We had the good fortune of connecting with Rene Contreras and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rene, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
As the oldest brother of four, I innately strive to be a source of strength and empowerment for my younger brothers. The idea to start a business began when my family home became the scene of tragic events, resulting in the murder of my mother’s husband and father of my two youngest brothers. After bearing witness to the trauma my family endured, I was more determined than ever to wield our grief to create something positive; to build something that could be ours and that we would be proud of. Thus began our journey of building a business that would not only strengthen our bond as brothers, but one that would also give us the opportunity to cultivate change in our communities and environment.
In the Summer of 2019, we began digging and building wood-burning bonfire experiences for both locals and tourists alike. The following summer, the world came to a pause and after months of minimal human contact due to the pandemic, we noticed our local shorelines looking more pristine than before. As the world changed, so did our motives and thus, sparked our vision to create cleaner, brighter bonfires for beach dwellers to enjoy, responsibly. We listened as community members voiced their concerns about unsafe bonfire practices and the hazardous materials left behind. By replacing firewood with propane tanks, we are now committed to creating memorable beach experiences that help to improve and sustain our beach community.
BluLite is currently part of the Pacific Beach Town Council and are working on updating current municipal codes to allow our business to operate year round and with the full support of the city and its departments.
What should our readers know about your business?
We are the only clean burning bonfire business in the area that also properly cleans the beach area before utilizing it for our guests. Working in this industry poses a lot of challenges that is keeping us from growing at the rate that we’ve projected. The City of San Diego has outdated municipal codes and ordinances that prevent qualified businesses like ours to operate at our full potential. After learning about these hurdles we decided to join our local town council to get a better understanding of how the system works.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to remove all distractions that do not align with your goals. Build close bonds with those individuals that truly believe in your mission.
Our story began out of tragedy but through faith and a passion for our community we will overcome all adversities
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would do my best to avoid the major tourist traps while still showing them the beauty of San Diego. I am a sucker for farmers markets so I would make sure to take them to the Ocean Beach Farmers Market on Wednesday night. Down the road from the farmers market is the breathtaking views of Sunset Cliffs so we would definitely make that part of the tour.
Any friend of mine would love to get the blood going with a good hike so I’d take them to Cowles Mountain to get a good hike in. Then we’d visit my favorite pizza spot in San Diego called Tribute Pizza which is located in North Park.
The beaches in this area can get pretty busy so I’d try and take them to a less crowded beach located near La Jolla called Windansea Beach. This place has great sunsets and clean sand.
One of my favorite places to take friends is the Patriot Jet Boat located near Broadway Pier in the Downtown area. I would end their vacation with one of our own Sunset Beach Bonfires Experiences near Mission Beach. This is the absolute best way to enjoy a sunset and transition into an evening with a warm clean bonfire.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To my younger brother who took a leap of faith and joined me in starting the company. My beautiful partner Kayle Salas for always believing in me and supporting my efforts.
Photo credit – Blair Kirby IG – @Kirbybk