Today we’d like to introduce you to Ko and DeMarkus Trinidad-Williams.
Hi Ko and DeMarkus, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Ko, a Compton native and DeMarkus, an Inglewood native are life partners who both love aromatherapy. We are Candle connoisseurs and see a desperate need for our identities and communities to be seen, heard, and represented. As Queer, Non-Binary humans of color, we see and understand the importance of positive representation of LGBTQ+ BIPOC Communities and how our presence impacts those around us. Launched July 31, 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Soul Food Candle Company was founded with the intention of sparking nostalgia through aromatherapy. You can find us on Instagram @soulfoodcandlecompany, at pop-ups in Los Angeles and around Southern California and coming soon at soulfoodcandleco.com.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Starting a business is scary. We always knew we wanted to but fear often protruded what we innately have, and that’s our gifts of creativity, resilience, and passion. We are very lucky to have one another in this journey because each one of our perspectives has and continues to allow us to both grow and professionals and humans. Initially, we wanted things to be “perfect,” and immediately found ourselves drifting further and further away from the possibility of starting a business. What worked for us despite the hiccups on the road was setting a deadline. For us, that meant booking ourselves at an event and backward planning to ensure we had a product that was not only authentic to us but resonate to our communities. We gave samples to family and friends. Reviews were mixed and helpful in hindsight. Even after our first event, we found ways in which we could make our product more sustainable. Whether it was finding a different logo distributor or painting additional layers, we acknowledged and continue to acknowledge feedback not only from one another and ourselves but most importantly our soul food family (what we call our customers).
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
DeMarkus, a Puerto Rican Non-Binary from Inglewood, CA by way of Boston, MA has always had a passion for fashion, drawing, and creating. Whether it be drawing and making outfits for family and friends or sketching out a cartoon from their favorite X-men comic book, they have always found joy in seeing their artwork impact those around them in a positive way. DeMarkus is most proud of their growth in exuding their full authentic truths which in turn has and continues to inspire other nonbinaries to live their truth. What sets them apart from others is their confidence and ability to share with others their innate ability to be whatever it is they want to be in this life and beyond.
Ko is an Afro-Indigenous Non-Binary from Compton, CA. An artist at heart, Ko loves drawing, painting and creating characters and storylines. At a young age and throughout life, drawing has been a therapy for Ko and he loves nothing more than sharing this form with others around him. Whether it’s teaching or learning a new skill, Ko considers himself to be a lifelong learner and is excited to see how he and his life partner’s talents continue to build the Soul Food brand. He is most proud of his ability to continue deck strutting the binary and living his full authentic truth. What sets him apart from others is his ability to be in tune with those around him to build meaningful relationships.
How do you think about luck?
We don’t consider ourselves lucky. In fact, we work twice as hard as our counterparts. We have experiences that have set us back and tried to deter us from moving forward; however, as QPOC folx, we are inherently resilient and it is that resilience that continues to push us in the right direction. One might say it’s luck but we call it hard work.
- OG Candle (8.5oz) – $30 each or 2 for $55
- BB Candle (4.5oz) – $20 each or 2 for $35
- OG Candle and BB Candle – $45
- Website: Soulfoodcandleco.com
- Instagram: @soulfoodcandlecompany
- Youtube: Soulfoodcandlecompany
Photograph of Ko and DeMarkus taken by @sage.sage.sage.sage.sage.sage