ISLIP, New York -- One of the many ways that Melissa Gallardo kept calm during the peak of the pandemic was to light a few of her favorite candles.
Soon enough, she was lighting so many that she decided to try and make candles herself.
"I think it just created this ambiance of peace," said Gallardo about surrounding herself with candles.
Gallardo soon realized the home-fragrance industry lacked Latin American representation.
Gallardo got to work creating her brand, Bonita Fierce Candles, crafting premium candles inspired by Latinx heritage and home.
Using clean ingredients and eco-friendly packaging, Bonita Fierce Candles shares "la cultura," or the culture, with the rest of the world.
Her mission statement seeks to represent the cultural crossroads of being Latina and American.
"A lot of the scents that I have are based around the culture at home that I grew up with," said Gallardo. "My best-selling scent is cafecito con leche; everybody knows the beautiful coffee aroma in the morning. It's something I really grew up with, and I feel a lot of other Latinos and their respective coffees and cultures grew up with as well."
Her signature scents range from 'Azucar' inspired by the salsa Queen Celia Cruz to "Mucho Amor," inspired by the famous Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado.
"I really love that my brand is universal," said Gallardo. "You don't have to be Latino, Latinx, Latina to love and embrace the culture. All the scents I do have are representative of Latinx, but they are also things that everybody else can love too."
Contact Community Journalist Alex Ciccarone