Focus on the positive that you have. Envision your future with hope. Be always kind and never forget to be classy. Simonetta Lein
Driving in Los Angeles with my friend and publicist Tracie, I can finally see the ocean, which is always a beautiful and calming sight. We buzz the door, it opens, and waiting for us at the top of the stairs is very special woman: Carolina Bacardi. I am in her beautiful home, suffused with bright natural light, and from where you can see the lapping waves on the horizon. We sit down in the living room while her son runs and plays, and we start talking, feeling completely at ease, and I immediately discover a person who brings so much value with her story. The story of a family, a myth and a tradition, a migration from Cuba to America when the family became too powerful in Cuba and they were at risk, she says. Her personal story as a very beautiful and humble woman who lives totally according with the "pay it forward" philosophy which is the cause of The Wishwall Foundation that I founded. Being The Wishmaker, such a person intrigues me so much, that I know I absolutely must interview her. She offers us something refreshing to drink. It is hot in LA and dry, a real problem for those who live there. The water supply in California is a massive issue, as she points out, and we need to use it very wisely.
When you were a child, did you wish for the career and for the life that you have manifested today?
I was always part of the Bacardi family, I was born with it and I never thought about a different life. Sometimes in life it is what it is, and as a child I didn't know that my life could have been different than being part of my family.
**And what a family! From the New York Times we read: "Even after the Castro regime nationalized the company's facilities in 1960, the year almost all of the Bacardi family and many of the company's executives fled (leaving the nearly century-old coconut palm planted at the original distillery, as company legend has it, suddenly to wither and die), the Bacardis became the face, and one of the largest sources of money, behind the anti-Castro movement in America, which sometimes pursued its mission with almost unbelievable audacity." Life for the family in Cuba was too dangerous so they emigrated in Puerto Rico. At that point there was a sort of a Rum war, everyone wanted to know the secret recipe of the Bacardi and witnesses revealed that "El comandante" Che Guevara forced one of the Bacardi employees who stayed in Cuba to write down what he knew about it. That paper went missing and the recipe of Bacardi rum remains a secret to this day.
Name a wish that you had for your life or for humanity that finally came true.
My brother has a beautiful daughter with a rare disease called cardiomyopathy. I think that more people should know about it. Basically your heart grows too much for your chest. The family discovered that she needed to have her heart transplanted when she was four. My grandfather decided to donate money to discover a cure for this rare pathology and we all started to be involved as a family. Finally, we were able to have a heart transplanted but someone has to die to give someone else a life and that thought is always with me. Now she is twelve and she is a happy girl. That is my personal biggest wish come true.
**Carolina is truly emotional about this family story and she shows a personal and family commitment to help out other children affected by this rare disease. Thanks to the Bacardi family, life for other children will be greatly improved, and that to me is a symbol of a family who never lost contact with the real sense of life.
If you were granted one wish for humanity or for our planet, what would it be?
I wish for more water in California. It is a huge problem. I teach my son not to abuse water.
**Yes, climate change is real. Scientists keep on repeating it and year after year we see the effects of climate change more and more. California already has a desert climate and it was exacerbated by climate change. We can pretend it doesn't exist or we can become aware and start to live our lives without misusing resources. We have to start now.
If you could go back in time and ask one question from anyone from history, who would you want to meet and what question would you ask?
I would want to talk with my great-great-grandfather. I always wanted to ask him how did he come up with the idea of creating Bacardi. I have so many family stories I would have liked to witness, like Hemingway being a friend of my grandfather or Fidel Castro going to high school with my father.
**In 1862 Don Facundo Bacardi Masso' decided to create a rum like no other. He spent more than ten years trying to perfect the formula. Despite being on the verge of bankruptcy for almost forty years he never gave up with his dream and was helped by his wife who invested her inheritance for him. She was the person who also suggested the fruit-bat as the symbol that then became world-famous for Bacardi rum. The story continues when Facundo's third son opened an office in 1890 in the city of Havana and it was there that after the Spanish-American victory the American soldiers would mix their Coca-Cola with Bacardi Rum. And so the legendary Cuba Libre was born, celebrating freedom. Her family represents so much more than a drink, however. It represents the wish, the dream of an entrepreneur and his wife who together never gave up until they became leaders and part of history.
I found it very sweet that when after the interview we went out for dinner and at the end, Carolina ordered a Bacardi Rum with ice. She acts in such a simple way, and that brand it is not just a product, it means her traditions, her story, her family. And having a sip of it, is in a way, continuing that tradition.
Please tell me what influences your unique sense of style?
I go with whatever works for me, I don't follow the sense of style of trends, if I feel good in it, then that influences me.
Who is your favorite fashion designer or brand right now and why?
I love Prada, it is always very classy and chic.
What is your fashion mantra?
Jeans and a white shirt are super sexy. I believe in simple and classy, you can never go wrong with that.
What is your final message for our readers?
You have to focus on the positive that you have. I personally know that I come from a privileged family and I never take it for granted. I really want to remind anyone to never take anything for granted. Friends are a very big support for me, so my message is to dedicate time to friendship because it is one of the most precious bonds you can have.
**Thank you Carolina for allowing me to be part of a piece of history for a moment. I wish you the best, my friend. A big shout out to Tracie May Wagner and I still remember our women's dinner with lots of joy. We should do it again.
As always, make your wishes come true.
From Philadelphia, The Celebrity Wishmaker Simonetta Lein
Credits: William Russell Edu, Collaborator. Carlo Battillocchi, photographer. Getty Images.