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Carly Schildhaus is the Director of Public Affairs and Communications at the National Confectioners Association, the leading trade organization representing the US confectionery industry. The association promotes the unique role of chocolate, candy, gum, and mints in a happy and balanced lifestyle. Previously, Carly worked as an Associate Director of Development at The George Washington University, but now she serves as an outside reader. She holds an MA in media and public affairs from The George Washington University.

Theresa Bostic is the Co-founder of Kayla’s Italian Ice, a brand that provides premium frozen desserts that are gluten, dairy, and soy-free, made with cane sugar. Her role in the company includes providing leadership development in business and training for potential franchise owners. Theresa also serves as an OE (Operating Experience) Trainer and Brand Ambassador of Delta Air Lines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human resources and an MBA in project management from Brenau University.

Allison Lin is the Co-founder and COO at Like Air, a family-run brand that makes delicious and gluten-free puffcorn that melts in your mouth. Before Like Air, she was a Global Product Owner at HSBC. Allison holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Nicosia and a BS in foreign service from Georgetown University.

Tessa Porter is the Founder of Norma’s Snacks, a brand that offers a range of natural fruity snacks for those who crave something delicious. With a background as a candy scientist and R&D leader, she has a proven track record of success in the CPG industry. Tessa is also the Owner of Sprinkk, a candy development business supporting confectioners from idea to manufacturing.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [02:05] Carly Schildhaus talks about the Sweets and Snacks Expo and her professional background
  • [02:40] Snack and candy trends at the Sweets and Snacks Expo
  • [05:50] Brands that attend the expo
  • [09:19] Theresa Bostic shares the genesis of Kayla’s Italian Ice and what it offers
  • [10:23] The challenges of growing Kayla’s Italian Ice
  • [11:40] Kayla’s Italian Ice’s franchise model
  • [13:29] Tips for work-life balance as a young entrepreneur in school
  • [14:24] Allison Lin introduces Like Air Baked Puffcorn and their products
  • [15:10] The experience of working with a family member
  • [15:42] Challenges of growing Like Air Baked Puffcorn brand
  • [17:07] Tessa Porter discusses Norma’s background and its offering
  • [19:24] The challenges faced growing Norma’s brand
  • [22:14] Norma’s packaging

In this episode…

Are you an entrepreneur in the snack and candy industry? Where can you get the secrets to thrive in this space?

The snack and candy industry is a highly competitive market constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of consumers. With so many brands vying for attention, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd. That’s where the Sweets and Snacks Expo comes in. Learn how this event is the perfect opportunity for brands in the snack and candy industry to showcase their products and connect with potential customers.

In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz interviews Carly Schildhaus, Theresa Bostic, Allison Lin, and Tessa Porter as they showcase their brands and products at the Sweets and Snacks Expo. They share their brands’ genesis stories, snacks and candy trends, the challenges they’ve encountered, and their proudest moments growing their brands.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Quotable Moments: 

  • “The fastest way to grow in a market is franchising.”

Sponsor for this episode

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPOEOLending TreeFreshdesk, and many more.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz  0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here. I am the founder and host of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today’s no different and this is a special episode. I am actually interviewing founders and CEOs live at the Sweets and Snacks show. And so check it out. We have some amazing companies featured check this episode out and before I get to that this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25, we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. How do we do that? We help you run your podcast. We are an easy button for an organization or business to launch and run your podcast. I’ve been podcasting for over a decade now. For me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way to do that than to profile the people in the companies I most admire, feature them on my podcast, and shout from the rooftops what they’re working on and what they’re doing. So if you’ve thought about starting a podcast you should if you have questions, you can go to or email [email protected] to learn more. Now, check out today’s episode. Live from the Sweets and Snack Show. Jeremy Weisz here we’re here at the Sweets and Snack Show in Chicago right now put on with the National Confectioners Association. I’m here with Carly. Carly, tell people a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Carly Schildhaus  2:05 

Hi, thank you so much for being here at the Sweets and Snacks Expo we are in the center of the candy and snack universe here in Chicago. I’m a spokesperson for the show. So I’m excited to tell you a little bit more about what’s here. So tell me more about what you do. So I’m a spokesperson, which means I am advocating for the show. I’m talking about the show a lot and sharing the great treats and opportunities we have here with the public. So thank you for watching as well.

Jeremy Weisz  2:33 

You get to see a lot of trends because you’re seeing everything that’s going on in the industry. What are some of the trends you’re seeing at this year’s show.

Carly Schildhaus  2:40 

So there’s a lot that’s really exciting that’s happening at the show that we’re seeing across the floor. One thing we’re seeing a lot of the flavor of mashup. So really interesting combinations of flavors. You can imagine things that are really sour, really spicy and different sorts of interesting combinations. Really anything you can imagine might be here at this show already.

Jeremy Weisz  3:01 

What are some flavor mashups that you’ve seen?

Carly Schildhaus  3:03 

Yeah, I’m seeing a lot of combinations between citrus and berry. That’s a lot of fun. We’re seeing a lot of tahini, for example, there’s a tahini gummy bear option that’s really nice for that kind of spicy and sweet combination. In the snack space, I tried a Ranch Deal pretzel that was out of this world. So good. So a lot of really interesting combinations are happening here.

Jeremy Weisz  3:30 

And you were saying there are some other trends in partnerships.

Carly Schildhaus  3:33 

Yeah, so we’re seeing a lot of brand partnerships and licensing agreements, which is a fun way for different brands you might not originally expect to work together. So one of my favorite examples is Stuffed Puffs is working with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, to make a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Stuffed Puffs, which is amazing. Everybody has to try it. And what’s really cool about that is it’s a big, multinational brand combining with a smaller company that is new and incredibly innovative. So it’s fun to see how they can work together, how they can make these partnerships across the show and a lot of those start here. A lot of those relationships are built here as well.

Jeremy Weisz  4:12 

What other fun partnerships or Lycee have you seen?

Carly Schildhaus  4:12 

So Doritos works with Jack Link’s Jerky to make a Doritos Flavor Jerky that actually just won one of our most innovative new product awards. And then another really popular one is they’re making a warhead’s pickle now so that super, super sour taste of a warhead in pickle form.

Jeremy Weisz  4:12 

Yeah, I was walking the show and as you were telling me the trends of partnerships I was seeing it was popping out at me a little bit and there was a company Rap Snacks that was partnering with rappers and doing play their favorite flavor profiles for chips. And there was some other ones out there that were putting Mario Brothers on candies and other things like that. What are some other trends we’ve seen partnerships and some flavor mashups, any other trends you’re seeing?

Carly Schildhaus  5:05 

People love sharing treats on social media. And so we’re seeing a lot of really interactive treats that give people we like to say permission to play with their food, so they get to interact with it while they’re enjoying it. And then we’re seeing it on social media as people want to share that fun experience with their friends. We have a lot in the lollipop space. So we have Perfetti Van Melle has melody pops, where you can play a whistle as you enjoy a lollipop. We’re also seeing recordable lollipops, where you can record a message for somebody that they can listen to while they’re enjoying a lollipop.

Jeremy Weisz  5:38 

You were mentioning the makeup of the show. And, we sometimes we think of the show is like really big, big brands, but a lot of it is what are the type of companies that really make up the majority of the show?

Carly Schildhaus  5:50 

Yeah, of course, we know and love the global multinational companies that are here. But we also have the true makeup of the industry, both the confectionery and the snack industry. So many of these companies are small and mid-sized companies, a lot of them are family-owned. A lot of them are multi-generational. So they’ve been around for a really long time, people have been enjoying these treats for generations, and they’re continuing to innovate as well. We’re also seeing new companies that are coming up and innovating bringing really new perspective to the space. We have here at the show an area of the floor called Startup Street, where companies that have existed for fewer than three years and are making these brand new products, get a little spotlight on them get to be highlighted, and really have exposure to so much buying power here at the show in order to help them become the next big thing.

Jeremy Weisz  6:44 

What are some of the new brands or brands that you’ve seen on Startup Street that we should tell people to check out?

Carly Schildhaus  6:51 

So there’s a great brand called Normas Gummies it’s a woman who has worked in the candy industry for a very long time is working with her grandmother. It’s this lovely story of again a multi-generational family story to make these incredible gummies in a couple of different flavors and they’re fantastic and I highly recommend it she’s over on startups street.

Jeremy Weisz  7:14 

What is your like fan favorite go to snack at the show?

Carly Schildhaus  7:18 

Oh gosh, that’s a really hard one. I think maybe less than just one treat. I’m really excited about these really bold flavors in the flavor mashups. I think that’s what I look for. Obviously there’s a lot to enjoy here we have more than 800 exhibitors showing so many of their treats and I think what excites me are those interesting flavor mashups as I go through see what’s really new what’s different, any kind of textural experience as well as a lot of fun too.

Jeremy Weisz  7:45 

I’d love to hear maybe I don’t have the strangest snack or is like very unique. I mean, I’m partial to the protein bar so Built a Bar I love and I discovered actually at the show a couple years ago Zing Bars and RX Bars, Quest Nutrition like I gravitate towards those but what have you seen anything you’d like just you looked at and you’re like that is more unique than I’ve seen?

Carly Schildhaus  8:13 

There’s a lot that’s really unique. One trend that I’m seeing a lot of that I’ve actually already talked about a little bit that I think is interesting is actually a lot I’ve mentioned a couple times is this use of pickle flavoring. I happen to love pickles, so we’re seeing it in different applications. So you see a traditional pickle like the warheads pickle. I mentioned those Dill Ranch Pretzels, but we’re also seeing American Licorice is making a pickled roulette pack. So it’s a little bit of dealer’s choice, right you pick a flavor you’re not quite sure what flavor it is. And some of those sour straws are actually pickle-flavored. So I think that that’s a fun and kind of unusual take on that pickle trend.

Jeremy Weisz  8:53 

I’ve had pickle juice here. I think I’ve had dill pickle popcorn. And first of all, Carly, I want to thank you. Thanks for sharing the trends or what’s going on in the industry and I just want to thank everyone for watching and check out more episodes of the show. Thanks everyone. Jeremy Weisz here we’re here live for the Sweets and Snacks show. I’m here with Theresa and Teresa run Kayla’s and tell people what Kayla’s and what you do.

Theresa Bostic  9:19 

So this is Kayla’s Italian Ice right over here is a gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free product. The product was actually founded by my daughter who is 15 years old and her name is Kayla.

Jeremy Weisz  9:33 

Where did the idea come from?