North East Post
A Voice of the North
4:00 AM 24th September 2021

Sweet Taste Of Success For Tiktok-inspired Confectionery Business With Lloyds Bank Award

A Yorkshire confectionery start-up, launched in lockdown by a husband and wife out of work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has won a national business award from Lloyds Bank and is set to exceed £1m in turnover in its first year.

Sophie and Ryan Taylor, who live in Wakefield, started their business, Candy Works, last October after being inspired by lots of start-ups in America advertising on social networking platform TikTok.

Sophie Taylor said: “We saw a gap in the UK market and had always wanted to start our own business. We were both unemployed at the time, with our two children at home, and just thought there’s no time like the present.”

Sophie Taylor
Sophie Taylor
The couple borrowed £400 from a family member and put it all into posting their own adverts on TikTok and setting up supply chains with contacts in the UK, Spain, America and Mexico. Their efforts were quickly rewarded, when they received more than 1,000 orders within the first few days of advertising online.

“We both come from families of risk-takers and sensed we could be onto something big, but we weren’t prepared for that level of demand. We spent many nights literally pouring sweets into tubs to get orders ready while the kids slept in the next room. In those early days, we were the marketing, customer service, finance, and delivery teams combined.”

Realising the need to rapidly expand operations to meet demand, Candy Works began renting nearby office space, eventually moving into a 3,000-square-foot unit in Leeds after outgrowing other sites. This meant they could receive 10 pallets of sweets at a time – growing its range to more than 100 different pick 'n' mix options for customers to choose from – and recruit staff.

Now, Candy Works has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2021 awards, which celebrate businesses across the UK. The prize is a mentoring session with Dominic Cools-Lartigue, founder of pop-up food market Street Feast. Dominic will provide insight and support to help Sophie and Ryan seize new opportunities and continue to grow their business in the year ahead.

Sophie said: “It’s amazing to be recognised in this way. Much of the last year has been a blur, everything’s just gone so fast. We’ve relied on going with the flow really to this point, so the mentoring will help us to take stock, stay on track and plan for the future.”

Candy Works, which has reached 1m followers on TikTok and now ships to America and Canada as well as across the UK, has received almost 50,000 direct orders to date, and is on course to hit a turnover of around £1.4m in its first year of trading. It currently employs 12 members of staff, with marketing, finance, customer service, ‘pickers and packers’ and delivery departments.

Gareth Oakley, managing director of business banking at Lloyds Bank, said: “Sophie and Ryan’s story so far is a reminder that, if you’re willing to put the hard graft in, business success can stem from unexpected places and the simplest ideas. Its founders and their team’s entrepreneurial spirit will, I’m sure, help Candy Works to reach its full potential, and they are worthy winners of this award.”