We had the good fortune of connecting with Vernon Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vernon, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
What started Manila Candle? Just before the pandemic, owner Vernon R. went to the Philippines for a quick vacation and to reminisce the past where he grew up. On his way back to the US, he had a moment where he thought “How can I bring part of the Philippines to the US?”
The beginning of Manila Candle was to showcase the beauty of the Philippines through candle, one scent at a time. It’s not only to showcase the Philippines, but to show how easy-going and funny Filipinos are.
One scent that stood up with Manila Candle is “Sampaguita” or Jasmine. Sampaguita is the national flower of the Philippines. Sampaguita can be seen everywhere, from the street, house garden and even vendors sell them. Sampaguita is made into a lei then vendors sell them outside of Churches. Sampaguita is Manila Candle’s best seller as the scent reminds customer of Home, when they were growing up in the Philippines.
Each candles that Manila Candle offers has either a meaning behind it or just a brief description of what the name is all about. One instance is the name “Palawan”. Palawan is one of the visited Island in the Philippines as it is one of the best tourist destination in the World. Its wonderful and majestic view mesmerize everyone that visits. To Manila Candle, Palawan means relaxation, ocean, water, calm and stress-reliever. We put what we think Palawan is into the candle. By lighting Palawan, it’ll make you calm, relax and relieve your stress.
Other thing that Filipinos is known for is Family nickname, almost every Filipino family has either a “Tita Baby” or Auntie Baby and/or “Tito Boy” or Uncle Boy”. Filipino household is big, Tita Baby is usually the last girl born in the family. Tita Baby are usually the one who is into floral perfume. Manila Candle was able to capture the scent and put it into candle. Tito Boy is the one who gives life and love advice to their niece and nephews. Tito Boy wears a heavy cologne and that’s how we describe “Tito Boy” candle.
Manila Candle was started to showcase the beauty of the Philippines and to show how Filipinos are. Filipinos are funny and easy going. The idea of Manila Candle was started on the way back from the Philippines.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a Filipino, you are expected to be either a Nurse, Engineer, Accountant or something high in education. What’s difficult with that is that, I’m neither. I went to a trade school and became a Psychiatric Nurse. Yes, it’s still in healthcare but it’s not an RN like what most Families would want you to be.
What’s different with me is that I worked hard for the company while keeping a full-time job. Nurse in the morning, candle maker at night, but what’s different is that I take advantage of candle making to de-stress from the morning work.
Dedication, Patience and Consistency is what you’ll need to get where you want to go. I always say, one step at a time, there might be a big step ahead and you might fall but if you get up and reach for it, you’ll get to the top.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love California, it’s too big yet you can visit a lot of places – from the dessert to the beach to the mountains, all in one state. One place to just enjoy night time is at Signal Hill, hilltop park – to enjoy the view of LA.
Another night spot for me is by Malibu Beach on the side of PCH. Just roll down your window, listen to the waves, looking at the sky and some glancing over Santa Monica Pier.
Let’s go south to Downtown San Diego, the nightlife of San Diego can be fun for someone visiting the area. The food and drinks makes the drive worth it.
Finally, San Francisco – wow. Food is wonderful in the San Francisco while you mesmerize the beauty of Golden Gate Bridge and you see boats passing by.
It’s the simplicity for me that makes me enjoy California.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to say thank you to my lovely fiancé who supports me with what I do, go to pop-up events with me and make candles with me. Without her, it would be a difficult journey for the company. Also, to my family who support what I do.