Love Luxury: North Ave Candles, One for the Books

Exclusive Offer for Taste of Pittsburgh Readers

Get 20% your order through North Ave Candles Etsy shop using code LUXE20 here: 

Hi there, luxe lovers! My name is Heather Liebling and I will be taking you on a guided tour of Pittsburgh’s best local creators of bath, body and beauty products. As a lifelong consumer of drool-worthy, pampering items, I was delighted when I moved from New York to Pittsburgh to find that this city was filled with beauty – much of which has been born of crafters and artisans residing right here in the ‘burgh! My goal with this column will be to shed light on the best local beauty merchants whose products meet my criteria for variety, quality, and aesthetics. Since I also adore a good bargain (who doesn’t?), I’ll get you all the details on discounts and deals so that these indulgences won’t break the bank. I’ll also be filling you in on my personal favorites from the collections and any other special features from the brand. There will be something for everyone, from reviews on skincare and home fragrance to makeup and nail polish. Come discover the beauty of Pittsburgh with me! Let’s get started with North Ave Candles….

Harper Lee. Mark Twain. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Frank L. Baum. Roald Dahl. These artists created worlds that felt both real and fantastical, truthful and transcendent. Now, one local Pittsburgh artist, inspired by these incredible narratives, has transformed them into an olfactory experience that brings the magic, the grit, the passion, the whimsy of those journeys right into your home.

My personal fav, Clove & Orange flanked by the glittery Oz-inspired Rainbow Sherbet & the Summer seasonal Watermelon

North Ave Candles, created by the Northside’s Amanda Fenner, boasts a wide array of literary-inspired fragrances within a series of carefully curated collections such as Banned Books, Classic Children’s Literature and the Harry Potter series. To be sure, the idea is quite clever – marrying the ambience of a lovely candle with the lush experience of curling up to a good book seems idyllic. But, of course, a candle needs to be more than a scene-setter: it has to, quite literally, pass the smell test. Let’s take a closer look at why North Ave Candles sets my heart ablaze.

  • Variety: For starters, I love the fragrance selection. There is something here to suit every taste, including sweet (Cotton Candy, Rainbow Sherbet), floral (English Ivy and Blooms, White Tea Rose), fresh (Shire Sweetgrass, Basil, Sage and Mint), fruity (Lemon Meringue Pie, Macintosh Apple), woodsy (Wild Currant and Sandalwood, Smoked Pine and Parchment), and more. There are also some really gorgeous tri-layered candles in their limited seasonal offerings and year-round in the Harry Potter series. The “Harry” candle, for example, burns down to unearth sweet layers of treacle followed by a woodiness evocative of fire and brimstone and finished with the palette cleanser of fresh, unassuming florals. To me, North Ave is to the candle world what Jo Malone colognes are to the fragrance world: absolutely intoxicating on their own but on another level when layered up.
  • Quality: Given that these are all handmade, the consistency of their quality is impressive. Nearly every candle I’ve tried burned down evenly and with minimal need for wick-trimming. They are soy and soy-blend, so no harsh ingredients here to stifle the notes or your lungs. In terms of throw, the permeating fragrances are consistent with what one smells at first whiff – no chameleons except for the pleasant surprises unraveled in the tri-layer varieties.  They tend to have medium strength across the board – neither undetectable nor overbearing.  These candles also last AGES (the 12-ouncers boast a 70+ hour burn time), making them well worth the price tag.
  • Aesthetics: I love a candle that looks as great as it smells. The brilliant thing about North Ave’s design is that they effortlessly fit into any interior design theme (no need to camouflage them, turn them around, or cover them with a more appealing sleeve). The library card-inspired labels are simple and elegant – they give the appearance of class while being playful enough to avoid looking “stuffy.” Some varieties handily come in an oh-so-trendy mason jar, but I personally prefer the sturdiness of those with the flat glass base. When finished, these make for some very Instagram-worthy, chic desktop storage (for pens and pencils, I should think!).
  • My personal fav(s): For my money, nothing comes closer to perfection than the Clove and Orange candle: it’s equal parts citrus and spice and the Clockwork Orange-inspired packaging is a delightfully devilish touch. And at the holidays, Christmas at the Cratchit House is the absolute epitome of seasonal warmth. Incidentally, it also makes a charming gift for family and friends.

Special Feature: Starting February 2017, the brand will be introducing a special “Candle of the Month.” For February’s candle, Fenner “whipped” up a 50 Shades of Grey-inspired fragrance, aptly named Clean Linens and Leather.

Price/Where to Buy: North Ave Candles range in price from $12-$22, with discounts applying for multiple purchases at select retailers and locations. Find these gems at City Books in Brookline, The Library Shop in the Carnegie Library Oakland, Kards Unlimited in Shadyside, Calligramme in Lawrenceville, Artsmiths of Pittsburgh in Mt. Lebanon, Moxie Cloth Boutique and on Fenner also participates in many local artist events, such as Pittsburgh’s I Made It! Market.

*Did You Know? North Ave Candles has previously been featured in a Real Simple holiday gift guide. Way to put Pittsburgh crafters on the map!

Exclusive Offer for Taste of Pittsburgh Readers

Get 20% your order through North Ave Candles Etsy shop using code LUXE20 here: 

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