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Meet Denise Miqueli of Pin Pan Pun + Co in Little Haiti

Today we’d like to introduce you to Denise Miqueli.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Denise. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
A Miami native, I grew up in a small but mighty Cuban family, raised by my mother and grandparents. My mom worked a full-time job while my Abuela took care of me. I watched massive amounts of TV and became acutely aware of the cultural differences between my life and sitcom America. Carol Seaver never had to fear the chancleta. DJ Tanner didn’t have her Abuela chaperone every school field trip.

After undergrad I moved to New York and studied Communication Design. I’ll never forget my mom’s first visit when she showed up with a suitcase full of cleaning products [read: Fabuloso and Clorox]. I lived there for almost ten years. My last year there was a tough one. I became so homesick I travelled to and from Miami every other month. During one of those trips, I met my husband, Alex, a Cuban-Gallego from New Jersey. He loved food, yoga and 80’s pop-culture geekery just as much as I did. Alex was the inspiration for Pin Pan Pun + Co.

During a car ride, I blurted out, “Ese huevo quiere sal.” He looked at me, confused. This was not the first time one of my Cubanisms failed to resonate with him. So I wrote it down and started logging all of the Cuban sayings I used around the house. The collection of sayings turned into an anniversary gift – the very definition of a passion project. I had a few copies printed online for friends and family. This lead to more printing and an online store. Since the release of the first book in March of 2019, we’ve launched a children’s coloring book and a Cubanisms Volume 2 with even more sayings sent into us from fans around the world.

This year we’re expanding Pin Pan Pun + Co by partnering with other authors who want to create books of their own.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’ve heard a lot of people turn down opportunities because the timing was inconvenient. Throughout this whole experience, I’ve had a full-time job leading a team at a large fitness company. It wasn’t exactly part of my plan to start a business or become a publisher. But that’s how some of the most pivotal things in a person’s life come about – by accident and at the worst time.

A pragmatist and shy person at heart, I promised myself that I would say YES to every opportunity that came my way, no matter how scared or busy I was. There have definitely been growing pains. A small team of two, my husband and I have taken on every business role you can think of. We’ve had to learn about margins and copyrights, social media hacks and economies of scale – all while both juggling full-time jobs, a house, family and two dogs.

The larger we’ve grown, it’s become increasingly important to separate our business from our personal life. It can be a tough balance at times, but we’re learning to prioritize self-care, family and our relationship.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Pin Pan Pun + Co story. Tell us more about the business.
Pin Pan Pun + Co started out with the simple mission of introducing people to popular Cuban phrases. Our coffee table style books define Cubanisms in layman’s terms, offer examples of their usage in a sentence and pair modern illustrations. Our product line has since grown to include artwork, kids’ books and seasonal greeting cards.

The brand is known for featuring current events, trends and colorful expressions in easy to share formats. Our playful illustrations are minimalist and typically a bit cheeky. The community and fans on social media have been the foundation for our success. Cubans and non-Cubans alike are familiar with many of the “dichos” we feature. Although I share the traditions that, as a Cuban-American, I grew up with, I hear everyday how many other cultures share the same traditions.

This year we’ve expanded Pin Pan Pun + Co by partnering with other authors who want to publish books of their own. Our goal is to help other creators spread their own nostalgia by sharing their stories.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
They say the market is so saturated, yet new products and businesses pop up all the time. I don’t think it’s because they got lucky. I think it’s because they were able to create something by filling a need or solving a problem that only they were uniquely able to solve.

On the surface, you could say I got lucky when I paired Cuban sayings and short definitions with funny illustrations. But if you dig deeper, you’d see that my past experiences, my relationship with my husband, and the career path I chose, not only influenced that decision but uniquely equipped me with the tools to create this type of product.

Pricing:

  • Pin Pan Pun and other Cubanisms (Volume 1) $16.95
  • Subiendo el Volumen (Volume 2) $18.95
  • El Cuban Coloring Book $10.95

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
My Big Fat Cuban Family (picture of the cafecito poster); Edible South Florida (picture of Denise & Alex with book)

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