We had the good fortune of connecting with Nelene DeGuzman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nelene, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
There are two halves to it I suppose. On the practical side, I have a background in chemistry and wanted to do something creative with it. I started experimenting with making my own body care items partly out of frugality and partly out of difficulty finding certain items in vegan, cruelty free, and zero waste packaged forms. The other half is that the more I learned, the more I saw it as another form of art and expression. Scent is so transporting, I found that I really enjoyed the process of blending a complex, interesting scent and finding a way to elevate something like a candle to feel really special and interesting. Small batch soap making is similar, I don’t use any artificial colorants in any of the products but I will still sometime use natural materials like clays, coffee or tea and charcoals and other things that have additional benefits to create patterns and designs in the soaps. The patterns are not apparent until you are ready to cut the soap and every bar is different and the designs can never be fully replicated. I love that aspect of it. When I decided to partner up with a friend to make the zero waste store Cero a reality, it was the final push of the universe telling me to make the candles and body care into an actual business. It just made sense to build out a vegan, cruelty free, zero waste body care brand to sell at Cero, to fill the holes for certain products we were having trouble finding vendors for. It is still difficult to find vendors that are vegan, cruelty free and zero waste packaged. It only made sense to just create a business that would fill that gap.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Firstly I am a musician. I have played under the name The Rifle since around 2013. We do have some changes/announcements coming up that I’m not quite ready to talk about but follow us on socials if you are interested in hearing some new things. The music I make is art that I create only for myself. It’s making art for no other goal than to make something beautiful that I’m proud of. (((Art is obviously subjective <3))). Making music in 2020 was different for obvious reasons, not a lot of shows happening and as it turned out livestreams were not really my thing. Looking forward to unveiling some new things in 2021 and hopefully shows/tours will be a possibility again eventually. Secondly, I run a small company called Art Over Order, making small batch candles and body care that are all vegan, cruelty free and zero waste packaged. Art Over Order is sold exclusively at Cero, a zero waste store I cofounded in Tucson. We are dedicated to making sustainable living easy and accessible, with recycling and community programs as well as a retail store stocking all your home and personal care essentials but without the trash. There are other zero waste stores but we are specifically zero waste and vegan and deeply dedicated to serving the needs of our Tucson community. At Cero, you can be certain that everything you purchase is free of animal products and single use plastics and in many cases was made locally with love.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
(((imagining that COVID is no longer a concern, maybe in a post vaccine world))) To do recommendations (in no particular order) Get breakfast at Tallboy’s Grab a coffee at Exo Lunch or dinner at Tumerico Have a hot chocolate and a strawberry cookie at Monsoon Chocolate Pop into Time Market Take a stroll around the Reid Park Duck Pond, maybe have a snack or a picnic Browse some books and music gear at Bookman’s Spend a day at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum Grab a boba at Ni Hao boba Get an oatmilk latte at Presta and grab a vegan pastry from Houlden’s Rise Above while you’re there See a flick at The Loft Cinema That really made me miss pre-pandemic Tucson. Stay safe friends <3 The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First my partner Kevin has been infinitely supportive even when I’ve turned our entire house into a crazy candle factory. Not only is he test subject #1 for all Art Over Order formulations but he’s spent more late nights with me, trimming wicks and labelling candles than I can count. Second of course is my business partner Val. We cofounded the Tucson zero waste store Cero and it was our little business baby that was the final spark that encouraged me to make Art Over Order an actual business. Third, Cero’s business neighbors, Groundworks and St. Cecilia studios. I felt like we all had to weather the storm that was 2020 and it was helpful knowing we were sort of in it together.
Photographers Josh Wallace Val Timin Alanna Rae Blivess