about us

meet the team

Robert Escalera Founder

As a first generation Cuban American from Miami, Robert Escalera began his first official career in hospitality very early during the infamous renaissance of South Beach in the 90's. After the cliché of being scouted at a mall, he began a career in fashion as a model which spanned over a decade during which he worked internationally for the biggest names in fashion and was a regular on the global runway circuit. After moving to New York he also continued his nightlife trajectory as promotional director for legendary venues such as Twilo, Life, Spa, and Crobar.  He produced events globally for some of the most iconic pioneers in philanthropy, music, fashion, and media. Subsequently making the transition to food and beverage he managed many acclaimed properties internationally including The Standard, STK, Soho House, Chateau Hanare at Chateau Marmont, Gitano Tulum, Sunset Beach in Shelter Island, and Moby’s East Hampton to name a few. As a hospitality design, operations, and branding specialist, he is a driving force in some of the most influential, revolutionary, and successful brands of the past twenty years. His true passion, however, has always been giving back. For over the past decade he volunteers with Zeno Mountain Farm, a camp focused on creating lifelong friendships for people with and without disabilities, and Hollywood Food Coalition which provides nutritious meals 365 days a year for people living with food and housing insecurity. Based in Los Angeles he stands firm in the belief that in life, expectations are meant to be superseded not met and the true path to any successful business is making a lasting positive impact for your team, clients, and community.

This brings us to his latest and most personal venture, Humo y Espejos, a company built on an amalgamation of his passions and life experience. Pronounced umo ee espehos, the literal translation is smoke and mirrors. The purpose is to collaborate with underprivileged, disenfranchised, or physically challenged artisans in order to create fair wage, sustainable, continuous, and meaningful employment and trade opportunities. In this life, though our packaging may look different, we are all the same. We have the same frustrations and hopes. We laugh, cry, bleed, and mourn the same; the rest is just smoke and mirrors. While we may not be able to save the world, we can absolutely save one family's world at a time.

Sylvia Paola Rodriguez

Director of Operations in Guatemala

Sylvia is a psychologist, speech therapist, and teacher. She works primarily with children with disabilities with a focus on socialization and independence. She is one of the directors at the inclusive school, Brillo de Sol, which provides educational and trade opportunities for rural, disenfranchised, and disabled students. Sylvia is a fierce advocate and strives every day to level the playing field of opportunities for underserved communities in Guatemala.

The former Miss Guatemala is a singer, dancer, actress, model, tv host, and activist. Having been raised on a coffee farm just outside of Antigua she has always been well aware of the needless suffering of her people. With the platform she gained from competing in globally televised pageants she has dedicated herself to helping survivors of domestic abuse, people with disabilities, and the underprivileged. She works tirelessly as an ambassador representing the natural beauty of her country, the arts, and helping create more opportunities for her community. Despite all her accolades her most important role is that of mother to her daughter Lara.

Florecita Cobian

Director of Culture and Community Outreach Guatemala

Adam Elsayed

Global Director of IT and Web Development

Adam Elsayed is the founder of digital-sultans.com, a full-service digital marketing and web development agency with over a decade of experience serving clients worldwide. The agency services a wide array of web development projects, from small personal websites to global corporate web applications. Adam has a strong understanding of web development technologies and methodologies, global IT operations, and data management He is steadfast in his insight on the latest shifts, trends, and advancements.

Adam has a keen eye for detail and is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure his clients happiness, satisfaction, and success rate. He makes it a priority to educate his clients on how to best streamline their digital presence and is eager to provide continuous support and maintenance. Alongside his experience and expertise, having worked in various IT roles from system administrator to global IT director, his biggest asset is the direct personal care he gives to every client regardless of size or budget.

Nick D'Annunzio, co founder at TARA, Ink., one of the nation's top public relations agencies specializing in fashion & beauty, hospitality & entertainment, and modern culture & design. A trend spotter and trendsetter, Nick brings more than two decades of experience to creating and implementing successful public relations and marketing campaigns for the nation’s top brands, including Soho House, Brickell City Centre, Gucci, Faena, Dobel Tequila, Make A Wish Foundation, Louis Vuitton, Cadillac, Boost Mobile, History Channel and Hard Rock Hotels.

Tara Solomon is co founder of Tara, Ink a highly lauded luxury boutique public relations firms. The name Tara Solomon has always resonated with Miami residents. First known for her Miami Herald column “Queen of the Night”, Tara has spent the better part of the last three decades making a name for herself in the South Florida community, and beyond. The UM alumna, who graduated from the School of Communication, has graced the pages of publications like the Miami New Times, The Miami Herald, Elle, In Style, Food & Wine, People en Español, Vogue Latinoamérica, German Vogue, and Los Angeles Magazine. Tara’s name is synonymous with style – she’s known for her glamorous wardrobe, and extravagant jewelry – though it’s her intelligence and grace that gives her the ultimate edge

TARA, Ink. is a full-service, bilingual, creative marketing, public relations, social media, special events, advertising, and product development firm specializing in modern culture. The company offers a highly comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to achieve its clients’ goals through intelligent press copy, selective media placement, celebrity outreach, special events, entertainment tie-ins, and promotions. TARA, Ink. maintains close contacts with a broad range of editors, reporters, columnists, television assignment editors, trade journalists, producers and location scouts. The company has worked with luxury, publishing, fashion, culinary, and consumer clients to create buzz and generate new business. It is through innovative efforts and strong contacts that TARA, Ink. is able to garner relevant press and build stronger branding for clients. 

Nick D’Annunzio and Tara Solomon,

Tara Ink/ Public Relations

from our founder

It all started with a pair of pants and a deep rooted desire to give back… During quarantine I, like many of us, experienced a life shattering loss and needed a project to maintain my sanity. For reasons that would sound too crazy to share here I decided I needed to make pants. At first I kept finding ethical roadblocks when it came to finding manufacturers. I began looking into local fair wage in Los Angeles while reevaluating my life as a whole. After nearly a decade of wanting to volunteer at a camp for people with disabilities in Guatemala but never having the time, I decided there was no time like the present. At camp I was paired with Francis, a very funny and bright young man with Muscular Dystrophy. Immediately while unpacking his belongings I was surprised to see all his belongings were brand new, a rare occurrence in that part of the world, and assumed he must come from a family of means. After getting to know him I learned his father was a tailor. A tailor who specializes in pants! I asked if his family would be interested in meeting about the making of my pants, cynically concerned that they might not be that ethical. When I arrived at their home I quickly realized that they weren’t a family of means at all and were absolutely lovely. They had struggled and sacrificed for months so that their son had the best of everything because it was the first time he had been on a trip and away from his parents. They had two sons but unfortunately Muscular Dystrophy is both genetic and degenerative and their older son, Javier, had sadly passed. Both his mother and father have sewing machines on the dirt floors in one of the small rooms which allowed them to work while caring for Francis. Everything changed! I then realized the life-changing, direct impact we could have on this family by paying them American fair wage; to date they were able to purchase a new roof for their house.

I always knew if I started a company there would have to be a philanthropic component and assumed that would be through financial contributions. However, Francis and his family were the catalyst that helped create the mission for Humo y Espejos; collaborate with talented, deserving, and disenfranchised artisans making beautiful quality products and give them a bunch of money.  We cut out the middle man to work directly with creators where fair American wages are far more impactful, while respecting and celebrating the craftsmanship, culture and heritage that’s been handed down for generations. Non profit ideals with traditional economic goals; the fire was lit! Later while having coffee at the park in Antigua, I befriended a lovely young lady in a wheelchair named Joselyn who was selling bracelets. Then in Panajachel, Manuela, a single mother whose husband left, had started making leather and woven goods with a coop supporting women who are survivors of domestic abuse. Annie and Rodolfo who have a non profit providing gainful, fair wage employment to people with disabilities. Anastasia, the jeweler in Chichicastenenga who travels miles by foot to sell at the market twice a week. The list goes on and as the list grows so will the inventory. This is Humo y Espejos. We are Humo y Espejos.