Dylan Lauren, daughter of Ralph Lauren, isn’t just fashion royalty—she’s also a successful businesswoman, nicknamed “the modern-day Willy Wonka.”
A candy freak ever since her parents showed the movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” at her 5th birthday party, Dylan followed her sweet tooth, and it led her to start Dylan’s Candy Bar, a wildly colorful and whimsical candy store that now boasts 5 locations. Post-renovation, the flagship store in Manhattan is now the world’s largest candy store.
The business has earned tens of millions in profits and Dylan plans to expand her candy empire into other major cities in the U.S. (Chicago is on the list!) and worldwide. Among her many accolades, Dylan has won the Fashion Group International “Rising Star Award” for Retail Design, and was named one of Crain’s 40 under 40 rising stars.
Following the debut of her first book, “Dylan’s Candy Bar: Unwrap Your Sweet Life” (Clarkson Potter) this fall, Dylan sat down with Make It Better to offer some gumball-sized wisdom.
MIB: The book is full of craft ideas for using candy in home decor. What are some easy ways to use candy, as people are getting ready for the holiday season?
DL: They can fill vases with candies of holiday colors—red and green and white, different jelly beans, gumballs, and then put red poinsettias in it. For Hanukkah, you can do blue and white jelly beans, foil candies are really pretty, and white roses. That’s as easy as it gets.
Then, you can always fill votive glasses and put votive candles in them. You could also decorate picture frames with wrapped candies.
MIB: What’s the one thing you hope people will take away from the book?
DL: We merge fashion, art and pop culture with candy, to awaken the creative spirit and the inner child. The book shows you how to entertain and decorate using candy. A big part of our business is taking candy and making it more fun to use, and to decorate with—not just to eat.
MIB: Well, I can tell that you’ve been using candy more for decorating, and less for eating, because you look great! What’s your fitness routine?
DL: I train with a weight trainer. I play tennis. I hike. I do everything—I’m very active.
MIB: I love your candy-striped shirt. How does your love of candy play into your fashion sense?
DL: I just love bright colors. I love stripes and polka dots. I wear a lot of colorful, shiny gowns for events. I don’t always wear black.
MIB: You’ve traveled the world collecting candies from different cultures, as inspiration. What’s one of the best places to find cool candy?
DL: In terms of looks, Japan. I love the way it’s packaged; it’s beautiful. In terms of taste, Germany and Belgium.
MIB: Your business idea has turned into a huge success, and it looks like it will only get bigger. Are your parents proud of you?
DL: Yes. They love that I wrote a book—that’s a huge accomplishment, to have something in writing that can live on. People just love crafting with candy. If you flip through the book, you’ll get some inspiration.
For more local candy shops, click here.