Martica Perez reflects on the many accomplishments of the man and legend behind Frank Joyeria
You've probably heard of Frank Joyeria, a beloved jewelry store on Calle Ocho known for treating customers like they're family. Today the store is ran by Frank Perez Jr., son of the store's original founder, Frank Perez Castro who served in the Brigade 2506 during the Bay of Pigs Invasion. This year marks 60 years of business for them and this month marks 62 years since the Bay of Pigs Invasion that took place from Apr 17, 1961 – Apr 20, 1961.
We had the opportunity to talk to Martica Perez, the wife and woman who always stood beside Frank Perez Castro as he founded and grew one of Miami’s greatest jewelry stores. She told us about how her husband went from being a young man with a dream to free Cuba to a successful entrepreneur and business owner who left behind a sparkling legacy.
Read on to learn all about the man behind Frank Joyeria, as told by his wife Martica.
Frank Perez’s dream of a liberated Cuba
Frank Perez was an ambitious young man. He had a strong sense of patriotism and was skilled as an aviation technician, which led him to enlist in the Cuban Air Forces at a very young age. However, in 1959, the place that Perez had always called home underwent radical changes—forcing him and many others to leave. This was the beginning of the Cuban Revolution.
His arrival in the US was quickly followed by the word that troops were assembling in Miami to liberate Cuba. He had been in the military before, so he took the trip from Chicago to Miami to join the Brigade 2506. He ended up participating in the invasion at the Bay of Pigs. A futile fight that ended with Perez being arrested and spending the next year of his life in jail.
Over 1,100 people were taken prisoner in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. After failing to meet the ransom demanded by Fidel Castro, the prisoners were released in exchange for $53 million worth of food and medicine.
Life after the Bay of Pigs Invasion
After he was finally freed, he chose Miami as his new permanent residence. He began his business selling jewelry out of a suitcase at the Miami International Airport before establishing his first brick-and-mortar shop. Because he provided jewelry that mirrored the beauty of his homeland, Frank Joyeria's unique flair for quality and Cuban flavor quickly made him a household name.
Frank Perez met his wife, Martica, at the Miami International Airport, and on Martica's birthday, April 11, 1963—during a time when many refugees were making their way to Miami—the couple tied the knot and opened the first of 32 storefront locations that Frank Joyeria has exhisted in.
Frank Perez's sons Phillip and Frank Jr., together with their mother Martica Perez, continue the family business to date, 20 years after his death. Through Frank Joyeria, Frank Perez's dreams live on, it is and always has been a place where new and old generations continue to honor his legacy of excellence.
What are some of the obstacles they overcame
According to Martica, Miami's volatile economy has been the biggest and most consistent challenge besides the inherent dangers involved of owning a jewelry store. She explained to us that they have endured tough times but have managed to succeed despite numerous challenges.
The loss of her spouse in 2003 was the most tragic event in her life because he was her whole world. After facing that adversity, she became a more grateful person with a deeper understanding of who she is and what she really needs to survive. She learned that she doesn't need anything else but God to survive the toughest challenges in life. A lesson that proved useful later on when the Perez family would lose family members due to robberies as well as tragedies.
What sets Frank Joyeria apart?
Frank Joyeria's reputation for sincerity and honesty with their clientele is what sets them apart from other jewelry stores in Miami. Even now, they have second- and third-generation customers who buy from them exclusively because to Frank Joyeria family is the community itself. Frank Joyeria has been there for the local people of Miami for generations of birthdays, anniversaries, and engagements which is what makes it a community staple.
Martica remembers that her late husband always dreamed of a Cuba that was free. He always wished to return home and didn't want to leave this world in exile. Martica prays for this nation, and she is very grateful for everything they have been able to accomplish in the U.S. Martica is extremely proud of her two children, who, along with her, operate two locations of Frank Joyeria. To learn more about Frank Joyeria, visit their official website.
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