The association between teenage boys and scent is almost never positive. Hart Main is the exception. In 2010, the Marysville teen founded ManCans, a line of candles with masculine scents such as Sawdust, Grandpa's Pipe and Cracker Jack.
"I was joking with my sister, because she was selling candles for her school, and I was wondering why people hadn't made man-scented candles yet," Main recalls. Encouraged by his parents, Main used $100 in savings to create his first scents: Fresh-Cut Grass (the most popular), New Mitt and Campfire.
Made from food-grade wax and fragrances, the candles are poured into soup cans (the soup is donated to local food banks). ManCan labels include age-appropriate safety advice: "In case you are stupid, this candle will get very, very hot!!!"
Kristin Obert, a sales associate at Short North retailer Bink Davies, says customers "love the concept, that it's a young boy that developed the whole idea." Obert says women buy $11.95 candles for their boyfriends, husbands or brothers. Bacon is the store's best seller,
More than 6,000 ManCans have been sold in stores and online ($9.50 plus shipping) at www.man-cans.com. NBC4 television personalities Jerod Smalley and Matt Barnes were early champions, and a segment from the station aired on "The Today Show." George Lopez's "Lopez Tonight" TBS scheduled a ManCans plug in June.
What's next? "I would like to continue on, but I don't know if I'll be able to," Main says. "I'm already struggling to keep up with school."
He starts ninth grade in September.
Reprinted from the July 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.