Dylan Lauren may be all about Swedish fish, gummi bears, and Smarties, but she’s also all about brand extension. The daughter of Ralph Lauren opened her first Dylan’s Candy Bar in Manhattan in 2001 and now has five stores around the country. Clarkson Potter is publishing her book, Dylan’s Candy Bar: Unwrap Your Sweet Life, in October. Here, she talks about what candy’s up against, and other big issues.
PW: Why did you want to write this book?
DL: We felt like it was a celebration of the company. Also, there are other candy companies that are, on some level, copying us. And we wanted to say, “We are the candy experts” and put our stake in the ground.
PW: As you note in your book, candy seems to be recession-proof. Why?
DL: When the recession first hit, our sales were skyrocketing. We were wondering what it was. Some people were feeling candy was a great purchase instead of buying an expensive gift. It’s an affordable luxury. Everyone loves candy.
PW: What are some of your best-selling candies lately?
DL: Dark chocolate is a big one. People who love candy but want it a little less fattening like it because it has antioxidants and other health benefits. Swedish fish and sour watermelon gummies are number one for gummies. I think gummies will never go out of style. And the sours are a big category, too.
PW: Many people in the publishing industry are obsessed with e-books and how they might cannibalize sales of print books. Is there anything threatening the candy industry? Or is it stronger than ever?
DL: There is definitely a move toward anti-obesity--and yet we’ve had Michele Obama, who is at the forefront of that, and her kids come in the store, and she still managed to buy candy and candy apparel. She agrees [it’s best to consume] everything in moderation. Also, the [trend toward] all-natural food [is at odds with candy], but we do offer candy that is natural. The problem is no one buys it!
PW: You started with one store, have expanded to five, now you’ve written a book... what’s next?
DL: We also have shops in Yankee Candle, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Lord & Taylor. We’re hoping to open stores in London and Japan. The TV thing is interesting; there were a few reality people who came by, but I didn’t want to do that. Maybe I’d do a hip, pop art-y candy show. We’re also licensing a design for stationery and have spa products. Anything we can candy-a-tize, we’re psyched to do.
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