Nostalgia leads Carrie Abbott to update tried and true candy favorites
By Rebecca R. Bibbs
IN 2012, CARRIE ABBOTT LAUNCHED Indianapolis-based Newfangled Confections with Carrie’s Frittle® Candy, a sweet treat that combines the best of fudge and peanut brittle. The company since has expanded to include Southern pralines, soft butter mints, spicy pecans and special holiday candies.
Abbott said her intent was to take Hoosiers back to their childhood memories of the expansive candy aisles at places like Hook’s Drugstore.
In addition to her shop at 613 E. North St., Newfangled Confections also can be found at Yats restaurants, Trader’s Point Creamery and Rooster’s Market & Deli in Whitestown. Orders also can be taken online at newfangledconfections.com and shipped nationwide.
Abbott shares with IMBM her recipe for a successful business.
IMBM: What inspired you to strike out on your own and start Newfangled Confections?
Abbott: For me, I was inspired by food gifts I used to give as favors at the end of catering jobs I was hired to do. It was a little something people would remember the entire evening. On a broader scale, I have a business, hospitality and baking background. What better than to open a treat shop?
IMBM: You recently returned with your family for a visit to your native Korea. What, if anything, did you learn about the business practices there that you can apply to your own business?
Abbott: It was interesting to see business practices there. Cleanliness, friendliness and hustle were three things that jumped out at me. Especially in tourist areas, the U.S., Indy and in my business we need to think about how you appear to your customer. Cleanliness, especially a food business. Friendliness, as in the best customer service possible. Everyone says that customers are important. But you better be ready to live and breathe by this statement if you want to succeed, while maintaining strong ethics. And lastly, hustle. I’m nearing 40 years old, and I can’t imagine not hustling at work. I don’t know if it’s something I was taught or born with, but I’m really seeing a lack of hustle in the younger generation. I’m guessing you can find these things in many businesses in Indiana and that is why they are successful. It just really struck me as differentiating factors compared to businesses starting out in Indiana.
IMBM: How did you secure funding to start your business?
Abbott: I saved. It wasn’t much, but motivation, attitude and a total vision go a long way and present opportunities unimaginable. For a food business in Indiana the number one stopper is money for a kitchen or rental. I saved $2,000 and put it all in a marketing campaign, added another $3,000 and basically started a business at -$3,000. I knew I had something special, and I was going to sleep and breathe Frittle candy until it was big. I was gifted with two amazing kitchen rental opportunities. But also, I was hyper-focused on finding a kitchen. Always be planting a bunch of seeds.
IMBM: What has been your biggest challenge in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
Abbott: One of my biggest challenges and many business owners will tell you this was getting out of my own way. You have a good idea, great tools, good staff; everything is lined up perfectly. For some reason, on certain stages of business, I want to grow it when it doesn’t need it, scale down when it should ramp up, not return all those email requests. It’s really a matter of focus, delegating and essentially getting out of my own way. I overcome it with daily faith and living with the knowledge that it’s a candy business, and I’m not saving lives here. I keep a positive attitude, keep the faith and forgive myself of a bad day, week, month and move forward.
IMBM: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned while getting your business off the ground?
Abbott: One of the most important lessons I’ve learned while getting Newfangled Confections off the ground is leaning on community and packaging. In regards to leaning on community, do a market event with other vendors, and look around. Everyone is at different stages of learning. You’re about to spend eight to nine hours with them in a close setting. Kindly and openly ask for guidance and mentoring. People are very eager to help and mostly stop you from making the mistakes they made. If someone offers you advice, don’t judge and be offended. Just smile and let them know that’s a good idea (even if you thought of it before) because it IS a good idea; remember you thought of it too.
Regarding product packaging, scan the shelves of the big manufacturers. They can’t do it without the packaging. Ask for help again. Be open to ideas that you haven’t thought of, even the ideas that completely suck. Be inspired by a dog treat packaging, even if you’re making a new beverage. Also, a bonus lesson: Listen to impartial successful folks. Your family and friends love you and don’t want you to fail. But the successful impartial folks will give you straight advice.
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