Mirta de Perales, an example to follow

A beautiful sunset

Edited for the story

There are people who have the art and the way to always move forward. No matter what trials fate sets before them, according to some, God, according to others. They will always come out. Like cats, they always fall on their paws. For these people, adversity is nothing more than a new milestone to overcome. This leads me to think of a person, a woman. A beautiful woman. Cuban. I want to tell you about a woman who built a general store out of nothing. Not once, but twice. I want to talk about Mirta Raya Casanova, better known as Mirta de Perales.

Mirta de Perales was born in Rancho Veloz, a small town in Las Villas, in central Cuba, on September 2, 1922. She was born into a poor family, very poor. When she was about 12 years old, her mother found it necessary to abandon her children to go to work in the capital, Havana, as a maid. Meanwhile Mirta was with her aunt. She also had the responsibility of taking care of her siblings. It was already at the age of 12 that Mirta showed all those who wanted to realize that she would be a business woman, an enterprising woman. She went knocking on doors telling the neighbors that, for a very modest price, she would cut their hair. At first the neighbors did it more out of sympathy, perhaps pity, than anything else. The thing is, she liked the way she cut her hair…and word got around about her. This is how she made her way and, at the age of 15, she went to Havana to accompany her mother and to fly to wider spaces.

He asked which was the newspaper “of the rich”. Someone replied that El Diario de la Marina. There he was quick to place an ad in which he offered haircuts and manicures for women at home. At that age, without knowing the capital, Mirta, who was not yet from Perales, took the leap. Shortly thereafter, she met Mr. Benito Perales, pharmacist, whom he married. It was he who helped her put noble letters in the articles that she prepared for herself and her customers based on natural products. Thus it was that the Mirta de Perales hair care products. It was a short step from there to the opening of his first hairdressing salon. She set it up in the elegant neighborhood of the Vedadostill in Havana, in via L e 27, a stone’s throw from the University of Havana.

As his fame grew, he opened a new location for his already well-known hair salon. This second option was in a “grand standing” building on Avenida de Paseo y Línea, also in the exclusive neighborhood of El Vedado, the Naroca building. At that time it was the largest “beauty salon” in Latin America, as it was then called. Between her employees in the “beauty salon” and her factory, Mirta de Perales already had 151 employees. But the “beauty salon” wasn’t just that. It had a children’s play area and a stylish café where its lucky customers could sit down for a snack and chat, as is normally done in hairdressing salons.

Everything was going wonderfully well. The family had already grown up with two children, Mirta and Jorge, but unfortunately the marriage formed by Benito and Mirta had to dissolve. Meanwhile, Cuba was undergoing radical changes. From the Sierra Maestra he came Fidel Castro with his group of revolutionaries who had just defeated the disliked dictator Fulgentius the Baptist. The fact is that, as they say, he “jumped out of the pan into the fire.” The companies were gradually confiscated… to the disgrace and anxiety of their owners.

One of the qualities of capitalism is the ease of enterprise it gives to those who have the courage to face situations of this nature, as in the case of Mirta de Perales. That girl from Rancho Veloz in Las Villas, who didn’t wear shoes as a child due to her family’s lack of resources, suddenly found herself the owner of the largest and most elegant hair salon in Latin America. But it wasn’t free, it worked. Many people in Cuba suffered, even died, from the confiscation of their businesses, which, in most cases, were created with blood, sweat and tears. Mirta lived in constant anxiety that her turn as a hairdresser would arrive. And the time came.

He slept on the floor in his business because he knew it was during the night that these attacks occurred. Dragged, literally dragged across the floor, this woman was dragged by inspectors as she defended tooth and nail what had cost her so much work to build. She was sent to Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro for nine days as an “enemy of the people”. Mirta de Perales knew that Cuba was no longer the country where she should have been and decided to emigrate to Miami, where almost all Cubans go who do not agree with the regime that reigns in their country, in search of clearer horizons.

He came with two kids and five dollars in his wallet. After 15 days, I would go back to having my hair cut and manicured at home, the one that had such an elegant hairdresser. Gradually he built a new clientele until he reopened a hairdressing salon in the elegant city of Coral gables, within the agglomeration that we all know as Miami. He also created the company Mirta de Perales Inc., dedicated to the production of personal care products. She received the award for best Latina businesswoman in the United States and, at the time ronaldo reagan was president, presented him with the Achievement of the American Dream Award. For Mirta de Perales it was a great achievement.

His daughter helped him run his business while his son Jorge dedicated himself to the priesthood, because it must be said that this is a very Catholic family. And, as a good Catholic, Mirta de Perales has helped people in need a lot. Many Cubans who had recently arrived in Miami were helped by her to buy their first car, which was essential for getting around that city with almost no public transport. You have helped many employees make the initial contribution towards the purchase of the roof. As she had before her in Cuba, she had her own television slot on one of the television stations in Miami. This program was calledFive minutes with Mirta de Perales”. Those five minutes were used to give advice on body care and beauty. It was called “Five minutes with Mirta de Perales” in reference to the five dollars with which he had arrived in the United States and which had been the beginning of his second successful life.

In 2011 the Lord called her to his bosom. She passed away in her Miami Beach home, surrounded by the people she loved. A few days later, his relatives decided to break the news, deeming they would prefer to pay an intimate and familiar and non-crowded tribute to his followers, men and women to whom he has contributed so much in their work, in managing their personal care and in help them with big purchases. The Mirta de Perales brand continues to be an emporium in the hands of her daughter.

Mirta de Perales products can be purchased in the United States and Puerto Rico, but also on the internet. This is a life example to follow. This is an example of many good people that Cuba has lost at the whim of a few.

Be sure to visit my art and history channel on YouTube for more interesting stories. He finds me like “Franck Fernández Historia”

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