icandy: Making a business out of creativity

In 2000, Lisa Hamilton-Gibbs started a business by door-knocking retailers armed with her homemade range of 40 cards. Nearly 16 years on, her business – icandy – is almost unrecognisable. Since establishing her brand, Hamilton-Gibbs has expanded her product range to include more paper-based items.

She now has more than 200 cards in her range and produces magnets, art blocks, inspiration cards and prints. Her latest print-based venture is her self-published children’s book Who Said Kiwis Can’t Fly. The rise of the internet and ecommerce has had a big hand in the expansion of i candy.

Hamilton-Gibbs had no online presence when she started. Since she launched the website more than a decade ago, she hasn’t looked back.

“It’s completely changed the face of my business, it was a real game changer,” she said.

The website has had a facelift in the last three months to coincide with the book launch, and it is now the home base for her business. As well as hosting an online store available to the public, i candy’s website has a retailer login area for retailers to order products direct.

The growth of the business has been a goal for Hamilton-Gibbs, who had the idea for starting it while bored at work. After completing a science degree and working at Telecom, she felt she needed to do something she could emotionally connect with. She’d always loved cards and design but had never explored making them in a formal capacity.

Hamilton-Gibbs hit the ground running in 2000 with a strategy to target high-end shops with her cards. Her strategy paid off, generating enough appeal in her brand that i candy products are now available in mainstream shops throughout the country.

The first few years were lonely, as she was operating the business alone. But her hard work has come to fruition, she now has two agents in New Zealand and previously operated quite extensively in Australia. Adding a picture book to the stock lists is a way of expanding her business further, she says.

“It takes a long time to establish a brand and when you do you’ve got a platform of what you can create.

“It’s a vehicle for my creativity now.”

While the designs may have changed over the years, she has tried to keep her products along a similar theme. All her products are simple images designed to convey powerful messages.

This story originally appeared on The Register