Building a successful candy brand: as easy as…

Often, we think that people who come from privileged backgrounds are spoilt and don’t amount to much living in the shadow of a successful parent. It always takes huge courage to go out and start a business from scratch, however, and there are very good examples of individuals who come from privilege and have built unique and successful businesses. Two that spring to mind in Britain are Charlotte Olympia and Victoria Beckham. Both these woman are building world-class, recognised fashion brands and are both much respected and admired.

I remember some 15 years ago, reading that Ralph Lauren’s daughter, Dylan, was opening a three-floored, 15,000 square foot candy store in New York. At the time, I must admit, even I was completely cynical, believing that it was just a whim. How would it be possible to make a successful business from sweets in such a large space in the centre of Manhatten? How wrong I was. Dylan’s Candy Bar is a destination shop and is now recognised as being one of Manhattan’s most-frequented tourist destinations. In 2001, after getting a degree in art history from Duke, Dylan opened her first store. Reportedly inspired by Roal Dahl’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the brand’s New York flagship is the largest dedicated sweet shop in the world – when I visited recently it really felt like a candy land offering every sweet on the planet!

Now, with 10 stores in the US and an international ecommerce site, the brand’s real strength can be measured by its versatility.

The biggest and best brands in the world become ubiquitous not just through their core products, but through all of the content and merchandise they produce. The LEGO movie is a very good recent example, as it helped to launch LEGO to the top of the world’s most powerful brands.

Dylan’s background has made her well aware of the need for brands to diversify. As she said to WWD after announcing a collaboration with Brazilian flip-flop makers Havaianas, “I always knew I wanted to create a lifestyle brand – and watching my dad go from having a tie company to a full lifestyle collection was certainly very inspiring.” It’s hardly surprising, then, that Dylan’s brand now offers a very wide range of products, from candy-themed T-shirts, jewellery and hats, to pillows, spa products and even a Dylan’s Candy Bar version of the classic board game Candy Land.

When I think of Dylan’s Candy I’m reminded of another candy brand founded by a similarly impressive woman. Sugarpova, Maria Sharapova’s candy line, has been creating a storm ever since it was launched in 2013.

Both brands are successful because of their versatility, and I’m expecting it to drive them to become even more recognisable and ubiquitous in the years to come. It goes without saying that I do love sweets, so let me know your thoughts at have a sweet weekend!