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Two Grannies in a Garage

Two Grannies in a Garage

Beverly Vines-Haines and Charlotte Clary started numerous businesses prior to forming Ice Chips Candy.  They experienced moderate success many times but agree, “Even a blind pig eventually finds an acorn,” when discussing the phenomenal growth of their healthy candy company. 

Vines-Haines and Clary have known each other since their now grown children were in school together in 1986. The two had many joint and solo ventures before finally beginning a natural skin care products line that began taking off regionally.

“We started hearing the buzz about Xylitol (Zie-leh-tall) a natural sweetener unlike the many artificial products available today,” Clary explains. “We thought ‘oh my, we have got to make a candy out of this for the grandkids’ because it is safe for teeth, really good for their mouth issues.”

The two began experimenting with Xylitol. They bought a few existing products and didn't like the taste.  Eventually they realized they would have to do it themselves. So that’s what happened.

They began using a unique process to manage the flavors, and as it turned out, the signature “chips” were almost accidental.

“When we started making it, we didn’t know how to make preformed pieces of candy,” Vines-Haines explained. “So we would just pour it, let it dry and break it up and it turned out that’s also how we can keep our flavors very vibrant.”

As Ice Chips’ product line grew, so did the operation. The two began in a single car garage, then moved into a two-car garage, and then a small warehouse space.  It wasn’t too long after that the two became celebrities.

“My daughter-in-law had contacted Shark Tank one night while she was up with her crying baby,” Clary explained. “She thought she would submit us and our idea to them and see what happened. She didn’t even tell me she had done it until about a month later. Another couple of months after that and we got a call from them and ended up appearing on the show.”

After an appearance on the show Shark Tank, and growing sales from the expanded exposure, Clary stumbled upon the Thurston County Economic Development Center (EDC).

“I googled Ice Chips one day to see what had happened,” Clary said. “An article came up that had been written by someone at the EDC and put into their magazine and I had no idea anyone had written anything about us. It was an impressive article they did well for not interviewing us, so I contacted them to say ‘Hey that was a great article.’”

The executive and deputy directors at the time, Michael Cade and Renee Sunde, paid them a visit and began the relationship with the Grannies and Ice Chips. 

Vines-Haines explained about how vital they became to Ice Chips.

“They were very interested in us and a group of them came out and we just love them. There were a lot of things that we needed, a lot of things we hadn’t even realized we needed,” Vines-Haines recalled. “Everyone seems really tied together between the Chamber of Commerce, the EDC and we got into this loop that took us into a community we were unaware of because we really did not know much about small business when we made one.”

Thanks to the EDC and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) there, they were able to connect with a realtor that got them into a new building, giving them almost more space than they know what to do with.

“We love this new building, and this year (2015) has been an interesting year for us. We are transitioning into larger scale production and starting to work with companies like Sony and Disney,” Clary said. “It’s exciting and we are excited to be doing it.”

Vines-Haines spoke briefly about their past ventures, and what they learned from them.

“We don’t see our past businesses as failures, because they weren’t to us,” she explains. “We benefitted from every single one of them. We learned, we grew, and all that knowledge has helped us to be successful now.”

She says the single biggest piece of advice she could offer is don’t be afraid of failure, because it isn’t.

“As a small business owner you have to know that you might not succeed, but learn from whatever happens, and keep pushing.”

 

For more information about Ice Chips, visit www.icechipscandy.com.
For more information about the Small business Development Center, visit www.wsbdc.org.
For more information about the Thurston County Economic Development Council, visit www.thurstonedc.com.