I talked to Flora Pringle, the founder of Cracked Candy – a healthy candy that’s actually good for you! No, really – the candy is made with a sweetener that can actually prevent tooth decay, believe it or not! Pretty awesome concept and Flora’s entrepreneurial story is just as good – read on to find out how Cracked Candy is working to help Flora’s Brooklyn community and how Flora precisely timed the birth of her own child in the most efficient way possible for her business. Now, that is determination!
Tell us about your business in as much detail as you can. What is it that you do and who are your customers?
I make a delicious, very unique candy founded in Brooklyn, NY. Cracked Candy is a naturally sugar-free hard candy that looks cool, is fun to eat, and is good for teeth!
The mouth-watering candy is totally unique – it is cracked into shards (hence the name) so you can choose the size you feel like eating from the cool-looking tin it comes in.
Cracked Candy is low-carb, safe for diabetics, and certified vegan. It is also non-GMO and provides work for people with disabilities in our local Brooklyn community. It is made with xylitol instead of sugar – xylitol is a natural sweetener found in fruits and vegetables. It strengthens teeth and prevents decay so dentists love it!
It comes in four luscious flavors, including Cinnamon, Mellow Orange, Zesty Lemon, and Peppermint Ice.
Everyone needs a guilt-free sweet treat!
What made you choose this path? Is it a family legacy or are you a pioneer? Did you go to school for it or are you learning as you go?
I am a scientist and was teaching science in the UK before moving to the US to follow my husband’s work. Our first son was very young at the time, so I wanted to teach part-time – but I quickly realized that was naive. Firstly, ‘part-time’ as a concept does not really exist in New York. Secondly, childcare costs are astronomical. So, I had to think again.
It was at this time that I came across a natural sweetener called xylitol that is found in fruits and vegetables. It looks and tastes like sugar, but it is good for teeth. Dentists recommend it because it strengthens teeth and prevents decay, so you find xylitol in some gums and toothpastes. It was at this point that I had an idea. The American nation has a problem with sugar – we eat far too much of it and
it is leading to serious health problems. So, what we need is a healthy candy that tastes incredible but does not carry with it the health compromises associated with sugar (or indeed with artificial sweeteners.) I started experimenting in my kitchen and quickly cracked it. I called my healthy candy invention Cracked Candy as a result.
They say that to be successful you have to be passionate, so share what drives you every day. Why do you love what you do?
I love watching something I have created grow. I love being able to give people a little sweetness in their day without the compromises associated with sugar. Diabetics can eat Cracked Candy and kids can improve dental health by eating it. Doing something that benefits people and also helps those who make it really drives me. I am passionate about the work we do in my local Brooklyn community by providing work opportunities to people with disabilities.
Has it been smooth sailing or have you overcome adversity to get where you are?
It has been very hard work, no doubt about that. Juggling a young family and a business is a challenge – a particularly hard moment was when I was lying in hospital recovering from the birth of my second child. A container-load of packaging was stuck in US customs and my shipping agent went rogue, disappearing on me with my payment. My husband had Lyme disease at the time and his father, who had come out to help us, had fallen down the stairs breaking his back. Charges were mounting daily, so I had to find out a lot about customs from my hospital bed.
The outcome was good for everyone, but saying things were a struggle is putting it mildly! Having said all that, I love my business – it is growing and makes people happy. And as the boss, I get to create my own flexible schedule.
We all know that crazy happens. What’s the wildest thing that’s happened on the job?
I literally worked up until I gave birth to my second child. I naturally induced myself with a combination of acupuncture and caster oil and planned the whole thing out to the nearest hour so that I was running errands, doing wire transfers, and invoicing right up to the last moment. It is not something I would recommend but, with no back-up, I needed to make things as efficient as possible.
What do you do with your time off? Are you familiar with that concept?
I have two small children so powering down is not a familiar concept to me, sadly! I try to spend as much time with my family as possible. We have also spent the last 2 years renovating an old cottage in Upstate NY by hand (because I clearly don’t have enough on my hands!) which has been a bit of a love–hate relationship, but now it is pretty much done so we love to chill, cook, and hike up there together.
This is the age of the social network. How important is social media to your business and how do you make it work?
Social media is another aspect of running a business that everyone needs to pay attention to these days. Instagram is where I have most fun with taking pictures. I use Twitter to share news and talk to the entrepreneur community, and I use Facebook to share Cracked Candy news. I wish I had more time for it because there is so much to learn from the social community and I really love talking to Cracked Candy fans.
Why did you realize that you were going to embrace e-commerce?
Through my website, customers can buy Cracked Candy from all over the US and the rest of the world. From an accessibility standpoint, it is essential to running my business.
How did you find Shopify and why did you decide to try them out?
I was with a different provider before and I switched to Shopify to gain more flexibility and take advantage of their plug-ins.
What does this enable you to do as a small business owner?
It has streamlined fulfilling orders, following up with lost check-outs, and improving user experience.
How are you involved in your community?
Very, as I mentioned I provide work for people in my local Brooklyn community who have disabilities through Brooklyn Community Services.
What does supporting local mean to you?
Employing local and buying local to support our small businesses and community.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
New flavors, different formats, and a vegan, diabetic-friendly Cracked Candy Chocolate!
Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners just starting out?
Try to build a business based on need, not greed. Take as much advice as you can, ideally find a mentor or two who can give you the bigger perspective when you get bogged down in detail.
Also, don’t go it alone – have a partner to share the highs and keep the lows in perspective. I wish I had done that. If you don’t, then make sure you stick your head up for air regularly and relax with friends over a glass of wine!