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Rodriguez opens Florida Store

Cecile Corral, Maria Weiskott -- Home Textiles Today, May 24, 2004

Designer Eddie Rodriguez — the Cuban-American founder and creative director of his namesake company — fittingly waited until last week on the anniversary of Cuban Independence Day to officially debut his signature line of apparel, accessories and home furnishings at his newly opened store here at the Dadeland Mall.

"The whole concept I have here is a lifestyle — literally reflecting the way we live today," he said. "It's a concept rooted deep within me and one in which I incorporate my bicultural experience as a Cuban-American. But I wanted to elevate that sense to be all-inclusive to all people, not just Latinos. Of course, I'd love it if all my Cuban friends come to be here. But my designs are for everyone."

The Miami store's opening — celebrated with a live band led by famed Cuban diva Albita, a man rolling cigars at a table, and rounds of mojitos and Cuban cafecitos— marks the fourth unit to open this year. The company plans to launch six by the end of summer.

Rodriguez, whose company, Eddie Rodriguez, is based in New York City, opened his first store in February in Las Vegas. It was followed by the opening of a site in San Diego in March and one in Boca Raton, Fla., in April.

Next month, he will debut his line with a store in Austin, Texas, and, in August, he will open a store in Los Angeles.

"And we're also exploring opening stores in other areas, like Aventura," he said.

To date, the home textiles products Rodriguez is featuring are several styles of decorative pillows, all inspired by Cuban-esque themes, like vintage tropical bark-cloth prints and pin-tucking made to look like a guayabera (a Cuban men's linen dress shirt), by Dallas-based manufacturer Havana 1515.

Rodriguez said he expects to soon add bedding collections, including sheeting and top-of-bed products, to his assortment through his partnership with Havana 1515. He said he is still exploring the possibilities of expanding into other home textiles categories through new partnerships.

"We'll see then how the customer reacts (to the bedding collections) and figure out where to grow from there," Rodriguez said.

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