Friday, June 28, 2013

Customer Creation: Reunion Favors

One of our clever customers created individual custom labels for the lollipops she ordered to bring to a school reunion:

Photo from our customer, L.C. - thanks!
Each label was unique and evoked a different shared memory from her classmates' school days. I think they look fantastic, and I hope this inspires you!

If you have event photos you'd like us to share, you can contact us at thischarmingcandy [at] anytime. We love showing others the cool things that you do!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Customer Creation: Anniversary Party Display

One of our regular customers recently celebrated her wedding anniversary in style, which included lollipop favors in Honey Jasmine (a.k.a. the Sweetheart) and Cinnamon Cherry (a.k.a. Red Hot Love) flavors*. We're always thrilled when customers share their event photos with us! I hope it inspires some of you when putting together your own party displays... Check out these simple, beautiful decorative bowls and vases:

We always welcome your photos and would love to feature them here; you can reach us at thischarmingcandy [at] - thanks again to E.S. for sharing these!

*This duo is seasonally available around Valentine's Day

Monday, June 24, 2013

More Flower + Sugar

Flower + Sugar is our collaboration with Sweet Anthem Handmade perfumes. We've created three coordinating experiences to celebrate summertime, in the form of lollipops and sheer lip shimmers.  The first set, Champagne + Rose, is already available at the Sweet Anthem shop and for delivery in Seattle via Zaarly.

Blackberry + Hibiscus and Quince + Honeysuckle are getting ready to debut next month at Seattle's largest indie craft show, Urban Craft Uprising. Here's a peek from Sweet Anthem's Instagram feed:

Lollipops and sheer lip shimmers, by Flower + Sugar
I've personally been wearing the Blackberry + Hibiscus lip shimmer almost every day. It's delightful - the scent's awesome, obviously. The shea and olive butter formula is wonderfully moisturizing, and the hint of shimmer layers nicely over a matte lipstick or provides a hint of shine on its own.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Etsy #craftparty!

Yesterday was the 4th annual Etsy Craft Party, in celebration of the anniversary of Etsy's founding! In Seattle, the Ugly Baby and LaRu shop hosted the festivities this year from their location on Western Ave in the Pike Place Market

Despite the (what else?) soggy Seattle conditions, and my own introvert attack, I just had to attend all the fun and celebrate with the community... 

Rosalie, co-owner of Ugly Baby and LaRu shop, makes an excellent face for the camera
Come make crafts with us!
I used a wooden heart, chunky silver glitter and dolphin-shaped
stickers to make... whatever this is! Charming, yes?
Wonderful soggy sidewalk chalk art someone made.
No trip to Pike Place Market in June is complete
without snagging a sweetpea bouquet...
ahem... or TWO bouquets for a mere $5 woo hoo!
Marja of Glass Elements snapped this pic of me with my flowers :-)
For way more awesome stuff from Seattle and from all the Etsy Craft Parties, check the hashtags #craftparty and #seattlecraftparty on Twitter and from Instagram on your phone!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bad Acid Trip

One of the most frustrating and challenging aspects of making hard candy that's both delicious and beautiful is when those goals are actually in conflict. It doesn't happen very often, thank goodness.

A compliment we enjoy is being told that our lollipops don't seem as sweet as a kid's lollipop. We work to make unusual flavor combinations that cut down the perceived sweetness. Sometimes that happens naturally, as in Hazelnut Coffee, where both flavors have a natural slight bitterness to them. Using sel de mer gives our Salted Caramel lollipops a wonderful salty flavor and texture that balances the sweetness.

In most of our fruit-based flavors, we add acids that naturally occur in fruits to heighten the fruitiness and reduce the perceived sweetness. Where we run into complications is in the coloring. In our experience, colors in the blue and purple range get their butts kicked by the acid, which turns them into unwanted hues. Check it out: I mixed up 3 bowls with a little sugar water and added a few different colors.

BEFORE: Electric Purple, Regal Purple and Violet gel paste colors from Americolor

Same three colors AFTER adding acid
They've turned sickly gray or become more blue

This even happened to me a long time ago with a peachy color. It's why I always test colors and flavors together, and why sometimes certain combinations just don't work out. Life can be hard in the lollipop mines!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Re-org!

Orange. Yellow, Turquoise and Purple lollipop labels
New customers often ask me for recommendations, and I usually answer with a question such as, "Do you like fruity flavors? Sweet flavors? Something a bit more savory?" Those corresponded pretty well with the Fruit Basket, Celebration Time and Spice Rack flavors. The existing Adventure and Breakfast flavors were a little harder to match with specific flavor profiles.

In thinking about and preparing to transition from a digital, sheet-based printing process to a flexographic, roll-based one, I took the opportunity to consolidate and simplify the way we organize and group our flavors. The new grouping feels a lot more customer-friendly to me, and I'm curious if you agree. The *'ed flavors are the ones that are new to that color family.

Fruity flavors = yellow labels
  1. Guava Colada
  2. Pineapple Heaven
  3. Sweetened Grapefruit*
  4. Tart Pluot*
  5. Triple Berry
  6. Watermelon Basil
Sweet, Kid-friendly flavors = turquoise labels
  1. Birthday Cake
  2. Blueberry Muffin*
  3. Bubble Gum
  4. Pistachio Marshmallow*
  5. Root Beer Float
Sophisticated, Culinary flavors = orange labels
  1. Black Pepper Melon*
  2. Cherries Jubilee*
  3. Hazelnut Coffee*
  4. Rosemary Lemonade
  5. Salted Caramel
  6. Tangerine Clove
  7. Vanilla Cardamom
Fragrant, Aromatic flavors = Flower + Sugar = purple labels
  1. Blackberry + Hibiscus
  2. Champagne + Rose
  3. Quince + Honeysuckle
It'll take a little while to phase in the new colors for the seven flavors that have been updated from another color. You'll continue to see the old labels on Charm School Dropouts and bags of our hexagonal gems for a while.

Sweetened Grapefruit gets a change of clothing this year
We'd love to hear your thoughts on the new system. I hope it simplifies and better communicates This Charming Candy's approach to flavor development! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flower + Sugar is here

Flower + Sugar is what happens when a perfumer and a confectioner indulge their girly sides: they create a line of 100% vegan and 100% awesome lip shimmers and matching lollipops.

Today, we debut the first of three summer combinations, Champagne + Rose – A sweet celebration that combines the softness of delicate rosewater with a sparkling glimmer of champagne. The lip shade is a shimmering “birthday suit” beige, the lollipop is pale rose-red.

Blackberry + Hibiscus and Quince + Honeysuckle gift sets are coming soon!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Physical, Not Digital

I took a lot of photos and videos at Northwest Label during our first print run on June 5th. This is a photo-heavy post, so I put most of it behind a cut link.
This magnificent machine is a 10-color capable flexographic printing press.
That's Dustin, the operator of this press, on the far end. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Major Transition

2013 is shaping up to be a really productive year. On the customer-facing side, of course, we have the four new flavors that debut this week, and are working on a plan to package and sell our candy gems as an official product.

Behind the scenes, we've invested in upgrading our label process. Up until now we've been using a digital printing process on 8.5" x 11" sheets of off-the-shelf blank label stock that we purchased. That was ok for being a startup, but as we mature, our processes needed to grow with us.

One of the downsides of the digital process was that the colors never seemed to be the same from print job to job. To say that this enraged me might be a strong word... but not totally inaccurate! Just look at the difference between these Salted Caramel labels:

As a company that takes pride the our products' appearance,
this is totally unacceptable
Also a problem: peeling up labels one-by-one from a sheet is time consuming. Finally, I wanted to take the time to seek out a local printing partner (our previous one was in CA).

To make a long story short, we're now working with the family-owned Northwest Label/Design Inc, which is based in the Interbay/Magnolia neighborhood, and having our labels flexo-graphically printed onto rolls. The initial print run happened on June 5th, and I took a TON of photos and a few videos of the process. Upcoming posts will share a behind-the-scenes look at how it all works!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

This Charming Candy: Vegan, Nut-free, and More!

Great news! Our lollipop colors are now officially vegan, and we haven't had to compromise their beauty one bit. This adds to the checklist of attributes for This Charming Candy; our products are naturally:
  • gluten free
  • dairy free
  • fat free
  • and now, vegan!
  • and nut free:
We've verified that the flavorings we use for Pistachio and Hazelnut are actually nut-free, which is great news too. Although in my experience, the nut-allergic tend to be nut-averse in terms of taste, so being able to have a Hazelnut-Coffee or Pistachio Marshmallow flavored lollipop might not rate all that highly anyway :-)

Last year we sourced a soy-free non-stick spray for coating our candy molds, so we are almost soy-free as well. The two exceptions are the Birthday Cake flavor, whose adorable candy confetti inclusions contain soy, and the forthcoming Quince + Honeysuckle flavor, which contains soybean oil as a carrier for one of the flavorings.

We're happy to be able to remove unnecessary allergens from our products and increase the number of people who can enjoy them. One ingredient we aren't going to budge on is sugar, however!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Four New Summertime Flavors

A little over a month ago, I mentioned we were working on some new flavors this year... I'm excited to announce that we're about to put four incredible flavors into production next week! They are:

Rosemary Lemonade ~ this lollipop combines classic, refreshing Lemon with a dash of pine-y Rosemary to elevate the taste to a fancy, sophisticated level. My favorite rosemary lemonade makers at Seattle's Cafe Flora know that the key to enhancing this drink is to use the proper proportions. I think we've succeeded.

Seattle's Sweet Anthem Handmade Perfumes developed three more flavors with us. Owner Meredith and I have long admired each other's businesses, and we decided to join forces to explore combinations that play up the associations of scent and taste. This collaboration, which we call Flower + Sugar, resulted in three enchanting homages to summertime:

Champagne + Rose ~ fans of rosewater might go bonkers for this one. It combines the softness of rose with a glimmer of champagne in a light, sweet celebration.

Blackberry + Hibiscus ~ a little tartness from hibiscus flower combines perfectly with juicy, ripe, Pacific Northwest blackberries. It's an addicting combination.

Quince + Honeysuckle ~ the lush, heady nectar of honeysuckle and the sweetly mild, almost banana-like essence of quince.

Soon, Meredith and I will introduce her side of this collaboration, and how we'll combine our products into cute gift sets.

In the meantime, I'm scheduled to make these flavors early next week, and they can be pre-ordered singly as part of the "Mixed Bag" listings:

  • Seattle area customers, ordering from our Zaarly store includes home delivery for less than the cost of shipping through Etsy would be!
  • Outside Seattle, of course we ship world wide from our Etsy shop!
On a personal note, I'm really proud of all four of these flavors, and I truly can't wait to hear what you think about them.