Founders Interview | Jamie Laing @ Candy Kittens
Hi, I’m Jamie Laing, I’m 31 years old, live in London, appear on television shows occasionally and I’m founder of the fastest growing UK confectionary company Candy Kittens.
Why did you become interested in the world of snacks & drinks?
I was always interested in snacks and drinks as every kid is. Why eat healthy when you can eat all things sweet and delightful - this mixed with my obsession with Willy Wonker drove me towards the world.
What inspired you to do what you do?
Being an entrepreneur and working for myself has always been my desire.
A friend once told me he’s unemployable and I totally understand what he means, so am I.
But being an entrepreneur is a sexy title nowadays - you really have to do something you love.
I have always loved sweets, always since a kid and so I knew I wanted to go into the world of confectionary but with a different spin.
What was your Eureka Moment when you knew you had a product which you could take to market?
When I saw the packaging for the first time - that moment I knew we had some thing great and different.
What current & future trends does your product meet?
We’ve recently been focusing on making our packaging sustainable - something I think all companies should look at.
We’ve always had the vision to make the best sweet in the world hence why we’re gluten free and vegan, we wanted to take the bad out and keep the good in.
These coupled with the fact we’ve become a B-Corp allow us to have great conversations about present and future trends.
What did you do before starting your company & what made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
I was at Leeds University and I was tired of being told what to do, I wanted to do something for myself. This is honestly what drove me towards starting Candy Kittens.
What has been the hardest part of starting your business?
The hardest part of starting the business was actually getting up and getting started.
Woodey Allen says 50% of success is turning up, so true.
Most people are lazy and say they don’t know how.
Finding out how to even start a company, learning how to produce sweets, the whole beginning that was the hardest.
What has been the BEST mistake you’ve made & why?
Making our sweets a premium product - we had to make our sweets expensive because we couldn’t make the margins work otherwise.
Yes our sweet now is the best in the world, taste and quality wise but when we first started perhaps not.
It was a mistake but it also allowed us to create our own category “premium gummy candy”. No one else was doing what we were doing and still aren’t. We were separated from the crowd by mistake.
What keeps you motivated?
The team keeps me motivated - watching them work hard day to day - making a company better each day, a company that we started 8 years ago. That keeps me motivated.
What do you do in your spare time outside of business life?
Train, travel, see friends. It’s very important to separate work life from everyday life.
What do you think are the key skills required to make yourself & your business a success in the world of snacks & drinks?
You have to stand out from the crowd, be different, think outside the box. It’s cliche but also vital!!
Not only that use your naivety to your advantage - trust me it’s your biggest weapon.
What would you say is your biggest strength?
My energy, drive and passion.
I’m not the greatest business man but I’m a good entrepreneur.
I think on my feet and can adapt with energy. It’s keeps the wheels turning which is important.
What would you say is your biggest weakness & how do you look to overcome this?
My lack of attention to detail… I can get distracted easily.
That’s why it’s important to have a team around you that is better than you.
Hire people to do the jobs you can’t and always hire people better than you. Don’t let your ego get in the way.
If you could sit down with yourself for a pint/glass of wine/coffee this time last year.....what would be the 3 most important tips you would give yourself knowing what you know now?
Slow down a bit, be patient and connect with friends and family more. They are the most important thing.
Any plans or predictions you can share with us for the rest of 2020?
This is the year that Candy Kittens really leaps ahead in the confectionary world!!