right way or the same way. If you do the work, then you deserve to benefit from the resources. So, I don’t feel like I deserve a penny or dime from that.
You recently bought a house for a beloved and long-time employee of yours…tell us the story behind that!
Keisha was my very first employee. She literally was my employee before my business launched, when I didn’t even know what my business was going to become. Keisha had a job already, and when I told her I was about to launch Blakk Smoke, she started helping me. She quit her other job just to help me grow this business. She lived an hour away, so she literally drove an hour every single day to help me get things in order. Neither one of us knew how to add inventory to the site, we didn’t know how to design it, we didn’t know how to change quantities. The first day we launched, we had no idea we were going to have so many orders. And ever since that day, she has been 100,000% committed. She still comes into work every single day before she’s supposed to be there, and leaves after the time she’s supposed to be gone. She’s been so dedicated and committed since day one. And she had no idea [about the house]. She was thinking that we were about to take her to see a new warehouse. It’s all on video, and it was such a beautiful thing. She was crying hysterically.
That’s so inspiring! Why was it important to you to buy her a house?
The more success I have the more I see the importance of having assets, having property, breaking these generational curses, and creating a new standard. I felt like it wasn’t only the greatest gift for her to have under her belt, but it was the greatest gift for her to see where the hard work is paying off. And also for her kids to have something to look up to— seeing their mom as a homeowner, and [showing] they have the ability to be a homeowner as well.
Do you have real estate goals yourself?
I do have real estate goals. I honestly want to own apartment complexes all over the world. And when I get into real estate heavy, I don’t want it to be as a profit. I first want to do real estate in certain cities with a homeless population, and I want to do custom services where I take people off of the streets, clean them up, and give them a place to stay. That is really my goal, and I know I can’t do it all by myself. But I really want to make the world a better place. And remind people to have hope that there’s still good people out here.
What does this gift to your employee show other employers or business owners about treating people on their team?
As far as employers and business owners, I think it’s important to remember that outside of your business, these people have lives too. You can’t take their time for granted. Granted, when they’re on your clock, in a sense, they have to do what you tell them to do. But making a person feel like a human, comes first. No matter if they’re an employee, or part time, or an assistant. Make everybody feel loved, valued, and appreciated. Especially, when you know someone is putting their best foot forward. If a person still shows up for you, you ought to show up for them.
I love that. You’re doing some amazing things…How do you balance being a business owner and having a family?
I make it look easy, but this is all new to me. So, I’m learning every day. It’s a lot to balance, but I always try to stay grounded and realize that family is first. If I find myself getting too invested, too into the phone, or too antsy, I make those calls to my team members and decide to back away, take the kids out, and get refreshed for the following day. That’s why it’s so important to have a core team and a foundation around you of people that can cut you some slack and understand that you’re human.
What’s next for you and Blakk Smoke?
People know I don’t really speak on things that I’m doing…I just do a surprise! But I will say this: I’m always listening to my customers, and a lot of my customers get upset when they deal with hookah lounges that have signs on the doors saying ‘No Blakk Smoke products allowed.’ My customers really want to go to hookah lounges and pay for their hookah and shisha, and allow them to put their Blakk Smoke shisha in. They be asking for me to give them a hookah lounge. So that’s all I’m going to say. I hear them, and I’m never not working. We are always full of surprises.
To shop or learn more about Blakk Smoke, visit blakksmoke.com!