Gloria Estefan must have been born with the Latina entrepreneur gene. As a two-year-old toddler, the platinum recording star recalls, someone took a picture of her with her father in front of a Miami Beach hotel and moments later she told him that one day she would buy that hotel for him.
Although Estefan never had the opportunity to buy it for her father, she and her husband ultimately purchased the Cardozo, an art deco hotel on Ocean Drive in South Beach. Today, the Cuban superstar oversees a $500 million enterprise with her husband and business partner, Emilio Estefan.
“The fact that we were able to do that, and we were able to participate in the business life of Miami for the past, oh, 30 some years, is to me an amazing privilege and gift and honor,” says Estefan, while accepting the Ultimate Latina Award Monday at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 32nd Annual National Convention & Business Expo, billed as “the largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders in America.”
Estefan expresses awe and honor to be recognized as an inspiration to other Latina businesswomen: “The fact if in any way my fans, the people who have watched us grow and seen our career, can look to us and say, hey, ‘I don’t have to change my name. I can be who I am, and I can still succeed in this amazing country,’ which is one of the few places in the world that allows that to happen, is a wonderful thing to me. “
Galina Espinoza, Editorial Director of Latina magazine, was on hand to pay tribute to Estefan. She told the hundreds gathered in the Fontainebleau Hotel ballroom in Miami Beach that Estefan also served as inspiration for the magazine. The prototype of the magazine from 1996 features Estefan in a white tank top on the cover. Not so coincidentally, Estefan also graces the cover of Latina’s 15th Anniversary issue (October 2011) which features 15 amazing Latinas in powerful red dresses.
“Today we have come full circle,” Espinoza says, adding that Estefan was the highlight of the magazine’s photo shoot. “The one celebrity that every other woman on the cover most wanted to meet and was most excited to learn that she’d be featured with was Gloria.”