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Meet Jessie Salazar of Salazar Landscaping in South Gate

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessie Salazar.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As a young child growing up in Lynwood California I always enjoyed green spaces and interacting with plants. However, in my hometown of Lynwood, no park was walking distance of where we lived for the majority of my childhood. Being that we had to drive to a park my parents would be tired from work and the idea of having to drive somewhere else was not something they wanted to do after work. During my vacation time I would help my father who was a gardener with his work. He had a route and we would visit different homes in rich neighborhoods. I enjoyed working with plants and used it as therapy to help me through the hot summers living in Lynwood. At the time we had just enough to get by. At school our teachers would ask us what we would like to do when we grew up. Many of my friends wanted to be doctors, lawyers and other similar professions. At the time I did not know what they were called, but I it was my mission to grow up and be the people who create parks and other green spaces. I had experienced what it was like to work with plants at a small scale and it had changed my life. I wanted my friends and everyone within my neighborhood to experience the nostalgic feeling I felt. Many years later I learned that would I wanted to be was called landscape architecture.

Growing up in Lynwood was difficult. I never felt engaged with schools. At times I felt neglected and misunderstood. Conflict with teachers and authority was constant. I managed to graduate from high school, however with average grades. I decided to enroll in community college as I didn’t have many university opportunities. Community college transformed my idea of what an education was. I felt welcomed and understood. I enrolled in history courses where I learned about my chicano background, plant identification courses which helped me learn about plants. It was in community college that I first believed in myself. Years later I was accepted to the best program for landscape architecture in the western region at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It is at this same time that I embarked in this amazing journey I am still in and passed licensing exams to become a landscape contractor and start Salazar Landscaping. The goal of Salazar Landscaping was to help my family and my surrounding community. Whether it be through the cleaning of parks of planting of much needed green spaces in my community.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that is what Cal Poly San Luis Obispo was to me. A 22 year old proud chicano at a majority white school. It was at San Luis Obispo that I saw the lack of resources our communities have and understood my struggles as a teenager. It was there that I vowed to work even harder to receive my bachelors in landscape architecture and come back to work with my community.

Fast forward a few years and I am back fulfilling that mission I set for myself. Salazar Landscaping is now a certified benefit corporation. B Corps are a type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. We have met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. We’ve evaluated how our practices impact our employees, our community, the environment, and our customers.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
High school was always a challenge, as I was not always fully engaged. During college being at a white majority school was very difficult to become accustomed to. Coming from such a different background made it difficult to fit it. Also, being one of the few chicano students in my graduating class was not easy. I often times felt favoritism within my departments towards my white classmates.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Salazar Landscaping specializes in landscape design, construction and maintenance. We value creating, building and maintaining healthy enjoyable spaces for communities. We are one of only a few certified landscape benefit corporations.

What were you like growing up?
The highlight of my childhood and adolescent years were working with my father during the summer and getting to engage with plants. As a student, I was never fully engaged in school. Often times I felt a lack of connection and respect from my teachers. This led to very difficult times in high school. Feeling this way I would always look for a way out and at times would not go to class. I always knew I wanted to study landscape architecture. However I did not know how to achieve it. Neither did I believe I was capable of it. During the start of my junior year I learned that one of my art teachers had studied landscape architecture. I asked him what I had to do to be able to get into school landscape architecture. I will never forget this encounter because he looked me up and down and asked “you?” and proceeded to walk away.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 3837 Tweedy Blvd South Gate California
  • Website: salazarlandscapingla.com
  • Phone: 3105292291
  • Email: office@salazarlandscapingla.com

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Osbaldo

    September 11, 2018 at 20:27

    Awesome work, Jessie! I’m proud of your work and dedication to your community. I remember you sharing your academic and career goals while at Santa Monica College. You made them happen!

    Felicidades!

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