SAN JUAN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A small business owner in San Juan is turning a passion for saving the planet into a means to showcase the Hispanic culture and make ends meet.

Sow Good Candles is owned by 21-year-old Portia Lopez as something to occupy her time during the pandemic.

Lopez has a love for candles and gardening and is a student on the road to becoming an environmental scientist.

One of her goals is to help everyone start a lifestyle where they can re-purpose and re-use items that might have normally ended up in the trash – or a “circular economy.”

Courtesy Photo: Portia Lopez

Noticing the amount of waste her own love of candles was producing, she decided to find a way to recycle her empty candle vessels.

Lopez then combined her passion to make the planet better with her Hispanic culture.

While visiting Mexico, Lopez found inspiration with the use of small ceramics and other vessels, using these to create familiar scents like “Frescas con Cream” or “Vicks Vapor Rub.”

Although the nostalgia of Hispanic culture is a leading factor in her design inspiration, Lopez explained what exactly she gets her inspiration from.

“Culture plays a huge role in my design inspiration. My love for nature plays a huge role. Another thing is my femininity, with the florecitas and the colors I’m able to bring out my side of femininity.”

Lopez takes the extra step to uses biodegradable and compostable packaging, secondhand, upcycled, and re-usable candle vessels. She also includes wildflower embedded paper labels and soil pellets to encourage customers to re-purpose their own vessels.

However, her journey was not always been “sow” easy.

When the pandemic hit, Lopez moved back to the RGV and was taking her classes virtually like most college students.

But then, her mother was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. Lopez decided to take a break from her studies at Baylor University.

“It’s the least I could do, she raised us, my brother and sister our entire life as a single mom. I feel like we all have a good head on our shoulders, so she did something right. She has always been supportive of everything, supportive of Sow Good Candles. It’s the least I could do.”

Lopez’s mother receives chemotherapy every two weeks. She shared that her family is optimistic about a happy ending.

“We are all very hopeful, that it will be okay again.”

Portia Lopez not only runs the candle business but also has a job with an environmental non-profit organization, the Sierra Club, along with caring for her mother.

Her sales have been able to support her financially, giving her mother peace that she can provide for herself, and someday she hopes she’ll be able to soon donate part of her proceeds to cancer patients and support her mother.

“One of the main things I wanted for my business is to be able to give back to the amazing community that the RGV is.”

The queen of multi-tasking has managed to run a business and so much more simultaneously. Lopez makes her candles while cooking and checking on her mother’s well-being along with managing social media accounts for her job.

“I found that I multitask a lot throughout the day. I’m taking care of my mom, making food for her, and I’m also you know making candles. I’m also on my phone doing social media stuff for my other job. It’s a lot of multitasking that I’m doing while I’m home where my mom is. I’m just juggling and doing things.”

Lopez creates most of her candles within her kitchen and stores her products in a spare bedroom while her brother is away at college.

Although Lopez is not sure where the business is headed in the next semester with her return to campus along with the status of her mother she has hopes her company will continue to flourish.

“Everything is up in the air with my mom, you know if she doesn’t get better and I need to continue taking care of her. I’m not sure.”

Lopez would eventually like to expand her workspace, giving her the ability to implement new ideas with the proper resources. For example, making it more eco-friendly and the ability to donate more money to local organizations and funds. She also hopes to continue educating the public with information on sustainability and climate justice and continue implementing her Hispanic culture into her work.

For now, Lopez’s goal is to finish her degree in Environmental Science, with the hopes of working for a non-profit or a group focused on environmental justice and making the RGV a better place.

To learn more about Sow Good Candles, click here