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Sweet Success – Dylan Lauren

“The word queen is funny,” Dylan Lauren muses thoughtfully. “I think it’s a fun title to have because I’m building a candy empire, but I’m more of a candy girl at heart. Candy keeps you young.”

Candy is certainly one of the secrets behind the 38-year-old’s sweet success, which she credits to falling in love with the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” as a girl.

“I saw [Willy] when I was about six and I loved the whole idea of living in a candy factory. I would always sit around dreaming up what an oversized candy land would look like,” she recalls.

With hard work and a shrewd business plan behind her, Lauren quickly turned her childish fantasies into a profitable reality. She drew sketches, went to trade shows and finally took her designs to architecture firm TSC Design Associates ready to do business. Her plan was impossible to resist, especially as she actually brought a sampling of sweets to the meeting.

Thus, Dylan’s Candy Store was born. After her flagship shop made its Manhattan debut in 2001, she quickly opened boutiques in Houston, Orlando and the Hamptons. Now, at long last, she is satiating the candy craving of Angelenos.

“The LA store is very special to me,” Lauren says now from the Los Angeles location inside the original Farmer’s Market, where she is currently installing lollipop trees. “I always wanted to open a shop in LA right after New York, but it took a long time to find the right location. Of all the stores I own, it’s the one I’ll come to the most.”

 “I believe that everything should be done in moderation,” she says. “I love to work out and play sports. I show people that you can have candy without worrying too much. You can always just burn it off. It should be a special treat.”

That might be because the Los Angeles emporium, which drew a slew of celebrities from Janet Jackson to Marcia Cross on its Sept. 8 debut, is the closest of all her stores to the candy fantasyland she envisioned as a child.

“It’s not as big as the New York store, but it’s special,” she says. “It’s like a jewel box with glass windows all around, candy buttons on the façade and oversized candy cane columns on the sides. You can see [the decorations] from every angle; it’s like an oversized gingerbread house.”

Also unique to Los Angeles is its selection of sweets. “We have an LA mix of gummies that are customized to California, like gummy palm trees, sunglasses and cameras,. We might also start to carry actor’s favorite candies and movie-themed candies.”

She also intends to win over notoriously healthy Californians with a mixture of gluten-free and allergy-free products. “LA people are more heath conscious,” Lauren acknowledges,admitting that she herself likes to keep fit as well.

“I believe that everything should be done in moderation,” she says. “I love to work out and play sports. I show people that you can have candy without worrying too much. You can always just burn it off. It should be a special treat.”

This is just one of the many pieces of advice Lauren can offer as to why she’s enjoying such a lucrative career. Another is to be aware of the company that you keep.

“You should surround yourself with supportive friends. It’s important to have people around you that believe in you, male or female,” she says.

One of those males happens to be fashion designer father Ralph Lauren, who gave her some sage advice when she first started her business.

“He always told me that I should follow my gut, and he was right. He also told me to go big. People were like, ‘Why would you open a giant candy store?’ They didn’t get it. But I did it anyway.”

Lauren is quick to acknowledge her success and agrees that she does take after her dad when it comes to building a brand. “We have definitely pioneered taking candy to a new level, merging fashion, art and pop culture,” she says proudly. She pauses momentarily, then adds: “I think that everyone of all ages should eat candy.”

The Candy Girl (Queen) might just get her wish.

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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014