SAP 021 – Mike Edwards; athletics, entrepreneurship and launching Britain’s first black-owned cigar line

Mike Edwards is the founder of AIREYYS limited, a male grooming company that recently launched Britain’s first black-owned cigar line.

Mike is also an international athlete.

He is ranked as the 6th best high jumper in Europe and has competed in numerous championships for team GB.

Personal life

“I was born in Manchester, UK. My mother is Nigerian and my father is Jamaican. I always had a lot of culture growing up.”

“I was raised in the United States and I’ve been back and forth across the pond a few times.”

“I am getting more connected to my Nigerian heritage and it feels great.”

Area of expertise

“Everything I do I always put my whole heart into it.”

“My calling is to be an entrepreneur. As a kid, I was always trying to rub two nickels together to make a dime to support myself and take pressure off my mum.”

“I started young, earning pocket change from cutting lawns, washing cars, trying to do little odd jobs around.”

“I was always hustling.”

A tip you use to get ahead

“Keep what you’re doing to yourself. It’s great to work in the dark.”

“Back yourself, and be proud of whatever it is that you’re honing into.”

“Don’t listen to too many outside distractions”

Lowest entrepreneurial moment

“My mother always taught me that whenever you hit a low, there’s only one way to go.”

“When I launched the company, I was actually being threatened by the business I was modelling for prior to starting my company.”

“The way they approached the situation was very daunting. I had to stand my ground. And, during this time I was also focusing on my athletics.”

“I got to a point where it became unbearable. It tested my character.”

Steps you took to overcome this low point

“It was almost like I had to play poker. I knew they were big-time but they didn’t know the numbers I was hitting.”

“As a sportsman, you don’t ever bite. So I held my own and when they bit, I knew I had them.

Proudest athletic moment

“2015 when I won a medal at the British championship. For me, it was a long time coming because prior to that I had finished in last place twice.”

“It was a big year for me because I was developing the company behind the scenes, working at least three jobs but at the same time showing up to training and beating out my competitors.”

“I improved by 7 cm. It was a great season and my proudest moment – getting that silver medal.”

Proudest entrepreneurial moment

“Launching the cigar line. My heart was racing more, prior to that launch, than it ever did before.”

What’s got you buzzing right now

“I am getting prepared to launch a special cigar line for black history month. It’s going to be an African line.”

“The leaves will be from Cameroon, the filler, binder and everything. And, obviously manufactured by myself; Nigerian.”

“Not many people have tried a west African cigar before. It’s probably one of the most prestigious cigars you’d ever smoke, outside of a Cuban.”

“They’re very rich, very delicate and very rare to get your hands on.”

Lion’s Den

What’s the best African saying you’ve ever heard?

“My African name is Olayemi that would probably be my best African saying.”

It means:

I am worthy of wealth.

What was holding you back from building your brand?

“I just didn’t know my full potential. I was just going with the flow in some sense.”

Which is your social media platform of choice?

“Instagram. You’re able to see the inside of my daily routine without having to say too much.”

Share a daily routine that contributes to your success

“I find what I do for work is quite therapeutic – rolling cigars, nice head space, put on a podcast and zone out.”

“It’s a great way for me to slow down.”

“I also do some yoga.”

Recommend a book for the Tribe to check out

“I actually don’t read much. I listen to a lot of podcasts.”

“And, I read magazines like Foundr

If you had 24 hours to live what would you do?

“I will try to connect with as many of my loved ones as possible.”

“And, just make sure that they are all on the same page as to how I feel for them.”

Words of wisdom

“As I said before, work in silence and let the results show.”

“There’s a reason you’re gifted something. You just have to tap into your ‘why’ and you’ll be fine.”

Connect with Mike

I have five pages on Instagram: