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Meet Luis Garcia of La Vela Creations in South Gate

Today we’d like to introduce you to Luis Garcia.

Luis, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Our story is short and simple. We are a family-owned small business created by my brothers and sister. We are self-taught Vela Makers.

Our brand started as a Christmas dinner conversation in 2018 when my sister has gifted a candle from one of the big box stores. She liked the scent, but asked, “why couldn’t we get candles that smell like home and reminds us times spent with the familia.” I said, “like what, Pan Dulce and cafe?” We laughed a bit about and our light bulb went on and we said, “why not?”

After the holidays, we sat down and watched YouTube tutorials on how to make candles. We learned as much as we could. We gathered our small savings and ordered a candle making kit from the internet. After much trial and error, we began to duplicate scents that brought nostalgia and took us back to our childhood.

Our scents are mostly inspired from our childhood memories of Summers spent with our grandmother (Nana). From her Fresas con Crema dessert to her pitchers of thirst-quenching cold Horchata she would make for us on those hot summer days. On Sunday mornings, Pan Dulce (Conchas) and Cafe de la Olla were a staple as we sat in her kitchen and talked about everything and nothing.

Family, friends and coworkers loved them so much, they practically forced us to create our Etsy shop. We opened our Etsy shop and created our website in February 2019. We didn’t get many sales at first, but then we came across LatinX popup shops and decided to give those a try. Our first pop up shop was in Downey, at Mercado Downey. Everyone loved our candles because they were very unique in traditional hand-painted Barro bowls and mugs. The reception to our candles was so good, we sold out!

This event opened our eyes to other LatinX events throughout Los Angeles and California. We have been vending at these events ever since and our following has been growing. We do 2-4 events every month and our business has increased our Etsy and website stores.

We started with six scents and our candle line has grown to over 40 nostalgic and unique scents. Our candle line includes unique containers and kits. We have a ton of new and exciting scents in store for 2020.

Has it been a smooth road?
There have been lots of struggles along the way. When we first started making candles, we couldn’t get scents quite right. We would mix and formulate scents, but once we put them into the soy wax, the scent would change or it wouldn’t smell at all. Some of the scents we mixed, smelled horrible. It took a lot of time and formulating to get them just right.

Another struggle we encountered was that the wicks we were using were not right. We would put a thinner wick or just one in the candle and it would not burn right. It would tunnel and not burn the wax properly. We learned that making candles is not as simple as melting wax with a scent and pouring it into a container. There is a science to making candles.

When we opened our Etsy shop and created our website in February 2019. We didn’t get many sales at first, but then we came across LatinX popup shops and decided to give those a try. Our first pop up shop was in Downey, at Mercado Downey. Everyone loved our candles because they were very unique in traditional hand-painted Barro bowls and mugs. The reception to our candles was so good, we sold out!

We also encountered a lot of issues on the business side of starting our brand from supplier issues to financial issues.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with La Vela Creations – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
La Vela Creations produces Nostalgic and Unique candles inspired by traditional Latino Scents. We create scents that bring you back to those fond memories of times past. Whether it be the cafe de olla scent from Abuela’s house to the fresh pan dulce scent when your dad or mom would take you to the panaderia and smell that freshly baked pan dulce.

Our candles are very unique because they are poured into traditional hand-made, hand-painted Barro bowls. We specialize in unique candles and traditional scents like Cafe de Olla, Pan Dulce, Flan, Horchata, Fresas con Crema, Mazapan. Another one of our specialties is our Fabuloso-like scented and Vaporu candles that smell just like the real thing.

We are most proud of the support and reception we have had to our candles. It makes us happy when someone smells our candles and they smile and say that it reminds them of a memory when they were young or it reminds them of a family member, especially Abuela’s house.

Another thing we are proud of is our logo. We have been asked, “Why did you choose a Luchador mask as your logo?” The reason we used a Luchador as our logo is because our parents always told us when we were growing up, “Siempre LUCHA por lo que quieres, LUCHA por un futuro mejor. Tienes que LUCHAR por lo que tú quieres por que nadie más lo va a hacer por ti” (Always FIGHT for what you want, FIGHT for a better future. You have to FIGHT for what you want because no one will do it for you) So the logo is not only a reminder of our parents but also for the Luchadoras and Luchadores in all of us. A lot of us come from immigrant parents that came to this country for a better future for their children. Our parents worked too hard and gave up too much for us to just give up.

We believe that our unique candles and ideas set us apart from others. We try and stay true to our culture and roots.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
The thing we like about our city is that it is one big melting pot of cultures, races and ideas. We like that we can see the hustle of people vending in the street to provide for their families. We like that you can learn and try different things from different cultures. We love the unity.

The things we don’t like about our city is the inability to solve homelessness issues. The inability to help and provide for those in need. We feel not enough is been done.

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