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posted: 9/23/2013 6:49 AM

Lovely Candy Company caters to people with allergies

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  • Mike Nakamura, owner of $START_URL$The Lovely Candy Company;$STOP_URL$.

      Mike Nakamura, owner of $START_URL$The Lovely Candy Company;$STOP_URL$.


An interview with Mike Nakamura, owner of The Lovely Candy Company.

Q: Describe your business. What do you do?

A: The Lovely Candy Company creates delicious, consciously-crafted, premium candies for consumers who have gluten sensitivity, celiac disease or other food allergies such as soy. Our candy is also great for health-conscious consumers who want to indulge in candies with the best ingredients available. The candies are non-GMO, certified kosher and contain no high fructose corn syrup.

Q: What made you start your business?

A: I am always starting new things and a kitchen table discussion with my wife Jackie led to this business. She loves licorice and finding gluten-free, high-quality licorice can be a challenge. I began researching the market to find the right ingredient suppliers and manufacturers to create our candies with the goal that they can be enjoyed by everyone, whether they have dietary restrictions or not.

Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?

A: For me it is managing expectations. I always expect everything to move very fast, everyone to be on the same page overnight. It's my personality, but in the end sometimes helps as a driving force to make things happen. One of my favorite quotes describes energy perfectly -- "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn".

Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?

A: The creative process, for sure. I really enjoy dreaming of what can be, creating vision for a business and brand. I firmly believe everything starts with a dream and vision.

Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: Originally I wanted to play baseball, and was even invited to try out for the Cincinnati Reds. But I knew at a young age I wanted to work for myself. Ever since I was in my late teens I was always thinking about how to create a business.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Operations. If only the creative process could carry the entire business.

Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?

A: Don't spend time with naysayers and negativity in the startup process. While everyone needs sounding boards and a dose of reality -- I have reconciled that what we do is not something everyone can do -- if you have a passion and have the ability to move from idea to action ... with passion ... then do it. There will come a point in the future if you are successful that more feedback and reality checks will be important and very prudent.

Also, understand the type of business owner you are -- there is sometimes a major difference between an entrepreneur and an MBA. Both are good, both have great value, but many times one is not the other. When the business grows, find the right type of people that compensate for your weaknesses.

• Every Monday we feature a small suburban business. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at

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