-sugarfina-Rosie Oneill of Sugarfina
sugarfina-Hands Holding Candy
sugarfina-Rosie Oneill and Josh Resnick

insider information


Rosie O’Neill’s love story of starting Sugarfina is such a sweet story we had to share it… literally. As the co-founder of the cool California-based candy boutique, Rosie and her husband Josh Resnick came up with the concept on their third date after seeing Willy Wonka and wondering why it was kids that got to have all the fun. The couple, who met on Match.com (and yes, she reached out to him), now have 30 stores across the country and 15 inside Nordstrom boutiques. We sat down with Rosie to hear how she bought her dream to life and just what it takes to make it happen.

“Sugarfina started as a love story, both a real love story but also me finding my dream career.”

“It was after our third date, me and Josh had this idea of a candy boutique for grown ups! Nothing like it existed before. It started as a side-project, our hobby for a few years, but in 2012 we decided to quit our jobs and make it real. Everyone thought we were crazy, of course. But it came out of this place of us falling in love and wanting to create something together. We were both super excited about the concept. In the movie, candy felt so magical and as a kid candy felt so magical, but in real life it just didn’t feel magical anymore. We wanted to bring the magic back.”

“We began with the idea, ‘what if there was a really beautiful candy boutique?’ and started with a website but we always had in our head this idea for a store. Retail is so expensive to get into – we wanted to learn and prove the concept before we got too heavily invested. At the time, there were all these gourmet chocolate stores but the rest of the confection space was being ignored. We weren’t sure if people would even want it but it took off straight away- and the first year and a half all we did was refine the packaging and get it better and better.”

“Because we had taken the time to work out the kinks, by the time we launched our first store we were really, really ready. I have no official design training but I am that person who is obsessed with packaging- I will always buy things for the box. And I know so many people like me. My phrase was always “You eat with your eyes first.” It had to look beautiful. And then the quality and the taste was what kept people coming back.”

“I taught myself Illustrator and Photoshop. I was a total ‘fake it til you make it’ girl. It just felt like a joint hobby with Josh. I didn’t even think twice about going into business with him. He was a little more nervous at the beginning but it’s worked very very well. I think key to our success is each having very clearly defined roles and the upmost respect for one another. We don’t step on each other’s toes, ever. We are always pretty much in sync and, if we aren’t, we’ve learned to communicate in a mature way. Basically “I’m always right…” Just kidding.”

“We are both type A and hardworking that we probably would never see each other if we worked separately. We travel all the time together on our taste tours too. Last year we travelled four times to Asia, we went to Europe a few times, it’s a lot but it’s so fun. We get to meet with these amazing artisans and see how all this cool stuff is made.”

“I think one thing I’ve learned is it’s key to build a great team around you. If you are a control freak and have to be the key decision maker on everything, you just can’t scale. You have to find people who you can trust and empower. It’s a scary moment but what I’ve learned is that people can actually do things better than I can. Each year the opportunity gets bigger and bigger. Things a few years ago we would have been dreaming about, we are now actively working on.”

“The hardest thing and the biggest blessing was getting the right team. That’s what grew things. We are now exploring Asia and The Middle East for 2019. It’s exciting for sure- we love spreading the appreciation for high-quality and gift giving.”

“There are, of course, challenges though. When we launched the war was on gluten, it then moved to sugar- which was an interesting time. I never wanted to fight that movement though, I feel like we fit really well in with it as we are all about small, high-quality portions. The human desire for sweetness isn’t going anywhere but we are about making it special and savouring it- not mindless consuming.”

“It’s been an amazing experience. Starting a business is, as everyone knows, alot of work. It takes over your life! I’ve learned a couple of things- it’s never too early to start your dream and it’s never too late. I worked in corporate for over 10 years before I began Sugarfina. I learned so much from that. Some of the best women I know have started businesses in their 60s.”

“You have to be in the right space in your life to do it- it’s one of the most expensive things you’ll ever do and I truly believe you have to be ok with the fact that what you are doing might never work. If you can get yourself to the place where you are like: “Well I worked on this for two years and I’ve not made any money and I’m ok with that, I’m still passionate,” then you are the true meaning of an entrepreneur.”

“In order to succeed you have to be tenacious and never give up. My test is when you want to work on something, even when you are a little tired. When you are that in love with what you are doing, then magic happens.”

“Oh and my favorite candy? Our Peach Bellinis- they have and will be my favorite for a very long time.”

Suzi Boyle Suzi Boyle

Suzi is Editor-In-Chief of The Chosen Club and Executive Coach at She Chose Love. She works with high-achieving females to help them focus and achieve their biggest life goals. Suzi lives in LA but works and travels globally.