Sweet shop celebrity clients including Ipswich Town FC and Daniel O’Donnell
- Credit: Archant
the sweet taste of success
Candy is dandy for an Ipswich mum whose edible bouquets for the sweet-toothed are proving a huge hit for the business she launched a year ago.
Wanda Hewes hit on the idea of making candy bouquets after opening her Candy Gaga sweet shop in busy Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre.
The business has just celebrated its first birthday and with Christmas approaching Wanda is enjoying sweet success as her special bouquets are now so popular she can hardly keep up with demand.
These are not traditional floral arrangements, but ornate and colourful creations made purely from of the delicious delicacies sold at Candy Gaga.
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Owner Wanda Hewes’s sugary sensations have been a big hit with local companies with one ordering 200 bouquets while other clients already include Ipswich Town Football Club. Singer Daniel O’Donnell received one as a thank you gift.
Wanda said: “I’m having to hire more and more people. It’s great though – it’s getting harder and harder work, but more and more rewarding at the same time.”
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The Candy Gaga store first opened in the Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre 18 months ago after first testing the market with a pop-up shop in the mall.
It was an idea Wanda came up with after getting bored of repeatedly buying bouquets of flowers for her mum, Linda, and stumbling across a candy version online.
She said: “I went to order it and the delivery was £25 which is when I noticed it was coming from America. I presumed there would be someone doing it in the UK so I started checking and there wasn’t so I just made her one myself.”
Linda’s appreciation of the gift, as well as family feedback and requests for more sparked a business idea for Wanda, 40, who soon set up a Facebook page to respond to the growing demand.
Two years later she is struggling to keep up with orders as the candy bouquets have become a hit and more and more family members have joined the burgeoning confectionary empire.
Wanda said: “It started off just being me, and my daughter Cherish, who is 20, and my other daughter Scarlet, who is 17 and at college, would help on weekends.
“But now we’ve got aunts, cousins, second cousins - everyone is involved and it’s become a real family business.”
Candy Gaga is the perfect enterprise for Wanda, who admits she has to try every new product that comes in, and has a huge range of sweets available from all over the globe.
Wanda said: “We’re also the only store in Ipswich to have penny sweets available so we’ve gone back to that time when kids can come in and select a pick’n’mix bag with their pocket money and that is proving really popular.”
Also selling chocolate of every variety, Wanda personalises lollies by piping messages or names on them by hand but leaves the large corporate orders to the special machine on site that is like something from Willy Wonka’s factory.
She said: “We had to invest in the machine once we started getting big orders. I’ve got a corporate order on the go at the moment for 160 bouquets all emblazoned with a Christmas message to the staff from the company and they’re set to go out all over Europe so we’re letting the machine do that one.”
The personalising service has attracted all sorts of weird and wonderful requests and Wanda has created everything from Peter Andre lollipops to a chocolate replica Xbox console.
But she still finds time to help good causes and has just donated a huge candy bouquet to the Woolverstone Wish charity that has been a great help and support to her mum Linda.
She said: “I do something for them whenever I can as they’ve just been brilliant and whenever someone says we can keep the change we collect it up for them too. They are just fabulous.”
Woolverstone Wish is a charity that was set up in 2009 to improve services for chemotherapy patients at Ipswich Hospital.
Having reached their fundraising target they have gone on to join forces with Macmillan Cancer Support and now have an ambitious plan to transform cancer services at the hospital with the creation of an innovative new treatment centre on site.