Voces de Cadena Collective is a blog series featuring Q&A’s and short stories about the artisans that we work with. This first post is about Aracely Salas, founder of Cel Sal, how she got started on her candle making journey, and some details about what makes her products so special.
A brief background: Cadena Collective and Aracely’s story goes beyond candles - they got connected over 15 years ago, when Alejandra and her sister, May, helped choreograph Aracely’s quinceañera “baile sorpresa” dance. They share a collective story, in that they both come from South Dallas, a neighborhood that not many see beauty in, and have both found a way to find inspiration in these roots.
Alejandra: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Cel Sal, and what inspired this journey that you’re on?
Aracely: My name is Aracely Salas, which is kind of how Cel Sal got its name. I didn’t really want to put the word candle behind my name because I didn’t want to limit myself to just candles; I knew starting off I wanted to have a whole home fragrance line - there’s candles, perfumes, hand and body products - so it took me a while to come up with a name brand, and so I thought, “Cel Sal”, that sticks, and that’s what it’s gonna be.
I started this journey in 2018 - I love candles, I’m obsessed with home fragrance. One day I walk into Bath and Bodyworks and I smell eucalyptus and white tea, and I’m like, wow I need to have this scent in my life all the time. I’m such a compulsive buyer, so I bought like 8 of their largest candles, and went home and burned through one of them in 2 or 3 days. I thought, oh my gosh this is going to be so expensive if I keep this up, so I started to research - what goes into a candle, and what makes a candle burn so fast? It led me down the YouTube rabbit hole and I started to see the ads on the side that said “How to make a candle” - thank you, algorithms. On the videos I was just learning about the different kinds of waxes, and I finally took a step and purchased a candle making set, and the week after I was making my own stuff here in the kitchen, and from there I realized I loved it.
Alejandra: What inspires some of your scents?
Aracely: I love modern home art, and I’m really into 3D graphic home art, so every time I get a batch of set samples I always smell it and I picture a room that this fragrance goes into. And from there I just set the ambiance in my head, what notes I can smell the most, and the kind of vibe it will bring to the space. The set names kind of bounce from the notes that you can get instantly, as well as the base notes.
Alejandra: One of the reasons we love your candles, beyond the scent, is because you use pet-friendly, safe ingredients, so could you talk more about that?
Aracely: Absolutely. So upon my research looking into what goes into candles, I learned that a lot of these candles that you see at Target or Ross, for 2-5 dollars, you’re getting them at those prices because of the ingredients, and also because they’re produced by huge manufacturers so their margins allow them to sell them for cheaper. So the quality of these candles and their ingredients are not the best; a lot of them include paraffin wax, which, even when it’s refined it’s derived from crude oil and is petroleum based, so... not the best thing to be inhaling.
I knew when I started making candles, I wanted to make something that I would feel great about burning, and making, and sharing with other people. Cel Sal’s candles use all natural coconut wax, and have zero paraffins in them, and I’m proud of what I’ve created! And as far as the wicks, there’s hundreds of different ones to pick from and testing them was such a pain because there’s just so many. But even with wicks, something that people don’t put that much attention to, a lot of them have lead or zinc cores, so just imagine burning a metal, that’s what’s exuding into your home and it’s just not safe. So, all of our candle wicks are cotton, no lead and no zinc.
So then you have your fragrance, which is the best part of the candle, and those are all cruelty free, vegan friendly, not tested on animals. I really pride myself in choosing the most luxurious and unique scents.
We’re proud to work with businesses like Cel Sal because Aracely’s attention to detail - not only in the scent of her candles, but in the ingredients as well as the packaging and labels - carries a sense of intentionality.