We spoke to Jamie Laing and business partner Ed Williams about all things Candy Kittens.
Let’s start at the beginning. Jamie tells us he’s loved sweets ever since he was a kid (although he wasn’t allowed to eat them because they made him too hyper!)
“My brother used to tell me stories when I was in bed about Jamie and his sweet world. I wanted to make a world made out of sweets, but sweets that didn’t damage your teeth, as I was conscious at the time. It’s what I’ve always wanted. We were allowed one on the weekend… one sweet from the sweetie jar.”
Jamie and Ed met through mutual friends and this led to a partnership that we expect great things from. Speaking about how the idea came about, Jamie explains that it all? started when he went to New York and saw Dylan’s Candy Bar. There were sweets everywhere and Jamie wanted to bring that to the UK. Then, he? met with Ed. They spotted a niche between the sweets everybody was eating and found there was a void for a fashionable audience… So they started making Candy Kittens.?
From the idea to the creation, the duo found the process really challenging. Jamie explains that they thought it would be easy to make sweets initially.
“Ed and I came up with the brand before we actually had the product. We created so much excitement around the name ‘Candy Kittens’ because we knew we wanted to make it a lifestyle brand. It took us 18 months to develop the sweets and we went to a company in Spain called Vidal to do that. You have to make the mold and do the tasting and we were constantly adapting and changing.”
They wanted the sweets to be healthy and now, they’re vegan and gluten-free. Why did they want to go down that route?
“A? lot of people are conscious of fitness and there are ways of making sweets taste amazing but also making them as healthy and natural as possible. Ed and I would prefer to eat our sweets because of the ingredients and we really wanted to do something that we would eat. They are delicious.”
As Candy Kittens continues to expand and grow, Jamie and Ed want to focus on brand awareness this year. For anyone to grow a business, it is important to find unique ways of doing this. With this being said, there are traditional methods such as word of mouth and creating flyers to hand out. And there are also options such as creating promotional products like hoodies, umbrellas, and bags that can help raise awareness of the company’s name.
There are so many ways for people to gain attention for their business ventures, especially through the use of social media. As tiktok has really taken off, it’s no wonder why so many people choose this platform to create unique content for both personal use and for their business. It’s all about creating brand awareness and social media is a great way to do this. Plus, with the following that Jamie has, people who follow him on Instagram may also be interested in the content he and Ed could come up with for Candy Kittens. Even the idea of creating video adverts, to even doing something original like creating labeled bottles through sites like Custom Water, people like Jamie and Ed will no doubt find a way to raise brand awareness for Candy Kittens.
If you have a product and you want to get the brand name out there, consider using a company such as NGP Integrated Marketing Communications to help you with your marketing needs. ? Already stocked in Selfridges, they wanted to hit ‘the big three’ which were Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Jamie explains that they want to make the name ‘Candy Kittens’ a serious name in the world of sweets.
“We want everybody to know about it in the UK. We’ve done a really great job in London but now it’s a bit more of a national focus. We want everybody to know how great the sweets taste basic. We want to expand as much as possible. We want to establish ourselves as one of the top confectionery brands in the UK. That’s our dream at the moment. We are a British brand obviously, but once we’ve taken over the UK we want to expand to the US. Maybe Target’s or places like that will be our next aim.”
They both clearly have a strong passion and desire for the brand to do well and expand. Any budding entrepreneurs? Jamie has some advice for you.
“The main thing is hard work but what I’ve realized about business is what team you surround yourself with. People can have a great product and a great idea but if you don’t have a good team, it’s going to fail. I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer and I’ve always wanted my own company. I’m in a great position where I can actually do both. That’s thanks to Ed.? Anyone out there who’s going to start a business, you need someone who’s gonna help you and drive you. My best career move was honestly meeting Ed.”
Asking Jamie and Ed what they’re most proud of so far, getting stocked in Selfridges and Waitrose was a big highlight.
“With supermarkets especially, it doesn’t matter who the hell you are. If the products aren’t good enough, they’re not going to stock them. So we were pretty proud when Waitrose liked our product. It’s because they liked the brand and the product so that was pretty cool for us.”
The extortionate London rents meant that the boys had to rethink the idea of a store to a product instead. Will there be a store? They agree they would both love a London store in the future.
Taylor Magazine: What motivates you to keep the success of Candy Kittens?
Jamie: Ed drives me!
Ed:? For me it’s about building a business first, and being really respected. It’s nice to go into a random Sainsbury’s in Scotland and see our bag of sweets that we designed and put loads of love into. It’s about building something that really matters.
Jamie: I think that’s the key. There’s so many people out there who go into work because they want to make money and I don’t think that’s the right attitude to have. If you chase that, you’re always going to fail because you’re not doing what you believe is right. People always ask, “How do you determine success?” and lots of people think it’s money or wealth or whatever. It’s not about that. For us, it’s about being respected in whatever industry you’re working in. When you think Smoothies, you think Innocent… what a cool brand. You don’t say, “They’re worth da-da-da,” you say, “What a good brand.” We want people to think we’re? a cool brand and be respected in that way.
Taylor Magazine:? You being on Made in Chelsea has helped the brand kick off a lot. Do you ever want to disconnect yourself from the show?
Jamie:? I suppose that’s what we’re trying to do at the moment. There’s will always be that connection and that’s fair enough, I’m completely proud of both MIC and Candy Kittens. There are ways you want to detach because Made in Chelsea could end tomorrow… if we’re so close to each other, does that mean Candy Kittens end? We don’t think it does at all. We think Candy Kittens is a stand alone brand in itself.?
Ed:? It’s an? extreme analogy but Richard Branson and Virgin for example… you can’t have one without the other. You don’t expect him to be flying the plane or anything but we want to get that feeling with Jamie and Candy Kittens where people know Jamie’s involved and he’s a part of the business but they’re not buying it because of him. MIC was a great platform as you said and we’re not naïve to the fact that it wouldn’t be here today without that. It’s how you balance the relationship.
Taylor Magazine: If you would like people to know one thing about Candy Kittens, what would it be?
Ed: They taste great. They’re the best sweets you can buy. It has to be about the sweets for us. We wanna be the number one sweets brand.
Jamie:? Yeah, they taste awesome! They actually do.
Taylor Magazine: What’s your ultimate goal?
Jamie: We’re a British brand. If you look at Range Rover, Land Rover or Burberry, you know they’re a British brand. Whether it’s America or Asia, I want people to go, “Oh that’s Candy Kittens and that’s British.”
Taylor Magazine: So, the red bus of sweets?
Jamie: I love that! That’s awesome, exactly. The red bus of sweets.