Jackie Sorkin creates beautiful candy creations and designs events for the likes of Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, and Oprah. Yes, Oprah. We caught up with the entrepreneur to get the scoop on her burgeoning empire, growing up Latina and her advice for others who want to start their own business.
What’s your background and where did you grow up?
“I grew up in Hollywood, then ended up in New York. My dad’s Argentinian, my mom’s Mexican, my husband’s Dominican-Honduran, and my children are totally confused. (laughs)”
How did you get the name of ‘Candy Queen’?
“Well, it’s actually the name they gave the show I was on for TLC, so now that’s what people refer to me as. My company is The Hollywood Candy Girls, so I get a lot of Candy Queen, Hollywood Candy Girl… you can pretty much call me anything, as long as it’s not ugly. (laughs)”
How did it all start?
“Ever since I was 7-years-old, I’ve been developing ‘business plans.’ I wasn’t a normal kid. I think it came from the fact that I was raised with this idea of building yourself up from the ground up – my parents came [to this country] with nothing and created everything for themselves, and a lot of Latinos are business owners. I became obsessed with that idea. I would even carry an empty briefcase to school. (laughs) My first idea was to create a restaurant that was centered around 101 ways to make chicken. I came up with 26 and had to stop. But really, it all came down to trial and error. I think that the things that work are when you’re creative and when you have something new to bring to the table. So I was intuitively drawn to the beauty of these sweets, and really just started from there. Started a website and soon enough, things just got bigger.”
How did you get involved with TLC and getting your own show?
“I blogged this whole journey of mine – my life. I thought, I can do this, I’m funny, people might be interested in what I do and my life in general. And I’ve just been very honest about everything, and I started getting approached by production companies. I kind of kept putting it off and not committing to anything, and then TLC came up with the idea of, essentially, Cake Boss but with candy. And they found me."
What’s the best thing about your job?
“What we do is so beautiful and special enough for people to want it at all types of events, and that’s amazing to me. Their eyes just go big and they’re like ‘Oh my god, I can’t touch that, I can’t eat that.’ And I’m like ‘Please, eat it. It’s delicious!’ It’s like I get to be Willy Wonka and create these magical things.”
What have been some of your biggest events?
“We’ve done a lot of American Idol finale parties, where all of a sudden 10,000 people hit us really hard and everyone wants to eat and shovel it all in (laughs). The intensity of those moments, it’s crazy. But even though our product is girly, glitzy and fun, it’s all about professionalism. The [event] for Oprah was obviously amazing. Somebody came into the room [when I was showing everything] and said ‘Oh my god, this is so beautiful’ and I said ‘thank you.’ I turn around and boom, it’s Oprah. I was [pregnant] and she puts her hands on my stomach and I’m like ‘Oprah is touching me.’ (laughs) I’ll never forget that, she just means so much to me. Her story and her struggle, I think a lot of different people identify with her, and I’m definitely one of them."
What’s on the radar?
“I would say it’s candy world domination or bust. I’ve been saying that since day one. And I say it jokingly, but I mean it. Some things you just know to be true, you don’t know what’s going to happen or how it’s going to happen, but you just know what you’re supposed to be doing. And that’s how I feel. It’s an insane passion. We’re starting to do different projects, we’re going international and have this art side to us that’s going and happening in China. We also are doing [candy] arrangements that you’ll be able to order on our new website. We’re just continuting to grow, and I’m super proud.”
What would you say to Latinas who want to start their own business?
“I’m all about honest, tough love. You can achieve anything you want, but there is no ‘healthy balance.’ You can have that after. You have to be focused. You’ve got to clearly lock your eyes on the prize. Visualization is really the thing and there’s a lot of sacrifice. But if you want it, you have to go after it.”
Find out more about Jackie’s life on her website http://jackiesorkin.blogspot.com/