By Admin, BuyLocalBG.com, BuyLocalBg@gmail.com/
Friday, February 7th, 2014 10:00 AM CST
Cloud 9 Hookah is our newest partner and we are excited about it. There are a ton of misconceptions in the US about Hookah and these guys are able to address them and show what a great time you can have enjoying an activity popular all over the world. We also love how knowledgeable about their product. Much like our other partners, they are passionate about what they do. Today, we speak with half of the dynamic duo behind Cloud 9, Josh Smith:
Tell us a little about you as a person. Where are you from, what are your hobbies and what inspired you to create your store?
I am originally from Boone, North Carolina in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. I graduated from WKU in 2009 with a BA in International Relations with a focus on Middle Eastern Studies. I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, snow skiing, and volleyball; traveling; and hookah. I was inspired to create the store because I was passionate about hookah and all the good things it represents, but it wasn’t until I acquired the tools of the trade through working for a hookah business in Virginia that I felt compelled to open one here.
What is your earliest memory of your work, what got you interested in it?
In college in 2007, one of my friends mentioned hookah as a new activity where you smoke dried fruits. I didn’t really use any tobacco products before, so this intrigued me because I thought maybe it was something I could enjoy without getting into tobacco. Of course, this information was all wrong, but I enjoyed my first time nonetheless, and my experience and passion grew from there.
What is your favorite thing you sale?
My favorite product that we sell is the Regal Hookah. Availability is rare on these precious hookahs, but they are all American-made from Boulder, Colorado. They are created using hard anodized aerospace-grade aluminum for durability and either California Redwood or Colorado Beetle-Kill Pine for the aesthetics. Most hookahs use only metal components, but the Regal Hookah merges wood and metal for a very polished unique look. The best part is every stem is completely different because of the characteristics of the wood; and Regal Hookah only uses the highest quality materials, so the stem will last a lifetime. We proudly serve these hookahs in our lounge, and we are only the second lounge in the country to do so. The first would be a lounge in Boulder itself. When we do get our hands on some extras for our retail shelves, they usually sell out within 1-2 weeks.
Who are your influences in life and your work?
My father is the biggest influence in my life for both life and work. He has been a preacher for over 30 years, and in every decision he made, whether it be for the family or for work, he always had the utmost integrity. Everything he does is because of his love for God. So even though our line of work can be viewed as controversial or “alternative” from those who don’t know much about hookah, our business model strives to incorporate a strong sense of integrity and our personal faith naturally pours into our company.
If you had to choose a last meal, what would you eat (Just a fun question and doesn’t have to be local)?
My wife’s Fried Chicken because it is the best I have ever had (I joke with her that one day, we should open up a Chicken & Waffles joint). I would love to name a business to provide that meal but nobody cooks like my wife.
How important is local business collaboration to you?
It is critical for us because hookah is mostly an unknown practice in the States, or those who think they know about it are seriously misinformed. Our work has been laid out for us, with several hookah lounges coming before us and perpetuating the debilitating stereotypes. Just as with any other line of work, there are those who value quality and customer service, and there are those who are in it for the quick buck. Local business collaboration gives us the opportunity to not only team up with some other great people in the community and help promote their brand in our shop, but also the ability to reach new crowds and teach the community what hookah really is about, what it looks like when it’s done right, and why it might appeal to them.
What event in Bowling Green (or Charity) are you involved with?
Since we opened in April 2012, we have been supporting the campus ministry CRU on WKU’s campus, but Keenan & I enjoyed working with the homeless in college. Collaborating with great organizations like Hotel Inc. and the local food bank is something we want to get serious about, especially now that we have a little bit more time to focus outside the lounge rather than just the daily grind.
What do you see for the future of your business in Bowling Green and serving South Central Kentucky?
We want to continue to expand our retail products while providing consistent service in our lounge. The hookah industry in America has blown up the past 10 years, and there will continue to be an evolution in the practice, with new and exciting products coming out. We are dedicated to staying on top of that market so that Bowling Green has access to the best hookah supplies. In addition to that, we are always trying to improve the lounge atmosphere, adding new artwork, working with other businesses and local musicians… we never want to become complacent.
What other locally owned businesses in town do you enjoy shopping, eating or patronizing?
Brickyard Cafe, Home Cafe, WL2, Age of Reason, Roughdraft Homestead CSA, Community Farmer’s Market, Wino’s Depot, and the little Mexican cafe on Clay St. between 11th and 12th makes some mean Carbon Tacos and Horchata.
Great atmosphere, free wifi, delicious selection of beverages, and the best hookahs in KY/TN make Cloud 9 Hookah a must for anybody needing to escape the mundane and relax in a comfortable environment! All while enjoying the highest quality products brought to you from us with experience and love. To keep up with their latest events and products hitting their shelves fan them on facebook and follow them on instagram!