When Omar de Frias launched Fratello Cigars, it originally started out as a side gig to his “day job” at NASA. As Fratello has grown, de Frias has balanced the two gigs. However, that balancing act is about to change as today de Frias announced that after ten years, he is departing NASA to focus on Fratello Cigars full-time.

“I set an aggressive goal for myself at IPCPR. I exceeded that goal. Given the enormous support I received and increasing demand for Fratello, this was the time to give the cigar industry the extra 50 Hours a week I was spending on our nations space program,” said de Frias in a press release.

While this may seem like an odd decision given the restrictions the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will put on small brands, de Frias seems confident. “Although it is a tumultuous time for our industry, I have confidence in the staying power of my brand and the relationships I have worked so hard to build with our retailers and consumers.”

De Frias started working the concept for Fratello Cigars in 2011. He formally launched the brand at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show. The company has said it is now in 350 retailers.

“While I will miss NASA and I am extremely grateful for the experience and knowledge I acquired during my time there, I am eager to have the ability to focus all of my time and energies on Fratello.” stated de Frias.

About Fratello – Launched in 2013 Fratello, the Italian word for “brother”, is a line created by Omar de Frias out of the Dominican Republic. The inspiration for the company came 20 years ago when Omar watched a torcedor (cigar roller) working on his art in the Dominican; when the torcedor finished the cigar he was rolling, he handed it to Omar and said “Kid, welcome to the true gentleman’s club”.