Candymaker Jami Curl is founder of QUIN candy co. and was one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. She is the author of Candy Is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes. Below she shares about creating a memorable product, putting yourself into your work and why finding your dream is akin to a unicorn sighting.
Dreaming Made Simple: On your web site, you write, “Jami Curl here. I’m a candy maker, a business owner and a hard worker.” What is the value of finding a dream or a passion to pour into through hard work?
Jami Curl: I have had plenty of jobs where the passion just wasn't there. For me, all of those jobs involved work other than being directly involved in food. Still though, no matter what the job is, I am a hard worker. I think what you put into what you're doing defines so much of a person. - I have generally never been one to half-ass anything, putting my whole self into everything I do all the time - That's just the Jami Curl way. I think I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who led by example.
Finding a dream, realizing that dream and then being afforded the opportunity to turn that dream into work is a little like finding a unicorn. I think if you are given that rare, rare chance and then squander it, how sad and devastating. You have to find value in what you're doing, period. Whether it's dreaming up candy flavors and figuring out ways to sell that candy, or clocking in to a desk job in a cubicle.
Dreaming Made Simple: I read in your interview in DINE X DESIGN where you talked about snacks creating memories. What is it about candy that so captures our hearts?
Jami Curl: Food memories are REALLY strong memories for many people. I remember nearly every family vacation I took as a child, simply because of the food we ate or the meals we shared while traveling. Whether it's the snacks my mom would pack for road trips or the dinners we had under the stars on our beach vacations, I can almost taste that stuff, just thinking about it.
Candy has never been something that people eat and then feel bad about (unless you eat too much!) Generally, candy is eaten when we need a boost, when we are celebrating, when we are happy. I don’t know anyone without memories tied directly to candy, whether it's the candy dish at a beloved grandmother's house or the 10-cent candy picked up at the neighborhood corner store.
Dreaming Made Simple: What steps have you taken to get to where you are presently?
Jami Curl: I'd say my steps are kind of all over the place. I have a degree in English, and I also did half of my Masters in Public Administration but quit grad school to open a bakery. I have opened myself up to failure and have taken my successes lightly. I get out and meet people, doing food shows, attending workshops and conferences, and now hosting my own workshops. I teach classes and learn more about my craft by attempting to each others about it.
The biggest step of all is remaining open to opportunity because I never know when something totally amazing might pop up.
Dreaming Made Simple: How do you set your brand apart?
Jami Curl: For QUIN, I pour my entire self into what we do - everything from the types of candy that we make, to their names, to our look and feel - All of it is something I have either done myself or led the way. The important part is forming a team that understands that and supports it. I'm lucky enough to have a team that really understands the importance of our brand and then works to support it.
Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream? What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?
Jami Curl: Sometimes the dream is a total grind. Sometimes the work is so hard that it doesn't feel at all like a dream or a passion. The hours are the longest. Your social life takes a total beating. The lows are very low - but the highs! The highs are the highest, and there's nothing like looking at the work you've put into something and realizing how worth it was.
My advice would be to work hard and to remember that you're going to have days where it feels totally miserable to be you. Fight through it because it's worth it!