Two friends pour their hearts into a creative venture, producing all-natural candles and sustainable goods that promote self-love and wellness.
Written and Photographed by Kate Rogan
Standing in the kitchen of her Bridgewater home, Catherine MacDonald breathed in the sweet, earthy scent of cranberries, cinnamon and pecans and was immediately reminded of her childhood. Her mother would add these ingredients to a pot of boiling water, filling their Victorian farmhouse with the same comforting aroma. Now a young mother herself, MacDonald carefully mixed sweet and spicy essential oils into a vessel filled with hot wax in hopes of recreating the familiar scent Her countertop was covered with supplies—small glass tumblers, braided cotton wicks and a 10-pound bag of organic soybeans—all of the tools needed to teach herself how to pour candles.
“I kidded myself by thinking, ‘Oh, this will just be a hobby,’” says MacDonald, founder of the artisan candle company Feather + Finn. Prior to launching her candle business, MacDonald worked for a small company outside of Boston designing wine cellars. A few months after giving birth to her second son, Finn, she found herself feeling restless. “I liked my work, but I knew that I wanted something more,” says MacDonald. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, her creative well ran deep and she dreamed of owning her own business. Her best friend, Jacqueline Magliozzi, understood the feeling.
“I was working 12-hour days as a teacher at the time,” says Magliozzi. “I felt like life was whizzing by. I wasn’t fully present for my family or for myself.” The two friends talked about their dreams, frustrations and their mutual desire to design a life of their own making.
When MacDonald and Magliozzi first met in 2010, the women formed an instant friendship. Their paths remained intertwined through the years and solidified when Catherine married Jackie’s cousin, Taylor, and the two friends became family. “We are each other’s chosen one,” says MacDonald. “We have an unbreakable bond.”
Over the years, the two friends made a few attempts at joint business ventures, including launching a wellness blog and a bracelet company. While these projects didn’t pan out as hoped, the friends remained confident that they were a perfect match for a business partnership. They simply needed the right idea to come their way.
One night in the summer of 2019, MacDonald looked over at a candle burning in her kitchen and inspiration struck. “There is the ritual of lighting a candle, the promise of self-care, the way the scent transports you,” says MacDonald. “It all seemed right.” She immediately began studying the craft of candle pouring and dreaming of launching her own distinctive line of hand-poured soy candles.
In the beginning, MacDonald kept her business idea a secret. She practiced pouring candles in her kitchen and experimented with different scents that would eventually become her “Everyday Collection.”
The process of candle making requires great patience and precision. To begin, the wax soybeans are melted in a heating container. When it reaches 185 degrees, the wax is poured into a cooling vessel. “I then drop in the desired essential oils,” says MacDonald, who stirs for exactly two minutes before letting the wax cool to 135 degrees, “the sweet spot that creates the perfect cure.”
MacDonald wanted to create a line of products that were clean, simple and safe for people and the planet. With her background in interior design, she paid close attention to every detail, down to the elegant typography on the labels. The candles are 100 percent vegan, made of organic soy wax, and are phthalate free. “It was very important to me that everything was recyclable and reusable.” The labels, which are chlorine-free, are designed to easily slide off with hot water so the glass jars can be repurposed and used as a vase for fresh flowers.
MacDonald created five signature candles, which she named Farmhouse, White Tea, Brewed, Garden, and Pink Peony. Each scent evoked a memory. White Tea, for example, was an ode to her mother, who was never without a full teacup. MacDonald began sharing candles with family members and their positive feedback confirmed what she already knew— she had a business in the making.
But before moving forward, there was something important she had to do—she had to present the candles and the opportunity to Jackie. “The entire time I was creating these candles, I knew Jackie would be my partner,” explains MacDonald. “There is absolutely nobody else I would rather do this with.”
“She basically gave me no choice,” says Magliozzi, with a smile, recalling her friend’s matter-of-factness. “She came to my house one day with this cardboard box and she pulled out the most gorgeous candles and said, ‘I am starting a business and I want you to be a part of it, so what are you going to bring to the table?’”
MacDonald had poured one very special candle—Pink Peony, with notes of magnolia, peonies and green leaves—for the daughter Magliozzi was expecting. “Oh, and did I mention I was nine months pregnant at the time?” Jackie says, laughing. The feminine candle was especially thoughtful as Jackie was expecting a “rainbow baby,” a girl named Nellie, the family’s ray of sunshine after a devastating miscarriage.
MacDonald, who had journeyed though two years of infertility and IVF treatments, understood her friend’s heartache. “We’d both been through a lot physically and emotionally. It became crystal clear that creating meaning in our lives was top priority.” It wasn’t lost on the best friends that pouring clean, non-toxic candles was perfectly aligned with their newfound focus on self-care.
With her friend officially onboard, Feather + Finn was up and running, powered by MacDonald’s vision and Magliozzi’s attention to detail and passion for wellness.
Most recently, the two friends released a spring line, which they’re calling the “Fresh Start Collection.” Featured scents include lemon and basil, lily and jasmine, green tea and mint, citrus and coconut and palo santo. In addition, Magliozzi is spearheading the creation of a new organic bath soak collection.
It wasn’t long before the demand from online sales made it necessary for the business to move out of MacDonald’s home. The company recently began renovating a historic building that will become a maker’s space and storefront. The friends also plan to host events and pop-ups in the future.
“Our hope is to inspire others and offer a lifestyle brand that focuses on being present and well,” says MacDonald. “We want these products to promote self-love, offer comfort, and spread kindness.” The company recently launched a “Pour the Love campaign,” encouraging customers to order a limited-edition candle for someone they love, a way of celebrating the amazing people in their lives. In harmony with their recent campaign, the two friends are grateful for their cherished friendship. “Life has a way of bringing people into your life for a reason. We are each other’s reason.”