Mirta de Perales, one of the first Hispanic women to find success in the U.S. cosmetics industry, has died at her Miami residence at age 88. The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, The Miami Herald reported Monday.
De Perales, who brought her two children and $5 in her purse to the United States from Cuba in 1962, styled hair and did pedicures in Miami, eventually founding Mirta de Perales Inc., which distributes her products in the U.S. domestic market and Puerto Rico.
“She was a millionaire in Cuba and she multiplied her fortune here,” said Maribel Sotolongo, Mirta de Perales’ account executive and designated by de Perales’ children to speak to the Herald. “Mirta was, at the same time, tough and sweet. She knew every detail of the company and demanded from her staff to always look their best. She was a very good person, to the point of giving many of her employees the down payment they needed to buy a house, and she helped those newly arrived from Cuba to buy their first car. She always said she had to give back all that God had given her. She was a very devoted Catholic.”
Luis Cuervo, deputy director of the U.S. Latin Chamber of Commerce, told the Herald de Perales “made a difference and became an icon in her community while she was active.”
De Perales is survived by two children and two grandchildren.