Scent of Success
Last fall, Hart Main was teasing his younger sister about the candles she was selling for a school fundraiser when the Marysville boy, now 13, lit up with a big idea. Why not replace unbearably girly scents like lavender and cinnamon with more manly ones? A little research on his laptop yielded the name of a scented-oils manufacturer that actually stocked the smells of fresh-cut grass, a wood-burning campfire and a new leather baseball glove. By November, Hart, his mother Amy, father Craig and two siblings were turning out a half-dozen candles a week for sale to family and friends, each in Hart’s container of choice: a soup can.
Then, Channel 4 in Columbus interviewed Hart about his ManCans. The video package was picked up by NBC affiliates across the country the following day.
“In a 48-hour span, Hart got 1,400 orders, with multiple candles in every order,” recalls Craig, an information-technology director.
Now, the teen heads a fledgling company that has set the candle-buying public on fire. The ManCan line of scents has expanded to include Bacon, Coffee, Grandpa’s Pipe, New York Style Pizza, Sawdust and Dirt (the smell of moist, just-turned earth). And the candle-making operation that overtook the Main family home has been outsourced to a Westerville firm that can handle the increased demand. At press time, the business had sold approximately 6,000 candles, now priced at $9.50, to men and women of all ages.
The ManCan’s appeal lies as much in the altruistic sourcing of its container as it does in its unique scents. Each week, Hart’s parents and aunt deliver carloads of an Aldi house-brand soup to food pantries in Akron, Columbus and Lima and return with stashes of empty, clean cans to be used in the business. Craig explains that the process is actually less expensive than having empty cans made. But Hart notes that it does limit growth.
“We’re so far behind on orders,” he says in a grown-up, matter-of fact tone. “If we can only get a thousand soup cans, then we can only make a thousand candles.”
That maturity extends to the selection of fragrances. According to Craig, his son has turned down suggestions to make beer-, marijuana- and flatulence-scented candles.
“He wants his candles to sit on somebody’s shelf,” he says, “not be put in the back of a closet.”
— Lynne Thompson
For more information, visit man-cans.com.
Those familiar with Troy’s town square already know of its picturesque shops, diverse restaurants and historic buildings. Every other year, however, the downtown area gets a taste of the arts during “Sculptures on the Square.”
It’s worth visiting for the fifth event — which runs through September — to see the artwork associated with this year’s theme, “Opening Doors to Troy.”
“[The display] is the result of creative minds in the community,” says Karin Manovich, director of Troy Main Street, about the doors lining Troy’s town square. Participants in the project range from local elementary school students to regional artists. Each was asked to propose their idea, material and medium selections. Out of 35 submissions, 28 were chosen.
The end result: A variety of waterproof doors, from Japanese-style partitions to porch screens. Some express locally meaningful images — including one with a mosaic of historical pictures from the 97-year-old Troy-Hayner Cultural Center — while others are more abstract, made of supplies that include felt, fencing and musical instruments.
The most poignant entry was created by Troy’s sixth-grade public-school students, who chose to illustrate a “Doorway to Education.” Each pupil created a watercolor with a quote about personal excellence. The images were then formed into the shape of an
“Each sixth-grader in Troy has his personal achievement listed on this door in the form of art,” says Manovich.
Before the exhibit closes, the artwork will be auctioned off on Sept. 17, and judges will award prizes to the best pieces.
Manovich admits that each door will be missed.
“They’re so visible on the street,” she says. “They’re so colorful and big, it’s great.” — Jessica Esemplare
Change of Pace
The Southern Ohio Ladies Aside and their obliging horses have played many parts: They’ve donned billowing poodle skirts, wispy fairy gowns, Elvis dos and unicorn horns with lots of glitter.
But no matter the couture, to this 45-member equestrian troupe and their faithful four-legged companions, there’s only one way to ride: traditional sidesaddle, with both legs to one side of the horse. What side to choose is up to the comfort and dexterity of the rider, much like being right- or left-handed.
The popularity of riding sidesaddle which, in its early days was linked to a woman’s wealth and social standing, cooled during the first wave of feminism in the early 20th century. But, explains Bainbridge resident Maggie Herlensky, the tradition is one that needs to be preserved.
“With a properly fitted saddle and a sense of balance, riding sidesaddle can actually be safer for the rider and more comfortable for the horse,” says Herlensky, who founded SOLA 20 years ago to teach and promote the custom.
Through the years, SOLA members have competed in jumping and dressage shows across the Midwest, as well as trail-riding competitions and endurance racing. Clearly, their commitment to this timeless practice bridles them together.
“We’re a bunch of history buffs,” says Linda Bowlby of Bucyrus, who’s been a SOLA member since the group began.
The troupe’s most thrilling experience came in 2009, when members were invited to ride in President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade.
“Of course,” laughs Bowlby, “we toned down the glitter.” — Laura Beans