Robin Jacobs is a business and community leader, entrepreneur, author, and a co-owner of companies in the beauty and fashion industries. She is the COO of the Miami Beach Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery Center. Two of her recent ventures are the launch of 305candles - a line of candles and diffusers, and the co-authored book “Be Aware” released on Amazon. Also, Robin is the Chair of the Board of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. She co-hosts a weekly Facebook Live event for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce with the Mayor of Miami Beach. We are honored to have her as the Fashion Group International of South Florida’s Featured Member.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME INVOLVED WITH THE MIAMI BEACH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE?
The president and CEO of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce (MBCC), Jerry Libbin, asked me to go to lunch with him. During that lunch, he spoke passionately about the Miami Beach Chamber Education Foundation. He told me about all of the amazing work that the Foundation does to benefit the children in our Miami Beach Public Schools. Additionally, he asked me what my goals were for my companies. When I finished telling him about my goals, he immediately suggested that I get involved. Jerry told me that he knew of my prior community leadership roles, and that the Chamber would be very fortunate to have a community leader like myself become involved on the Chamber Board of Governors. It is very hard to say no to Jerry, and that was how it all began! I am truly proud to be the fourth woman in the Chamber’s 100-year history to chair the chamber. I have been so fortunate to have been mentored by many of the past chairs and leadership of the Board, including Commissioner Joy Malakoff and Michael Goldberg.
DURING THE CHALLENGING PANDEMIC YEAR, HOW DID YOU AND THE MBCC SUPPORT THE MIAMI BEACH BUSINESS COMMUNITY?
There is no question that this was the most challenging year for all of our businesses, but I am so proud of the work that our staff did and how well we worked with the Mayor and City Manager’s offices to assist our businesses in a multitude of ways. The first thing that the staff did was create the Coronavirus Business Relief Guide. This was a website that was maintained and updated daily. The Guide gave important information on grants that were available, how to apply for PPP funding, job openings, as well as information on where to get vaccine shots and where to get tested. The Chamber worked with Commissioner Steven Meiner to open the first testing site on Miami Beach. In addition, we disseminated information to the community on a weekly basis about ongoing programs like the food distribution programs that Commissioner David Richardson organized. Although we suspended all in-person programming, we immediately converted all of our programming to virtual either with GoToMeeting or with Zoom. One of the Vice-Chairs of the board, Richard Segal, had a fabulous idea to establish a weekly program that would help people to stay connected to the city. This is now a weekly Facebook live program - Chamber Chat with Mayor Dan Gelber, that Jerry Libbin and I are privileged to host. It affords our members an insider‘s perspective on what Mayor Gelber and his team are thinking on some of the most pressing issues facing our city. It is so successful that other mayors who have been guests on the platform have started it for their constituents as well! I truly appreciate the efforts of Mayor Gelber’s chief of staff, Michelle Berger, Adrian Chamberlin, and Samantha Leon. Additionally, I would like to thank the incredible team at the Chamber for facilitating the Chamber chat every week. Additionally, we organized meetings with the SBA to teach business leaders how to apply for loans. We were also asked by our City Manager to use the Chamber’s clout to organize meetings with business leaders from every industry and to discuss the best ideas on how each sector could reopen safely. We formed a task force that I co-chaired with Emilio Estefan and Lyle Stern with over 50 business leaders. Together, we worked through the difficult issues of exactly what would be needed to reopen safely for customers, as well as staff. We created committees representing hoteliers, restaurateurs, gyms and salons, and general retail. I am proud to say that when we submitted our final recommendations to Jimmy Morales, who was the City Manager at the time, he incorporated almost every single one of our recommendations. Mayor Dan Gelber then requested that the Chamber assemble a task force of religious leaders to discuss and create recommendations for the faith-based organizations in our community. It was important that our religious leaders share their input and let us know how they felt they could safely open their institutions. I am very proud to have chaired that task force as well, and of the collaborative work that we did together. In response to Mayor Gelber’s request that the Chamber works with the business community to create incentives to motivate individuals to take the vaccine, the Chamber created a program called ”Shots for Shots.” The program was conceived by my daughter Martha Jacobs, a senior at the University of Florida who had interned at the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. The Team lead by Jerry Libbin at the chamber did a Herculean job of implementing this program. The program was featured on Good Morning America and other media outlets. The Chamber worked with restaurants and bars that offered a free drink and/or discounts to anyone of age that presented a card from the vaccination site at 17th and Convention Center Drive.
AS ONE OF THE TOP LEADERS IN THE MIAMI BEACH BUSINESS COMMUNITY, WHAT IS YOUR METHOD FOR LEADING EXECUTIVES?
I believe in preparation with a capital P. Jerry Libbin, and I worked very well together at the Chamber. He is a true professional and understands his role with both Lay leadership as well as his staff. We are in constant communication; I would say that we generally speak at least 4-5 times per day to make sure that we are always on the same page. I believe that to be an effective leader, you must always be thoroughly prepared but also flexible enough to change course when necessary.
YOU ARE INVOLVED IN VARIOUS CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS; WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PROJECTS?
I have been serving now for three years as the Chair of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, and I must say that I am incredibly proud of the work that our 501c3 charity, The Miami Beach Chamber Education Foundation, does. We collaborate with five neighboring municipalities, Miami Beach, North Bay Village, Surfside, Bal Harbour, and Bay Harbor Islands, to provide both nurses and mental health counselors in each of the eight public schools within our Miami Beach feeder pattern. The Foundation serves as a fiduciary and does not take one penny for administering these programs. This past year, our Board learned that there are about 50 children enrolled in our public schools that are technically homeless. We were shocked to learn that there are children living in cars or couch surfing, trying to find a place to sleep each night. I suggested to the Chamber staff that we create a cookbook and ask our local celebrity chefs to put one of their favorite recipes in the book. Danny Diaz, our Vice President of Marketing, took that ball and ran with it. We have over 40 Chefs that have contributed to the book, Chefs Care and we have already raised over $30,000 to support a program called Project Upstart, which is run by our amazing Superintendent, Alberto Carvalho. The Chamber also provides tuition scholarships to high school seniors and holds a recognition luncheon each year to salute the outstanding teacher from each one of our eight public schools.
AS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF 305CANDLES, TELL US ABOUT THE INSPIRATION WHEN CREATING THE SCENTS THAT DEFINE THE MIAMI BEACH BRAND.
305 is my exemplary love letter to Miami Beach. I co-founded 305Candles, with two extraordinary partners who share my love for our city and want to share it with the world. 305Candles is a culmination of our passion for all things Miami. We proudly manufacture our products in South Florida. Both tourists and locals use our candles and diffusers to keep a piece of paradise in their homes. We aim to captivate your senses with unique scents that are inspired by our beautiful city. Cafecito is a premium blend of roasted coffee beans, vanilla, and cocoa that will lift your spirits! Deco Dreams is a smooth mix of mandarin, honeydew, and coriander that helps you relax and escape from the everyday grind. Dive into our fragrances, and we promise that you will not regret it. Welcome to Miami!
AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT OTHER COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH AND/OR INVESTED IN? HAVE YOU ESTABLISHED ANY OTHER BUSINESSES?
I have served as COO of the Miami Beach Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery Center, which I co-founded with my husband, noted Plastic Surgeon Dr. Baruch Jacobs, who has been referred to by the New York Times as “ as the Plastic Surgeon who keeps Miami Beach Beautiful.” Currently, I am co-owner of several companies in the beauty and fashion industries, including LuxeCuffs™. It is an accessory that will transform your outfit instantly. I am so fortunate to have two gifted partners, Gracy Weberman, a leader in the Business community, and Tammy Apostol, who is an incredibly talented and renowned fashion designer. I attend over 250 events a year and speak at many of those events, and I always feel the most comfortable and confident dressed in TA Couture! Two of my latest ventures have launched in the past few months: 305Candles and my book BeAware that I co-authored with two brilliant authors, Brenda Moxley and Melisa Neuman. Our book was recently released on Amazon. Keep an eye out for our next venture, 305Perfume, which until now has only been available by special order.
BECAUSE YOU KNOW THE INS AND OUTS OF MIAMI BEACH, WHERE DO YOU SEE IT HEADING?
Miami Beach holds a special place in my heart. I have raised four wonderful children and founded multiple successful businesses here. I have treasured the last thirty years as a Miami Beach resident and am excited for what the future holds! We are so fortunate to already have incredible cultural institutions in Miami Beach, such as the New World Center, Miami City Ballet, Bass Art Museum, and The Jewish Museum. The Betsy Hotel also has amazing cultural offerings. The new Art Deco Cultural District (formerly known as the MXE), as envisioned by Mayor Gelber, further expands the cultural richness of our city. There are many other fantastic projects also underway which are sure to enhance our already beautiful city. As the Vice-Chair of the 41st Street Mayors blue-ribbon panel, I am very excited about the plans that are underway to restore the beautiful gateway to Miami Beach - 41st Street. North Beach, Lincoln Road, and Washington Avenue are other areas in which improvements are planned. The past two years have demonstrated just how resilient Miami Beach is. We have seen the relocation of many businesses and families to Miami Beach. We are so excited to welcome these new members of our community! In order to attract even more businesses to Miami Beach, the city recently unveiled a package of incentives that include a job creation incentive program for new-to-market or existing companies in targeted industries as well as incentives such as expedited plan review and building permit approval in 10 business days. In short, Miami Beach is always working to enhance life in this already vibrant city, and I think the future will be very exciting in the 305.