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Entrepreneurs Corner: The entrepreneurial sweet touch

Nancy King has been running Nandy’s Candy with her own sweet flair since 1980

Nancy King

Nancy King

When it comes to business, Nancy King has long had a sweet tooth.  Nancy has been turning out delicious confections at Nandy’s Candy since 1980, but her candy experience goes back even further to her school years, when she worked in a candy store part-time.  It was there that she learned about the candy-maker’s craft.

Nancy came to Jackson with her husband, Bill King, after growing up in Kansas and going to school in Texas.  In the beginning, she said she “wasn’t thrilled” with Jackson, but after a brief move to Iowa, she realized just how much Jackson had “grown on her” and she was happy to return.  She’s been here ever since.

The candy business wasn’t her first foray into starting a business.  She worked with her Bill for some time in his pest control business, before “getting the bug,” as she put it, and deciding to start a candy store.

“People told me I was nuts, that a candy store wouldn’t go over in Jackson,” she said.  “Well, that was 1980, and guess what?  I’m still here, doing what I love.”

For Nancy, that’s what it’s all about: doing what you love.  She loves to “create” and one of her prime objectives is to “bring pleasure to my customers.”

“You just can’t start without the passion,” she said.  “You have to care about your customers, your community and your employees.  For me, my employees are family.”

Nandy’s Candy has one full-time and 10 part-time employees, many of whom have been with the company for years.  She seeks to hire people who share at least some of her passion for candy-making.

Her entrepreneurial experience has definitely not been without challenges, pitfalls, and obstacles.  One of the most difficult challenges she faced was securing enough working capital to get the business up and running.

“I remember going to a banker — I won’t mention the name or the bank — who actually told me I should ‘go home and bake cookies and help my husband.’ Well, that didn’t sit too well with me,” Nacy said.  “I dusted myself up and got busy, and with a lot of determination, I finally secured an SBA loan and got the business going.”

Nancy said she’s had her share of “reality checks” through the years.  She expanded to three stores at one point before recognizing that “bigger was not necessarily better,” and decided she was better off focusing her energies on one location.

“You just can’t be a quitter and succeed in business,” she said.  “You have to be constantly willing to reinvent yourself and your business. “

What else does she consider important from her years of experience?

“If you don’t plug into the community, get involved and stay involved, and give back, you’re not going to go anywhere,” she said. “You have to be willing to take risks, and to accept the consequences if things don’t go right.”

Nandy‘s has had its share of competition through the years, but Nancy said she’s never feared competition.  “In fact,” she said, “I thrive on competition.  I welcome competitors, because it tends to make you stop and think and do a better job at what you do.”

She also suggests that “you need a sixth sense” when it comes to business.  “You have to understand your market, your customers and the trends that are constantly changing out there.  If you don’t, you are not going to get very far.  You really have to deliver value to your customers, and provide the products and services they want.”

If she had to do it all over again, would she?

“You bet,” she said, laughing.  “But this time, I’d avoid the mistakes.  I’d get a good accountant and a good attorney right up front, and I’d know a lot more about the business side before I ever put the first chocolates in the counter.”

Nancy believes that is sound advice for any budding entrepreneur.

“I truly believe that small business and entrepreneurs are the future of Mississippi and the country,” she said.  “There will always be people coming up with great ideas who have the determination and will power to make good things happen, to create, and to keep on creating.”

After 30 years in the candy business, it’s clear that Nancy King has managed to beat the odds and do just that.  And if you happen to be a chocoholic as so many of us are,  the success of Nandy’s Candy is sweet, indeed.


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