Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Bird's PartyWhen it comes to parties, Bird from Bird’s Party has all angles covered.  She created a successful party printables business with her graphic design skills, which led her into party planning, styling, editorial photo shoots, and eventually Bird’s Party Magazine.

Bird’s a modern marvel because she’s been able to create a successful full-service party business that has no geographical boundaries. Bird is based in France with her husband and children, but all of her print-it-yourself party products, ideas, and e-zine are accessible anywhere. She’s like the girl next door, who doesn’t actually live next door.

I’ve often wondered, “How does she do it?” I’m still not sure, but she did let us in on a few insights …

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Candy.com: So, which came first: your party designs and printables, your event planning business, or your magazine?

Bird: The graphic design and party printable aspects came first and along with that, the need to style and plan photos shoots, editorials, and real life events based around the printables.

The magazine came last as a way of compiling and featuring the best Bird’s Party has to offer, but now it has grown into a real resource for all things party and event styling in general, and offers an invaluable platform for many related business to showcase their talents.

Big Top Party

Candy.com: How did you go from process engineer in your early career to party animal?

Bird: Although I come from a science background, I’ve always had a passion and interest for art, entertaining, and graphic design. After designing my very first printable collection (Bollywood Bling) for my wedding anniversary a few years ago, there was no turning back! I had enjoyed the whole process just too much to ignore it – designing, styling, baking, and even photography. When it was subsequently featured on Hostess with the Mostess, Amy Atlas, and several other party sites, I received a lot of requests and positive feedback. That’s when I knew my passion had potential to become a career.

 

Candy.com: Were you born and raised in France?

Bird: My husband and I moved from the UK to France some 10 years ago. When the kids were born, I packed it all in to become a stay-at-home mom.

 

Candy.com: You keep your business seamless across countries. Did you start out marketing your company in Europe,  America, or both?

Bird: The whole “kids party scene”  is quite a new concept in the UK and France, so my main market is targeted toward the US, South America, and Australia. Though we have customers from all over the globe—Dubai, Vietnam, South Africa to Holland and in between!

 

Candy.com: Are parties celebrated differently in Europe vs. America? I read on one of your posts that a baby shower in France is “quite novel.”

Bird: Kids’ parties in particular are a very small, simple affairs without many decorations. Candy or more elaborate dessert tables are kept for “special” occasions like weddings. But the Internet is a powerful tool, and the amazing parties from the likes of Amy Atlas, HWTM, and Tori Spelling have filtered abroad, so they serve as real inspiration.

We can now see a whole new market emerging, and baking suppliers, candy stores and general party shops are cropping up everywhere, so it’s an exciting time to be in the party business in Europe!

 

Candy.com: Are candy buffets (or anything similar) popular in Europe?

Bird: They are getting more popular nowadays. It’s mainly a question of finding the right supplies! I still have a real hard time buying swirl lollipops and the usual hard candies for instance. Not all candy is readily available and this makes it harder to create a full color-coordinated display with a range of interesting candy.

 

Candy.com: Do Europeans enjoy DIY party planning as much as Americans do?

Bird: One thing that has always been alive and well here is crafting and DIY. So marrying the parties with a DIY aspect is catching on fast!

 

Candy.com: What made you decide to create a electronic magazine filled with creative DIY party ideas from primarily American party planners and stylists?

Bird: I never set out to have primarily American stylists, but it just so happened that the stylists I knew were mostly from the US. So when it came to putting a magazine together, it was only natural that I’d invite those women I admire to join me! We welcome quality pitches from anywhere in the world, and have had the honor of working with Australian and Brazilian collaborators in the past.

Candy.com: Now that you just published Issue 5 of Bird’s Party Magazine, what has surprised you most about your e-zine?

Bird: The readership numbers and general support from peers and sponsors, continue to amaze and astound me with every new issue. Issue 5 has to date reached a staggering over 540,000 unique page views and over  44,000 reader in just 2 weeks, and that’s totally down to all our supporters and collaborators!

 

Candy.com: Ok, you have successfully tackled party printables, event planning, and publishing. What’s next for Bird’s Party?

Bird: There is always so much more to learn! I have hunger for learning, and with that comes the need to push myself further, and also to venture into new domains. But it’s been a real roller-coaster year so far, and I’m just happy and excited to continue to work hard, and take the time to enjoy the ride!

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in Business, Candy, Candy Buffets, Trends

Hey candy connoisseurs! There’s a new TLC reality show on Monday nights at 9 p.m. cst./10 p.m. est. and it’s all about candy. For real.

The show, “Candy Queen,” stars Jackie Sorkin, founder of The Hollywood Candy Girls, and her entourage of candy stylists who frequently whip out power tools to create elaborate candy sculptures like giant trees made out of thousands of caramels and sour strips or a 6-foot spinning Alice in Wonderland teacup completely covered with candy.

The team truly is creating a new art form using candy as the medium. If you are passionate about candy, you’ll find it interesting to watch which candies are used to create the textures and colors needed for each sculpture.

Candy Queen on TLC Sculptures

Jackie, who became a mom for the second time last month (her new little boy is affectionately called “Lord Lollipop” and her 18-month old daughter has the title, “Heiress to the Candy Empire”) is already back working and filming more episodes. (Overachiever!)

She took time out to chat about what it’s like have a reality TV show, successful event planning business in Hollywood, and two tiny tots at home. Here’s the skinny:

Candy.com: How did you wind up with a reality TV series chronicling your candy adventures?

Jackie: Well … for one thing, I don’t really think to many completely “normal” people end up with their own reality shows. I think those who do often have an interesting story, a ton of passion, a quirky or bold personality, and perhaps just a little luck too. However, I usually never believe in luck! I think that having a combination of all of those things is what landed my team and I this super sweet gig on TLC!

Candy.com: How much prep time do you get before filming? Is it all really fly by the seat of your pants?

Jackie: No prep time, no fancy hair and make-up or umbrella holders, no scripts, no nothing. It’s Reality TV. We may have a couple of meetings to discuss our projects, how we’re planning on executing them, and who’s responsible for what, but that’s about it! It’s business as usual.

Candy.com: How do The Hollywood Candy Girls and your candy engineer Adam like being on camera?

Jackie: The crew has gotten used to it. You eventually get to the point where you just forget the cameras are there and we’ve got amazing producers and the best crew, so we all felt super comfortable. Like friends and family, actually. We have a ton of ridiculous fun with the entire crew! I always said, if this opportunity actually came to fruition, we had to be 100% who we are. I think phoniness  in people is so transparent and reads on or off camera. Being yourself works!

The Hollywood Candy Girls plus Adam (left photo). Jackie with her "mini-me" daughter Isabella, and super supportive husband, Chris.

Candy.com: What’s it like being a new mom, running your own business, and having it all filmed for the world to witness?

Jackie: INSANELY INSANE!! I don’t ever really think about anyone witnessing it because I just don’t have the time to think about it. I’m like every other mom out there, balancing work, family, a crazy business where most of what we do is booked last minute, and always rushed, too! Having two little ones under 2 years old is, um, a challenge, but I also love the fact that my kids will grow up so close in age and hopefully will be good friends. I try my best but the truth is, I’m just another perfectly imperfect mom and mompreneur!

Candy.com: What can you tell us about this coming Monday night’s new episode?

Jackie: It’s going to feature two of our most awesome candy creations for the show! I mean, this is candy art! The episode will feature a Super Sweet 16 where we make a super cool Katy Perry-inspired edible candy dress and accessories for the birthday girl, Taylor. The second event is this incredible and massive Mother Goose build we created for another birthday party. Humpty- Dumpty, Little Bo-Beep, and  Little Miss Muffet, along with an incredibly life-like Mother Goose! All edible, all created out of candy and truly candy insanity! We’ve also got some major drama sprinkled into the episode. Sometimes I drive the team crazy. I know my expectations are out of this world, but the truth is, when you know how talented people are, you push them, and perhaps on Monday night’s episode, I pushed too hard.

There you have it! Set your DVR and tune into TLC Monday nights at 9 p.m. cst/10 p.m. est. For a taste of the show, click here to watch Jackie and crew create a candy county fair with enormous licorice-laden ferris wheel. All in day’s work!

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Two sisters set their sights on opening a candy store. Ten months later, they were up and running strong in Glen Allen, Va.

Sarah Solomon tells the story of how she went from high-tech sales to stay-at-home mom to launching a contemporary candy store with her older sister, Chrissy.

Candy.com: So, you opened Sweet Spot in Glen Allen, Va., with your sister in November 2010 after a successful career in software. What ultimately made you jump from software sales to Candy Land?

Sarah: Before my career in software, I had worked in retail for a few small locally owned businesses.  It was during that time that I developed the dream of owning my own business. I left my career in software sales 4 ½ years ago to stay home with my son. While home with my growing family, my sister and I would talk more and more about starting a business together. I just wasn’t sure exactly what it would be. It was my sister, Chrissy that always had Candy Land on the brain. It has always been her vision to create a modern version of an old-fashioned candy store.   The more we talked about it, the more I wanted this place to exist. With her creative vision and my experience in retail and sales, I felt confident that we could open a successful business together.

Candy.com: How long did it take you and your sister to get your candy shop up and running after you both made the decision to go for it?

Sarah: We’ve been talking about this for as long as I can remember, but we decided to go for it in January 2010 and we opened our doors November 20, 2010. We signed our lease in August 2010, so most things happened between August and November. It was a crazy few months!

Candy.com: Your store definitely has a modern vibe, yet is stocked with nostalgic and hard-to-find candies. How did your contemporary design esthetic come to life?

Sarah: Since our store concept encourages guests to come in and hang out while they enjoy their sweets, it was important to us that the store be bright and fun. We both love design and knew from the beginning that we wanted to hire a firm to help us.  The best decision we made throughout the whole start-up process was to hire the local design firm, Visible Proof.  They helped with so much more than the design of the store. Our graphic designer, Ansel Olson created our amazing graphics, which are carried through the store on our bags, boxes, gift packaging, T-shirts, and even chocolates! They helped us create an identity and brand.

Visible Proof has received multiple awards this year for their work on Sweet Spot from the graphics to the overall store design. We couldn’t be happier how the store turned out.

Candy.com: When we talked at the 2011 Sweets & Snacks EXPO, you mentioned how you really work hard to find unique candies for your shop. Any new product(s) from the expo that made you weak in the knees?

Sarah: Leaf Brand’s Farts Candy. I’m still not sold on the name but I’m sold on the candy! They were delicious and I wanted more. We tried them out on our candy testers and they all agreed that they are going to give Nerds a run for their money. Now we just need to get them in the store.

Candy.com: Your upcoming “Candy Lego Building Contest” with candy Legos and Marshmallow Fluff sounds like a dream come true for Lego lovers. How do you come up with all of your clever in-store events?

Sarah: We always knew that we were building Sweet Spot to be more than just a retail candy store.  It was built to create memories and experiences for people.  We wanted to create a place where we wanted to take our own kids and the events are an important part of that.  As for the ideas, I wish I could take credit but it is all Chrissy. She is our real life Willy Wonka. If only I had a dollar for every time I heard her say, “Wouldn’t it be fun if….”

On National Gumdrop Day, I had to talk her out of trying to get permission to drop gumdrops off the balcony several floors above our store so kids could catch them in buckets on the sidewalk below.

Candy.com:  Since your grand opening, is there anything that’s really surprised you and your sister about the business?

Sarah: I’m surprised by how many people (other than Chrissy and me) are emotionally connected to the nostalgic memories that candy and sweets can trigger. It is so fun to watch someone get excited about finding a candy or soda they haven’t seen since they were a kid. It is amazing how something so small can bring back a flood of childhood memories and make you feel so warm inside. We love that we can share that with people. Just the other day, someone came in and asked if we had Bonkers. I hadn’t thought about that candy in years and it brought back a flood of memories of my childhood. They should bring those back!

Candy.com: Any plans for opening additional outposts?

Sarah: We would definitely like to expand and have been researching additional locations in Virginia.

For more information, visit:

ShopSweetSpot.com
Facebook/Sweet-Spot-Candy

Twitter/SweetSpotCandy

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in Business, Candy

Nancy Pfeifer, party planner and owner of the etsy party supplies shop A to Zebra Celebrations, had a light-bulb moment after several customers inquired about where they could sell their used party supplies as well as buy the A to Zebra supplies that Nancy handcrafts and uses for her own parties.

That aha moment came this past spring, and on September 1, 2011, MyPartyIsOver.com was born.

I caught up with Nancy to see how her brilliant new e-baby is faring and what has transpired since her official launch. Read on …

Candy.com: In a nutshell, what is MyPartyIsOver.com?

Nancy: It’s a marketplace for customers to buy and sell new and used party decorations, props, etc.

Candy.com: What motivated you to launch MyPartyIsOver.com?

Nancy: I opened my A to Zebra Celebrations etsy shop back in October 2009. All of my items are handmade and designed by me.  My customers constantly ask if I can sell whatever I used on my daughters’ parties.  Some people have also inquired about where to sell their leftover party decorations after their party is over.  I researched for a place to do this, but found nothing.  I found a few wedding resale sites, but nothing for all parties.

Candy.com: What’s been your biggest surprise so far since launching MyPartyIsOver.com?

Nancy: The traffic to the site in addition to how quickly things have sold.  The site launched on September 1, 2011, and became popular right away. The Facebook page reached 1,000 fans in the first month. I have had over 30 countries visit the site in the last four weeks. The feedback from fans has been extremely positive. I am pleased how well things are going.

Candy.com In addition to used party products, will you accept new, overstock items?

Nancy: Anybody can sell new or used products as long as they are party-related.

Candy.com: Are there any party items you won’t list on your site (i.e. perishables)?

Nancy: No damaged or stained items.  No pornographic materials.  Candy and related party food items are permissible.

Candy.com: I understand that your registration is free, but there is a small fee to place a listing. How much is it?

Nancy: The listing fee is $0.75 cents per item, per month. No percentage taken from a sale. Upgrading a listing to the homepage is $0.95 cents per item, per month.

Candy.com: What are your pricing guidelines?

Nancy: My suggestion is to sell your items on the low end if you really want them out of your closet. People that visit my site want to shop a great bargain. If you over-price your items, they will not sell. You must also consider the shipping costs and how this can be a turn off to the buyer.

My rule of thumb is …

New items: 25-30% off the retail price
Used items: 50-60% off the retail price

Candy.com: What are the benefits of using your site vs. ebay or Craigslist to list gently used products?

Nancy: One of the benefits to use my website is that I don’t charge a percentage of sales like ebay does. Another advantage is that I am getting thousands of visitors every day. My visitors are strictly looking for party items, so you have a better chance at selling them quick.  Craigslist is free and popular for selling household items, but not party-related items.

Candy.com: So far, what type or category of items seem to be selling best?

Nancy: Party banners are selling the most in addition to party decor such as centerpieces, candle holders, vases, favors, etc.

Candy.com: Has it been difficult finding party throwers to list their used products?

Nancy: Yes, it has been difficult. Social media and marketing like Facebook and Twitter are very helpful, but they are a full-time job. I am trying to manage this website and my A to Zebra Celebrations shop while also doing my own marketing. These things are in addition to being a housewife and stay-at-home mother of two beautiful girls. It’s a challenge.

Candy.com: Your site is so well organized and easy to use! How long did it take from start to finish to get it launched?

Nancy: My idea to create this website was back in April. I knew I wanted something trendy, fun, and easy to navigate. I did my research and hired someone to start creating the site in May. I wanted the launch date to be September 1, 2011, so we made it happen in six months. There are still some changes and improvements I hope to get done in 2012. However, I will be offering advertising spots in the next couple of weeks.

Congrats Nancy! For more information, visit:

MyPartyIsOver.com
Facebook/MyPartyIsOver
Twitter/MyPartyIsOver

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in Business, Candy, Candy Buffets, News, Trends