Summary of the interview at the 2017 Stay Boutique Leadership Conference with
Rosie O’Neill, Co-Founder, Sugarfina
Have you ever been so inspired by a movie that you started a business around that inspiration? Well, that’s exactly what Rosie O’Neill did when she happened to see the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory one night. “Whatever happened to candy?” she thought to herself. “Why isn’t there a candy for grownups?” So, when April Fool’s Day rolled around, she partnered with a pressed juice company to make ‘green juice’ gummy bears, packaged them in a bottle labeled ‘7-Day cleanse’ and made a joke out of it. “It was unexpected and fun and caught people’s attention.” Rosie shared. And it eventually prompted Rosie and her husband to embark on her adult-flavored candy empire called, Sugarfina.
With delicious adult candies like champagne gummy bears, tequila cordials, and mint chocolate caviar, Sugarfina has captured the eye of those in the boutique industry and prompted them to put the candy products in hotels throughout the U.S. and Canada. They will even personalize and customize on top of their base product for a hotel, like offering pink flamingos at the Beverly Hotel and pineapple candies at a hotel in Hawaii. “Boutique tells me there is a person and a story behind it,” Rosie says. “Someone who is thinking about it and obsessing about the details. You have thought through something so much that you have taken the best of the best and said ‘here is what I believe you need’.” That is exactly what Rosie does with Sugarfina. She notices food and thinks how she could implement that into a candy that adults would enjoy.
Rosie has noticed that big brands are dipping their toe into boutique as a marketing tool; saying, ‘Let’s put this in these 29 rooms and see what the response is’. While the Sugarfina stores are inviting, Rosie and her team also feel like they’ve got to do something unique to get people to buy their products. Offering taste while you shop events make the stores feel like a place to hang out. “Bloggers and influencers have been big fans of Sugarfina,” Rosie says. “We provide the candy and they get their friends together to experience it at their event.” Sounds like a match made in ‘candy’ heaven.