“You can do whatever you dream.”
Those were the words my mother spoke to me often.
Just as the golden rays of the rising sun would greet the fertile ground of Cuba, so the words of her encouragement greeted me each morning and planted themselves in my heart. The Cuban soil produced crops of the sweetest sugar and finest tobacco. My heart produced a dream of the truest Old World values and New World optimism.
My name is Yanko Maceda and this is my story. It is a story of how my Cuban heritage and the American Dream are bringing a renaissance of the cigar industry in Tampa by providing you with the finest cigars hand made by greatest artisans who truly love the craft.
I was born in 1978 to a really poor family in the outskirts of Havana. I’m not lucky enough to say my immediate family had farms or factories; we were pretty poor. It is a wondrous thing that dreams can grow in such a situation, but the human heart is fertile ground regardless the circumstances that surround it.
Cuba is world renowned for her cigars. It is not just the tobacco that is produced there, it is also the craft of the artisan who makes the cigar. I was fortunate to witness these truths in person as a young boy. Growing up I was sent to visit a member of my extended family who had a farm in Pinar de Rio where they still grow tobacco today. It was during the summers spent amongst the fields and people of Pinar that a love for the way of the cigar was cultivated in me.
When I came to America I remembered those fields from my youth and the beautiful way the artisans made the cigars. The vision of Tabanero Cigars was born: to bring the renaissance of Ybor City through a network of artisan boutiques that make cigars in the traditional Cuban way by hand. It was my American dream arising from my Cuban heritage.
We faced many obstacles: an initial start-up that failed and took all our resources; starting again in a space so small I had to work outside so that rollers could work inside; and having success at a nightclub, but the nightclub closing so that we lost that space. Through prayer and persistence we secured our current location on 7th avenue in Ybor. I am truly blessed and look forward to how we will overcome future obstacles on our way to bringing this vision to great heights. I am blessed and thankful.
When I reflect on where we are and remember from where we came – wow. It is hard to believe that a kid from Havana, a kid with no schooling, could have such an opportunity and through hard work fueled by an unwavering belief in his dream come to this place. Well that is my dream; this is my story.