Remember the magical moment of walking into your favorite candy shop as a kid? Thanks to Sugarfina, everyone can experience that feeling again as an adult! We sat down with co-founder, Rosie O’Neill, to hear her story of how Sugarfina came to be. The combination of high-quality ingredients and delicious flavors with smart marketing and trend-worthy products has made Sugarfina a household name. Read on to learn how Rosie turned a sweet dream into a flourishing, luxury candy boutique.
Hi, Rosie! Please introduce yourself.
Hello! My background is in creative, branding and marketing. I’ve worked on both the agency side and the in-house side. Before Sugarfina, I was the Director of Marketing for Barbie for about seven years. Going from dolls to candy is probably the dream career of many little girls, so I feel very lucky to have so much fun in what I do.
Sugarfina started as a love story. My co-founder Josh took me to see “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” on our third date. After the movie, we became obsessed with this question… “why isn’t there a candy store for grown-ups?” Where’s the candy store that offers artisan, unique treats, packaged and presented beautifully? Nothing like that existed in the U.S., so we had the crazy idea to create it ourselves.
What does your average workday look like?
My official title is Chief Creative Officer, but as the co-founder, I wear a million hats. I oversee Creative, Marketing, Product & Packaging Design, Retail, Ecomm, and Sales.
My typical day involves meetings with my team on a wide variety of projects: reviewing a new store design, discussing creative concepts for our next marketing campaign, negotiating deal terms on a new brand partnership, planning out our product line, and just generally supporting everyone with the many things going on every day.
My team has grown to about 35 people, and I feel so lucky to have such a talented group.
Describe the most challenging moment of your career and how you overcame it. What has been your proudest moment since launching Sugarfina?
Every day presents a new challenge. That’s why being an entrepreneur will stretch you like nothing else… you’re always being challenged! Sugarfina has been growing fast, more than 3x every year. Growth is hard. Things break and go wrong all the time. So figuring out how to grow while keeping your brand, your product, your people and your culture intact is a big challenge. I’m not going to say I’ve figured it out, but it’s something I work to improve every day.
My proudest moment has been building a team. Every day I feel so lucky to have an incredible team of people who are as passionate about the business as I am. They’re smart, they’re brilliantly creative, they work hard, keep my spirits up, and they inspire me to become better. It’s so cheesy because I get all weepy-eyed talking about them, but they do bring me so much joy.
“Every day I feel so lucky to
have an incredible team of people
who are as passionate about
the business as I am.”
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
First, make sure you want to take the entrepreneurial path. We live in a world where anyone can start a business, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should. It takes a certain personality to push boulders up a hill on a daily basis, and it will infringe on your personal and social life. Go into it eyes wide open so you aren’t surprised.
Once you’ve started, it’s important to get to a proof of concept early. Create a sample or prototype of your idea and get it into the real world to test it. Don’t just share it with family and friends! Most often they’ll be kind and encouraging, so they’re not a great representation of the real world, which can be much tougher. Once you get an early concept out there in the market, listen and react. Be open to making changes and pivoting. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to work too hard to sell your product. It should meet a need or solve a problem, and it should be intuitive. If selling it is too hard, that’s a clear sign that maybe the product isn’t right…yet.