What made you want to start your own business?
I have never really wanted to work for anyone else. I’ve never understood the point of going into another company if you’ve got good ideas of your own. Why would you go into a business to make someone else richer?
So where did the idea for Candy Kittens come from?
I thought to myself: ‘I have to work out what sells.’ I see it like a riddle – people have money in their pocket that they want to spend, so you have to think of a way of getting them to put their money in your pocket instead. I eventually thought: ‘Sexiness and sweets and fashion – now they sell’. I also thought if I’m going into something then it’s got to be something I love. I love sweets, I love fashion, and I definitely love girls!
How did you get the ball rolling?
I went to New York and saw a sweetshop there called Dylan’s Candy Bar. Ralph Lauren’s daughter, Dylan, owns it so it seemed to be quite a high-end place. While I was in there, I noticed that the customers were not just tourists or parents buying for their children: they were just people going in there spending $300-400.
So I’ve tried to replicate that in the UK: we launched our pop up shop on the King’s Road at the end of May, which lasted over the summer for about four weeks. It worked really well and got a good response. Now we’re planning to do two more over the Christmas period in other locations – everyone knows it started on the King’s Road and we want to move it beyond that Chelsea thing.
Did starring on E4’s Made In Chelsea provide a boost to the business?
The platform that the programme gave me was amazing – I was able to talk about my business idea on TV, so of course people started to show an interest. It was part of the reason they put me on the show to begin with – they liked my idea and thought it would be an interesting element to feature in the series.
What we want to do is create a brand that is fun, new, and something that people can relate to. All the packaging at other sweet companies is for children, whereas we want to make candy cool. We want to get it into nightclubs, mini bars and other places that appeal to adults. Having the King’s Road pop-up shop, and being on the show does create this high-end brand, which has worked well for us so far.
Did you get any investment to start the business?
No, we didn’t get any investment at all – my family are from the confectionary industry with McVitie’s, but I always wanted to do something by myself. I met these two guys from Loughborough who were also keen to start a business – they are now my business partners – and between us we have amazing contacts everywhere, so we’ve been able to build the business from scratch by ourselves.
How does filming the TV show affect your work for the company?
I’m still filming for the show so it is impossible to juggle both things all the time. There’s Candy Kittens, the brand and Jamie Laing, the brand - they are different things and it’s important not to confuse them. The other two boys that work for Candy Kittens are in the office the whole time, and they work very hard, but while the show is going on I do take a back seat in the company.
I’m there mainly to promote the brand, because my strengths are networking. I’m not good at designing a packet of sweets or developing a new taste for them. I’m the energy behind the brand and the show helps me to get the name out there.
What does the future hold for Candy Kittens?
The dream is to have permanent shops. We have no idea when it is likely to happen at the moment, but next year I would like to start looking into doing that.
Do you have a business plan in mind to try and move in that direction?
I once read an article that said 70% of successful businesses never had a business plan. I find that if you try and take advice from too many people, then everyone has a different opinion and you end up with just a bunch of conflicting views.
I think you have to just go off and do it yourself. That’s one of the best things about starting your own business anyway: go for it yourself, do what you want to do.