Kendall Cobb and Rhonda Dunn have been there - attempting to build gingerbread houses with their kids, only to see their hard work collapse and become a pile of sticky mess.
The two were stay-at-home moms when they first met in Rocky Mount. Their kids were still very young. Cobb, who once worked in sales management, has two kids. Dunn, a former high school chemistry teacher, has three.
But, in between raising their kids, the two found a new way to build a gingerbread house, got a patent and launched a business that's grown year after year.
The Candy Cottage offers reusable gingerbread houses, which sell for about $30, that families can decorate for one holiday, clean and put away until the next one. It's part of our Made by Mom Gift Guide this year.
I spoke with Cobb by email to learn more about their product and what they've learned. Here's a Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: What inspired Candy Cottage? How did you and a friend come up with the idea? How long ago was it?
Kendall Cobb: Rhonda and I were always coming up with ideas to entertain the children and create memories along the way. After trying to build gingerbread houses during the holidays and experiencing numerous failures, the idea for The Candy Cottage was born. It was about six years ago that we had our first prototype built.
GAM: It's a reusable gingerbread house. How does it work?
KC: It's simple. The Candy Cottage is made of plastic and snaps together in minutes. There is no baking involved and it requires no special ingredients. Simply grab some frosting from the local store and add cookies, crackers, cereals, and candies and let your creativity do the rest.
Intentionally simple in design, The Candy Cottage won't collapse during the decorating. Our goal is to keep the focus of your holiday traditions on your family and building great memories, not baking great gingerbread. Once the season or holiday is over The Candy Cottage can be cleaned off and it is ready to be used again!
GAM: What was the response at first - and what's it like now?
KC: The response to The Candy Cottage has always been great! It is so much fun to see moms, kids, and families light up at the idea of using their imagination and making The Candy Cottage come to life holiday after holiday. Today's families are busy, yet making memories and traditions is still important. It has been so rewarding to be a part of bringing families together to create something special.
GAM: What lessons have you learned as you built your business? I know you are really proud that your products are made right here in Wake County - in Zebulon.
KC: One important lesson we have learned is to read the market and be ready to adjust. Since our first prototype, we have re-evaluated our product each year and made adjustments to continue to make The Candy Cottage available to as many families as possible. We are very proud of the fact that The Candy Cottage is not only made in the USA, but made right here in Wake County! We worked hard to accomplish this goal and also worked very hard to secure a patent.
GAM: What are your hopes for the future of Candy Cottage?
KC: Our hope for The Candy Cottage is to broaden our markets and continue to help more and more families make memories sweet by decorating The Candy Cottage for all seasons and holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, etc.).
The gingerbread house has been a holiday tradition in many homes for centuries. Yet, as time goes by, we have less and less time to dedicate to the process of building a real gingerbread house. With The Candy Cottage, children and families can get straight to the fun of decorating! Our hope is that The Candy Cottage is enjoyed the same way we enjoy it ... holiday to holiday and memory to memory.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.