Flying high with Gallo + Hen
Every Wednesday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s WCW title belongs to South Bay native, Vanessa Scouton who on top of being a flight attendant for Virgin America, is the owner and creator behind Etsy’s GALLO+HEN products.
Scouton, 30, grew up in Redondo Beach and is currently residing in Oakland. She moved to RB in the 2nd grade and went to Beryl Heights and went to high school at Redondo Union High School. During her time at RUHS, she was in the Health and Fitness Academy and was on the Surf Team.
She says that she practically lived at the beach as a kid and could always be found surfing at Topaz or hanging with her friends at Ave A. Upon graduating high school, she went to El Camino for two years and studied Fashion Design before transferring to San Francisco State.
During her last year at state, she was enrolled in just a few classes and was seeking a new part-time job. She says, “I never panned on becoming a flight attendant, it sort of just happened.” Her friend was working at SFO (San Francisco Airport) as a gate agent for an international carrier and helped her get a job there to.
Her training consisted of 6 weeks and says that service was the shortest lesson and probably what most people think they go to training for. They learned to evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds, how to fight a fire at 35,000 feet, what to do with a bomb, how to handle crazy people, how to help a pregnant women give birth, and more!
She even says that there's a day that they just show you plane crashes, one after the next. After watching, they talk about each one, why did it happen, what new procedures were put into place because of it, what would one have done, etc. “In a way, it teaches you to separate your emotions from your actions,” she says.
Her favorite day of training was when she got to jump down the emergency exit slide. She says that a lot of people don't make it through the training and that the instructors are very strict. She says that being on time is considered late, they must receive 90% on all tests, 1 redo for evacuation drills and emergency equipment preflight and procedure verbatim.
Vanessa personally loves red eyes and does 7-8 two day redeyes. A typical day for her is report to SFO at 10:05pm and a flies sfo-bos at 11:05pm. She lands at bos around 7:30 a.m., goes to a hotel and sleeps. A van picks up the flight attendants at 5:30pm and the flight from sfo-bos is 7pm. She arrives at sfo around 10:30pm and goes home.
Although technically only gone 24 hrs, they are still called a 2-day trip. She prefers this schedule because it allows her to have enough time with her husband, Carlos, and stepson, Vigo , and also allows for her to work on her Etsy shop.
Overall Scouton feels blessed to have had safe, easy flights with an occasional demanding client on board.
When asked what she’d tell someone who is afraid of flying, she said: “I think the fear of flying really comes from the fear of being in a new space that you don't feel comfortable with and feel out of control. I have massive control issues! Before I became a flight attendant, I was super afraid of flying. My dad and step mom thought I was crazy when I applied. But, I know I'm in control if something were to happen, I'd be the first to know, and I'm trained to deal with it. I also go into the flight deck and see the pilots at work and know how professional and serious they are about safety. Obviously, all flyers won't go through my training. So, I think the next best thing is to introduce yourself to the gate agent working your flight. Ask them if they would introduce you to the captain. My pilots will let you go in the flight deck and show you around a little, help you feel comfortable and give you a little knowledge. The flight attendants should be your best friend. Let us know if you'd love an update on weather or turbulence. Getting to know everyone working the flight you are on helps make you feel part of the team and in turn a little bit more in control.”
She says the best part of her job would have to be all the days she gets off and when she does go to work, she feels like she is just hanging out with her friends ...on a plane. “It’s so nice to not take work home with me. I might have a bad day, dealt with a crazy person, or bad turbulence... but when I get home, it’s all over!” she says. Scouton also enjoys the time away from home as it helps her not feel caged up.
On top of comforting flyers and being an all-star flight attendant, Scouton is very passionate about her Etsy business. About four years ago, Vanessa and her then boyfriend moved into their Oakland apartment and had very minimal furniture that did not match. She says, “We were dead broke and can't afford new stuff. So, I started refinishing and painting all our things to match.”
Carlos, her husband, loves what she is doing and wants to join. So, together, they began finding dumped furniture and as a team make them new. Soon after, people would come over and ask to buy the furniture they were making. In result, they began creating chests, coffee tables, bars, and a bench.
Scouton says she would paint them bright with fun patterns and would sell them at flea markets or custom orders. During this time, she also started making pillows and upcycling vintage goods that needed TLC.
What made the beginning of the business so special was that it developed at a time when she was feeling lost and unhappy. “I was starting to be a real bitch to people at work and a total jack ass all around. Once we started our creative business, my whole attitude changed and a felt a weight lifted off me. I needed so badly to have something creative for me to enjoy. As much as I enjoy my "day job,” flying wears you out and can feel endless,” she says.
Scouton and her husband named the business GALLO+HEN because she says he walks around like a “giant Mexican Rooster.” (Gallo is Spanish for rooster. And she is nicknamed Hen, since many years ago she DJed at a few bars as Mama Hen.) You can purchase her products from her website here.
Currently due to their landlord’s request, they put furniture building on hold, however, they have continued selling serape pillow covers. The pillow colors come in all the different colors and she says they brighten up n living space and add an adventurous vibe.
Scouton genuinely enjoys waking up on days off and sewing for a few hours. She also enjoys the process of taking trips to SD to get more blankets and even getting orders packaged and sending emails back and forth with customers.
When Scouton is not flying or sewing pillow covers, she pays it forward by donating clothes her family no longer wears or her step-son Vigo grows out of, all his toys or movies that he becomes to "old" for are donated and never resold. In addition, her friend Jenette and her are trying to lessen the amount of street cats in their neighborhoods and in the meantime, care and nurture them.
In 5 years, she hopes to continue doing things that make her happy. She sees herself flying, in a home, and doing what she loves. When Scouton visits the South Bay, she enjoys spending time with many of her life-long friends, going to the beach and enjoying a drink at Old Tony’s.
Thank you, Vanessa, for reminding us that it’s important to chase our passions and make time for those and what matters most.
“The fun, annoying, stressful thing about life is you can plan all day long but it doesn't mean shit. Maybe that's not the mindset of a powerful super successful businessperson, but I'd never envision being that type in a 1,000,000 years.”