Recognized for an interior design aesthetic rooted in the past, as if she were plopped into Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, thrift-flipper, YouTuber, and DIY maven MaCenna Lee — known to her 940,000-plus subscribers as XO, MaCenna — has mastered the art of infusing the old with new life.
"At the forefront of all content I produce is to inspire people to transform their house into a home," the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising grad exclusively tells Green Matters.
Her vegan and cruelty-free candle line Auden Lueur — which combines a word of British origin meaning "old friend" with the French word for "glow" — was built on the concept of repurposing. The coconut and soy blend candles come in intricate vessels that were "designed with forever in mind."
"Through my love for finding things secondhand, and going flea market shopping, and sharing those types of videos ... I hope that it's made people realize that could be something they could do too," Lee says.
In discussion with Green Matters, MaCenna Lee touched on her love for secondhand decorating, her most ambitious thrift-flips, and making her French culture-inspired waste-conscious candles. We spoke with Lee just days before she made a major announcement: She is pregnant, and is expecting a baby with her boyfriend, Romeo, in June 2024.
Check out her Green Routine below!
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
GREEN MATTERS: How has your love for secondhand shopping and decorating evolved?
MACENNA LEE: This was not on purpose. And what I mean by that is, we had a very limited budget to turn a house into a home. Buying secondhand was cheaper. Even though my mom would take me antique shopping as a kid, I never truly valued it.
Through learning the positive environmental impact of thrifting, you start to really appreciate it. It's not that you shouldn't buy new, but look at all of this that you could reuse, and it almost has more character! I remember walking down the dishes aisle of a thrift store, and I was like, "We would never have to create anything new, there's so much already existing."
GM: What has been your most ambitious thrift-flip project to date?
ML: Furniture pieces are usually the most ambitious because there's always a lot of work involved. In our cottage, I have this piece that was an old phonograph cabinet, and I repurposed it into a vanity in our guest bathroom.
The most creativity comes from the smaller projects, like the dish that I broke and couldn't bear to throw away. I had seen this vase that had these broken pieces of dishware. So I was like, "Maybe I can just use the pieces as a textural element and make it look more mosaic."
GM: Auden Lueur “blends quality craftsmanship with [your] passion of repurposing,” according to the website. Can you expand on this?
ML: My goal is to never create more things and more waste. For me, every time I would buy a candle, its vessel was never something I actually wanted to keep. Even though the brand may say, "reuse it, reuse it,” what am I going to reuse this for?
With Auden Lueur, I wanted to eliminate any reason why you wouldn't want to repurpose the vessel in your home. I went through so many iterations of designing the vessel, and I was really inspired by vintage glassware.
It can become a vase, or a holder for your pins on your desk, like mine, or for makeup brushes. You can pour a new candle into it. The clear ones can become drinking glasses!
If you're gonna invite a candle into your life, it might as well be of high quality, and a scent, oil, and wax that won't flood your home with something toxic.
On the inside of all of our recycled packaging boxes are prints of my mom's paintings. So you can actually open them, cut them up, and use them as art. Additionally, for next launch, we're going to be working with a zero-waste shipping company called Boox Box.
"Green Routine" is a series from Green Matters that invites notable people in the environmental space to share the efforts they make to live more sustainably.