Adventures in Candy Land: Dylan Lauren on Her Confectionary Empire
When it comes to fashion scions, Dylan Lauren is a bit of an anomaly.
As the daughter of iconic fashion-designer Ralph Lauren, she likely could have launched her own fashion label in a heartbeat. But at 27, her passions weren’t couture in nature they were confectionary.
In 2001, Lauren launched Dylan’s Candy Bar, a New York City-based candy emporium that’s grown into a mini candy empire with four locations in New York, Los Angeles and Houston with a fifth opening in Miami this month. The now 38-year-old “Candy Queen” also wrote a book in 2010 Dylan’s Candy Bar: Unwrap your Sweet Life, which chronicles her love of candy and her experience starting up.
We recently sat down with Lauren who helped us further unwrap her journey through Candy Land. She also gave us some tips on being a successful entrepreneur and insights into how DCB uses social media to connect with and possibly discover that next sweet product.
Q: What’s the recipe behind the success of Dylan’s Candy Bar?
A: I followed my passion, which is candy. Plus, I know so much about candy products, I knew I would flourish in it. So, I would say the recipe is passion.
Q: How did your dad’s entrepreneurial experience inspire you to launch DCB?
A: Watching my dad grow his business from a tie into a lifestyle brand helped pave the road for me. I learned a lot from him. He gave me a free education into being a successful entrepreneur. One important lesson I learned from him is to never give up, even if there are bumps in the road.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
A: Balancing my life, friends, family and hobbies, while dedicating time to growing my business. I find being a manager really challenging. For instance, I don’t enjoy some of the administrative tasks that go along with hiring and firing.
Q: So how to you manage to still do the things you don’t much care for?
A: Regarding managing people, I am lucky to be surrounded by good, smart friends some of whom own their own companies or have worked in ones and can lend experience. I’ve also met a lot of smart business people through my job. And oftentimes some of my internal team members help by stepping up, lending advice and being positive.
Q: While we know the brand offline, how are you using the digital space to connect with fans and potential customers?
A: So much of what we decide to carry in our stores is based on what we hear through the Dylan’s Candy Bar Facebook Page and Twitter feeds. It’s just like customers walking through DCB’s doors. It takes the guesswork out of it and makes the consumers feel like this is their store too. Also, DCB is a lifestyle brand that’s influenced by what is happening in pop culture and social-media channels including Pinterest. So participating in these networks allows us to inspire consumers in a uniquely shareable and visual way.
Q: What was the best business advice your dad has given you?
A: Follow your gut.
Q: What’s your best advice for young entrepreneurs?
A: Believe in yourself, listen to your gut and do what you love.
-This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.