A guilt-free candy that is good for your teeth, safe for those with diabetes, and still tastes great? There’s no sweeter deal! Flora Pringle created Cracked Candy with both your health and your sweet tooth in mind. After moving to New York and having little luck finding work as a science teacher, the new mother went out on a whim to combine her scientific background with her passion to crack the sugar epidemic here in the U.S. In this StartupStory, Flora details her inspiration behind Cracked Candy, the trials and triumphs she has experienced, and one thing she believes every new entrepreneur should do at least once a week.
Why were you inspired to start Cracked Candy?
We have a serious problem with sugar in the US. It is responsible for so many health problems yet candy is in 97% of American households. By 2020 it is estimated that 1 in 3 of us will be diabetic. That’s terrifying. We can’t change human nature though; we need to provide healthier, satisfying ways for people to satisfy their sweet cravings. When I came across the plant-based sweetener Xylitol, I was inspired to make a delicious, fun candy that everyone can enjoy. Xylitol looks and tastes like sugar but it is safe for diabetics and even good for teeth. It is found in gums and toothpaste… but not candy. My mission with Cracked Candy is to help people be happy and healthy.
How did your business get started? From the good, bad and ugly, what was your startup process like?
I worked in advertising for years and then went back to my scientific roots and became a high school science teacher. I love it but when I moved to NY with a young baby I was shocked to find part-time teaching didn’t exist and the cost of childcare was unjustifiably high. I had to think again. When I came up with the idea for a guilt-free candy, I started experimenting in my kitchen while my baby napped. My husband was working all hours but when he was home I worked with him to come up with the packaging design. From there I had to make the big decision of investing in my first 10,000 tins. That was scary and used all our savings. When I ordered them I hadn’t even perfected the final recipes and when they arrived we had nowhere to put them! They were under the bed, the table, the crib, and the couch. They lined walls and sat under our table. It was terrifying that I would have to sell all of these.
My husband said: ‘just sell these 10,000 and then you can stop if you want’. So I did. I walked out with my stroller and samples to all my local, artisanal stores in Brooklyn and was delighted to find that they were incredibly supportive. As soon as they tasted Cracked Candy they agreed to stock it. It was exhausting doing everything from cooking, cracking, packaging, marketing, deliveries, and bookkeeping on my own with no childcare to start with. It was so exhilarating to see sales growth and people respond so positively.
Gradually I started to outsource more things, the first being some childcare and the second being working with Brooklyn Community Services. Through them, I was able to outsource some of the production whilst providing work for people with disabilities and supporting my local community.
Whilst in hospital after the birth of my second child a container load of packaging got stuck in customs, my shipping agent disappeared. That was a low point. But you get through it because the only way is forwards. No maternity leave was also tough but being an entrepreneur gives you flexibility so I can be there when my kids need me. I still struggle with the juggle but it has been an incredibly rewarding journey.
What niche or hole in the market are you filling with Cracked Candy?
Providing optionality for those with sugar-restricted diets. Cracked Candy is good for you… everyone needs healthy candy!
How much has your business changed from day one until now?
I was doing everything myself to start with, cooking, cracking, sales, billing, marketing, tradeshows. Now although I don’t have any full-time employees I have been able to outsource most things whilst maintaining control and looking at the bigger picture.
What are your biggest challenges in marketing Cracked Candy?
Stores ask for quarterly money off promotions and often fees or free products just to be stocked. That might be easy for international and huge brands, but it can be crippling and risky for a smaller one. Big buyers need to be more flexible for the small, emerging brands that aren’t backed by investors and enormous sales yet.
What types of marketing are most effective for your business?
When people taste Cracked Candy they love it. They are expecting it to be rock hard but it melts in the mouth and has a really refreshing, cooling sensation. So sampling in stores where people get to taste the natural flavors and see how fun the Candy looks inside the tins (all smashed up) is really effective.
What is the #1 lesson you learned since starting Cracked Candy?
Do sweat the small stuff – it can make a difference between profitability and losing money.
Do sweat the small stuff – it can make a difference between profitability and losing money.Click to tweet
If you won $50,000, how would you invest it in your business?
Creating packaging for an exciting new product format!
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
– Create a business from need, not greed.
– Have a partner, you need someone to bounce ideas off, share the highs and lows with and tell you when something is a bad plan!
– Make sure you go to a wine bar and laugh with friends at least once a week!
What can we expect from Cracked Candy in the next year?
A strong presence at tradeshows including Expo West. Look out for new flavors!
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