Candy Gaga expansion gives Tower Ramparts its own castle

Candy Gaga'�s Wanda Hewell, right, and daughter, Cherish.

Candy Gaga'�s Wanda Hewell, right, and daughter, Cherish. - Credit: Archant

Tower Ramparts in Ipswich now has its very own castle – thanks to the success of a local sweet shop business.

Candy Gaga has expanded into larger premises within the Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre, which is currently having its very own £4million makeover,.

Owner Wanda Hewell’s confectionary emporium has gone from strength to strength with international orders, corporate clients and famous customers.

So Wanda, 41, who only launched two years ago, has expanded into a new retail space three times the size of her current one in the Ipswich mall and this one has its own castle built in to it.

She said: “It’s been going so well and we just had to find bigger premises. We’ve now combined with my daughter’s party business and that side of things has been massive.

“We already did all the sweets and things for her princess parties, and people were always asking if we sold the bags and boxes and accessories too, so we decided we might as well.

“Within six months it had grown so much that we couldn’t handle it in the old unit.”

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Candy Gaga joined forced with Dream Team, Wanda’s daughter Cherish’s business that provides princesses for parties and special events and the two combined have just moved into their new space.

Keeping the family involvement, Wanda’s dad Andy – a former builder – was roped in to create a castle built in to the shop, the perfect fantasy venue to host the children’s parties that now make up a huge part of the business.

Wanda said: “The castle is amazing and the kids love it. To be honest I think they just love having the run of a sweet shop for their party too.

“They get to pick their theme - Frozen is a pretty popular one right now - and then come in to the castle where they are greeted by their chosen character, then they will maybe make a lolly and play games and then do a ribbon dance with the ice princess from the film.

“That side of things has been huge and we’ve already got bookings up until November.”

Adding the party venue at the same time as growing the sweet shop business has allowed Wanda to take on more staff at the unit– she now employs ten people – and still keep it in the family.

She said: “They are all family. When we started the shop two years ago it was me with my mum and auntie helping out. They still do what they can but I’ve got cousins, second cousins and everybody involved and they’re all as passionate about the business as I am.

“My youngest daughter, Scarlett, is only 17 but she’s on a beauty course and she’s really good at make up so she does all the make up for the characters.”

Mike Sorhaindo, Manager of Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre, said: “We’re in the throes of our own makeover into Sailmakers Shopping Centre but Wanda’s business is updating too and it’s a real Ipswich success story.

“She has brought something new to the centre and to the town and it’s a real family affair and it’s great to see them do so well.”

One of the keys to the success of Candy Gaga was the introduction of candy bouquets – a sugary alternative to traditional floral arrangements – which proved a huge hit with Tower Ramparts shoppers.

Wanda, who lives in Ipswich, was quickly producing batches of hundreds at a time for corporate clients as well as individual ones for the likes of singer Daniel O’Donnell.

She said: “Another thing that has been massive is the USA candy. We stock everything from Hershey bars to Twinkies and Jolly Ranchers and I have to re-order that every week.

“A lot of Brits buy it if they’ve tasted it in America but I’ve also got ex-pats who live locally who phone up and order all their favourites. That’s probably our biggest seller at the moment.

“The bouquets are still going really well too. We did one for the mayor and I’ve got orders for a few weddings coming up so they’re for 15 or 20 at a time and there’s quite a few going off to the likes of Germany and Amsterdam.

“We’re just really busy, which is great, and with the new unit in Tower Ramparts up and running we’ll be able to keep up with demand more easily.”