Kane Dowell, 34, left school at 15 with no GCSEs. In 2017, he started Ask Mummy & Daddy from his parents’ spare room. Now they have premises in Fulham, London and are stocked on the high street and online.
Tell us about Ask Mummy & Daddy
Ask Mummy & Daddy is a gourmet confectionary company that specialises in sweets, many of them in flavours that you’ve never tasted before. We have all the old-school classics like bonbons and cola bottles, but we have some really unusual ranges too. For example, we have Gin & Tonic candyfloss and Prosecco gummy bears.
Real booze is in the ingredients, but all the alcohol is cooked off in the manufacturing process. We have a collection of sweets in dessert flavours like Black Forest Gateau and we sell Vitamin C sweets. We even have a vegan range.
We also offer personalised gift options, so you can create your own confectionary gifts to send with a message of your choice. You can buy our sweets online or in stores – we’re in a few high street stores including Next, Fenwick Stores and have a new pop-up shop in Selfridges, which offers customers personalisation on gift boxes and jars.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I’ve always wanted to start my own business and spent the first decade or so of my working life, learning everything I could about product development, marketing, shop fitting etc. You name it, I learned it. Prior to starting Ask Mummy & Daddy, I worked for a company called Biscuiteers, which specialises in biscuit gifts with messages. I could see that the gift market was huge with plenty of room for more outlets.
I chose sweets because I love them and also because they have a long shelf life. And of course, they are perfect for gifting. In my research, I’d also discovered that there had been very little innovation in the confectionery industry. It was ripe for change. I wanted to do something different and confectionary seemed like an obvious choice.
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How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
We were booked to attend a load of festivals and events in 2020 and when they were all cancelled, we realised it was time to revamp our website to give online sales a boost. We’d been thinking about gift personalisation for a while and the pandemic was the time to implement it. My aim had been to keep the business ticking over until restrictions eased, but we did much more than that.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well we did with the online sales, but I am pleased that we’re back out on the road this summer, taking our sweets stand to all the main festivals.
What can we hope to see from Ask Mummy & Daddy in the future?
First of all, you’ll see us out and about on the road. We’ve invested in an incredible new stand, complete with a giant swing, huge gummy bears and a pick ‘n’ mix station. We also have some new products up our sleeves, such as our champagne bears – something for the sophisticated palate. We aim to expand our range further and we want to become to go-to confectionery brand for every occasion from birthdays through to Christmas and bar-mitzvahs.