Who: Hanson Watkins, owner of Indie Candy
What: Big-Eight Allergen-Free Confectioners
Where: Birmingham, Alabama
Hanson Watkins knows a thing or two about the candy business. “There used to be a candy maker in every town in the United States – maybe two,” she explains, as we walk through the triple-storefront workspace of her company, Indie Candy. “Now most of the candy in the US is made by one of three companies, and it’s all done on an industrial scale.” Which is great if you’re interested in a pack of Twizzlers for a dollar, but Watkins has a slightly more ambitious goal.
Trained as a chef, and after a career in healthcare marketing, Watkins received a diagnosis of celiac disease right after she began dealing with one of her son’s allergies, and a business model was born – albeit in stages. When she began creating her first allergen-free candies, an all-natural gummy, she was working in her own kitchen. Then, in a quest to increase production, she looked further afield.