Originally published in Issue 45 of The Rake, Jemma Freeman, the Managing Director of Hunters & Frankau, tells our Editor Tom Chamberlin what she learned about the cigar business from her father, why it took her time to adapt to it, and how important it is to smoke in an elegant manner.

Cigars are so much more than a smoke. A smell in the street of a lit cigar can be a portal to childhood memories of a father or grandfather. Jemma Freeman is in a unique position: not only does she recognise such an experience for herself, but she (and her father before her) is responsible for every such experience in Britain. For every single cigar that is imported from Castro’s family island to Queen Elizabeth’s comes through her family business, Hunters & Frankau.The Rake paid a visit to the company’s London office to find out how a daughter followed in her father’s footsteps.

TC: What was the dynamic between your father and you, his only daughter?

JF: I think the way he was, girls went into one category and boys into another. It wasn’t as if we were all expected to be very good at the same things. Boys should be good at some things and girls good at others; he was quite old fashioned in some of his views on priorities for his children. People don’t expect you to be a replica of your father if you are his daughter. He and I had a good banter going, and I was not frightened of him in any way. I really enjoyed challenging what I considered a lot of his ridiculous views on what girls and boys should do.

TC: Was there a way about him that gave you permission to be rebellious, or do you think you just nurtured that sense within yourself anyway?

JF: I think he has that in him and I have that in me. He spent nine months trying to get me to go to a Swiss finishing school, and I think he was deadly serious about it, but I also think he enjoyed the absurdity of trying to get me to go to a Swiss finishing school. We had a hell of a nine months because I thought it was the most ridiculous thing. I think he pretended he couldn’t understand why I just laughed him out of the room, and then in the end he just sent me to his old school — and I think he loved the fact I went there.

TC: It must have been great that you went to his almamater.

JF: I don’t think he thought for one minute I’d get in. I was at a very good girls’ school but wanted to leave for sixth form, like most of my friends. I think he loved that I was the third generation to go there.


January 2021


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