By day, she’s a full-time wound nurse. By night, Marcella Gómez is the one-woman force behind the thriving Oh Comadre Candles, an online shop that sells about 40 different types of candles. And these aren’t your basic vanilla, lemon, or fresh linen-scented candles. Instead, Gómez makes items that speak about her experiences as a Latina. So her shop is filled with products named Lucha Libre (a black candle that smells like fresh leather and vanilla), Horchata (one that will evoke memories of the classic cinnamon-spiced drink), and Vicky’s Vapo Candle (inspired by the product that has become Latinos’ cure-all remedy). The candle modeled after Vicks VapoRub – made of eucalyptus, tea tree, and peppermint – elicits “chuckles, smiles, [and] an occasional OMG!”
Gómez opened her shop in 2016 after spending years experimenting with candlemaking. She took one class that taught her the basics of the craft, but she got to where she is today through a lot of trial and error. As a result, her first candles weren’t great. She first decided to get into candlemaking, because she found herself spending too much money on them and sneaking them into her home. “Candles are magical to me,” she told me. “I love them. So instead of buying them, I decided to make them to save money.”
Once she got the candlemaking down, she eventually got the courage to open up shop. But it was slow going at first. “There was a time when I felt I would never receive an order,” she said. “I received my first order on my birthday. I thought it was a joke, or one of my friends was feeling sorry for me and place an order. It was not a joke.”
“These candles are also a celebration of [Latinas].”
But now she’s so busy that she occasionally calls on her mom and aunt to help with adorning candles and the shipping process. After her full-time job, Marcella – whose design background shines through everywhere from the labels of the candles to the packaging of her items – goes home and starts work on Oh Comadre. She makes all the products in her kitchen, and is always testing new potential scents.
That’s where her mom, who also provides feedback on different scents, comes into play. “My mom is my best critic and I appreciate her honesty,” she added. “My favorite is when she said my candle smells like a chucho mojado. She is too darn honest.” She’s hoping to eventually release a Juan Gabriel-inspired candle, but she hasn’t been able to lock down a scent that will do the Divo de Juarez justice.
Oh Comadre’s best-selling product is the fresa con crema candle, but it’s impossible for Marcella to pick a favorite. She considers them all her babies, and she hopes each of them brings as much joy to others as they do to her. “I see much sorrow in my life as a nurse, and Oh Comadre balances my life with happiness and laughter,” she said. “It’s actually therapeutic for me. These candles are a reflection of me. I’m a Latina mother, wife, and full-time nurse. The candles are also a celebration of a Latina woman. The more reason the candles have to be the best I can make.”
Check out Oh Comadre Candles here.