Candy Empire Empress
The story of how Dylan Lauren, daughter of America’s most beloved clothing designer, went on to open the world’s largest candy store
By Hope Gainer
When your father is Ralph Lauren, whose global clothing and home interiors empire is worth $6 billion, it may have seemed natural to follow in his footsteps and choose a career in the family business. But while Dylan shares her father’s passion for color, texture and style, she also inherited artistic talents from her mother, Anne Ricky. Her resulting career choice? Candy.
Dylan is the founder of Dylan’s Candy Bar – the New York flagship, of which, has been the destination of dreams for children since 2001. Now, to the delight of South Floridians – both young and young at heart – Dylan’s Candy Bar has opened another store in Miami Beach. When Dylan first approached her famous father about her confectionary concept, he was puzzled. Eventually, he realized, ‘candy is her color.’
“I have always been inspired by watching my dad design clothes. I love the different colors of the clothing industry. I remember playing with the colorful fabric swatches in candy jars at my father’s office. My mom’s artistic sense, her love of watercolors, photography and entertainment, has influenced me tremendously, as well. I’ve made gumball mosaics and gum-wrapper furniture. I view candy for the taste, the color, and the texture,” said Dylan.
“There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination,” sang Gene Wilder’s effer-vescent character Willy Wonka in the 1971 movie about living in a candy factory – words that inspired a young Dylan. “My parents screened ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ for my 6th birthday, and I became fascinated by the idea of living in a candy land with chocolate rivers and lollipop trees. I wasn’t into salty or spicy, so sweet was what I ended up with. As a kid, I liked the newest inventions like Tootsie Roll Pops and Blow Pops (two candies in one!) or chocolate-flavored gum and Big League Chew. My whole life, I have been seeking out candy stores and places with sweet foods and desserts.” Despite her childhood love for candy, Dylan’s first career path wasn’t opening a candy store. A graduate of Duke University and a student of art history, she initially dabbled with acting, veejaying and instructing aerobics. She then toyed with the idea of opening a candy nightclub or museum. Gradually, she listened to her inner child and decided a retail candy store was the answer to her dreams.
A Sweet Mission
The maven of confection’s vision for Dylan’s Candy Bar was to merge fashion, art and pop culture with candy to awaken the creative spirit and inner child within every-one. “My dad is the best example of an entrepreneur who built a lifestyle empire from having a clear and creative vision, and my mother has always taught me to listen to my gut and trust my decisions. They know that I know my brand and where it will work and they are supportive and encouraging with all aspects of my life,” said Dylan. Dylan’s vision has grown into a one-of-a-kind brand. Her candy empire carries more than 5,000 edible treats, plus candy-inspired fashions. With a global goal to ‘candyatize’ the world, she plans to open Dylan’s Candy Bars in airports, and more brick-and-mortar stores in Chicago, San Francisco, London and Tokyo.
What could be a more perfect location than a celebrity hotspot like South Beach? Visit Dylan’s Candy Bar on Lincoln Road and you just might run into some of her A-list customers – like Madonna, Janet Jackson, Oprah or Steven Spielberg. ”I chose [to open a Dylan’s Candy Bar in] Miami because it’s a young, cool, cosmopolitan, fashionable city with a sophisticated population who knows about style and would love to give upscale candy as gifts,” said Dylan. For Miami sweet-tooths, Dylan specialized her candy assortment, adding more exotic fruit flavors, such as mango and acai berry. She also created a special assortment of gummies just for the Miami store in the shape of alligators, sunglasses and palm trees. The café and bar inside the South Beach store serves candy cocktails like Pink Cotton Candy, Strawberry Nerd Mojito, Mango Tango, along with decadent desserts befitting the Miami lifestyle. For those watching their beach physiques, Dylan offers reduced calorie candies, like her signature 100-calorie chocolate bars. “When I travel around the world, I collect candy I’ve never seen before in the United States,” said Dylan. “I have surrounded myself with a really amazing team of people who are constantly coming up with new fresh ideas and ways to candyatize the latest trends.”