We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Sterling and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Floss Cotton Candy was started by my two young daughters as a summer road-side stand. They decided they wanted to earn some extra cash and we came up with some unique flavors as a family and made all of our neighbors our official taste testers. One of our neighbors suggested that our girls enter their cotton candy stand into an upcoming “Children’s Entrepreneur Fair” coming to town. Our girls (ages eight and ten) did all of the prep work for the fair and they were extremely successful. We decided that we needed to go big and start our own family business. Floss Cotton Candy was officially formed July 2019 and we haven’t sat still since! We now have an online store and supply 15 grocery stores and candy shops along with various market events and boutiques. Our amazing team has grown to include more family members and close friends who have made Floss what it is today. We are VERY excited to see where the future leads us!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Our business is creating the best gourmet cotton candy in the world. We feel we have set ourselves apart from any competition with our wide variety of 50+ amazing flavors, modern and attractive packaging, and affordable prices. Each flavor has its own unique design and theme to make our products not only a delicious treat, but also the perfect gift or party favor. People will usually comment on how adorable they are, then once they taste our product they usually grab a few (or a lot!) more for their family and friends. I’ll always remember a customer who sampled some during an event and then bought 25 for all of her co-workers and neighbors. Over the past year we have gone from road-side stand –> college events –> boutiques and trade shows –> candy stores –> hotels –> grocery stores chains. And let me tell you, that is definitely a bumpy road to take! We experienced flat tires, broken down cars, switching to all new machines, purchasing too much and too little of everything, and even getting stranded for weeks in the Pacific islands with all of our kids during the height of the pandemic on a family service mission! Back in early March we thought we may never get back to the US to make cotton candy again! When we did finally return we found a lot of our small boutique stores were closing and that we could no longer make our GIANT cotton candy at events or even offer samples! These were HUGE obstacles to overcome, and with a lot of effort we continued to experience huge amounts of growth by focusing on online sales and getting our packaged product into grocery stores. We have grown more during the pandemic than I ever imagined we could. I’m glad we didn’t give up when the odds were against us. The one thing that got us through everything was having a strong team. Our team is mostly family members and we all take care of each other. From aunts, uncles, to cousins and close friends, we have formed a circle of loyal and capable team members. That is what we are most proud of. Everyone loves Floss because everyone is valued and respected in our team.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We’re probably the youngest snow-bird family you’ll ever meet. We spend our summers in Northern Utah and our Winters in the Phoenix Metro area. If we had to pick a week long trip we would have a hard time choosing which location we’d encourage them to visit because we love both of our homes so much.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I was blessed to be part of an incredibly supportive family. My grandparents taught me many lessons that I’ll always remember. The first lesson they instilled in me was that family always comes first. They were the kind of grandparents that made you feel like the world revolved around you. They showed up to every game, important event, even my swimming lessons! We were that important to them. The second lesson they taught me is that good food is key to having a good time. My Grandma in particular spoiled us Grandkids rotten with all kinds of treats, including a cereal cabinet stocked with all of the most sugary cereals in the world. I think I had three or four bowls each time I went to her house. This house also happens to be the house we now live in during the summers and the location where we built the commercial kitchen for Floss Cotton Candy. The most important lesson they taught me is that all the effort it takes to leave a family legacy of love is well worth giving. I feel their strong influence every day in my life even now that they have passed on. The time they spent cultivating a healthy family life together has blessed and will continue to bless generations well into the future.
Ashton Leigh Photo Nicole Leavitt Photography Jenn Sutton Photography