A little over a decade ago, Dylan Lauren had an idea. Since her childhood, she’s always loved candy. But Dylan took her passion and sweet tooth into her own hands and launched a company focused on bringing the worlds of fashion, art, pop culture and confectionary goods into one. Hence, Dylan’s Candy Bar was born and it became a modern day Willy Wonka emporium. As she’s about to unveil her latest location in Miami Beach, we caught up with Lauren (she also happens to be American sportswear designer Ralph Lauren’s daughter) about what her childhood, her inspiration, and what we can expect from her brand.
Life+Times: You launched Dylan’s Candy Bar in 2001 with a mission to awaken the creative spirit and inner child in everyone. How, over the 12 years your business has been around, has the mission changed?
Dylan Lauren: As Dylan’s Candy Bar continues to grow, we are constantly filling each location with innovative and fresh candy inspired ideas. When I first decided I wanted to start my own company, I had a strong vision for what I wanted to create. After 12 years I would have to say that my mission statement has remained the same; we merge fashion, art and pop culture with candy to awaken the creative spirit and inner child within all.
L+T: What was your first experience with confectionary goodies growing up? Did you always have such a sweet tooth?
DL: My whole life I have been seeking out candy stores and places with sweet foods and desserts. My parents screened Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory for my sixth 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. I have consistently been a gummy lover of cherry and lemon-flavored things like Lite Chews, Swedish Fish, licorice, and gummy bears. As I’ve gotten older, I really enjoy vanilla divinity. My absolute candy favorites are Cadbury Creme Eggs and Marshmallow Fluff. But I still consume gummies every day.
L+T: You’re known for merging the worlds of art, fashion and pop culture with candy, and are seen as a pioneer in changing the way we see candy. How, on a personal level, do you view candy?
DL: I have always been inspired by watching my dad, Ralph Lauren, design clothes. I loved the colors of the clothing industry. I’ve always seen items like these as food or candy. I view candy for the taste, the color, and the texture.
L+T: You have over 7,000 candies from all over the world inside your shops. What are some of your favorite sweets from around the globe? Any place in particular that you think has the best candy?
DL: I love Australian Red Licorice, for sure one of my favorites. I also think Japan has some of the most creative and innovative candy. Everything from the packaging to the colors and taste is just cool.
L+T: You already have shops in New York City, East Hampton and Houston, and now, you’re about to open in Miami Beach. What is it about this territory that you were most attracted to
DL: I love Miami Beach! I have been wanting to open there for a while now. A lot of my friends vacation there and it is just such a fun and hip area to be. Everyone who has a location there has such pride to be on Lincoln Road and I am happy to join the club!
L+T: What’s the shop going to be like? What can we expect from this location?
DL: Like our NYC store, Miami is going to have so many different components. There of course will be everyone’s favorite candies from today and the past with tons of candy inspired lifestyle products- from Candy Spill iPad covers to Whirly Pop pillows. Then in the candy café you will be able to have sundaes and shakes with our one of a kind ice cream flavors, or snack on some savory items as well. Finally to go with the rest of the restaurants on Lincoln Road we will also have a full service bar! It will hold our signature candy cocktails along with other adult drinks.
L+T: As the official “Candy Queen,” what’s next for your brand? What are you currently working on?
DL: Right now I am focusing on spreading the world about our Dylan’s Candy Bar cocktail bar. Some people do not expect that we have a real cocktail bar in our stores with candy cocktails that 21 and older can get happy hour onwards and at the parties and corporate events we book. I am also super excited about our new licensed products that aren’t edible such as technology gadgets (cell phone and iPad covers, ear phones) or stationery (markers, coloring books). We’re also looking at expanding into some hotels and airports which has been an exciting venture.