Who wants a candy?

This is another post about the inspiring stories of people around me. Simon is a landscape designer from Beijing. I met him for the first time back in January 2010. I had just arrived in China, and he was one of the few English-speaking colleagues I had in the architecture firm I was working for back then. We bonded immediately. He won me over by telling me ‘oh! you’re so skinny!’ and I guess he was pretty impressed by my Italian apple cake. Anyways, this was a long time ago. Since then so many things have happened… We both got married, we both changed many jobs, I lunched my lifestyle blog and he started his candies-related business Carmelos Candy in 厦门 and moved there. At the moment, he has already opened 2 candy stores and is looking into different opportunities to extend his business.

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Well, I find the fact that he completely shook up his life to pursue his dream – opening a candy boutique – amazing. This is why I contacted him, and asked him if he wanted to share his story with me and my readers. Here is (more or less) the chat we had over the phone.

You have a landscape design background. Why did you decide to open a candy shop and to change completely your lifestyle?

Like landscape, candies might bring joy to people’s lives. Fascinated by the colours, glamour and fragrance of candies, I joined a friend of mine in opening a candy store in the popular 增错案 (Zengcuoan) area in 厦门, an appealing tourism destination filled with a variety of small boutiques, restaurants and bars. The goal was to make people happier and more joyful.

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Why did you choose 厦门 to open your shop, and not 北京 (Beijing) and/or 上海 (Shanghai)?

Strategically we felt it was smart to test the idea of Carmelos Candy in a city with a relaxed lifestyle and a strong tourism culture. But being our first store we also wanted to give it a try in a place where the rent for the shop is not too expensive. The test has proven successful and now we will venture into larger cities like 北京 (Beijing) and 上海 (Shanghai). Then we might look further, across the Pacific Ocean to the US and beyond.

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You told me you are going to the US to have a look at other candy shops. Why USA? Do you think they have the best design for candy shops?

I have done a good deal of research into candy stores and candy stores’ chains around the world. There are many success stories that inspire us but our target market is people, despite their anagraphical age, with a youthful spirit. Stores that we’ve studied in the US seem to capture this spirit, they are very stylish, colorful and fun to be in. They represent a lifestyle experience that we hope to recreate in Asia.

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 What is the business plan for the next future? Do you plan to open any other candy shop anywhere else?

My team and I are very ambitious! 北京 (Beijing) will be our next location because it is a huge market, and the capital of China. The fact that I’m a true Beijiner also plays and important role in this decision. 上海 (Shanghai) with its vibrancy and international character is on the horizon, other big cities in China like 昆明 (Kunming), 杭州(Hangzhou) and 程度 (Chengdu) are also on our radar.

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 Are you happy about your new lifestyle?

I enjoy every second of my new life at this moment. Every day there is something new and exciting that keeps me busy, I have the chance to utilize my design background as I create and renovate our shops and at the same time I am developing new skills as I have to be aware of the business aspects and market trends.

 Do you have any advice to give to people who are afraid to leave their office job to pursue their dream?

Life is an adventure and adventures contain a good dose of risk. Not everyone is comfortable with taking risks, and I was one of them at the beginning. Then I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, as I was willing to fight for success and happiness. I realized that if you live your life without fear of failure there is nothing you can’t accomplish. And by doing so there is a good chance you can be inspiring and help people around you accomplish their dreams as well.

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One day you’ll open a shop in Beijing. Who will be your super testimonial? (I couldn’t avoid this question, even if I already knew the answer!)

Chiara of course! You are very sweet, fun, classy and represents my slogan: “Life is Sweet with Carmelos Candy”!

Well. I’m flattered! It looks like I might have a chance at being a fashion icon!

I wish Simon all the success and fun and excitement that life can bring, and told him to keep us posted about the opening of the shop in Beijing. He promised he will do! You guys, just stay tuned!

All the pictures in this post were kindly provided by Carmelos Candy.

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