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These candles smell good, aren't toxic and illuminate their makers' special abilities

Abby Mackey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Fashion Daily News

PITTSBURGH — Jack Fluharty III didn’t know what he’d do after high school.

Maybe he’d work at McDonald’s or bag groceries or work as a hotel housekeeper as he’d done before, but none of those things really stuck with him in a way that a career should.

That uncertainty isn’t uncommon at such a young age, but the world looks different for Jack, who’s autistic and has epilepsy and Tourette syndrome.

Unique circumstances are the norm in Jack’s Steubenville, Ohio, home. His dad developed a host of health problems after being exposed to toxins over many years at work.

But this isn’t a sad story. It’s one of triumph and inclusion for both men — and a lady named Mack — thanks to Jack III’s mom and Jack II’s wife, Michelle, who created a business, Upland South Candles, that benefits them all.

Sensitive to scents


Michelle’s husband’s symptoms are easily triggered: Lighting a typical scented candle — even ones labeled “soy,” “natural” or “with essential oils” — can make him vomit, shake and develop headaches.

After the more major aspects of his care were under control, his wife sought to again fill their home with scents of the seasons, no matter what it took.

She works at the New Cumberland, West Virginia, headquarters of Ohio Valley convenience store chain Smith Oil. Her work friend, Rose Minch, jumped on board, helping to look up material safety data sheets of popular candles.

They discovered that many of even the “cleanest” candles contain chemicals that should be avoided by Michelle’s husband, at the very least. So, they made their own.


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