Q&A: Dylan Lauren is the Queen of Candyland

Dylan Lauren has a sweet life.  As the daughter of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, she definitely has her pick of Polo shirts. But don’t expect this 35-year-old beauty to include ‘socialite’ on her resume. As the owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar (dylanscandybar.com), an NYC-based lifestyle store stocked with every treat imaginable, including bath products and apparel, Lauren is carving out her own nougat-filled niche far from the ready-to-wear runways. The candy and bath products will be available at select Holt Renfrew stores for the holidays.

FASHION sat down with the Queen of Candyland to talk business, bon bons and her love of bright colours.

When did your love affair with candy first begin?
“Definitely as a kid. I always loved the colours and the sugar high.”

So when you opened your candy bar, did you see a niche missing from the marketplace?
“I always loved the retail entertainment sector, like FAO Schwartz, where it’s a little more exciting than just going into a little corner deli candy place. I thought the variety was missing–there are so many candies out there, more than just what you typically see. I wanted to have a place that brought everything under one roof.”

You studied art history in college. How does that translate into candy?
“I was [studying abroad] in Rome and London and I travelled all over Europe. I loved how there were sculptural chocolates, like they had some places in Rome where they had cathedrals made out of chocolate and packaging that was really beautiful. And just studying pop art, all the colours and the fun packaging and graphics, definitely inspired me. Like Warhol, Murakami, and Jeff Koons. All those sort of fun, oversized things inspired how I designed the store.”

Do you go to source all of the treats internationally?
“Well, we attend the candy shows, there are like five different ones. There’s the All Candy Expo, the Fancy Food show, there’s one in Germany….”

It’s like fashion!
“Totally. We see all these vendors and then we go to packaging shows. There are a lot of different parts, and we’re not just making candy. We have spa products and we have clothing, candy jewellery, so it’s all a candy lifestyle brand.”

Why does that all fit together?
“I think our mission is to merge pop art with fashion, and pop culture with candy. I think candy goes throughout every occasion, so you have candy to decorate for different holidays and there’s sort of an artistic piece to it. In terms of the fashion element, some people don’t want to eat the candy, they just love the look. We have shirts with fun candy sayings, like “Rock Candy.”

And there’s a candy cocktail bar, correct?
“The martini bar has candied martinis like the gummy bear martini, and it tastes fruity. I know for Halloween we had a vampire kit, the Roxbury Zombie and candy-flavoured cocktails.”

Growing up in a fashion family, did you feel that you really wanted to separate from fashion and make your own mark?
“I definitely wanted to be an entrepreneur. I think we do combine a lot of fashion. In what I do, I’m always looking at clothing, colours and patterns, swatches. I feel like my dad does that and does it well, but I’m not totally into clothing. No one has really been into designing candy. My passion is really candy, but I know that I can use art and fashion as inspiration.”

Any business tips that you’ve taken from your father?
“Definitely follow your gut. Don’t stray from your vision.”

So what’s your favourite candy?
Marshmallows, Cadbury Creme Eggs…I like the cream in the middle. I’m not really a big chocoholic. Red gum balls–anything gummy.

Obviously, you’re really fit–but you’re surrounded by all these confections!
“I have a trainer. I hike. I think it’s really important to be outdoorsy. Everyone in our company is. Cut a balance: eat well and then have your sugar fix. Everything in moderation.”

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