Yvette and Yvonne Rodriguez: Afro-Cubanas, Twin Sisters and Cigar-Slinging Entrepreneurs

Cubans Cigars Sister BELatina
Photo Credit @treslindascubanascigars

Have you puffed on the coolest cigars in town yet? You know, Cuban cigars that are not only rolled by women of color, but proudly smoked by them as well? Which one will you have? The Clarita? The Mulata? Or the Negrita? These are three tobacco blends offered by Tres Lindas Cubanas cigars. Light, Mixed or Black — just like the skin tone of the island’s women. 

This genius business idea that goes by the title of the classic Cuban bolero they grew up hearing was created in 2014 by the twin sister team of Yvette and Yvonne Rodriguez. Yvonne is in charge of Digital Media and Sales and Yvette of Operations, Media and Public Relations. According to Miami New Times, these Miami-born smarties of Afro Cuban descent both went to Miami Dade College and then to the University of Florida to pursue journalism degrees, but when they saw a niche in the white male dominated cigar industry they went for it. Since they were aware that few people knew that the most famous cigars in the world are rolled by black women, they wanted to teach everyone a bit of their history. 

 

“By paying respect to our roots we have created the perfect cigar blends that allow us to pay homage to our ancestors while creating a new Tradition,” say the sisters on their website.  “Our cigars celebrate the diverse beauty of the Cuban woman. Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars is the only Afro-Cuban, female owned cigar brand in the U.S.”  Aside from their cigar business, the twins have also partnered with On Cuba Travel, another Afro-Cuban family businesses, hosting cigar and rum tours on the island

Although the seeds for the tobacco come from Cuba, they grow everything in Nicaragua, where the cigars are rolled and shipped to Miami. The second best option since they can’t import anything from Cuba because of the embargo. And while their brand has already turned a profit selling at shops across the U.S. and on their website, they continue having to prove themselves constantly along the way. When shop owners see the jovial pair with their ultra-cool afros, casual wear and big smiles, nobody believes that they actually know about the ins and outs of the industry much less imagined that they grew up smoking Cuban cigars, taught by a feminist, black power and cigar smoking Cuban grandmother. 

“We’re gonna be the face of it,” Yvette told Business Insider. “Every brand has their look. And this is our look.”

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Monica Haim
As a professional writer, Monica Haim has collaborated on books for personalities such as Paige VanZant, Ricky Martin, Ilyasah Shabazz, Jorge & Laura Posada, Thalia, Nina Garcia and David Archuleta, with whom she wrote a New York Times best seller. Monica has been published by Hachette, Harpercollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Chronicle Books. In 2001 Monica was also published in an anthology, 9/11 8:48am: Documenting America's Worst Tragedy (Blue Ear Press, 2001), and her essay was adapted for the London theatrical premiere, Voices from September 11th, which ran at the Old Vic on September 11th, 2002. Monica was the Editorial Director at Botanika Life, a cannabis lifestyle wellness platform, and was previously the Editorial Director at saludmovil™, a bilingual health and wellness platform. Prior to that she was editor-in-chief at Becomingselfmade.com, Nely Galán's digital platform that advocates entrepreneurship for multicultural women. She was previously content director for Mamiverse.com, a web portal directed at Latina women.