Today we’d like to introduce you to Vernon Rodriguez.
Hi Vernon, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I grew up in the Philippines but moved to Orange County when I was 12. Somehow, I keep looking back to where I grew up. I have been making candles since 2011 but had to stop due to going back to school. I manage to learn candle making even though resources were limited at that time. In 2019, I went to the Philippines for a vacation. This was a couple of days before COVID-19 and months before the first stay at home order. While in the Philippines, we went to Tagaytay, which brought back childhood memories. Unfortunately, it was rainy season so we weren’t able to go to Palawan, Boracay and other beautiful places. On my way back to LA, I had a homesick moment so I decided to combine candle making and the Philippines together. At first, candle names were the difficult part since there are so many wonderful places in the Philippines and Filipino influences to choose from. The first scent that I created that Filipinos know is Sampaguita or Jasmine, as it is the national flower of the Philippines. Not only that, most of our grandparents have that flower in their property. Tita Baby, Aunty Baby, was created due to most Filipinos having an Aunt named Baby, thus creating Tita Baby. Followed by ‘Tito Boy’, Uncle Boy, then ‘Jun Jun’. I slowly joined popup events until a fellow Filipino owned business told me about Filled Market. I joined Filled Market in Arts District to showcase the beauty of the Philippines through candles, one scent at a time. Not only that, other Filipino-owned business partake in this event every Sunday.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The difficult part of starting a small business is not knowing where to start and knowing what other legal documents do you need to fill out to actually start a business. I had no experience dealing with legal paperworks, insurance, permits, etc. Other than that, other Family members were supportive on what I do. It was tough getting the word out online but once the ship has sailed, it was somewhat smooth. Due to the pandemic, getting supplies became harder to get. Stores are always out of stock and back ordered. Not only that, shipping company were overwhelmed with packages. Customers were getting mad to something we can’t control but with great customer service, we were able to explain what’s going on. To end our explanation, we’ll tell them that the package is purely Filipino as it’s arriving in Filipino time, always late.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a Psychiatric Technician that manages a Residential Facility in the morning. Although I’m on call 24/7, I still manage to make candles at night. Psychiatric Technician is a nurse that cares for People who have Mental Illness and/or Developmental Disability. Candle maker at night to destress and to relax.
Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
I don’t listen to a specific podcast. However, I search small business on Spotify and listen to it. It helps me gain knowledge on what to do regarding marketing, advertisements, etc. I do watch videos on YouTube, that’s where you can learn more about business and candle making, in my opinion.
- 7oz candle – $16
- 10oz candle – $22
- 2.5oz wax melt – $5
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- Website: ManilaCandle.com
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