By Ginger DeShaney
A photo of vintage beer cans started Devon McGinty on a creative journey that now provides her with a therapeutic outlet.
“These are really cool looking,” Devon said about the beer cans in the photo she saw on SOWA’s Instagram page in 2020. She has always liked vintage and retro things.
So she went and bought the cans, not knowing what she would do with them.
“I was brainstorming and I just came up with the idea of making candles out of that,” she said. “I like retro vintage mixed with modern and I just think it’s a really cool way to keep things modern but also pay tribute to older things.”
The only thing was, she’d never made a candle.
So she educated herself on candle making. “It’s been a cool learning process. I love learning how to do new things.”
She turned her passion project into CAN’dl by Dev, a play on the vintage cans she uses and candles.
“I found an outlet to make myself feel good and still do things for other people,” she said.
Devon, 26, a Syracuse University graduate, has her dream job as a Medicolegal Death Investigator for the office of the Chief Medical Examiner. But her job can be difficult and sad. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was going into the office every day while most everyone else was working from home.
“I found [candle making] to be very therapeutic,” she said. “I’d come home from work and it would be the first thing I started doing. It was very relaxing and took my mind off of what I was doing earlier in the day.”
She started making candles in winter 2020 and had a large batch ready by Christmas that year. She started an Instagram page to help spread the word. Friends and family increased her reach.
“It was a really good way, especially during COVID, to get back in touch with people,” Devon said, noting she was hand delivering her CAN-dls in Boston and elsewhere in Massachusetts.
Other people she knows who don’t live in the area heard about the candles and wanted them, too, so she started shipping them.
“I realized that people were really liking them so I just kept doing it and ended up making a website. It has very much for me been … a happy outlet to my not so cheery day-to-day job, but it’s been really great.”
She has been participating in pop-ups – she was part of the Sip & Shop Holiday pop-up at The Broadway in December – and has gotten to meet a lot of small business owners and learn a lot about starting a business.
“It’s been a hobby for me more than a business,” she said, “but now I’m kind of like, ‘OK, I can do more with this.’ ”
Devon is considering registering CAN’dl by Dev as a business, and a South Boston business approached her to sell her candles at their shop.
She gets her vintage cans from collectors, eBay, Etsy, antique markets. “My main focus is vintage cans,” she said. “They look so much cooler than cans now.”
Plus, she noted, vintage cans are thicker and more durable than today’s cans and make for great candle vessels.
She uses mostly beer cans, and some vintage soda cans, but has also made larger candles in vintage Copley Coffee tins, including some with citronella. “I’m always looking for new ideas,” she said.
Her long-burning CAN’dls, which are hand poured with all-natural soy wax and are available in a variety of fragrances, reach a large demographic, because men like them, too.
She was living in South Boston when she started making her candles. “At the time I was living with three other people,” she said. “They were very nice in letting me turn our kitchen into a candle laboratory.”
She now lives in Newton with a large kitchen that is perfect for candle making, but she is still very connected to South Boston.
South Boston “is such a great community,” Devon said. “I’ve been able to sell my candles there and people love them. And now I’m working at a restaurant there [Fat Baby] and I love it.”
She estimates she makes about 250 candles a year. Her busy season is Christmas, but candles make great gifts year-round, she said. She’s also made candles for weddings and rehearsal dinners.
“It’s never too late to find a new passion,” Devon said. “Be open to learning new things. It can lead to something great.”
To view or purchase Devon’s CAN’dls, which range in price from $20-$40, visit:
- Website: www.candlbydev.com
- Instagram: @candl_bydev