My stores are what I imagine Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory would look like in real life meets Candyland and Disneyland,” says Dylan Lauren, The Reigning Queen of Candy Land and founder of Dylan’s Candy Bar. A fashion-forward sweet shop filled with a global array of chocolates, gummies, and other treats made by everyone from large-scale companies to mom-and-pop shops, chefs or new vendors like DO and Cracked, which are now available at the Union Square store. “I have added elements that are inspired by modern and pop art and increase the retailtainment factor: oversized lollipop trees, a staircase of backlit candy, walls with vibrant candy patterns, giant cupcakes you can dine in, a light changing ceiling of rainbow colors, spinning candy cane columns….”
Lauren opened her Manhattan Flagship Dylans Candy Bar in 2001. Since she has expanded to 21 locations, including Chicago, Houston, and Toronto. New this year are pop-ups at Madame Tussaud’s in Times Square and a boutique at Woodbury Common in upstate New York. Another addition, Dana’s Bakery, which is known for its delectable macarons, is opening a shop-in-shop on the bottom floor of Lauren’s Third Avenue flagship.
“Yes, it can be a bit overwhelming, but what keeps me grounded and focused is being consistent with my mission for the company and staying true to the brand,” says Lauren. “Our mission is to merge fashion, art and pop culture with candy to awaken the inner child and creative spirit in all. I love looking at candy and seeing all its beauty with the bright colors, unique shapes, sizes, awesome packaging and graphics, and then designing using those elements for bags, jewelry, spa products, mosaics, and cocktails.”
Creativity is something that runs in Lauren’s family—she is the daughter of legendary fashion designer Ralph Lauren and his wife, Ricky, an artist and author. “My parents understood the concept of Dylan’s Candy Bar from the very beginning, and knew that this was my passion,” Lauren says. “Growing up, I was obsessed with visiting unique candy shops while traveling around the world, and I loved creating candy art projects. They’ve always encouraged me to do what I loved because if you do what you love, you will be most successful.”projects.
My true passion is designing and color, with candy as the main medium.,
At Dylan’s Candy Bar, the founder’s fashion-family influence can be seen everywhere from the array of branded clothing and accessories to the cohesive blend of art, culture, and candy. “I enjoy learning from my father by watching him create collections or develop ideas for new products,” says Lauren. “While I have spent my life at Ralph Lauren events and often offer my suggestions for clothing, my true passion is designing and color, with candy as the main medium.”
Both of Lauren’s parents contributed to her entrepreneurial spirit. “My dad encouraged me to follow my gut and dream big, and urged me to create something that would wow people. He understood that this wasn’t going to be a typical candy shop, but instead the world’s largest candy store and lifestyle emporium,” she says. “My mom is very creative as an artist, photographer, and author. I was exposed to her appreciation of beautiful colors, gorgeous photos, and intelligent style of writing. Her creativity continues to help me formulate ideas, and it also inspired my book, Unwrap Your Sweet Life (Random House). And as a chocoholic herself, my mom has also introduced me to some great companies.”
Also important to the entire Lauren family is philanthropy—Lauren launched Dylan’s Candy BarN. A foundation aimed to help animals through raising funds and awareness for rescue organizations and hosting adoption events, including a recent drive with New York City shelter pets at the Union Square boutique. “Animals have always been a cause close to my heart, and this lifelong passion inspired me to launch Dylan’s Candy BarN,” Lauren says. “My grandparents would regularly give me a few dollars, and let me choose to either spend it or to give it to someone in need. My grandmother was a supporter of the ASPCA, and my parents have always placed an importance on giving.”
Recently, the Reigning Queen of Candy Land, Lauren appeared on an episode of Toy Box, coaching kid entrepreneurs—an exercise that inspired her to create more candy toys for her stores. Next up, she has her eye on more locations, including shopping destination SoHo. “I would love to have another New York City store, and design it to have its own unique aesthetic representative of the neighborhood,” she says. “I enjoyed designing the Union Square store with its downtown aesthetic, which is very different from our Third Avenue Flagship. The downtown store has black walls, silver glitter floors, light-changing ceiling, light up rotating rock candy and candy canes, and we play remixed dance versions of candy tunes. I like to think of it as a candy disco.
“SWEET-SHOP ENTREPRENEUR DYLAN LAUREN CONTINUES TO EXPAND HER FASHION-MEETS-CHOCOLATE EMPIRE
WITH NEW LOCATIONS AND COLLABORATIONS” as The Reigning Queen of Candy Land
Since 9/11, it’s been amazing to see the revitalization of New York,” she continues. “From FiDi and TriBeCa to NoHo and SoHo, there are new shops, restaurants, and activities that have brought Downtown back to life. New York City is a very different landscape than it was when I opened Dylan’s Candy Bar 16 years ago!”
She also makes an effort to encourage women entrepreneurs. “The candy industry is mostly dominated by men, so I made sure to surround myself with inspiring women with diverse backgrounds,” Lauren says. “Regardless of what industry you’re in, I recommend doing the same. When forming support systems, prioritize those who believe in you and your goals. Don’t be afraid to take risks. If you truly believe in the concept and surround yourself with a steady support system, anything is possible. Be con dent and always trust your intuition.” DT
A childhood passion for creative candy became a thriving, and innovative business for Dylan Lauren.
The Reigning Queen of Candy Land has her DOWNTOWN favorites
■ LOVE THE FARMERS MARKET BY MY STORE IN UNION SQUARE. I LIKE FEELING A SENSE OF NATURE IN LOWER MANHATTAN THROUGH SEEING FARMERS, FRESH VEGETABLES AND PRODUCE BROUGHT IN FROM PLACES LIKE CONNECTICUT, VERMONT, AND NEW JERSEY.
■ THE BOUTIQUES, GIFT SHOPS AND ESPECIALLY THE BAKERIES OF CHELSEA MARKET.
■ I ENJOY VISITING MEMBERS OF SOHO HOUSE BECAUSE IT HAS THE MOST INTERNATIONAL AND CREATIVE MIX.
■ I LOVE THE STORES AROUND PRINCE STREET. THE AREA REMINDS ME OF EUROPE WITH THE COBBLESTONE STREETS AND UNIQUE SHOPS YOU CAN’T FIND ANYWHERE ELSE.
■ SOME OF MY FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT AND ENJOY A COCKTAIL INCLUDE GEMMA AT THE BOWERY HOTEL, THE LIBRARY AT THE NOMAD, ACE HOTEL BAR, AND WAVERLY RESTAURANT. I LOVE PLACES THAT ARE TASTEFULLY DONE AND COZY WITH AN OLD WORLD FEEL, WITH A HIP, MODERN TWIST.