Key West Trivia

Welcome To Key West
Photo: Flickr – Cayobo

Today is National Trivia Day. In celebration of this great day, we’ve compiled a list of fun Key West facts that will make you fall even more in love with the Conch Republic!

  1. Duval Street is 1.1 miles long.
  2. Cayo Hueso is the original Spanish name for Key West. It means Bone Island and refers to the many bones found on the island.
  3. Key West is closer to Havana Cuba then it is to Miami.
  4. Many famous people called Key West Home (at least temporarily) including Judy Blume, Jimmy Buffett, Ernest Hemingway, President Harry S. Truman, Tennessee Willams and Calvin Klein.
  5. There are 42 bridges that connect Key West to mainland Florida.
  6. The 7-Mile Bridge is actually 6.79 miles long.
  7. Key West is home to one of the best Halloween Celebrations in the World! – Fantasy Fest (we may be a little bias).
  8. Key West seceded from the US in 1982. Long live the Conch Republic!
  9. Many Key West residents refer to themselves as Conchs.
  10. Pan American World Airways, aka Pan Am, was founded in Key West in 1927.
  11. The Southernmost Buoy is the most photographed attraction in Key West.
  12. The third largest coral reef in the world is off the coast of Key West.
  13. US Highway 1 starts and ends in Key West.
  14. There are more bars per capita in Key West than anywhere else in the US.
  15. Also, there are more churches per capita in Key West than anywhere else in the US.
  16. There are three Civil War forts located on Key West.
  17. Key West was sold to a businessman John Simonton for $2,000.
  18. Most of the sand on Key West’s beaches had to be brought over from the Caribbean.
  19. Cuba is actually 94 miles away from Key West, not 90.
  20. Key West Aloe was started in Key West in 1971.

Did we miss one of your favorite facts? If so, let us know in the comments join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more skin care tips & tricks.

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Happy Birthday To Us – 46th Anniversary Giveaway

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On November 13th, 1971, Frank Romano and Joe Liszka opened the Key West Fragrance & Cosmetic Factory. The first day receipts totaled $36. The Key West Fragrance & Cosmetic Factory, now called Key West Aloe, was the first company in the nation to manufacture its own skin care products using pure aloe vera gel. Today, we offer more than 160 different Aloe Vera based skin care products to address any skin concern you may experience.

It’s been a long 46 years and we couldn’t be happier. We want to take this time to reflect on where we came from and show our appreciation to our biggest supporters — You, Our Customers.

Photo: Key West Aloe

It All Started With A Sunburn

Every successful business owner had an “ah-ha” moment that motivated them to start a new company. For Frank and Joe, our founders, that “ah-ha” moment was a sunburn.

The native New Yorkers were vacationing in sunny Key West and made the timeless mistake of not using protection. Luckily, a local friend was growing Aloe Vera in their yard. The friend broke off a piece of this tropical plant and smeared the gel on Frank’s burn. The pain stopped immediately. The next day, Frank was so impressed that the sunburn practically disappeared he decided to dig a little deeper into this wonderful plant.

Frank, a chemist and a cosmetic researcher, saw the magical properties of Aloe and started to wonder, “If Aloe was that effective on damaged skin, what could it do for healthy skin?” Two years of research, $21,000, and a move to Key West, the nation’s first cosmetic company to make Aloe Vera based skin care products opened their doors in 1971.

Photo: Key West Aloe

Look to The Future

46 years later, our mission remains the same. We want to create a wide range of luxurious skin care products with nature’s best ingredient as our primary ingredient. To celebrate 45 years of business, we released our Anniversary Travel Bags in January 2017! These colorful travel bags will take you back to the 70’s when Key West Aloe used to be named Key West Fragrance & Cosmetic Factory. Back then, you could watch Frank or Joe make the products in the window of our Front Street location and shipping was only $1.50.

A Picture Is Worth A 1,000 Words. 

Thanks to the Monroe County Library, we are able to trace historic moments in our history through newspapers clippings. For instance, did you know that in April of 1980, the Key West Fragrance & Cosmetic Factory caught on fire or that in June of 1982 one of our male models became a CBS movie star!

Check out more historic moments from our history in our Key West Aloe Timeline.

Photo: Key West Aloe

Enter Our Giveaway

This anniversary is a big moment for the entire KWA Family (that includes you too). To say “Thank You” for being such a loyal member of our family, we are giving away one of our best selling gift baskets — All About Key Lime. Enter our giveaway for a chance to win this free gift from us.

Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about Key West Aloe and our history. Also, follow Key West Aloe and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

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What is Fantasy Fest?

Source: Fantasy Fest

Our founders, Frank Romano and Joe Liszka, were real pillars of the Key West community. Not only did they come up with the idea of Key West Aloe, they also donated their time and money to multiple organizations, were both voted Humanitarian of The Year and are part founders of Key West’s own Fantasy Fest.

So what is Fantasy Fest?

It’s kind of hard to describe but Fantasy Fest is a 10-day street festival that invites grown-ups to come out and play while still celebrating the Florida Keys culture. It’s essentially one big party where everyone can come and have a good time. On top of that, many of the events raise money for local non-profits. Who doesn’t love a party that gives back?

Source: Fantasy Fest

So how did it get started?

Back in the day, October in Key West was a pretty slow time. The tourists that flocked to the island during their summer vacation were now back at work or school and were not due back until later in the year closer to Christmas. It was so slow that many businesses closed their doors for a few months deciding it was better to relocate than attempt to stay open during the “slow season.”

One October day in the late 70s Joe Liszka brought Frank Romano down to Duval Street and pitched him a grand idea – To host a huge celebration in October that will drive tourist to Key West and help boost the economy during the slow period. We imagine Joe painted a very exciting event because not only did he get his partner to agree to help plan this party, he also looped in two other local businessmen to help execute the first Fantasy Fest.

It took the foursome an entire year to plan the first parade. Over 5,000 people showed up to enjoy the festival and thanks to a few outspoken people, the event gained more and more attention having up to 75,000 people from all over the country flock to take part in the fun events.

Source: Fantasy Fest – Facebook

Fun & Fundraising 

The 10-day extravaganza is jam-packed full of adult-themed fun. There are costume parties, family fun bike rides and Halloween themed 5Ks, cultural and art events and of course parades!

While Fantasy Fest is all about enjoying yourself, the festival also has some altruistic moments. The 2017 Royal Coronation Ball is a fundraising event that raises money for AIDS Help. The King and Queen of Fantasy Fest are the candidates who raise the most money for AIDS Help. Last year, the candidates raised over $173,00 for the health organization.

Are you going to Fantasy Fest? Check out the full schedule on the Official Fantasy Fest Website. Also, sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Follow Key West Aloe and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

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45 Years Old & You Can’t Tell

Every successful business owner had an “ah-ha” moment that motivated them to start a new company. For Frank Romano and Joe Liszka, our founders, that “ah-ha” moment was a sunburn.

The native New Yorkers were vacationing in sunny Key West and made the timeless mistake of not using protection. Luckily, a local friend was growing Aloe Vera in their yard. The friend broke off a piece of this tropical plant and smeared the gel on Frank’s burn. The pain stopped immediately. The next day, Frank was so impressed that the sunburn practically disappeared he decided to dig a little deeper into this wonderful plant.

Frank, a chemist and a cosmetic researcher, saw the magical properties of Aloe and started to wonder, “If Aloe was that effective on damaged skin, what could it do for healthy skin?” Two years of research, $21,000, and a move to Key West, the nation’s first cosmetic company to make Aloe Vera based skin care products opened their doors on November 13, 1971. They sold $36 on their first day!

2017 and Beyond

45 years later, our mission remains the same. We want to create a wide range of luxurious skin care products with nature’s best ingredient as our primary ingredient. To celebrate 45 years of business, we released our Anniversary Travel Bags in January 2017! These colorful travel bags will take you back to the 70’s when Key West Aloe used to be named Key West Fragrance & Cosmetic Factory. Back then, you could watch Frank or Joe make the products in the window of our Front Street location and shipping was only $1.50.

The Anniversary Travel Bags features a Key West Hand Print Fabrics design made exclusively for Key West Aloe. While the history behind the print isn’t clear, we believe the print was created by Suzie DePoo, staff designer at Key West Hand Print Fabrics and the creator of many designs that would eventually become Lilly Pulitzer’s trademark. Back in the day, this print was on everything Key West Aloe produced including our bags, catalog and some packaging.

Each travel sets comes with a moisturizing body wash, a hydrating body lotion, a softening shampoo, and a strengthening conditioner. The sets are available in our most popular scents – Key Lime, Mango, Coconut, Aloethera  – and come in two different sizes.

Discover the secret of our Aloe and find the out why we are Florida’s favorite Aloe Vera brand!

Have you been to our original factory in Key West? Share your story with us below!