October is about spooky Halloween—made sweet by children trick or treating. Candy! One day, it occurred to long-time friends Karen Benett and Jennifer Rich that they could build a business around sweets, and make many people happy all year long. The idea, rooted in good memories and mutual trust, not to mention planning the candy bars at their kids’ bat mitzvahs, took hold. When they met Tina Plagos, the three moms knew they had what they need to co-found Candy Zoo, a brand new roving candy truck. Based in NYC, it also branches out into Connecticut. Here’s what they shared with us. See more at www.candyzootruck.com.
Why did you decided to do this?
Karen: Jen and I have been friends forever—and so were our grandparents!
Jen: We always thought it would be really fun to be in business together but couldn’t put our finger on what to do. Turns out we both love candy—in fact, everyone we know loves candy. It’s a happy business. It makes people smile. And after the last few years, it’s actually nice to see people smile again.
How did you get the idea off the ground?
Karen: Once we realized we wanted to specialize in candy, and knew we didn’t want brick and mortar, we settled on a truck. I called my friend Niko, who is Tina’s husband, to get an education on food trucks and the business as a whole. They own many Souvlaki GR restaurants and a food truck in NYC, and I knew he would be very helpful. We ended up partnering with Tina for an all-women-owned business, bought a truck and the rest is history.
What prepared you to go into business together?
Jen: We both have children in college and thought now made sense as more of our time became available. Karen has a background in sales and marketing, and I really enjoy design. Tina rounds us out with her amazing knowledge of all things NYC and her immense understanding of running a business.
What kind of candy do you offer?
Tina: We carry over 200 different kinds of candy, from old timey favorites to new popular items.
Do you have hard-to-find candy?
Tina: Yes, we carry hard-to-find candy. Our customers get a big kick out of these hard-to-find items. Inevitably, they say they haven’t seen that kind of candy since they were a kid and then share a story about their childhood. It’s fun to walk down memory lane with them
Do you do any kind of event—parties, weddings, etc.?
Karen: Yes, we will work weddings, Mitzvah’s, corporate events…anything you can think of.
Do you each have a favorite candy?
Jen: Of course! I love any candy that isn’t chocolate.
Tina: Hot Tamales, Skittles and Blowpops
Karen: Black licorice and Red Hots.
Anything surprise you about founding the business?
Karen: We realize that everything takes time. Much more time than we ever thought. A small issue that should typically take a week to fix takes two months. Everything was back ordered with the supply-chain issue, so this project took an extra year to launch, which was really astounding.
Anything you want to add?
Tina: Not only do we love candy, we love kids—and have eight between the three of us. We’ve partnered with The Ronald McDonald House and will be working a few events for them starting in 2023. Anything that makes kids smile is a homerun for us.
You’re ready to do events in Greenwich and Stamford. What brings you to the area?
Karen: We are excited to travel to Greenwich and Stamford for a sweet party.