Sugar, water and corn syrup are all one really needs to make hard candy, but there’s a lot more that goes into it at Vintage Confections.
“It’s an old-fashioned process that we have updated to current times,” said co-owner Heather Kelly, who with sister Cheryl Carr opened in November the custom-made lollipop business’ first commercial space at 102 S. Prospect Ave. in Clarendon Hills. “We put a lot of spin on it.”
That “spin,” which shows up in Vintage Confections’ translucent lollipops that at their core feature pictures of planets, cartoon characters, even the Hinsdale Central Red Devils logo, has gotten the Darien natives’ business international attention.
Kelly started Vintage Confections in 2008, making different kinds candy in, and shipping it from, her Darien home. After her lollipops were featured in Martha Stewart Weddings in 2010, Kelly said, hard candy became her focus.
Vintage Confections has since been featured in or on Martha Stewart Living, Brides Magazine, CNET, and National Geographic Kids UK, and has developed a national customer base that spans from New York to California, and a global one that extends from Australia, to Japan, to China, to Europe.
Business really exploded about a year ago, inspiring Carr, an accountant by trade, to join her sister and help manage Vintage Confections’ shipping and communications.
“It was a part-time job until September, but it’s been pretty much a full-time job since then,” said Carr, who lives in Aurora.
Making the business even more of a family affair, Kelly and Carr’s mother, Carol Poindexter, helps Kelly pump out somewhere around 300 pieces of candy per day customized for birthday and holiday parties, weddings, showers and other special events.
“Everything is hand-poured, hand-wrapped, hand-polished,” Kelly said.
Inside the lollipops, Vintage Confections can put anything from business logos to photographs. In fact, for a recent Christmas party, Carr said 50 personalized lollipops were made, each with a headshot of the guest they were given to.
“The options are really endless,” Kelly said.
Kelly, who still lives in Darien, said she had her eye on 102 S. Prospect since she was a customer of the Irish bakery that occupied the space before Jennycakes moved in. She stayed in touch with Jennifer Surowiec, and upon learning last September that the cake-maker was closing shop, the sisters jumped at the opportunity to take over the storefront and add a retail element to Vintage Confections.
“The local presence is really a focus for us,” Carr said.
The holidays were busy in terms of long-distance business, but Kelly and Carr, both married moms, aim to expand their currently small retail inventory in the coming months and develop a strong local market during the upcoming Valentine’s Day season in terms of both event-planners and walk-in shoppers.
With an awning up since late December, and area residents beginning to take notice, Kelly said she’s hoping to establish a “local footprint” of Vintage Confections and show people all the things that old-fashioned candy with a new-age twist can be.
“I think once people understand what’s here, they’ll get it.”
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