Former Stock Trader Turns to Candy for Next Career
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Sell Nostalgia with Trays of Candy Buttons, Razzles, Bazooka Chewing Gum, Bottle Caps, and Pez
By Tina Traster
If the world were a board game, Penny Schwartz’s would undoubtedly be Candy Land, a world full of candy canes, gummies and gum drops. Because according to Schwartz, who recently started Penny’s Candy Creations, a gift concept company, candy is the way to spread joy and love. As well as an opportunity to forge a second passionate career.
For 17 years, Schwartz, 46, a former convertible bond trader, the board game of life was more like Monopoly, an overpowering money-centric universe peppered with the challenge of being a woman in a world dominated by men.
From an early age, Schwartz was destined to land on Wall Street. His father, an optometrist, taught him to read stock pages. She was fascinated by the stock market. She majored in economics at Syracuse University.
During her 20s and early 30s, she rose through the ranks.
“I bulldozed,” said Schwarz, a resident of Montebello. “I was the only woman at the negotiating desk.”
But 13 years ago, with a five-year-old son at home, Schwartz said enough is enough. She wanted to see spending time with her son. She was tired of commuting. She left the fast lane, but another long-standing obsession began to bubble up. Sweets. Throughout his life, Schwartz had a love affair with candy. She kept it in bowls and jars at home and at work. She changed it for every party and special occasion. She scoured candy stores and followed trends online and offline. She organized gift baskets for her son’s birthdays and for his friends. She organized trays for teachers and made trays for Super Bowl parties.
Her son’s friends were very fond of coming home to play.
For years, people have put the suggestion in his ear. They said “you should start a candy giveaway business”.
“I’ve always been obsessed with candy,” Schwartz said. “I remember my mom would take me to a local gas station and I would run there to buy candy. And then I would take it home and hide my drawers in it.
“Whenever a new Oreo comes out, I have to be the first to try it.”
Candy – especially the old-fashioned candy – transports us to the simplicity of childhood. Nostalgia is an elixir. You are young again. Carefree. Focused on fun.
Understanding these emotions, Schwartz took an emerging hobby and turned it into a home-based business during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve been laughing at this for a long time, but finally this year, being at home with COVID, I felt ready to make a real business out of it.”
Schwartz started small with social media – making it known that Penny’s Candy Creations was available via curbside pickup. Immediately the response was strong because people, especially of a certain generation, feel hot and fuzzy when they see Candy Buttons, Razzles, Bazooka Chewing Gum, Bottle Caps and Pez. . Literally, childhood on a platter.
Orders have piled up in recent months – Schwartz expects a tough Valentine’s Day in his assembly line factory, aka the Dining Room, where all hands are on deck for organization and l ‘packaging.
For now, the candy maker only sells through Facebook and word of mouth. It offers 12 and 14 inch trays ranging from $ 40 to $ 50. Smaller box options like the Tackle Box or Glass Bowls range from $ 15 to $ 25.
Although these are only the early days, Schwartz believes his professional future lies in “candy country”.
“I wake up at 5 am and leave,” Schwartz said. “I just dream of conceiving. It had been a long time since I had had this kind of driving. I sell joy.