When Sydneysider and science teacher Flora Pringle relocated to New York last year, she hit a career fork in the road. With a 7-month-old boy to look after, working full-time wasn’t an option and part-time jobs in her profession were pretty limited. So when she had her entrepreneurial light bulb moment: to make sugar-free candy that was good for your teeth. She didn’t stop to second guess herself.
“My husband Nick and I have always talked about having our own business. When I stumbled across this amazing stuff xylitol, my inner science teacher came rushing out.” (FYI: Xylitol is a 100% natural sugar replacement found in birch tree bark, that has been shown to be good for teeth, prevent decay and is also suitable for diabetics and vegans). “I wanted to find a catch but couldn’t find anything,” adds Flora. “Then I had an epiphany. What if I could make healthy candy from it?”
With her chemistry background and art director hubby’s creative skills, Flora set to work in the kitchen. Months later, she came up with the her own take on a sugar-free candy formula, cracking each sheet with her hands to produce candy shards in four flavors – peppermint, cinnamon, lemon and orange. Through precision planning, Cracked Candy went from concept to market in only 10 months.
How did she do it? “Forward plan. We were always thinking about where we wanted to get to and the steps involved in getting there. So I was methodically experimenting – that’s my science coming through again! – with flavors and proportions at the same time as designing and getting quotes for the tins; we ordered them before I had even figured out the flavors but it pushed me to get there.”
She quickly outgrew her Cobble Hill kitchen, renting space elsewhere while her apartment became home to her first order of 10,000 tins. Husband Nick designed the packaging and their toddler son Bram became their chief taster. “Motherhood makes you brave in some ways. We took a leap of faith knowing that you have to take risks if you want to get somewhere.”
And it looks as if the risk is paying off. Cracked Candy is already stocked at Brooklyn Fare and Foragers City Grocer and will participate in East Village pop-up Novuslifestyle week this month. Feeling inspired? Here are Flora’s tips for budding mompreneurs:
Don’t be afraid to work with your partner. I couldn’t have done it so quickly if it wasn’t for Nick. Being able to work together and feedback/make amends instantly meant fast progress. There were a few heated arguments of course!
Work when they sleep. I get in two hours at lunchtime generally and then as soon as my little boy goes to bed I get in another hour or so before my husband gets home. I also make calls while I’m walking from A to B pushing the stroller!
Do your research, even the dull stuff. The boring bits like researching what legal information you need on there such as barcodes and nutrient information can slow down getting you to market if you haven’t worked them out in advance.
Get a firm idea of presentation and stick to it. The look and feel of the product is so important, but if you don’t have a firm idea or opinion you can end up wasting so much time going back and forth at a later, more critical date.
Utilize free resources in the city. There is a lot of free help for women from places like Score and SBDC in New York. I’ve taken several really useful workshops with them and they even give you mentors who encourage you along the way.