Idania Del Rio and Leire Fernandez have built their brand Clandestina on up-cycling not to be trendy but because in Cuba, that's just what you do.
Photo: Karen Vierbuchen

A few weeks ago I got an email from Clandestina, Cuba’s first independent fashion brand, offering up a new royal blue version of their classic t-shirt, “se acabó el drama” which essentially means, “no more drama.” In typical Clandestina fashion ;), their timing was perfect. And, I assume intended to mark the tail end of an era that’s left the United States divided and exhausted from… the drama.

I bought one of these T-shirts because it’s more important than ever that we do our part to support Cuba’s entrepreneurs. Plus, I’m colorblind and royal blue is a color I can see.

Cuba’s cuentapropistas (entrepreneurs, or specifically, “self-employed”) have borne the brunt of the downturn in Cuba’s economy as a result of U.S. policy towards travel to Cuba and the Coronavirus pandemic. They depend on a tourism economy to pump money into the private sector and that economy has been reduced to just about nothing.

Related Post: The Cuban Entrepreneurs: Startup Cuba Docuseries #1

“This is super hipster for New Yorkers, but here it is out of necessity.”

Leire Fernandez, Clandestina Co-Founder
se acabo el drama
You can buy this T-shirt on Clandestina’s website here.

Clandestina’s brand is built on up-cycling, the idea of reusing old materials to create new products. It’s this ability to resolver (to just “figure things out”) that not only defines Clandestina but also represents the mentality of the Cuban people in general. Clandestina introduces this attribute to the world with their products as they brand modern-day Cuba. “This is super hipster for New Yorkers, but here it is out of necessity,” co-founder Leire Fernandez told me in Episode 6 of our Startup Cuba docuseries.

Give the episode a look at the top of the page. Then, if you’re so inclined, buy the T-shirt to support Cuba’s cuentapropistas. It is royal blue after all.

The replay of the episode above was first shared on Facebook over 24 months ago. It was one of the most exciting episodes to make. Idania Del Rio and Leire Fernandez, pioneers of the current Cuban fashion scene, are among some of the most creative and fun people we know. Give the episode a look at the top of the page. Then, if you’re so inclined, buy the T-shirt to support Cuba’s cuentapropistas. It is royal blue after all.

Related Post: Cuba’s Fashion Scene and Why We Should Know About It

Photo: Karen Vierbuchen
clandestina cuba
Photo: Karen Vierbuchen

? Updated 7:39 AM ET, Fri January 15, 2021

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Ken Deckinger is the co-founder and CEO of Startup Cuba and the executive producer and host of its namesake docuseries. A native of South Florida, Ken has been an entrepreneur for his entire professional career. Previously he was co-founder and CEO of HurryDate, pioneering the global concept of speed dating to 45 cities throughout the US, UK and Canada. HurryDate eventually evolved into online dating and was acquired by Spark Networks, the parent company of and Ken is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Florida, where he was honored with the University’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Under 40 award and sits on the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He actively advises entrepreneurs and is a two-time protagonist of a Harvard Business School case study. Ken’s filmmaking and journalistic journey is inspired by a love of travel and authentic connections with other cultures. He believes that the more we know about each other, through stories, the closer we can become — thus the mission of Startup Cuba: to amplify the voices of the people sharing stories in the Latinx space. After living in New York City for 15 years, he encouraged his wife to move their family to Miami to get back to his South Florida roots. Needless to say, it was a short discussion and he and his family now call Boston, where his wife grew up, their home.

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