We take a look back at how Hart Main's ManCans business has developed over the last year, following on from his original USD 100 investment.
When we first encountered Hart Main he was an aspiring young entrepreneur, with a newly launched business selling candles made in the headquarters of his parent’s kitchen. Now, one year and 24,000 candles later, Hart has built a flourishing business. ManCans has a simple premise – candles with scents that appeal to men, including Cigar, Coffee, and Fresh Cut Grass. These are contained in recycled soup cans, the contents of which are donated to homeless shelters. Hart’s venture has been met with enthusiasm, which has allowed the business to grow from a one-man operation to a fully functioning supply chain system. His parents have joined him in the running of the business and they have employed a contractor to manufacture the candles to meet the steady stream of sales – approximately 400 candles sold a week. These figures soar during holiday seasons, and Christmas 2011 saw 2,000 candles sold in two weeks. ManCans first came into being after a shared joke with his sister sparked an idea. She was selling candles on a fundraising stall and Hart thought: “Why don’t people sell candles with scents that men like?” Hart felt that men would appreciate the opportunity to fill their homes with more masculine aromas and set about creating his range of man candles as a result. He wanted to use cans to contain the candles, as he felt they added a unique aesthetic touch and fitted the manly image he wanted to create. There was a financial incentive from the start — Hart put USD 100 of his own pocket money into the enterprise. His parents contributed USD 200 with one stipulation — he would have to pay them back with money earned from his paper round if the business failed to get off the ground. Hart took on the challenge and started out by serving 250 cans of soup at a local homeless shelter with the intention of using the recycled cans over the next two months to make his candles. However, the cans only stretched to two weeks because of the demand. At 14 it seems that Hart is wise beyond his years, when explaining his choice of scents on the company website he confidently asserts: ‘Men don’t go to coffee houses, men go to ManCans’. Surprisingly, considering the male emphasis, many of Hart’s customers are women who like the custom scents. These scents are seasonal, so for the time being Hot Coca has been retired until the winter nights draw in once again. The choice of scents take inspiration from stereotypical manly pursuits and interests – Campfire, New Mitt, Dirt, Grandpa’s Pipe and Bacon all draw on a sense of nostalgia. Hart also takes scent requests, but declined to explore the dubious merits of one suggestion — cow manure. The year’s success has not come without its difficulties, and Hart has at times found the world of business to prove a tough challenge: ‘It takes a lot of dedication and commitment to develop a business. I have learned you have to make a lot of sacrifices to be able to develop a project.’The charitable aspect of the business is important to Hart and he is keen to stress that, ‘Every time a customer orders a candle, they are fighting hunger.’ Now the business is firmly established Hart has recently given the website a makeover and made payment options simpler to meet the customer demand and streamline the process. He is clearly ambitious, and claims that the business’s debut year has taught him that ‘no goal is impossible to reach’. He is resolved to set higher goals for the business in this next year — perhaps we will see ManCans in retail stores before too long? You can read more about ManCans in our article here, or visit the ManCans website here.
9th May 2012