Now A Scented Candles Small Business Owner, Once A Global News Anchor
My name is Viviana Hurtado and this is my small business. Since launching in 2022, blood and sweat is going into making Viviana Luxury one of the world's most luxurious home fragrance communities.
We're on a mission to welcome a new generation of home scent aficionados who are walking in their self-worth and honoring wellness through the best scented natural soy wax candles that elevate and celebrate Latin American casa & cultura.
Featured in Forbes as a best gift alongside megabrands such as UGG, our small business illuminates spaces around the world with our soft glows and luxurious candle scents. Customers choose to spend money on our candles as special occasion gifts for the people you love, for yourself, or just because. Coming to premium store shelves near you, this small business is also proud to be in close partnership with brands such as Madewell and West Elm, plus give back to our nonprofit partner: the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, a disease and philanthropy near and dear to my heart.
However, it's been a long, hard road to get where I am, that included a near death experience.
This candle small business started after my father almost died--he flatlined four times when his pacemaker failed. I was on the other side of the country and thought, what if I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. God walked with us and gave us the gift of more time.
Like many women in the workplace, after grinding for years and burned out, I was forced to choose between the career and people I love. I left my career–in my case, at the pinnacle in New York City as a broadcast journalism anchor at Bloomberg, to move back home to San Francisco and become a caretaker for my elderly parents, especially my dad who has advanced Parkinson’s and heart failure.
Viviana Luxury is the business, but itself a gift that gives me flexibility, as I help transition my parents in their sunset years.
Spending hours in hospital rooms consumed by uncertainty forced a quiet and gave me the gift of time to reflect on so much of the research and reporting I conducted at Bloomberg on Latinos, the economy, and business. But I wasn’t on the outside looking in. I’m a part of the booming Latinx population which is defining the U.S. New Majority with an annual buying power is $1.5 trillion.
The economic growth of my demographic is fueled by Latinas. Over the past five years, Latina-majority owned small businesses grew, at least 87 percent.
These are #facts. Yet our demographic group continues to be largely invisible to brands, business, media, politics, Hollywood, you name it--just as my immigrant parents oftentimes felt.
Grappling with invisibility was especially jarring because of the disconnect with the Latin America of my childhood: a place of astonishing luxury, rich history, and encanto: that primal magic that tickles your inner child’s soul.
As a kid, I summered in Colombia, breathing in the scent of home, love, togetherness, belonging to a large, extended family. Rituals about family, faith, and culture, candles always forming part of the occasion: big Sunday dinners, prayer lists for the ill, milestone gifts, and an essential to rituals of rest.
Latin America, for millennia, has been a region chock full of luxurious culture, vibrant history, and fierce women, contributing to the world's arts, sciences, technology, and business.
Few know this. How is history and its people erased? Why is this great continent and history not represented by home perfumes on store shelves? Take a look and you’ll find home fragrance perfumes made by a European business. If you want to buy gifts, especially fragrance, to connect and experience the magical encanto of Latin America, you’ll be disappointed.
Don't believe me? How many Latin American or Latinx perfumes or home scent brands can you name?
I thought so.
And if by chance I do spot a reference to América Latina, business gets it wrong: reducing a rich region to one dimension: folklore, a token word in Spanish, or the names of a favorite Spring break vacation dive.
I never see an aesthetic or aroma that captures the luxe, multi-dimension of mi tierra–the indigenous, the African, the European from which emerges a vibrant mestizaje–a great cultural and racial intersection.
In the face of this absence and erasure, I decided to start a business that captures the region's encanto and magic, rooted in the smells of my childhood and offer this option for customers looking to spend their money on a brand that anchors rituals of rest in the beauty, scent, and cultura of Latin America.
Viviana Luxury is a business with a social mission: through high quality fragrances, we harness the power of smell, memory, and the cultural significance of candle rituals to create a community where Latinx learn and take pride in our culture's greatness.
Through profiles of great ancestor women, such as Brazilian warrior Dandara, Mexican poetess Sor Juan Inés de la Cruz, Independence soldier Manuelita Saenz, we trace a direct line of heritage between this rich history and today's Latinx customers and small businesses.
In self care or gift giving, candles are the conduit to find and relish a stolen moment of rest, being "seen" while we come into our power, buoyed by the confidence of a history and great civilizations that prime us for this moment.
Capturing these smells of casa & cultura are at once an act of creation and preservation--a race against time, a quest to preserve my origin story--at the edge of memory and historical promesa.
This deeply personal and passionate WHY is key because caretaking for a memory patient is particularly grueling. Oftentimes my mornings are shot by my dad’s demands and like a newborn’s mother, I can only focus on my business when he sleeps.
Still, honoring my parents and the shared culture of millions of American Latinos is the gift that powers me as I light candles when I wake up early, and work late into the night on my small business. That includes: formulating, blending, and pouring candles, to outreach to potential customers looking to spend money on brands that align with their values, to customer service queries. I also do website maintenance, social media, and blog on all related to candles, including How to Take Care of a Candle.
In service to them, this business powers on, so Latinx consumers can feel seen and learn the depth of their rich culture, as they walk into their power and self-worth.