Leeds-based entrepreneurs and couple Harry Lynch, and Tayla Harris, both 22 were planning to travel the world early last year when COVID-19 put a stop to their dream. One year later their business, Sugar Rush Sweeties is the biggest counter and online seller of sweets in Yorkshire.
The ‘business’ started in October 2019 when the couple, working full time in banking and teaching decided they needed to make some extra cash for their travel plans and decided to start selling sweets as a second income to people in their local area.
Tayla Harris, co-founder of the business, said: “I’d seen a company on Instagram based down south delivering pizza boxes of sweets and thought it was a great idea and that no one was doing anything like that up north. Harry & I went to Costco and bought £100 of sweets, set -up an Instagram account and launched Sugar Rush Sweeties. The demand was almost instant, and within weeks we were delivering over 50 boxes of sweetie boxes a week on evenings and weekends. We never dreamed it would be this successful; it was just a way of making extra money to help go towards our travels.”
With no additional investment, other than profit made from sales the forward-thinking duo from Garforth continued to grow the online business and offer local deliveries within a six miles radius and next-day postal service.
When COVID-19 hit the UK last March, the couple soon realised their travel plans had to take a back seat. Due to the nation being stuck in at home, overnight, their online sales increased by over 90%.
Lynch said: “As soon as COVID-19 hit the UK, suddenly the demand for both our online and home delivery service went through the roof and we very quickly realised that Sugar Rush Sweeties had become a sustainable business. We started making plans to continue to grow the online side of the business but also open a store where people could buy sweets from.”
As lockdown eased the couple who had now given up their full-time careers to concentrate on the sweet business had found the perfect unit in Garforth. By mid-July 2020, they opened their first sweet shop offering over 50 sweets styles ranging from traditional boiled British sweets, retro classics to iconic American Candy ranges. As well as offering a vast range of sweets, customers buying from the shop can also enjoy a range of desserts, brownies, cookie dough and milkshakes. Today, with over 100 different sweets to choose from they are one of the largest’ Pick n Mix’ stores in the UK.
“As soon as we opened the doors of Sugar Rush Sweeties, we had people queuing down the street to buy them, and ever since the demand has just been phenomenal! We have had to work around the clock to keep up with both online and shop sales, and we now employ a total of 5 staff.”
The impact of COVID without question has helped the duo with their online sales. Harris contributes lots of hard work and passion but also the power of Instagram and Facebook on their success, and they now have an organic following of over 25,000.
She said: “Buying sweets in lockdown for some people has become like a fashion statement or fashion accessory. The minute they get their delivery customers are posting fun images of them with the sweets like they would with a new outfit or pair of shoes, tagging and sharing our page with friends and family which in turn raises our profile and generates new business. I have no doubt that it’s the power of social media that has turned our hobby to make some extra cash into a full-time business.”
The new year’s lockdown changes meant that the duo had to rethink their business model and with everyone at home again, online sales increased to 90% of their business. However, they still managed to cater for walk-in trade by creating a doorway counter that customers can collect their pre-ordered goodies from.
The couple’s travel plans are now on hold. They are looking to expand the business, introducing new ranges of desserts and specialist sweets such as gluten-free ranges and potentially looking to open a second unit in Wakefield if they find the right space
Lynch said: “The ultimate goal is to have a nationwide chain of sweet shops as well as an online presence. Our dream would be to have a system in place whereby we oversee ‘Sugar Rush Sweeties’ and run the business remotely while we travel the world.”