There’s nothing quite as sweet as a fluffy cloud of cotton candy. Not only is it delicious, it can take us back to childhood memories of Disneyland and summer carnivals. A time in life where life was simple and, quite literally, sweet.
With its unique flavors and artistic packaging, Emily Harpel has set herself apart from competitors. Her company, Art of Sucre, has found a way to package the nostalgia of our favorite childhood candy into a sophisticated (and still sweet) treat we can enjoy at any age.
Emily started Art of Sucre in 2016, shortly after getting married. Just like many brides-to-be, Emily spent countless hours scrolling through Pinterest, looking for wedding favor ideas. She had come across all kinds of “Instagrammable” desserts, from intricately designed cake pops to hand-painted sugar cookies.
But there was one dessert lacking the variety she was looking for: cotton candy.
After her wedding, she continued to think about what she’d noticed.
“I couldn’t let it go,” Harper mentions.
After her wedding, while on a 20-hour car ride with her husband Drew, Emily asked him what she thought about her idea of starting a cotton candy company. Drew was extremely supportive and encouraged her to immediately start working towards her dream.
While Art of Sucre started as an event-based business, the pandemic turned Emily’s plan upside-down. During the shutdowns, Emily started sharing more videos to TikTok and Instagram, showcasing her cotton candy creations.
Their videos started to go viral, with hundreds of thousands of people tuning in to see what colors and flavors Emily would create next.
One of their most popular products? Their champagne glitter bombs. The small balls of cotton candy release shimmery, edible glitter as they melt away into your favorite champagne, cocktail, or even sparkling water! Adding a sweet surprise to any drink.
Comments started to flood in with people asking how they can buy her cotton candy bases and the glitter bombs. This is when Emily realized it was time to pivot and expand her business into ecommerce.
Emily admits this wasn’t easy for her, feeling like she still had a lot to learn.
“I was not prepared for the amount of logistics that it takes to ship goods, specifically perishable goods,” she recalled.
But she knew the shift was important for the growth of her business.
The transition from event-based business to e-commerce was different than most, considering she essentially did it backwards. She already established a large audience for her product, the challenge was now finding a way to package the product for this new business model.
She began experimenting with different recipes and packaging, searching for the best way to share her product with the world without compromising on quality. Her audience was able to follow along, with Emily sharing behind the scenes videos of the process.
In 2021, Art of Sucre officially launched their online store.
The demand was immediate, according to Emily. She knew it would be impossible to fulfill everyone’s orders if all of her followers saw the release date, so she only shared it through her email list. This gave her an opportunity to run a “soft launch”, making sure everything was in order and that she would be able to keep up with the number of orders placed.
Looking back, Harpel wouldn’t have done much differently if she was rebuilding her business.
“If I wouldn’t have gone through all the trial and error, I would not be the business owner that I am today.”Emily harpel
She highlighted the importance of not letting anyone control or influence the speed that you choose to grow your business at.
“Go at your own pace. That’s been my mantra over the past couple of years.”
One of the things that can be admired most about Emily’s journey is her ability to build her business at her own pace while still including her audience’s suggestions throughout the entire process.
Emily’s support system played a huge role in her success as an entrepreneur. She’s super thankful that her husband and parents were so supportive of her, even though her company was not the most traditional.
“I never knew what I wanted to do when I was growing up, and I feel that young adults face a lot of pressure to know exactly what they’re going to do at a young age.”emily harpel
We asked Harpel if she had any advice for her younger self and the AskYourGirls community. Her message to anyone looking to branch out and start a business was: “If you have a good idea and it’s unique, go for it! You can make a job out of anything.”
Emily’s story is a great example of how a successful business can be formed from a small idea. No matter what you believe other people might think, it’s important to trust your vision and find a solid group of supporters to lean on while on your journey.
So next time you’re scrolling through Pinterest, think about what you’re seeing and what’s missing- you never know what inspiration you might get!