Meet the Makers: The Bang Candy Company
They say necessity is the mother of invention. Once you experience The Bang Candy Company, however, you’ll likely discover there’s a far sweeter source of inspiration: joy and lots of it!
Housed in Nashville’s historic Marathon Village, this sugar-laden destination brings “happy” to a whole new level. If the candy’s bright, pop-art packaging isn’t enough to make you smile, the fun and funky playlist streaming through the candy shop certainly will. In fact, The Bang Candy Company has squeezed so much joy and delight into their sweet shop that it simply boggles the mind. And that trend continues with the fantastical candy creations they churn out.
From whimsical Rainbow Bark, loaded with pop-rocks, to gourmet marshmallows, infused with delightfully unexpected flavors like rose cardamom and wasabi ginger, every treat at The Bang Candy Company starts with a magical, undeniable spark of pure joy.
So how do they do it? How does The Bang Candy Company dish out such creative, happy-dance-inducing treats? Recently, I sat down with Sarah Souther (the company’s owner & founder extraordinaire!) and Ben Burford (Director of Sales and Operations who makes everyone’s day sweeter!) to find out.
Getting to know you...
Director of Sales & Operations (aka The Multi-Tasking Ninja)
A Sweet Start for The Bang Candy Company
Me: The Bang Candy Company is so unique and original! What inspired this place?
Sarah: Well alcohol… [laughing] …no I’m kidding. I love making things and experimenting with things…seeing how they’re made. I had a handmade marshmallow and thought, “This is amazing! Who knew that marshmallows could be so yummy?” So I went home and tried to make some. I’m not a very vanilla-ish type of person so I looked through my cupboard to see what I could find to make it more interesting. I found some rose water and some cardamom, and I popped them in there. The marshmallows were divine. They were so delicious. A lot of friends tried them and they loved them. It sort of just kept rolling along, and suddenly I had a marshmallow company.
Me: So you didn’t really set out to start a candy company. Was it simply serendipitous?
Sarah: It totally was. It just kind of unfolded. Opportunities arose and I was open to them all because I had no particular goal in mind. I was just like, “Oh that’s cool, that’s fun!” I was ready to do whatever. There was nothing in particular that I was trying to achieve.
Me: But it does seem like you’ve achieved this underlying purpose of sharing fun and joy through The Bang Candy Company.
Sarah: Absolutely. Well, that is my personality I would say. This business is very much an extension of my personality. That’s why it’s been very natural. Every product that has come from me rather than a necessity and the things that I’m excited about are the things that have been the most successful. It’s a nice little affirmation, really.
From Candy to Community
Me: What is your favorite candy to eat?
Sarah: I’ve had to try to control myself. Because I’m surrounded by candy all the time. I really like everything here.
Me: Well when you were a kid, what were your favorite candies?
Sarah: Well we were never allowed to have sweets so this is sort of my ultimate rebellion. My mother used to have this metal cupboard and she would keep all the biscuits and cookies and chocolates and everything in there and she put a padlock on it with a chain. Our ultimate goal in life was getting into this cupboard! Everything was geared towards, “How am I going to get into it?” So in the middle of the night, we’d sneak down, take the hinges off and get in there…we were very motivated. We’d open the packets from the bottom, take the chocolates out so she wouldn’t notice when she opened them. It was ridiculous, ridiculous.
Me: So is this kind of your way of taking the padlock off and saying, “Hey, the candy cupboard is no longer off limits!”
Sarah: I love that. Taking the padlock off the candy. My mother’s going to love that.
Me: What’s your favorite part of running The Bang Candy Company?
Sarah: Well, obviously it’s working with Ben! Me: You two are a dream team! How long have you been working together?
Ben: Seven months.
Sarah: Well it feels like a lifetime.
Ben: A good lifetime.
Sarah: Yes, a great lifetime. Ben is amazing. The people I work with are actually my favorite part of the whole thing. Because everybody seems to be into it and they enjoy it.
Ben: There’s a huge connection to it. You feel like you’re part of the business. We’re all working together towards that common goal and we’re having fun while we’re doing it.
Me: I know I always have fun when I pop by!
Sarah: Good! That’s the other thing I love about it. Connections with other vendors, suppliers…it is a community. When we first started making our flavored simple syrups, we would get our fruits, herbs, and other ingredients from local producers such as Green Door Gourmet and Bloomsbury Farm. It was always a great time!
Me: So the connections are really a special part of your company?
Sarah: It’s more a way of life instead of, “I’m going to start a candy company and make lots of money.” It’s not about that at all. It’s about the connections and experiences, and the fun and the downfalls, as well as the great parts and the learning.
Me: What was one of those downfalls? Sarah: I’ll have to think about that because I tend to put a positive spin on everything, as a sort of coping mechanism to be like, “Oh, that was sh**ty, but it’s experience and you can’t pay for that kind of experience.” [laughs]
Capturing the Heart of Music City
Me: How would you describe The Bang Candy Company’s place in the local community?
Sarah: It’s like the Little Candy Company That Could. I would have nothing if it weren’t for the support of the community. At the very very very beginning, I used to hang out at Fido quite a lot. I was good friends with John Stephenson, who was a chef there. He was like, “If you make them we’ll sell them.” And they really supported me. And that’s kind of been the way all along. It’s through my network of awesome people who live in this town. Nashville has been so supportive of this crazy person who’s making marshmallows. It really, really is amazing.
Me: I feel like that’s one of Nashville’s greatest traits- the way that dreamers support and help other dreamers.
Sarah: That’s very much the Nashville way. I think that people understand the creative mentality. Because it is a creative town and people are here seriously working on dreams, I think they realize that helping other people actually helps you more, as well. It is lovely. I think it’s very unique, actually. I don’t think there are many places like this.
Me: I know you’re contributing to the specialness of this place, too! Can you tell me a bit more about how The Bang Candy Company gives back to the local community?
Sarah: Well, I wanted to do something. We’re a small business. We don’t make a ton of money at all, but it’d be nice to give just a little bit back. So I was looking around the area to find what was close to us and what was close to our ethos and all of that. I drive past The Oasis Center every day and once I read about it, I was like, “Oh this is perfect!” They look after disadvantaged youth and have a program for homeless children and educational programs, as well. It’s really, really brilliant. So I went to them, and I was like, “Hey, can we give you some money? It’s not much but it’s something.” Me: So sales of your Rainbow Bark benefit the Oasis Center? Sarah: Yes, and the Rainbow Bark is kind of perfect as well because each piece is unique and every child is unique. It just sort of fit in. [Our connection with The Oasis Center] is more of that community and bringing it all together.
Me: Okay. Last question. When people try Bang Candy for the first time, what do you want them to feel?
Sarah: I want them to experience an unexpected joy and happiness. Like “Ooh, wow! I didn’t expect that to be like that, but it’s really delicious!” You know, just a little bit of whimsy and fun.
Ben: Words we live by.
Sarah: Words we live by. Exactly, Ben. Whimsy and fun.