Who doesn’t love candy?! Here at BFFF, we have a serious sweet tooth and we are not ashamed to admit it! What makes sweets even better is luxurious candy with a large variety of flavors. We are thrilled to have Rosie from Sugarfina with us today to talk about how her and her fiancé Josh started the business, how they find inspiration for their candy, and where they see the company going in the future. Sugarfina is known across the nation for their chic treats with modern packaging. Not only are they delicious and adorable, but all of their candy makes great presents! Read on below to find out how Rosie and Josh are staying successful. We have a feeling you are going to be craving something for your sweet tooth by the end!
1. Before starting Sugarfina, you were working for Mattel heading their Marketing department for Barbie. What drove you to leave and start this company?
I was very lucky to have a great career at Mattel – I really loved it there and I worked on a fun brand. But I got to a point in the company where I was leading a big team and I wasn’t able to do as much of the hands-on work that really inspired me. I was also getting comfortable and itching for a new challenge. When I met Josh, we fell in love very quickly. He motivated me to try something on my own, and he continues to inspire me to take risks every day.
2. How did your previous job experience prepare you for starting your own brand?
My time at Mattel was an amazing education, I jokingly refer to it as my second MBA. I was a sponge and I actively soaked up knowledge from every department, from packaging design to forecasting to consumer research. Although large, Mattel was a very fast-paced company and we launched 100+ new products every season. I learned product development inside and out and I put those skills to use every day at Sugarfina.
3. How did you meet your business partner (and fiancé) Josh Resnick and how was the idea for Sugarfina born?
Josh and I met on Match.com – I contacted him! – and it was love at first sight. We’re both very type A, so we were brainstorming business ideas on all of our early dates. On our third date, we hatched the idea for Sugarfina. He took me to an outdoor summer screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original one) and after the movie, we couldn’t stop talking… why aren’t there candy stores for grown-ups? Why isn’t candy magical anymore, like it was in that movie? We set out on a quest to find the candy store of our dreams, but we quickly realized something like that didn’t exist yet. So we decided to create it. We started Sugarfina as a hobby but it quickly took off and became our full-time job.
4. You both have travelled extensively throughout the world searching for unique candy & chocolates. What are some of the criteria you use to choose your inventory?
Just like how sommeliers explore and taste various aspects of a wine, we think of ourselves as candy sommeliers. We’re looking at a wide variety of factors – the appearance (it has to be beautiful), the aroma (try smelling our Peach Bellini… yum!), the initial taste, the mouthfeel, the aftertaste – everything really adds up to create a beautiful sensory experience. And we love candies that have a story, like our Raindrops & Roses from this tiny family-owned workshop in Italy. They’re made with fresh roses that are harvested by nuns at a nearby convent, and they’re the most exquisite, delicate, gorgeous little jewels you’ve ever seen. You can’t find them anywhere outside of Italy, and they’re one of the most magical candies I’ve ever tasted.
5. Sugarfina has quite a variety of exotic confections! What are some of your favorites?
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! My favorites change all the time but right now I’m really into our Bubbly Bears, which are a sour-tart version of our bestselling Champagne Bears. I also really love our Aphrodite Strawberries, which are chocolate-covered strawberries from Greece dipped in a thin, crunchy candy shell.
6. Sugarfina has seen incredible growth and is only getting bigger. What do you attribute to this success?
Differentiation is key. We’ve created something that’s totally different from any other candy shop and we have a product that’s very sharable. When someone buys something from Sugarfina, it’s usually being shared or given as a gift to multiple people. Plus we’re combining two things people really love – candy and luxury – in a way that is accessible to almost everyone. You may not be able to treat yourself to a designer handbag all the time, but you can treat yourself to super chic sweets, and sometimes that’s just as fun.
7. Between your past experience working at Mattel and Resnick’s highly successful video game business, you both come from pretty impressive backgrounds which no doubt has helped in the success of the Sugarfina brand. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs looking to launch their own businesses?
Don’t be afraid to spend some time in the corporate world. Many people think that you have to start your own company right away while you’re young, and the media certainly glamourizes those teen and early-20’s start-up millionaires. You can be 28 years old and feel like you’re running behind! It’s important to take a breath and remember that those wildly successful young startup stories are not normal. Most successful entrepreneurs have a good amount of business experience behind them, and working in someone else’s company is a great way to learn how to run your own. You can try things and learn things without taking on such a big risk.
8. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of running your own business?
Just like how you’ll never truly understand parenthood until you’re a parent, you’ll never truly understand what it’s like to run a business until you do. It’s a major, life-changing event that is both wonderful and overwhelming! You’ll work harder than ever before, but you’ll also be able to create the life you imagine, and that’s a powerful thing.
For me, the biggest advantage is the freedom to set lofty goals. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to, so why not aim for something really great? When you set big goals, you start to think differently. You get more comfortable taking risks. You say things like “well why not?” and “I bet we can do that differently.” When you start to achieve those goals – wow – it’s like adrenaline, it really motivates you to keep dreaming bigger.
On the flipside, setting big goals adds a lot of pressure. It’s hard to take a break, because there’s always something really important to do. I’ve had to learn to let go of those perfectionist tendencies and let certain things be “good enough.” You can’t do everything perfectly, but you can feel good knowing you’ve done your best.
9. What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different, and that’s one of the things I love most. In the past seven days, I’ve been in five different cities – L.A., Vancouver, New York, Atlanta, and D.C. – visiting our retail stores, interviewing job candidates, and scouting retail locations. I’m simultaneously working in three different seasons as we launch our Halloween collection, prepare to start shipping our holiday collection, and finish up the designs for Valentine’s Day. We’re also in the midst of relaunching our website and prepping for the busy holiday season. So it’s a lot of juggling!
10. Where do you see Sugarfina going in the next five years?
We’re very excited to start expanding across the U.S. with new stores launching in New York, Atlanta and Boston this year. We recently opened our first store in Canada at Nordstrom in Vancouver, and I’m very excited about the opportunity to expand Sugarfina around the world. I’d love to have shops in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong… the world is such a big place and we’re just getting started.
Photography for images #1,2,3,5,8,9 : Jeff Mindell Photography
Photography for images #4,6,7,10 : Edge Studios