It all started when Michael McPolin and his partner, Ken Martin, spotted little black smudges on the ceiling of their former Mastic home.
Thinking it was leaking oil, they had a technician inspect their heating system in hopes of solving the problem.
It turned out to be soot from all the candles McPolin liked to burn.
Realizing that soy candles made without dyes and other additives wouldn’t have the some effect, McPolin, 28, adopted a do-it-yourself attitude.
“We started making our own candles because we realized what goes into [some commercially produced candles],” McPolin said.
“If that’s what they put in your candles, then I thought, ‘what do they put in your body products?’ ”
He started making soy candles, body lotions, soaps and more for friends and family under the name Birch & Main Candle Co. Now he has taken that hobby and turned into a business with a recently opened 460-square-foot boutique at the Shoppes at East Wind complex in Wading River.
It’s the first business venture for McPolin, who has spent the majority of his career working for high-end corporate retail stores. But he is doing it with his partner in his corner.
“I said get away from the man and go take care of yourself,” Martin said.
Inside the store everything was designed, curated and assembled by McPolin — from the dark wood shelving to Birch & Main Candle Co.’s attractive minimalist label. He makes the products, luxurious items ranging from almond coconut-scented soap to bath bombs — “they’re the newest, biggest and best things,” McPolin said — at their East Yaphank home. Everything is vegan and animal cruelty free. Some of his favorite scents include Egyptian amber, blood orange and salty orchid.
Many items are sold unscented and uncolored under the moniker “Butt Naked.”
You’ll also find some home décor items, essential oils and McPolin’s signature candles sold in mason jars and tumblers.
Customers, like Aimee Lower of Shoreham, find themselves trying the products and instantly becoming hooked.
“I love that they have something literally for everyone,” Ms. Lower said. “The bath bombs are amazing and so luxurious. Right now I am using the Blood Orange in every form. I‘ve tried a sample of just about everything in the store and can honestly recommend it all.”
The name Birch & Main is significant for McPolin. He grew up on Birch Hollow Drive in East Yaphank and now owns a home there with Martin. Their first home was located on Main Avenue in Mastic.
“These were the crossroads of my life,” he explained.
“Birch and Main is a perfect addition to The Shoppes, where we aim to create a gathering place for families to enjoy and explore the talents and passions of local business people and artisans in their community,” said Charlotte Cote, a spokesperson for the complex.
McPolin said he had considered opening a storefront in downtown Patchogue or Sayville, but ultimately decided on Wading River after the first time he visited the Shoppes.
“As soon as I stepped in here, I knew it,” he said. “I think the North Fork is lot more health conscious and I felt our brand would fit in well with the community.”
Birch & Main is located at 5768 Route 25A, Suite V2, Wading River. Reach them at (631) 886-2053. Follow them on Instagram, @birchmaincandle.
Top photo: Michael McPolin inside his new store Birch & Main Candle Co., located at The Shoppes at East Wind complex in Wading River. (Credit: Vera Chinese)