Being the daughter of an internationally renowned fashion mogul and icon can open a lot of doors, none of which Dylan Lauren walked through. With her own blood, sweat and ingenuity she has become a symbol of American entrepreneurship. Maybe most impressively, she has grown an empire that bears no resemblance to that of her famous father, Ralph Lauren.
Candy and Fashion have a lot in common. They can both water the mouth and excite the senses. From the Paris runways to Willy Wonka’s factory floor, candy and fashion pop with imagination and style while bringing happiness to millions of people from all walks of life. Dylan Lauren built her gumdrop empire far from the glare of the Ralph Lauren spotlight. Her career is nothing short of a masterclass in business acumen and how to blaze one’s own path when life expects you to only follow a legacy.
It could have been an easy life
It could have been an easy life, one of leisure that combined watching sunsets in Southern France and engaging with the glamour of New York’s upper crust. That was never the life that Lauren wanted. In fact, she dates the birth of her candy empire back to being a precocious five-year-old and watching the popular film, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Resting on her last name was never appealing, it was never going to be a thing for her. In 2001, she opened the flagship Dylan’s Candy Bar. By 2007, US Weekly was featuring her in articles. Today, she presides over the biggest chain of candy stores in the world. Yes…the world.
It was never just about profit
Money isn’t what drives Lauren. If it did, then she would have simply lounged around a penthouse waiting for her trust fund to mature. She was looking for more out of life. She wanted passion and the chance to exhibit it to the world. Wandering through her candy bars is like wandering through the mind of Lauren as a child. Tubes stuffed with freckled Jelly Bellys, pails popping red from braided Twizzlers and oversized, swirling lollipops fanned out like peacocks. It is the creativity of candy, the way it elicits an innate feeling in one’s heart and mind that drives her.
This drive has led to the opening of 19 store locations along with “minicandybars” situated in major U.S. airports. These candy bars feature 7,000 distinct types of candy and welcomes over six million visitors a year. With Americans spending over 20 billion every year on candy and candy-related products, she has climbed her way to the top of the (junk) food chain. Even as people shift towards healthier lifestyle trends, they still gravitate towards her stores and brand.
Vision that transcends merely pushing products
“It was never intended to just be a candy store,” Lauren said, words that ring with a profound truth. Every candy store sells the same thing give or take a left Twix bar. If Lauren understood one thing it’s that experience sells product and brings people back. Her intuitive, persuasive stores are packed with inventiveness and wonder. It invites you to buy. If her father created fashion that made people aspire to be more, Dylan houses candy in a way that inspires people to indulge in more. Like its founder, the brand experience is whimsy wrapped in style with a touch of nostalgia
Lauren is an outlier in many ways. Not just as an heiress who chose a different path but also as a marketing mind who thinks social media is overblown. Her skepticism towards e-commerce and online branding, even though Dylan’s Candy Bar boasts over 200 celebrity influencers, is something she knows will have to change for the company to grow. The fact that she’s resisted this long is a testament to her vision and the strength of her brand after nearly two decades since the doors first opened.
From New York to the rest of the world
The story that best represents the brain of Dylan Lauren happened when she was 16-years-old. Her father wanted to name a perfume after her, something that most would consider a great honour. A young Dylan said no, instead, telling her powerful father that she wanted to reserve her name for her own brand one day. This was a bold and commanding move, both telling of Lauren’s personality and foreshadowing of the empire she knew was written in her DNA.
Decades later, Dylan’s Candy Bar’s flagship is a beacon of colour and awe, the perfect accent to the corner of 60th and Third Avenue across the street from the opulent display windows of Bloomingdales. It is quintessentially American and because of Dylan Lauren it continues to be a brick and mortar version of success, entrepreneurship and setting out on one’s own regardless of legacy or net worth.
As for the future, Dylan’s is looking towards expansion in Japan and London but has some heavy competition nipping at its heels. She will have to move faster than ever to ensure the success of her global expansion. As for the past, it paid for Lauren to ditch the silver spoon for a big, glossy ring pop.
Dylan Lauren has had an impressive career and resume:
- She was dubbed “Queen Candy” by Oprah
- Her net worth is estimated to be 50 million and counting
- Dylan’s Candy Bars boasts the biggest collection of candy and candy related items in the world
- She also founded a private label featuring a rare assortment of American nostalgic favourites and novelty items
- Locations in Chicago, Los Angeles, East Hampton and Miami. It can also be found in boutique shops and hotels throughout the world
- Features 200 celebrity influencers
“It was never intended to just be a candy store” – Dylan Lauren
Rob Shapiro | The Edge Blog