Berta Bravo “The Guayabera Lady” a Cuban Icon in USA

Berta, better known in the business world as ‘The Guayabera Lady,’ is the mother of three fine sons, Sammy, David and Joey; being also the proud grandmother to three beautiful girls, Samantha, Savannah, Sabrina and a one year old grandson, Brandon. She has been in the garment industry literally a lifetime as part of a third generation “Guayabera” family tradition.  Nicolas Gonzalez Puga, her grandfather, opened a clothing store for her father in the early 1940’s when he was in his teens. Her father, Don Pepe, met and fell in love with Berta’s mother, also named Berta, marrying her and working together for almost 50 years; offering the best quality of textiles for the manufacturing of Guayaberas and other fine linen goods.

Leticia del Monte, Antonio Guerrero Co-Founders of TCAP, Gloria Diliz Board of Directors TCAP & Berta " The Guayabera Lady"

On February 1, 1966 they were forced to migrate to the United States as so many other Cuban families in this country.  After years of determination, perseverance and hard work in April 1976, working together as a family they became peddlers; selling Guayaberas door-to-door and on week-ends at flea markets, they began their journey into the business world.  It was not until 1979 that they were able to save enough to open their first store here in Miami, staying in business until February 1, 1998 when Berta’s parents retired and she was about to become a grandmother.

Berta’s father, Don Pepe, sadly and unexpectedly passed away on May 4, 2003.  It was at this moment in time that Berta felt the need to continue her father’s dream of making the Guayabera a piece of wearable art in honor of one of the many Cuban cultural contributions to this country. Therefore, on July 31, 2003 “The Guayabera Lady” was founded with the mission and purpose of taking an old tradition and giving it a new unique twist; a taste of quality, art and flair, a new concept for a new millennium. She, as her father, became a peddler.  Selling to law firms in the Downtown and Coconut Grove area she earned a reputable reputation and acquired the name of her business.  The receptionists of the firms she visited would e-mail the employees:  “Berta, the Guayabera Lady, is on the fifth floor, or wherever she was located in the parking lot.”  When it came time to incorporate the name was established already.  This, coincidentally, was the same way it happened with her parents business when they opened in 1979.

485 Biltmore Way Coral Gables, FL 33134-5717 (305) 443-9797

Following her parents footsteps of hard work, dedication and perseverance three and half years later The Guayabera Lady opened its doors in Coral Gables.  From “parking lots” to “Coral Gables,” Berta has enhanced her exquisite line of Guayaberas with fine art;  joining ventures with local artists and promoting “Gables Gallery Night,” the first Friday of every month.

She can work with you as you plan your wedding as well as working to make your employees look casual and elegant. The business world “Guayabera Fridays” concept was born, bringing this fine piece of clothing to the work place, with company logos embroidered on the pocket or sleeve. Updating and preserving this cultural tradition of elegance, for generations to come.

Some of the “The Guayabera Lady’s” most commonly known customers are: South Florida Water Management, The City of Miami, Bague Group, Miami River Commission, City of Sweetwater, 1-800-Junk-be-gone, World Waste Services, WKAT 1360, Florida Claims Insurance, Pfizer, Leadership Florida, Miccosukee Indians Tribe & Gaming, F.R. Aleman & Associates, HBO Latin America, Baptist Hospital, Jaguar Restaurant, Miami Parking Authority and Univision Network, to name just a few from her vast list of satisfied customers.

It is familiar to see Berta in such prestigious events as the Dade and Broward County Procurement Events, Real Estate Exposition Fairs and Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers Trade Shows.  As if these were not enough, she contributes and donates her time and effort to most charitable organizations.  Working closely with American Cancer Society, Making Strides, Sunrise Community, Bay Pigs Museum & Library, Historical Museum Of South Florida, Alonzo Mourning’s Overtown Youth Center, as well as Miami Dade, Broward & Palm Beach Counties Public and Private schools fund-raising events.

In pursuing her need to give back to the community, she joined forces with Maria A. Martinez, President of ExecuMar Promotions and they created Guayabera Night the third Wednesday of the month at the Hyatt Coral Gables to benefit non-profit children organizations.  They have worked closely with Charge Syndrome, The Ronald McDonald House, Autism Speaks and Regalo de Esperanza, an organization that brings Puerto Rican children to get the medical assistance they need at no cost. This year will mark the second annual “Cover the Uninsured” week at the Coral Gables Hyatt Regency which Maria created to bring awareness to the plight of 47 million people, nine million of which are children that are uninsured in the United States.  Also, she was featured on Oprah’s Big Give during a Cystic Fibrosis fund raiser “Fashion Show” event for Christopher Ricardo.

©2011 Berta talking about the achievements of the Cuban community in Miami with Leticia del Monte (Founder of TCAP & Gloria Diliz Board of Directors TCAP

During the summer she works together with MK Tours hosting “Fiesta Latina” in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  Domino tournaments, fashion shows with the tasting of different Latin foods and drinks come together with beautiful music to set the scene for a celebration of the Latin roots in this neighboring country. In her own words, “We live in an impersonal and computerized society, so I do business the good old fashion way, a hand shake, ‘un cafecito,’ excellent personal customer service. . . . . and that’s what makes the difference.”

In 2005 Berta’s achievements consisted of being awarded the Small Hispanic Business of the Year Award from The South Florida Hispanic Chamber, Certificate of Appreciation from The City of Miami for the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration 2005, 2006 & 2007, a recognition from the City of Sweetwater during the Jose Marti celebration on January 2006, recognition from The American Cancer Society, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Planning Committee 2006 and 2007, Proclamation from the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Cuban Mosaic from Miami-Dade County Celebration of Cuba’s Independence Day 2006 and 2007, Latin Biz’ Women of Virtue 2007, 2008 Women of Leadership Award from the South Florida Hispanic Chamber, to name a few.  More recently she participated as judge in the Silver Knight Awards given by The Miami Herald and in several Dade County Public Schools Career Day, not only to keep the history and tradition alive but to show the importance of “Family Legacy.”

© Contemporary Cuban-Born Visual Artist Antonio Guerrero & Berta "The Guayabera Lady"

From the “Casual Guayabera Fridays,” to her Guayabera purses and custom made Guayaberas for the entire family, including the four legged members, Berta has revolutionized the way the market sees the Guayabera.  She has been able to interest men, women and children of all ages into wearing the now fashionable and trendy “Guayabera.”  As said by her 10 year old granddaughter while promoting her grandmother’s business in a fashion show given by The South Florida Hispanic Chamber: “I am The Guayabera Lady, Jr.” and having her sons working with her, gives us the making of the fourth and fifth generations of this family tradition.

When asked: ‘To what do you claim the success of your business?’ She replied: “I would not be here if it had not been for… first and foremost God, my special angel in heaven, my mom, the support of my family, and the very special people in my life that I am privileged to call friends.”

Text: ©2011 Berta Bravo


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