Meet the Couple Behind the Candy Store for Grown-Ups
Written By: Ashlee Polarek
Photographed By: Natasha Lee Sugarfina
The Experts: Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick
Credentials: Owners and Founders of Sugarfina
Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick, owners and founders of Sugarfina, are just as sweet and lovely as their candy stores. When you walk into a Sugarfina location, it’s exactly like being a kid in a candy shop, except this time some of the candy has booze. Inspired by a date spent watching the candy master himself, Willy Wonka, this couple took the LA candy scene and flipped it on its head. Leaving their jobs, the couple took to the globe to get sweet inspiration from candy worldwide. They are passionate about making sure that Sugarfina candy tastes just as good as it looks and is always perfect quality.
Q: How did you two meet?
Rosie O’Neill: We actually met on Match.com.
Josh Resnick: She reached out to me, no way in hell would I have reached out to her, talk about intimidating. Fortunately for us we hit it off right away.
Q: Where did the inspiration for Sugarfina come from?
JR: On our third date, I took her to see Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and we came out of there totally energized and excited. But also because we’re a little bit type A, we started talking about why it is that candy isn’t getting people like us as excited and energized these days. We realized the candy industry at that time was really geared towards kids. In our minds, kids were having all the fun. So we did a ton of traveling and a lot of research, and we discovered that there was nothing like this, and that’s how we created Sugarfina.
Q: What makes Sugarfina candy for grown-ups?
RO: We like to do a lot of fun flavor combinations where we take things that maybe people were nostalgic about as kids and combine that with grown-up indulgence. So Champagne Gummy Bears, which is our best seller, is the perfect example of that. You have champagne, which people love and you have gummy bears, which people have this nostalgia for. You put them together and all of a sudden, you have a really fun treat that makes you feel a little something extra. If you’re going to have a small treat, have something really high quality and make it special. Treat yourself.
Q: What is the candy making process like?
RO: It’s really fun for us because we get to play Willy Wonka. We will have really fun brainstorming sessions where we come up with the candy ideas, ‘What if we made bourbon gummy bears?’ ‘What bourbon would we put in them?’ So we do all of the inventing and flavor profiles, shapes and ideas, and we have these really amazing candy makers who all specialize in a different type of candy. We go to them and we’re able to combine the idea and expertise and create something very special and unique.
JR: We have like dozens of chefs on our staff that we go out to create something with.
Q: What are your favorite candies that you sell?
RO: Our new Bourbon Bears are one of my personal favorites; they’re amazing. I will always put Peach Bellini on my list, that’s my go-to. And on the chocolate side, we have these dark chocolate toasted hazelnuts that have the best hazelnuts from Italy that are unbelievable.
JR: I have to say mine are Parisian Pineapples, a cute little shape and it tastes just like a pineapple would be as a gummy, all natural ingredients, it has a really fun texture to it. On the chocolate side, I would say the Brown Butter Brittle, it’s dark chocolate with little bits of toffee inside. So it’s this kind of crunchy, sweet, dark chocolaty contrast. The Dark Chocolate Scotch Cordials are amazing too. Even if you don’t love scotch you’ll love this combination.
Q: Sugarfina gives to charities, what inspired that?
RO: This is my first time being an entrepreneur. Josh is a lifelong entrepreneur, so supporting other entrepreneurs is a core part of our DNA. We try to do it in our daily life, like mentoring and helping people with their businesses. Kiva is an organization that does that on a much broader scale, and does it with entrepreneurs in third world countries. That course is really near and dear to our hearts because I think it’s so great when an organization can help someone learn the tools they need to lift their whole community up with them.
Q: What kind of crazy or interesting things have happened in your stores?
RO: We’ve had, I think, six or seven marriage proposals happen in the store. Some were planned and our team was involved, some were spontaneous and everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, did that just happen?’ We’ve had one wedding in the Pasadena store. Tons of people do their engagement photos in our store. We had probably the most Insta famous Micro Pig come to one of our store launches.
JR: We’ve had a lot of animal personalities with large followings, dogs, cats—it’s interesting. The pig was the most interesting animal personality.
Q: If you had to pick a candy that you sell that describes each other, what would it be?
JR: I know the one, it just instantly came to my head for you—Pink Flamingo. Which is the cutest pink flamingo, and its elegant, graceful, tall.
RO: The one I pick for you actually is one of your favorite candies, so I was going to say the Brown Butter Brittle. Josh is a very complex person, he has many layers, but at the core, he’s very sweet.
Q: Have you always liked candy growing up?
RO: I had a major sweet tooth, I was the kid who would probably have a candy bar every day, and I would have to hide it…
JR: I did not know that.
RO: *Laughing* I had to hide it because I knew my parents would be mad at me if they knew how much sugar I was actually eating. I have this crazy sweet tooth, I always have.
JR: I had all the classics, Twizzlers, Whoppers, 100 Grand Bar; things like that.
Q:What inspires you to make candy?
JR: It makes people so happy, I mean that’s what inspires me. People walking into the store for the first time, being offered a sample and then gazing at our wall, seeing 130 different candies from around the world. All the different colors, textures, shapes and flavors, it’s a really positive kind of awakening that you’ll see in people. When Rosie and I are in the stores and we see people walking in and having that kind of reaction, that’s what drives me.
Boozy Bites: The Dark Chocolate Scotch Cordials have a real shot of Scotch inside. You have to be over 21 to buy them, and they will card you.
Popular Pop: When the Rosé All Day Bears were launched, the whole year’s production sold out online, and they had a waitlist of over 18,000 people.
Office Munchies: In the office, each employee has an open cube of candy on their desks. They work their way through cubes then go down to the warehouse and try a new candy.
World Travelers: Rosie and Josh have taste tested about 3,000 candies each. They go on candy scouting missions all over the world, including Morocco, Bali, Japan and Scandinavia to look for inspiration.
840 S Sepulveda Blvd
El Segundo, CA 90245
This Couple is Sweeter Than Candy
Ashlee is a freelance writer with a focus on travel, lifestyle and food. After obtaining her degree in Journalism she took the world by storm teaching in South Korea and giving motivation speeches across the United States. She can often be found on road-trips, plane rides and cooking up her favorite meal from her most recent travels. The anti-homebody loves a good hike, good book and a day spent with friends.