This interview is part of a series celebrating Cuban-American business owners in Miami. For the full list, click here.
+ What does Miami mean to you and why is it so important?
Miami for me is honestly a permanent vacation. The weather is amazing. The people – we have a mix of diversity and cultures that no other city has. When I think of Miami I think of a city of opportunity because of my personal experience with my family. My parents came in the 60s, my grandfather was a dishwasher and bus boy my grandmother was a seamstress – they built a life here in Miami from the bottom up as a family that had 5 restaurants in Cuba.
So I think of Miami and I think of a city of opportunity because it has offered my family everything we have built today.
+ How did you get started with your business?
I actually studied fashion and I had no interest in getting involved in my family business – which is the restaurant business. I saw how laborious it was the long hours, so I was like no I am not getting involved with that. I ended up working for a stylist and I hated it.
That’s how I quit my job and I went to go work for my mom and I ended up loving it. I started from the bottom – my mom made me learn how to make bocaditos, pastelitos, cakes. Eventually I had my chef mentor Omar Caycho teach me how to cook the line. I started coming every night and he was teaching me. Essentially I was his boss but he was the one cracking the whip and telling me what to do.
I got the idea to open Cuban Cube which was my first little baby. We did food truck rallies we did catering, it was going really well but the food truck life is sometimes a little harder than having a brick and mortar. With the food truck you had to go the people and for me it was too much anxiety.
Inspired by trips to Korea, I came up with the idea of Finka in 2014. I stuck to the idea of Latin and Asian because that’s what we were lacking in West Kendall. I thought what can I bring to my community that I don’t need to drive 20 miles to get. And that’s how Finka was born. And we opened Amelia’s in 2017 which is like finka on a smaller scale. Both are a dedication to my grandparents.
+ Has it always been your dream to own your own business?
I think after working for someone that wasn’t my parents, I realized that I like to be my own boss. I think after that, I knew I wanted to open up my own business but wasn’t sure what until I started working in the kitchen. That’s when I realized – ok, I want to open up my own business and do something funky.
+ What are some of your recent successes?
Opening up Amelia’s in the same one mile radius, and being able to bring something new to the table for my community. I do this more for the West Kendall Area. The whole point is that I’m trying to cater to the people who don’t have all the cool things that the people in downtown or the beach may have. Opening my second brick and mortar and still providing a diff experience for the community is a success.
+ Who are some of your favorite businesses in CITY?
+ Any advice for others out there who’d like to start their own business?
I would say know what you’re getting yourself into first. It’s a lot of hours, it’s a lot of anxiety, it’s a lot of money. If you’re not passionate about what you want to do, don’t do it. If you are passionate – go in full throttle have faith in yourself. Believe in yourself. When I opened Finka I was really nervous. I didn’t think it would be as successful as it is and I proved myself wrong.