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Celebrating Cuban-American Culture in Miami: Martha Valdes

Martha Valdes, Founder of Martha of Miami

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?

  • Honestly Miami is my home. It’s the only place I really know. It’s where my family came when they left Cuba and this is where they rebuilt. Miami to me means another opportunity, another chance.

+ How did you get started with your business?

  • I was working at my fam business, Valsan and I started Martha of Miami on the side because I always enjoyed being creative and designing things. I came across the piña colada and that was by mistake. I was working on different things at the same time and I pasted the artwork from one thing to another and I was like “oh my god, wait!”. I realized no one had done this before. I thought, OK this is funny, this is original this is so Miami that it’s like perfect. 

+ Has it always been your dream to own your own business?

  • I just stumbled upon this I had worked with my family since when you could legally work. I grew up in Valsan – to me naturally it was that you’re going to continue with the family biz. And then I was thinking of Martha of Miami at Valsan than I was thinking about Valsan. It’s not going to get to where it needs to get to or where it can get to if i don’t give it 100%.

+ What are some of your recent successes?

  • I was super scared to open a store. I was like – am I crazy? I wasn’t planning on opening a store – and saw this place empty from one day to the next. I made an offer, and here we are. As soon as I gave her the check and gave me the key, I got teary eyed. It wasn’t until she handed me the key and she stepped out of the store – I was like this is mine, this is happening. I have a store. And even then I was wondering – “am I ready for this?”  I actually did a podcast three weeks prior to seeing this location and they asked if I was going to open a store. I told them – no way I’m not ready. I don’t know what happened, but I think I was waiting for this spot. I like that it’s on Bird Road, in my neighborhood, in Westchester. I’ve just always been here, this is my hood. If I didn’t pursue Martha of Miami full time, we wouldn’t be sitting here in La Tiendecita, being interviewed by Yelp.

+ Who are some of your favorite businesses in CITY? 

+ Any advice for others out there who’d like to start their own business?

  • Be patient. And don’t give up. My first month of being online I thought I was going to sell a bunch of shirts. No, that’s not how it’s going to work. You have to be patient, you have to put in the work. Don’t give up and don’t expect this to be handed to you. You put in the hard work and you’re going to get to where you want to get to. 

Learn more:

You can find Martha of Miami on Yelp and follow her at @marthaofmiami_shop and @marthaofmiami.