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The sweet life

Designer's daughter digs into candy

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Dylan Lauren has been a candy-lover since childhood.

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Dylan Lauren
Candy
New York

(CNN) -- Dylan Lauren is a self-proclaimed kid in a candy shop. Luckily for her, she owns it.

Three years ago Lauren fused her love of art and passion for candy into "Dylan's Candy Bar." The 10,000-square-foot New York City flagship store houses thousands of candy products. The store also hosts parties, all in a seemingly edible environment.

The mega sugar shop welcomes candy-lovers of all ages, not just youngsters looking for their sugar fix. Lauren says she's found a healthy market for candy lovers in preschool, in college, even in retirement homes.

To prove her point, she recalls one special birthday party for an 80-year-old man, whose friends flocked to the store. In another case, a woman proposed marriage to her candy-loving man inside the shop.

"It's really for the kid in anyone, or a person who has a sweet tooth," she says. "And I've tried to give it that sexy, adult spin."

Good for all ages

Of course, candy is the store's star -- including hard-to-find classic candies and treats acquired from hundreds of vendors. But the sweet setting also plays a big part in the experience.

Tunes like "Brown Sugar" and "Lollipop" constantly play in the background, while vintage candy commercials take adults back to their favorite treats as kids.

The store itself functions as a self-contained edible world. The café, which offers over 300 flavors of ice cream, seats customers on peppermint stools and at tables made of real gumballs. There, customers can savor everything from hot chocolate to candy martini until 10 p.m.

Candy cane columns, an oversized lollipop tree, and stairs made of real sweets make up the rest of the store fixtures.

Lauren, a candy-lover since childhood, recognizes the aesthetics of her sugary industry.

"[I] think a lot of people are obsessed with candy, but it's a side thing," she says. "They all grow up loving candy, but it was a food fixation. For me, it's about the art of it. I look at a gummy bear, I hold it up to the light, and I just think it's a beautiful."

Creating a culture of candy

Creativity is in the family blood. Her father is famed fashion designer Ralph Lauren. Her mother does photography and watercolor painting.

An art history major at Duke University, Lauren says this background translates neatly to her current vocation -- be it in the store's look or individual candy's wrapping.

"I wanted to add that twist to candy, so when I look at candy, I say, 'That's cool packaging. What can I do to make it more of a gift item rather than consumption?'" she says.

"I felt like there was something about that I could do something with it to add a spin to it."

Citing her father's example, Lauren says she hopes to extend the candy concept beyond the culinary world.

"I think my dad has done a great job of building a lifestyle out of clothing, and making people see a polo shirt is more than just a shirt, [by combining it] into culture or a way of living. And we're trying to build that with candy."

One way she tries to do that at Dylan's Candy Bar is by offering non-edible products.

Patrons can browse a selection of candy store apparel and accessories, from baby Tootsie Roll T-shirts to Dylan's Candy Bar-branded tote bags. Candy scented candles, perfumes and dishware are also offered.

Body shake products and vanilla bath sugar are two of a few efforts to import that candy culture into the bathtub.

"We are expanding it into our own Dylan's Candy Bar spa line," Lauren says. "One of the concepts of the store is for everything to look edible, but also be a fun gift."

With stores in Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and Garden City, New York, she hopes to expand to other cosmopolitan areas and transport her patrons to her "world of candy."

"Our average customer stays for a good 45 minutes, just looking at all the designs, and sort of overwhelmed," Lauren says.

"When they're in Dylan's Candy Bar, they're in a whole world of candy, and that's where I want to keep them."

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