In 2001, she opened Dylan’s Candy Bar (dylanscandybar.com), a candy Mecca of sweets, fashion, and pop cultural art for the sweet-toothed and easily nostalgic. Now with five locations and the additions of a third floor and 5,000 square feet to the flagship store, Dylan’s Candy Bar is the world’s largest candy shop and a must-see tourist destination for people from all over the globe.
The heiress to the Ralph Lauren brand—a net worth of about $4.6 billion—easily could have fallen into her father’s business or lived the unrestrained lifestyle of a New York socialite. However, she says, “Becoming an entrepreneur was important to me. I wanted to do my own thing.” While she learned a lot watching her father design clothes when she was young, she concluded that “fashion is not my passion.” Candy, on the other hand, is her raison d’être. She didn’t want to just wear the color swatches in her father’s office—she wanted to eat them. “I love colors,” she says, “and the colors of candy are very cheerful, fun, and pop. People think it’s just candy or just chocolate, but I see gummy bears and chocolate sculptures as artistic molds and shapes.”
An unforgettable fifth birthday party viewing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory led Lauren to begin collecting candy wrappers during her travels. Later, as an art history student at Duke University, she made mosaic tables out of gumballs. After college, Lauren launched an event planning company, where she created invitations, centerpieces, and favor bags. “But I kept coming back to using candy as the decorations,” she says. Lauren decided that while she enjoyed event planning, she wanted a permanent venue to do it in. “With Dylan’s Candy Bar, I have the space to showcase artists’ work, provide a party room for kids, adults, and corporations, and make candy the centerpiece of it all.”
That space is sweetly filled with giant lollipop trees and candy buttons, a larger-than-life chocolate bunny, gumdrop ceilings, gumball tables, kaleidoscopic walls of oversized stripes and candy wallpaper, and floor-to-ceiling displays of all the domestic and international goodies one can fathom and more. The café serves decadent desserts, more than 300 ice cream flavors, and adults-only lemon drop and chocolate martinis to patrons sitting on peppermint stools.
It is no wonder the average customer spends 45 minutes in Dylan’s. The candy store evokes the same sentiments as being a 5-year-old walking through Disney World for the first time—wide-eyed, awestruck, and feeling overwhelmed and slightly dizzy, much like a sugar high. The candy connoisseur draws her inspirations from movies like The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story, as well as Steven Spielberg films, pop art galleries, and even Janet and Michael Jackson concerts (“the set designs and costumes were so original”).