Not much of a follower, Andrea Caroline Jones knew she wanted to be her own boss someday — long before she started her own company.
“I’ve always wanted to lead people,” the founder and owner of Sweet Caroline Confections, who goes by Andrea Caroline, told Colorado Community Media. “And inspire people.”
But growing her team at the Englewood-based business has been challenging as Colorado and the nation continue to feel the pinch of a labor shortage.
Sweet Caroline Confections, which this month celebrates its 10th anniversary since its initial launch in Florida, specializes in sparkly, hard candy lollipops that can be customized for events and businesses. Caroline and her candy-making crew produce about 5,000 lollipops a week. The shimmery sweets are carried in over 2,000 retail shops across North America and Europe. Customorders, starting at $22 for six lollipops, have been created for a wide range of clients such Marc Jacobs, Facebook, Instagram, Bloomingdale’s and Porsche.
As Caroline, who was born in Miami, moved from Florida to Texas and then Colorado, her business moved with her. At the end of 2019, Sweet Caroline Confections relocated from a commercial kitchen in Thornton to a 3,000-square-foot space on the 3400 block of South Broadway. The retail shop there displays a colorful array of lollipops for sale, ranging from $2 to $4.25 each, as well as a window into the company’s production area so people can see where “the beauty and the magic” happens.
While she loves serving Englewood and the broader Colorado community, the 36-year-old would like to take her business to the next level by opening additional stores outside of the state. But to do that, she’ll need more employees. At one time, the business had a team of 12 but now it’s down to eight.
“I’m trying to figure out what the current generation, who would be wanting to work in my business, is after,” Caroline said.
In addition to earning between $16 and $17 an hour, her employees receive medical and dental benefits. This year the business began offering accrued paid time off, five or six days a year, and a four-day workweek, Caroline said.
By adding two hours to the workday Monday through Thursday, most employees are able to have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. Caroline said it’s important for people to enjoy their job but also have time to enjoy the money they make at that job.
“Even though we are a small business, I like to take care of the people who work for me,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to be struggling.”
While it’s not easy to provide benefits, Caroline said it’s doable: “You should share the prosperity that the business has.”
Sweet Caroline Confections is a family-run business. Stephen Jones, Caroline’s brother, joined the company in 2018 and oversees orders for wholesale clients. Her mother, Lizzette Trochez, came on in 2014. She’s the operations manager, supervising customer service and the retail side of the business.
“It’s been challenging, but it’s been very gratifying because I get to see my family every day,” Caroline said of working with loved ones.
Whether or not her employees are family members, Caroline believes in the power of talking out any issues that arise. She tries to let her employees know that she’s there for them.
Communication is key to a good team, she said. And balancing hard work with fun is essential to maintaining a productive business.
“I’d like to think that my team enjoys their job and that they go home every day thinking that, and knowing that, they had done something good during the day.”
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