ARMONK, N.Y. – Armonk entrepreneur Lilly Teich has spent most of her life thinking out of the box – the chocolate box, that is.
Teich comes from a large and loving Albanian clan. Growing up, she was always going to one family gathering or the other. But she especially remembers the wedding receptions where Jordan Almonds, those colorful nutty nibbles, were handed out as favors.
Rich in cultural meaning, especially at Italian, Greek, and Middle Eastern weddings, the almonds symbolized the bittersweetness of life, and the sugar-coating, the wish that the newlyweds’ life together would be sweet.
The treats somehow didn’t cut it with her parents, who left mostly with favors such as dishes and candles. They were always still peckish when they got home, she recalls.
Later, as an adult, Teich would find herself fantasizing at ho-hum parties about ways to bring them to life.
In 2009, she started making candy buffets for family and friends. In 2014, she took her dream corporate and Dive in Sweets was born.
It was really her two sons Jaxen and Jake who, she says, inspired her to launch a company that creates custom candy buffets for everything from grand weddings to fundraisers to birthday parties.
Her fantastic displays of goodies in decorative glass jars are enhanced with personalized signs and objects.
Arrangements can be kid-themed like the Cookie Monster, or geared towards the elegant, with flowers and candles.
“You should see how the clients’ eyes light up when they see the table,” Teich says, adding that it’s usually the adults that wind up taking more candy than the kids do.
Teich does a lot of research to find goodies that are custom-tailored to her clients’ needs. She forages around the Internet, scopes out candy stores, reads up on the latest trends and attends candy conventions.
In a few short years, Dive in Sweets has grown into a business that keeps Teich hopping.
Just recently, she did a blue- and orange-themed buffet for the New York Knicks basketball team. And this week, while the rest of us were buried up to our knees in snow, Teich was in sunny California doing two events for celebrities she declined to name for privacy reasons.
Teich always goes for the “wow factor,” while keeping client needs first and foremost.
If the client needs gluten-, nut- or sugar-free goodies – or even kosher candies -- she finds them. She also buys candy imported from Italy, Belgium and Switzerland.
“What a difference in taste,” she says.
Teich even makes her own gummy bears and chocolate-covered Oreo cookies.
The displays take about three hours to set up and three hours to deconstruct. Teich sticks around during the event to make sure all goes smoothly, which, she says, takes a lot of the burden off the party host.
And what’s it like for Jaxen and Jake, who are three and four, to literally be like two kids in a candy store?
Teich has a trick to keep them from sampling too many of the sweets, sort of like hiding broccoli in yummy mac 'n' cheese.
“Don’t tell them,” she admits, “but I’ll let them try something I know they won’t really like, like cinnamon.”
After all, her kids are Teich’s inspiration; running such a sweet business is just icing on the cake.
To learn more about Dive in Sweets, click here , or email Teich at firstname.lastname@example.org.