The new University of Mobile Store’s “Mobile Makers” collection features original products with UM connections, like scented candles from Mason & Vela Candle Co. created by alumnus Garrett Hughes. Here’s Garrett’s story.
I am Garrett Hughes, a graduate of the University of Mobile, Class of 2013. Upon graduation, I came on staff with UM in 2014 in the Marketing and Public Relations office. While there, I became interested in new creative endeavors, and one of those was candles.
That Christmas season, I decided to try and make some for coworker gifts. I made a few of them and, to my surprise, they turned out great. Fast forward to 2017. I had not made a candle since 2014, and I was having lunch with a fellow coworker and 2006 UM grad, Joe Hudson, who was also a local maker himself. With that lunch, I decided to try making candles again.
Joe was making concrete-style planters for succulents, and I was working on a concrete-style candle. We decided to enter the Mobile Artwalk and, honestly, see if we could make some money. We had a great turnout at the first event, and went on to do a few more.
That is where Mason & Vela was really birthed. The name Mason comes from stone masonry, and Vela is an homage to me being Guatemalan. Vela translates to candle in Spanish. The name literally is “concrete candle.” Since then, I no longer make concrete-style candles, but focus on glass jars and dough bowls. I now sell online, in a few stores including the University of Mobile Store, and markets as well. My “business” and local following has really grown, and I am proud to be a name in the community.
My time with the University Mobile’s marketing department really taught me new and creative ways to brand a product, and I now have the opportunity to be part of “The U” with other alumni makers. I’m really thankful for my time and experience at UM and the impact it has played on my life.
About the Artist
Garrett Hughes is a 2013 graduate of the University of Mobile with a degree in Global Business. A lifelong resident of Daphne, Alabama, he and his wife, Melyssa ’20, are proud to be residents of the Eastern Shore. Garrett currently works for his family business, Hughes Funeral Home and Crematory. You can often find Garrett at a local coffee shop when he’s not working or selling candles at different markets. Follow Mason & Vela on Instagram at @masonandvela.