Yvonne and Yvette Rodriguez, identical twin sisters, became the first Afro-Cuban women to break to into the old, white Cuban male with a boutique line called Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars (Three Pretty Cuban Women’s Cigars) consisting of three different cigar blends — La Clarita, La Mulatta, and La Negrita.
Ironically, the powerful truth about the world-famous authentic Cuban cigars made on the island of Cuba is that Afro-Cuban women are the ones doing the bulk of the cigar manufacturing by hand.
Yvette and Yvonne who grew up in South Miami Heights have been straddling African-American and Cuban culture since birth. They’d speak Spanish at home and dance to Spanish boleros as well as immerse themselves in R&B at Miami Southridge Senior High School. To this day, no one ever assumes that they’re Cuban until their rapid-fire “Spanglish” starts spilling from their mouths.
After high school, the two sisters went to Miami Dade College and then the University of Florida to pursue journalism degrees before parting ways as Yvette took a job reporting for Channel 7 and Yvonne began producing and editing programming for Spanish Telemundo television.
The concept of a cigar brand came to Yvonne in a daydream, which she shared with her sister Yvette. Soon after, she began consulting with her cigar-smoking boyfriend about the production side of the industry as well as with a Miami Cuban on vacation in Costa Rica who owned a tobacco farm in Nicaragua.
Soon, the twins were fast rolling on creating their own line of cigars using their Afro-Cuban culture as their distinct brand, which are now sold in shops from Chicago to Baltimore to Atlanta reaching more black consumers.
They’ve now partnered with other Afro-Cuban family businesses such as On Cuba Travel to host cigar and rum tours on the island of Cuba. They dream of one day owning a plot of land for a tobacco farm in their Cuban homeland..