Meet JennyLee Molina, the Latina Mastermind Behind the Community-Building Event 305 Day

JennyLee Molina 305 BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of JennyLee Molina (photographed, JennyLee Molina)

Whenever people ask me where I live, I never tell them Florida. I tell them I live in Miami. Subconsciously, it is something I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. Believe it or not, there is a difference. It’s worth noting that I know Miami is geographically located in Florida (bro, of course), but besides that, it’s in its own bubble. 

From the food to the accent that dominates a city known by the locals as “the 305,” it really is a magical place (sorry, Orlando). But what makes this city so great is how present the Latine culture and the immigrant population are.

The 305 experience

JennyLee Molina, the multi-hyphenated Cuban-American publicist, the mastermind behind 305 Day, and founder of the social community 3:05 Cafecito, knows this too well — the accent, the predominantly Spanglish culture, all of it. 

In fact, Molina recalls a time when she traveled outside of Miami for her first big project out of college, and her English was mocked. One of her peers told her that they knew she was talking in English, but it sounded like she was speaking Spanish.

“Then, everybody started laughing, and I almost felt embarrassed, like, ‘oh, I didn’t realize I had this weird accent’ — I always thought that I spoke English well because I read and wrote it,” she tells BELatina during our call.   

Born and raised in sunny South Florida, specifically in Hialeah — a.k.a. “la ciudad que progresa” — Molina has first-hand experience navigating the unique moments exclusive to this unicorn of a place. These have also led her to her success. 

Something that rings true to many Miamians and South Floridians is the number of people uprooted from their home country. 

So, just like many families down here, her building blocks were instilled in sacrifice, gratitude, and an undying entrepreneurial spirit, thanks to her immigrant-ridden home. 

However, as we all well know, the immigrant spirit can sometimes be dampened by the stark reality that it can be a tough road (though it differs from person to person.) Molina’s family journey, for instance, is deeply embedded in an exilic experience that was forced by the Castro regime. 

“I know they made a lot of sacrifices for us when they came to this country, especially the way they came. They fled communist Cuba and were literally shot at. My mom was ten years old when their boat was shot at.”

“My mom heard the shots as they were leaving. My grandfather screamed, “‘Don’t shoot, there are women and children on the boat!'”

Her mother later became the first one in her family to go to college and have a career — these events lived by her mother cultivated the family values within JennyLee Molina.

“I owe it to them.”

“For me, it’s not just about, ‘oh, I want to be successful for the sake of being successful,’ —  I feel like I have a sense of obligation to my family for the sacrifices they made. So, I think that that’s always the underlying motivation: not only do I want to make myself proud, my family proud, but also my grandparents, my family.”

Years later, she’s doing just that.

Opening spaces and building community 

After taking a page from her grandfather’s (her mother’s father) entrepreneurial playbook — he used to race horses in Cuba as well as took on any job to support his family — and with guidance from her family’s perseverance, she was able to create one of the most notable events in South Florida’s modern history, 305 Day. 

March 5th in Miami and neighboring cities is not a regular day. It’s a day where we all collectively come together to celebrate our distinctive culture that makes it unlike any other place in the United States — and dare I say — the world. And it’s never called March 5th; it’s 305 (three-oh-five), okay?

What’s up with the obsession with 305, you may ask? 

Well, 305 happens to be the original area code given to the county of Miami-Dade. Just like other area codes in the nation, this one was the first to identify where we came from. Sure, we hated having to dial a longer phone number (am I aging myself here?), but we embraced it in no time. 

All of a sudden, we somehow agreed that it was “305 (three-oh-five)  til I die” — this meant we were here to stay. And many of us have indeed stayed. 

Being the ever-aware publicist that Molina is, she understood from the get-go what all this meant for the community in South Florida. 

In 2013, she started a social media campaign on Instagram with the handle 3:05 Cafecito, a social community that celebrates Miami’s official cafecito time, which, naturally it’s 3:05. 

It made perfect sense considering that the 305 and cafecito go like peanut butter and jelly — add in un pastelito de guayaba y queso, and it’s a feast. 

Knowing that everything starts with a grain of sand or granito de arena, as her mom has always reminded her, 3:05 Cafecito was her granito de arena. In other words, creating Miami’s official coffee break time laid the foundation for 305 Day. 

“When I started to see other people sharing their coffee moments at 3:05 with the hashtag 3:05 Cafecito, I started to realize it was more than a hashtag, and I really wanted to turn it into a platform that celebrated the Spanglish coffee culture that is Miami.” 

A year later, the social media campaign was thriving. So, she used the momentum to keep all things 305 growing.

JennyLee Molina 305 (2) BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of JennyLee Molina

An enterprise with a taste of cafecito y pastelitos 

“I thought, ‘well, how fun would it be to make 305 March 5th?’ Like 305 Cafecito’s annual celebration with free coffee and free pastelitos.”

The beginning of 305 Day can be dated to one of Miami’s most beloved ventanitas housed in “Versailles Restaurant.” Originally, the Latina entrepreneur expected about 20 to 50 people to show up, especially since the launch took place on a Wednesday. 

Despite only planning the event a few days prior, over 300 people showed up for cafecito and pastelitos. The power of 305 has grown since then. 

“Fast forward to today, and everyone talks about 305 Day. It has become like this viral thing.”

Around that time, Molina, who always keeps her community top of mind, started working on Leah Arts District — a space created as a direct response to Wynwood, another location where art is prevalent. 

She brought in murals and started working with the councilman to zone that particular area for artists that would eventually become the 305 Day’s first block party.

Shortly after, more people became aware of what she was doing for the community. One of those people was Mr. 305 himself, Pitbull. And in 2020, Pitbull partnered with 305 Day. 

What began as a simple social media campaign became an integral part of an entire community. 

This is the perfect example of how social media can, in fact, do social good. 

Through the 305 Day event, Molina has also been able to promote local small businesses.

“The 305 Day event now features small business vendors who we showcase. I love working with small businesses and really helping these dreamers get to the next level because so many businesses that I work with are so amazing.”

This year’s 305 Day featured a variety of businesses, artists, and excitement. 

 

We are eager to see what next year’s March 5th will look like. But if anything mentioned is an indication of how it’ll be, we can only assume it’s going to be grander and greater. 

“Not everyone will get what you’re doing, but just keep going,” was one of the last remarks she stated before our call ended.